Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has considered firing George Karl, who was hired as coach four months ago to help turn around the struggling franchise.
Ranadive's displeasure with Karl stems from the coach's desire to trade All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
No potential replacement for Karl has been mentioned or considered, and while removing Karl would appease Cousins, it would not necessarily end the dysfunction that is crippling the franchise, sources said.
"If you fire Karl, now you can't control Cousins because he'll know he's running the place," a source said. "Now he'll feel like he's telling you what to do."
A huge fan of Cousins, Ranadive has been steadfast in refusing to grant Karl's wish, but Karl's attempts to have Cousins moved have worsened an already poor relationship between the coach and player.
There was pushback from Cousins' camp when the Kings hired Karl, and the Sacramento Bee reported that Cousins and Karl haven't spoken for months.
Cousins appeared to allude to the situation in a tweet Thursday afternoon.
What's done in the dark comes to the light ...💯— DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) June 25, 2015
During the hiring process, Karl told Ranadive he was looking forward to coaching Cousins. But shortly after taking over the team, sources say Karl soured on Cousins. The quick about-face baffled and upset Ranadive, sources said.
No firing is imminent, but in discussions with members of the Kings' basketball department, Ranadive has broached the subject of whether the team should get rid of Karl.
"He's brought up the possibility of getting rid of George over the last few days," the source said.
Ranadive did not return phone calls from ESPN.com.
When Ranadive was considering hiring Karl in February, some members of the organization told him it was the wrong move. Ranadive has recently told at least one of those people that he or she was right in trying to dissuade him from the hire.
In February, Karl signed a four-year deal worth a reported $14.5 million. The final year was non-guaranteed with a $1.5 million buyout. Karl is guaranteed $11 million.