Monday, June 17, 2024

Mike Brown, Kings far apart on extension talks as 2023 Coach of the Year enters contract year

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Mike Brown led the Sacramento Kings to one of the greatest turnarounds in recent NBA history only a year ago. After missing the playoffs 17 years in a row, Brown took on the Kings and their head-coaching job. He immediately led Sacramento to 48 wins and a titanic postseason clash with the defending champion Golden State Warriors that ended in a Game 7 defeat. Still, the season marked significant progress for a Kings team that had otherwise known only failure in recent seasons.

That progress seemingly stalled this season. The Kings dropped by only two wins this season, from 48 to 46, but the loaded Western Conference knocked them from a No. 3 seed all the way down to No. 9. They ultimately lost in the Play-In Tournament to the New Orleans Pelicans, and now, Brown is fighting just to receive a well-deserved contract extension. 

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, there is a “gulf” between the two sides in current contract talks, so they have tabled negotiations for the time being. Brown has one guaranteed season remaining on his current deal.

Coaching salaries have exploded over the past year. It started when Monty Williams signed a six-year, $78.5 million deal to take over the Detroit Pistons, and extensions for championship coaches like Steve Kerr and Erik Spoelstra have reflected the new nature of the marketplace. The Athletic’s Sam Amick and Anthony Slater reported that Brown is looking for a figure in the $10-12 million per year range, and that might explain a possible disconnect. It likely starts with the team operating under that old paradigm whereas Brown would be expecting something closer to what the current market dictates.

Kings beat writer James Ham reported that the team’s “failure to repeat the success of the previous year hasn’t sat well with ownership,” but it’s worth noting, again, that the Kings declined by only two wins and did so despite injuries to key players Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk. The Kings employed 11 different head coaches during the lottery streak, so it’s hard to imagine them doing better than the 2023 Coach of the Year if they decided to look elsewhere.

Coaches rarely go into contract years without new deals. It risks their standing in the locker room as players can perceive them as a lame duck. Brown has been essential to Sacramento’s run of success over the past two seasons. Keeping him in place will be critical moving forward. If that means breaking the bank, then so be it.

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