Sacramento Kings introduce Tyrone Corbin as head coach

Tyrone Corbin on the sidelines at Las Vegas Summer League for the Sacramento Kings. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

Next man up for the Sacramento Kings.

Following head coach Michael Malone’s startling dismissal, assistant coach Tyrone Corbin was announced as the interim head coach Monday afternoon.

Working as a head coach, or replacing a head coach midseason is nothing new to Corbin, or for the Kings for that matter. After being an assistant for seven years, he supplanted Jerry Sloan when the Utah Jazz legend resigned on February 10, 2011. Corbin finished the year and coached the Jazz for another three seasons, compiling a 112-146 record and a summer 2012 playoff appearance. Utah allowed his contract to expire this summer and declined to make an offer, which opened the door for Corbin to sign with Sacramento.

“It’s always difficult,” Corbin told the media on Monday in regards to the move midseason. “It’s a change for the guys and you try to find some kind of calm through the chaos and get the guys on the same page. We have a tough opponent coming in tomorrow in OKC (Oklahoma City Thunder), so we (have) to make sure we get the guys relaxed as soon as we can and get back to playing basketball.”

Corbin, who played in Sacramento as a forward in the 1995-96 and again during the 1999-00 seasons, coached the Kings’ Summer League team to a championship in Las Vegas. Kings players have publicly commended his presence and tutelage, but they praised Malone’s company as well.

With the switch, Corbin becomes the 15th head coach in the Sacramento-era of Kings basketball, including six in-season changes.  Despite his interim tag, Corbin has the backing of the franchise for as long as he is in charge.

“I give full support to Tyrone,” D’Alessandro stated. “You don’t put someone out there on the floor and say, ‘You don’t have full support of the organization.’ That would be totally unfair if I had that in mind. We’re going to try to get better, we’re going to make decisions obviously to get better, whatever that is. That’s the NBA, you know, that’s the NBA. But right now I’m standing right behind Tyrone and saying, ‘Let’s get this thing. Let’s open this floor up and see what we can do.’”

When grilled by reporters Monday, General manager Pete D’Alessandro refused to confirm that Corbin would be afforded the rest of the season.

Malone was fired in part for his unwillingness to run a more up-tempo offense. Corbin will abide to the front office’s wishes, though his history with Utah indicates otherwise. After ranking 13th in the NBA in pace in his first full Jazz campaign, Utah dropped to 20th in 2012-13 and 26th last season (Hollinger Stats).

“We’re looking at some different things,” Corbin confirmed. “You talk about tempo and pace of the game. We (have) to get some easy baskets some kind of way. But you can’t just go in and throw all new things at guys all at one time. So there’ll be some gradual things we’ll do a little different as we go forward. But the main thing is making sure the guys are thinking out there on the floor.”

In his Utah stint, Corbin was regularly criticized for his rotations and inability to develop the talents of lottery picks Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Sacramento, a club loaded with young talent, is an eerily similar situation.

No one can fault Corbin for his loyalty, however. The assistant stuck by Malone till the bitter end, going so far as to console the man who recruited the Jazz castoff this summer.

“I can’t say enough about how much I love and respect Mike,” Corbin said. “Met with him last night and talked a little bit. Rightfully, he’s disappointed and surprised, but you move on.”

How long Corbin leads the Kings roster is anyone’s guess. Rumors have tied Sacramento to former NBA head coach George Karl, D’Alessandro’s coach back with the Denver Nuggets, and in-house candidate Chris Mullen to taking the job as soon as this week.

“Tyrone Corbin is our coach, right?” D’Alessandro remarked. “We just put him in his place. We’re going to support him. We’re going to give him everything that he needs as a staff. We’re going to give him everything that he (Corbin) needs to succeed. And we’re going to kind of go through the season and see what he needs to succeed. I want to see some of the stuff he does right now, and we’re going to do that.”

What is for certain, is that for the time being, Corbin will push the tempo like management wants.

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