Sacramento Kings fire Luke Walton, name Alvin Gentry interim coach

The Sacramento Kings promoted associate head coach Alvin Gentry to interim head coach after firing coach Luke Walton on Sunday, the team announced.

The Kings have lost seven of eight games and dropped to 6-11 on the season -- leaving them 12th in the Western Conference. Several recent losses came against struggling teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves.

"We all know all of us have to be better, especially over the last two weeks,'' general manager Monte McNair said. "We're not meeting expectations. That's not just on Luke. That's on me, the rest of our coaches and players. Everyone acknowledges that.''

Gentry will be taking over his sixth NBA team. He will get a pay raise and already was under contract for the 2022-23 season on his assistant coaching contract, sources said. Kings assistant coach Rico Hines, meanwhile, has been promoted to the front of the bench, sources said. Hines was hired to Walton's staff as a player development coach in 2019.

The Kings are discussing potential benchmarks of success for Gentry the rest of the season that could serve as possible parameters on keeping the job on a long-term basis, sources said.

"I think we have the talent,'' McNair said. "We've shown that we can do that. We're going to get back to that and Alvin will be the guy to lead us there.''

Still, this is an interim coaching job and the struggling Kings could be opening another coaching search in the offseason.

Walton was 68-93 in two-plus seasons as Kings coach.

The Kings have been one of the league's worst defensive teams under Walton, ranking 26th in defensive efficiency this season and last in 2020-21. This season, Sacramento also ranks 26th in defensive rebounding percentage, 29th in paint points per game allowed and last in second-chance points per game allowed, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Sacramento has the longest active playoff drought in the NBA (since 2006). In those 15 years, the Kings have had 10 head coaches; Gentry will be the 11th since Rick Adelman led the Kings to their last playoff berth.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.