Sacramento Kings owner and management say rumors are false. Neither Head Coach George Karl nor All-Star Center Demarcus Cousins are on the way out.
An ESPN report says Karl is pushing management to trade Cousins but Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive won't agree.
At an event Tuesday at the downtown arena site, Vlade Divac, Vice President of Basketball Operations, blamed the media for stirring things up. He said Karl and Cousins will remain with the team this year.
Divac has been preparing for this week's NBA draft.
"I know what I have to do is to improve our team and Demarcus is -- I've said 20 times -- is gonna be a part of it," says Divac. "Step-by-step. In two days we have a draft. We have to pick a good piece that will improve us."
After serving lunch to construction workers at the new downtown arena, Ranadive spoke to the media to dispel notions that he is meddling with the way coach George Karl runs the team on the court.
"You know, I'm mostly working with Vlade and he's a hall-of-fame coach and I expect we're gonna have a great season," he says.
That’s when Divac jumps in to answer basketball-related questions.
"I'll talk about it because I am more familiar with this stuff," he says, while making a point to say he is responsible for those decisions.
"So far, it's a lot of pressure on me," says Divac. "I'm in charge of making good decisions. I have intention to do that. So, let me do my job and we will see in a month or so."
Divac was hired in March even though the team already had a general manager, Pete D'Allesandro. D'Allesandro left the team June 10 to return to his former employer, the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets then hired Michael Malone to be the team's head coach. Malone was fired as the Kings' coach in December. D'Allesandro said at the time it was his decision. Ranadive told Capital Public Radio that former adviser Chris Mullin had first brought up the idea of firing Malone and that Ranadive agreed.
Mullin left the Kings last month to become head basketball coach at St. Johns University.
The Kings began last year with a winning record, but went into a tailspin when Cousins contracted meningitis and missed 10 games. Malone was fired December 14 after the team lost two of the first nine games it played without Cousins.
Karl was hired in February after the squad lost three-quarters of its games under interim-head-coach Ty Corbin.
Karl had previously worked in Denver when D'Allesandro was an assistant general manager with the Nuggets.
Karl told reporters Tuesday the ESPN report is wrong.
"I think it's all a lot of crazy, crazy fibs and lies," he says. "You know it's a just a situation where you know we won 29 games last year. And as a basketball organization we want to get better. Cousins is our best player. We know that. We want him committed and dedicated to being in Sacramento and playing and leading us to the first playoffs for the first time in Sacramento in six, seven, eight, nine years."
The Kings have the sixth pick in Thursday's draft.
Divac has said he is open to a trade -- not involving Cousins -- before then.
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