SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Rick Adelman made eight straight
playoff appearances in eight consecutive winning seasons coaching
the Sacramento Kings. His teams won two division titles while
crafting an exciting new image for one of the NBA's least lovable
And it wasn't nearly enough to save his job when the Kings'
owners and executives looked at their empty trophy case.
The Kings chose not to renew the contract of the most successful coach in franchise history Tuesday in a moved mostly motivated by the club's desire
for something better than the above-average results delivered by
Adelman, 14th on the NBA's career list with 752 coaching victories.
Geoff Petrie, the Kings' president of basketball operations,
wouldn't give any clear-cut reasons for the decision not to extend
Adelman's contract, which expires in September. But owners Joe and
Gavin Maloof, apparently dissatisfied with Adelman for years, are
widely thought to be behind the move.
Sacramento was eliminated from the playoffs Friday by the San
Antonio Spurs, and the club wasted no time removing the final
on-court link to the franchise's revitalization in 1999, when the
run of consecutive playoff appearances began.
"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
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, who has won more games than all but five active
coaches, spent this season as a lame duck, but still got the Kings
into the playoffs at 44-38 with a midseason makeover as a
Sacramento made a tremendous late-season surge after the arrival
of Ron Artest, who got along well with Adelman. The notorious
forward jokingly said he would play for free next year if Adelman
and free-agent guard Bonzi Wells were re-signed.
Adelman's departure ends the most successful tenure by far of
any coach in the franchise's peripatetic history -- from Rochester
to Cincinnati, from Kansas City and Omaha to 21 seasons in
But although Petrie refused to acknowledge it, the Maloof
brothers have been unhappy with Adelman's leadership for at least
two seasons. Adelman had far more success than all 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
When pressed on the reasons for Adelman's departure, Petrie
replied: "I've answered that to the extent that I can."
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 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.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein, who earlier this season speculated on Don Nelson as a possible Adelson successor, reports that the Kings do not have to ask the Mavericks for permission to hire Nelson.
Nelson, who is currently an advisor to Dallas owner Mark Cuban, has a clause in his contract that makes him a coaching free agent at season's end. He earned $5 million this season; his salary will drop to $1 million next year.
Adelman, who plans to meet with reporters at the Kings' training
complex Wednesday, didn't immediately return a call seeking
comment. He would be a prime candidate for any offseason vacancies,
but few coaches are expected to change jobs this summer -- and
Adelman might want to take a prolonged vacation after his
tumultuous years with the Kings.
Adelman is 752-481 in 16 seasons as an NBA coach, the last eight
in Sacramento, where he won 395 games and led the Kings to the most
success in a franchise history that stretches back to the NBA's
founding days, when they were the Rochester Royals.
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. We
were so focused on trying to get the team there, trying to
reconfigure the style of play."
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. 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 2001-02 and 59-23 in 2002-03.
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. Only Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Jerry Sloan, Phil Jackson
and George Karl have more victories among active coaches.
Information from the Associated Press is included in this report