Rudderless. Lost. Lacking an identity.
Over the last 16 years, there have been brief moments when the Sacramento Kings were on a clear path for more than a few minutes. They’ve dabbled more than sticking to a real plan. Building something that resembles a winning culture has been next to impossible.
Since Hall of Famer Rick Adelman walked out the door following the 2005-06 season, 11 head coaches have come and gone in Sacramento. Very few of these coaches have rebounded to have any substantial success after leaving their post with the Kings.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Mike Brown era was ushered in, marking the 12th coach in the last 16 years and 20th front man since the Kings moved to Sacramento from Kansas City prior to the 1985-86 season.
The feeling around Brown is different. His resumé is different. His recent experience is different. His goal of finding a soul within the walls of Golden 1 Center is different.
“Every organization out there, in my opinion, has a soul…a soul,” Brown said. “And the stronger that soul is, the better that organization will be.”
"Every organization out there, in my opinion, has a soul...has a soul. And the stronger that soul is, the better that organization will be." -Mike Brown
— James Ham (@James_HamNBA)
Jun 21, 2022
The 52-year-old is fresh off his third title run in six seasons as an assistant coach on Steve Kerr’s Golden State Warriors staff. His personal record of 347-216 and .616 win percentage is stunning, especially when added to his four championship rings (3 with the Warriors, 1 with the Spurs).
Without a doubt, Brown is the most decorated coach that has walked through the door in Sacramento outside of Adelman and maybe George Karl. He definitely has more hardware than any other coach in Kings history.
As Brown took the stage alongside general manager Monte McNair on Tuesday, De’Aaron Fox, Terence Davis, Davion Mitchell and Richaun Holmes all joined the press conference room in a show of support for their new head coach.
There is no guarantee that all four of these players, or any of the current roster in Sacramento outside of Fox and Domantas Sabonis, will make it to opening night. The group still stood in while their coach laid out his three basic tenants.
The first item Brown is looking for is a “vertical and horizontal alignment of trust within all the units of the organization.” This isn’t just about the players and coaches. From ownership, to the front office, to the medical staff to the business side, Brown is searching for synergy and trust.
Second on Brown’s list is that there has to be a set of values on the table that are driven home from the leadership, beginning with himself. He didn’t fully lay out what his values are as a coach, but somewhere there is likely a color coded binder that has a section filled with expectations for working under Brown as a coach, player or staff member.
Lastly, Brown is looking for everyone in the franchise to know their role and to embrace it. Again, that doesn’t just go for the eight or nine men in the rotation, but in the organization as a whole. He wants buy-in from top to bottom and that is how he sees the Kings franchise finally turning things around.
“If those three elements come together at a high level, we’ll have a winning culture here that is sustainable and long lasting,” Brown said.
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Brown inherits a sordid history. A 16-year playoff drought is the symptom of years of instability and chaos. Brown comes from winning organizations that have figured out how to embrace success, but there is so much that has to be unlearned in Sacramento as a new foundation is being laid.
His current squad won just 30 games last season. The roster is likely to look completely different in the coming days, but it will take more than just a coaching staff pulling in one direction to right the ship. It’s all hands on deck and even then, there are rough waters ahead.
The Kings’ franchise has chewed up and spit out plenty of coaches. Every new one comes in with a plan and rarely survives long enough to implement anything beyond the basics.
There is a lot to like about Brown and his approach. Positive energy oozes from his pores and his smile lights up a room. His laugh is infectious and his presence is that of a winner.
He is officially joining the Kings just hours before an incredibly important and busy stretch in the offseason. Brown will watch his front office work over the next 48 hours leading up to the draft and he’ll be there every step of the way moving forward as they attempt to build a roster that is playoff worthy.
For now, he is likely a well-informed cheerleader in the proceedings, but his input will likely be held in very high regard. McNair knows that he needs to provide more talent. He knows that he needs to provide Brown with defensive options and more shooters. Hopefully this is the beginning of a long and successful relationship between the Kings’ coach and GM.
Welcome to the Mike Brown era of Kings basketball. If he can find the soul of this franchise and succeed where others have failed, he’ll have a chance to stick around long term.
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