If a hot seat could stand on lava, Tyrone Corbin would be sitting on it.
The Sacramento Kings head coach is most definitely feeling the heat. As if replacing good friend and popular head coach Michael Malone wasn’t enough, rumors and recent reports have confirmed the Kings are looking for his eventual successor. And it’s understandable why.
Since Corbin replaced Malone on December 14, the Kings’ once promising season unraveled. Sacramento has gone 7-19, and the team’s defense has collapsed. Even worse, players’ body language has looked lethargic.
In response, Kings fans have directed their frustrations at Corbin. His awkward pregame introductions at Sleep Train Arena are a sobering indicator.
Hard to believe that eight long months ago, Corbin joined the Kings as an assistant coach, after spending more than three years as a moderately successful head coach for the Utah Jazz. The plan was for the 52-year-old to work under Malone and provide the experience necessary for improving the young club, but fate had different intentions.
“I think Ty knew essentially what he was getting himself into. Unfortunately it’s the nature of the business,” Ryan Hollins told Cowbell Kingdom on Sunday. “It’s tough but you have to play through that and you have to be yourself. Ty’s done a good job of that, but that’s what we get paid for. You know, that’s why we’re here.”
On Friday, news broke that the Kings were in tense negotiations with their man, George Karl, to take over the team. The social media reactions were so widespread, it was safe to say anyone with an internet connection and an ounce of NBA interest knew about the situation.
“I think we all know about the rumors,” Derrick Williams told Cowbell Kingdom. “ It’s well known in the locker room.”
Corbin knew. With impending doom knocking at the door, Ty could have shut himself in and closed the blinds, but as a pro he felt obligated to prepare his club for a match against the playoff-contending Phoenix Suns.
“It’s a tough situation,” Corbin told the media before playing the Suns. “It is what it is. But you just got a job to do. I got to try to get these guys ready for the game tonight, and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Corbin politely declined to talk any more about his job or the drama. But his adversary across the court, Jeff Hornacek, came to his defense.
“Ty’s an ultimate professional,” said Hornacek. “He’s going to go out there, he’s going to try to get this team to play the best they can tonight. And all the other stuff that goes on, he’s been through it before in Utah. It’s a tough thing to go through, but he’s excellent at handling those situations and who knows what will happen for him.”
And despite the unusual circumstances, and the mounting losses, Kings players still speak highly of Corbin, as they did when he was an assistant. Recent performances hint that the team doesn’t play hard for him, and folks like Williams have taken notice.
“I think what we want to do is keep playing hard for coach Ty,” Williams added. “We just want to keep playing hard, man. We’ve been in a little slump, collectively. It’s everybody. We all have to pick it up. It’s not coaches, it’s not Ty.”
The Kings went on to hustle on both sides of the floor to beat the Suns in a thriller. One win won’t save his job, but it goes to show his commitment to improving the product on the floor, even in turbulent times.