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Kings First Test Without Malone Is Tonight

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Tyrone Corbin answers reporters questions for the first time since being named interim head coach of the Sacramento Kings.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The Sacramento Kings will play their first game Tuesday night without fired head coach Michael Malone.

Neither coaches nor players say they expected Michael Malone to be fired. The Kings started 9-6 this season, but then lost seven of nine during the time Demarcus Cousins was out with viral meningitis.  

Cousins says the loss of Malone is different from the time Keith Smart was fired a little more than a year ago.

"It's kind of hard," says Cousins. "I think it's a lot more emotional on the team this year because so many of the guys believe in Malone and his system.  This was just so unexpected."

Malone is well-known as a coach who focuses on defense. He was hired last June, by new owner Vivek Ranadive -two weeks before Ranadive hired general manager Pete D'Alessandro. D'Alessandro says he fired Malone because the coach's style of play was too slow.

"We want to be a compelling product," says D'Alessandro. "To get to that point, what philosophy are we gonna have? Who are we gonna be as an organization? What's gonna be our mark? How are we gonna, how are we going to  make our mark within this league?   This is a tough league. This is a tough conference. But, we're gonna get there."
 
D'Alessandro would not say how long interim coach Tyrone Corbin would be on the job.  Corbin turned his last interim coaching job into a three-year stint with the Utah Jazz.   

"I actually started thinking about it after meeting with Mike, now where do we go from here? Because you have to get the guys back when they hear about the change, so they don't go all over the place. So, those things will work themselves out shortly here, hopefully. My primary concern is we try and  put this team in the best position we can to try and win games."

Corbin says he plans to keep Malone's style of defense while doing his best to increase the speed of the offense.  The first test is tonight against Oklahoma City.

Both teams are 11-13. Oklahoma City has played most of the season without its two best players, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.