Skip to content

Kings coach Michael Malone on his players: ‘These guys have got to take responsibility’

Dec 24, 2013, 9:55 AM EST

Sacramento Kings v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

What’s bothering Kings coach Michael Malone?

Right now, it seems to be Sacramento’s 22 turnovers in a loss to the Pelicans on Monday and the Kings allowing 39 fourth-quarter points in a loss to the Hawks on Wednesday.

After the the loss to New Orleans – Sacramento’s fourth defeat in five games, which dropped the team to 8-19 – Malone gave one of the most direct interview sessions of the season. If it was on his mind, he said it.

The highlights, via News 10 (click through for video):

  • “It’s the same problem every night. I guess we’ve got to some better players that can contain the basketball, because right now, we can’t.”
  • “We’re a bad basketball team. That’s the bottom line. We’re a bad basketball team right now.”
  • “We’re not that good where we can give teams 22 extra possessions. I’ll tell you that much. I don’t know if we can beat them if we give them zero extra possessions.”
  • On Rudy Gay: “He played bad. That’s it. He had a bad game. And he wasn’t the only one. We had a lot of guys that didn’t play well tonight.”
  • “You know how hard it is to give up 39 points in a quarter? That is embarrassing. I’m embarrassed. I don’t know if anybody in that locker room is embarrassed, but I’m embarrassed.”
  • “I can’t control the turnovers. I can’t make the passes for them. That’s – at some point, these guys have got to take responsibility. Plenty of times this season, I’ve put it on me, and I’ll do that. But I tell you what, each guy in that locker room has got to start looking in the mirror and owning up and taking responsibility for their play. And we don’t have a lot of that right now.”
  • “How many times do you have to hit rock bottom? I mean, Look at our record. We’ve hit rock bottom four or five times now. Maybe some of these guys are so used to losing, they’re accustomed to it. I’m not. I’m not used to losing. I’m used to being in the playoffs and being a competitive team that takes pride in its defense. Right now, we don’t have a lot of guys that do that. So, I’m not sure what their rock bottom is, but I hit my rock bottom about one week into the season.”

Oh boy.

An NBA coach blaming his players like that is a dangerous game. Sure, Malone interjected a cursory “I’ve put it on me, and I’ll do that,” but everything else he said suggests otherwise. He’s putting it on the players.

On some teams, that can motivate the players into trying harder and performing better. On other teams, it leads to distrust and revolt.

I hope, for Malone’s sake, he knows what he’s doing. He certainly has more exposure to the personalities of the Kings than I do, so he’s better positioned to make that judgment – assuming the comments were a tactical decision and not an emotional outburst Malone now regrets.

But this would be a good time to remind Malone he’s 8-19 as an NBA head coach. Is he really so certain the Kings’ problems are the players faults and not his? Are all his schemes ideal? And if they are, has he taught them coherently?

It takes a lot of self-confidence for a rookie head coach to assume it’s the players and not him. To say so publically puts Malone on a whole other level.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Monday night’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Monday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

For what it’s worth, told of Malone’s unhappiness, DeMarcus Cousins indicated agreement rather than rebellion. Via News 10 (click through for video):

  • “It’s like an old record playing. It’s the same s— every night. We break down defensively. We don’t talk. It’s the same s—. And when you keep up with the same s—, you’re going to get the same results, and that’s what we’ve been getting.”
  • “It’s excuses. We’re looking for excuses. That’s all it is. We’re looking for excuses.”
  • “I won’t say it’s effort, but it’s an excuse. ‘Well, this man didn’t do that. So, I couldn’t do that.’ it’s excuses. Guard your man. Do your f——- job.”

Cousins scolding his teammates for not doing their jobs defensively? He’s not exactly an ideal messenger. Zach Lowe of Grantland evaluated Cousins before the season and wrote:

We tend to think of selfishness as something ball hogs exhibit on offense. But Cousins, to this point in his career, has been a selfish defender in lots of ways. He tries to minimize the amount of energy he expends executing the team’s scheme, and as a result, he stays very close to his own man when his team really needs him to be helping more aggressively. Even when he slides over on time to try to contain the opposing point guard on a pick-and-roll, he often leaves his help spot early, after offering only a token wave of the hand.

Cousins has improved in this regard this year, but a partial season of unselfish defense doesn’t give him the high ground – especially if his teammates are complaining that they can’t rotate properly because Cousins doesn’t.

He needs longer to earn the benefit of the doubt. Yet, he’s still pointing fingers.

Maybe he just took a cue from his coach.

Latest Posts
  1. Flip Saunders: Corey Brewer too valuable to trade

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:51 AM EST

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Orlando Magic Minnesota Timberwolves v Orlando Magic

    Cavaliers and Rockets were reportedly interested in Timberwolves forward

  2. Pizza promotion revamped because the 76ers can’t win a single game

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:14 AM EST

    Who would have figured offering a 50 percent discount following Philadelphia wins wouldn’t work?

  3. K.J. McDaniels’ mom slams 76ers on Twitter

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

    Houston Rockets v Philadelphia 76ers Houston Rockets v Philadelphia 76ers

    Add rookie’s mom to long list of people angry about 76ers tanking

  4. Stan Van Gundy fires back at Suns’ Markieff Morris

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:15 AM EST

    Orlando's Stan Van Gundy shouts during an NBA playoff basketball game in Indianapolis Reuters

    Morris said Pistons’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope “doesn’t have any heart”, Van Gundy fires back.

  5. PBT Extra: How would the NBA benefit from legalized sports betting?

    Nov 20, 2014, 8:15 PM EST

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    Adam Silver’s support for legalized sports betting is making him unpopular in some circles.

  6. Seven Grizzlies players questionable Friday with stomach virus

    Nov 20, 2014, 7:30 PM EST

    Tony Allen Tony Allen

    The virus has affected almost half of Memphis’ roster.

  7. Kevin Love: “I’m just trying to find myself in this offense”

    Nov 20, 2014, 6:45 PM EST

    Enes Kanter, Kevin Love Enes Kanter, Kevin Love

    Love is averaging 16.7 points per game in his first year with the Cavs.

  8. NBPA ready to appeal Jeffery Taylor’s 24-game suspension

    Nov 20, 2014, 6:00 PM EST

    Jeffery Taylor Jeffery Taylor

    NBPA director Michele Roberts calls the suspension “excessive.”

  9. Kobe Bryant says he and Kevin Durant didn’t mean what they said about Dwight Howard

    Nov 20, 2014, 3:40 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Rockets star has taken plenty of verbal abuse lately from opposing players

Featured video

Can Rockets, Grizzlies keep up hot starts?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (7754)
  2. D. Wade (7191)
  3. K. Durant (6476)
  4. R. Westbrook (5528)
  5. N. Young (5434)
  1. T. Jones (5304)
  2. K. Bryant (5055)
  3. R. Gay (5052)
  4. I. Shumpert (4969)
  5. B. Beal (4809)