SACRAMENTO Rick Adelman was fired by the Sacramento Kings today despite leading the club to eight consecutive playoff appearances as the most successful coach in franchise history.
Geoff Petrie, the Kings president of basketball operations, gave only murky reasons for the decision, which probably was caused by clashing egos and the empty trophy case of owners Joe and Gavin Maloof, who are widely thought to be behind Adelman s departure.
Sacramento was eliminated from the playoffs on Friday by the San Antonio Spurs.
I came to the conclusion that continuing this way just wasn t feasible, said Petrie, who also hired Adelman his former roommate from their playing days when both worked in Portland. The dynamic that needed to be there to help it move forward just wasn t there.
The Kings also declined to renew the contracts of Adelman s four assistants: Elston Turner, T.R. Dunn, Bubba Burrage and Pete Carril, the Hall of Fame former Princeton coach who spent nine of the last 10 years as a Sacramento assistant.
Adelman, whose 752 career victories are the fourth-most among active NBA coaches, spent this season as a lame duck, but still got the Kings into the playoffs at 44-38 with a tremendous late-season surge after the arrival of Ron Artest.
His departure ends the most successful tenure of any coach in the franchise s 21 seasons in Sacramento but although Petrie steadfastly refused to acknowledge it, the Maloof brothers have been dissatisfied with Adelman s leadership for at least two seasons.
Adelman had far more success than all of the coaches in Sacramento s two decades of NBA experience combined, but his sometimes-prickly demeanor and his failure to win a championship left him less than beloved.
The family tentatively courted Phil Jackson last summer while Adelman still was under contract, perplexing and angering Adelman. This spring, the brothers could be heard yelling advice at the Kings bench from their courtside seats when things went poorly on the court.
Petrie plans to meet with Joe and Gavin Maloof late this week to begin a coaching search. The brothers were in Las Vegas on Tuesday and unavailable for immediate comment.
In theory, you would like to find someone as quickly as possible because of the draft and whatever trade opportunities can come your way, Petrie said.
Adelman is 752-481 in 16 seasons as an NBA coach, the last eight in Sacramento, where he won 395 games.
Adelman s streak of five consecutive 50-win seasons ended this year when the Kings got off to a terrible start. But Adelman might have done the most impressive coaching of his Sacramento tenure this season, molding a cohesive team with just two holdovers from the 2002-03 season.
The Kings transformed themselves into a defense-oriented team when Artest arrived in a late-January trade for Peja Stojakovic. Sacramento won 25 of its final 36 regular-season games and pushed San Antonio in the first round of the postseason, eventually losing in six games.
Both Adelman and the Maloofs made it clear they wouldn t discuss the coach s future until after the season. Adelman met with Joe Maloof on Monday.
We knew that it was going to be a looming issue, Petrie said. We put it aside and concentrated on the job at hand.
Adelman led the Kings to the playoffs in each of his seasons, starting with his surprising one-year revitalization of a longtime loser in the strike-shortened 1999 season.
With new acquisitions Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Jason Williams and Stojakovic, the Kings captured the NBA s attention with their high-flying, sharp-passing style. Adelman s offensive schemes were imaginative and intriguing, though the Kings were criticized for their defense.
Sacramento increased its win total in each of its first four seasons under Adelman s watch, eventually winning the club s first two Pacific Division titles while going 61-21 in 2000-01 and 59-23 in 2001-02.
The Kings reached Game 7 of the Western Conference finals in 2002 before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers and missing a chance to play for the franchise s first championship since 1951.
Adelman reached two NBA Finals during six seasons in Portland, and also spent two losing seasons coaching the Golden State Warriors.
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