As the Sacramento Kings’ newest coach, Michael Malone is entering uncharted territory. For the first time in his career, he’ll have no head coach to answer to. It will be a major adjustment for Malone who previously served as lead assistant for the Golden State Warriors.
But one of his former players thinks he’ll do just fine in his new position. Warriors guard Stephen Curry believes that Malone has what it takes to be a good head coach in the league.
“I think he’ll do great,” Curry said on a media conference call Tuesday afternoon to promote the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe next month. “He knows the game well. The way that he approaches day to day with the X’s and O’s in the game, I think he’ll acclimate to being that head guy. And (it’s) just a matter of getting players behind him and getting the right roster that can accentuate his style of play.”
Malone has made it known that he has three major goals to accomplish as the Kings’ new coach. In his inaugural year at the helm, the 42-year-old first-timer would like to change the culture, make sure players develop and establish a defensive-first identity.
In Oakland this year, Malone helped guide the Warriors to a much-improved defense. As Mark Jackson’s lead assistant, Malone played a key role in Golden State’s jump into the top 10 of four major defensive categories: rebounding (28th to 3rd), defensive rebounding (24th to 1st), opponent field-goal percentage (20th to 3rd) and opponent three-point percentage (28th to 7th).
He believes achieving a similar kind of turnaround is possible in Sacramento, but knows that patience will be important when it comes to seeing results. His former point guard would agree.
“To see how Coach Malone takes that head job and what kind of style he plays, it’ll be a work in progress,” Curry said. “But I think he’ll do a great job and I think it’s a good hire for the Kings moving forward.”
Another major question Malone must address is his how he’ll build rapport with DeMarcus Cousins. Malone has voiced his support of the 22-year-old center and would like him to be part of the organization’s future.
Based on his dealings with Malone, Curry thinks that he’ll handle Cousins with a “strictly business” attitude.
“I don’t think he’ll accept any kind of drama on his team…” the 25-year-old guard said of the Kings 25th coach in franchise history. “I’m sure he’ll have conversations to see what to expect from each other. DeMarcus is one of the main guys on that team so you gotta make sure that he’s on the same page with the head coach.”
When it comes to dealing with star-caliber personalities, Malone does have the benefit of experience working in his favor. Before Curry, he coached LeBron James in Cleveland and Chris Paul in New Orleans. In his travels around the NBA, the 42-year-old coach has built a solid reputation for cultivating good relationships with players.
In that regard, Curry thinks that the ball will be in Cousins’ court to accept Malone’s vision and direction.
“I’m sure they’ll work that out and that they won’t waste any time in practice and especially in games to continue to get better,” Curry said. “Especially DeMarcus, he’s a really young guy so this is an important time for him.”