The Dallas Mavericks beat the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, 130-111. After putting together a three-game winning streak, the Kings now head into the All-Star break with two straight loses and a 21-33 record. During the third quarter of the loss, Luke Walton got a technical foul and then turned his attention to Luka Doncic. Walton yelled at Doncic to give the referees autographs because they were fans.
There was a time when Luke Walton was the hottest coaching candidate in the NBA. During his first season as an assistant, the 2014-2015 Golden State Warriors won the NBA Championship. The next season, Walton stepped in for an injured Steve Kerr and helped lead the Warriors to a 39-4 start on their way to the best record in NBA history. Unfortunately, those wins didn't count towards his official record as a head coach because it remains his winningest season.
Walton took the head coaching job for the Los Angeles Lakers the next season. The Lakers hired him without interviewing anyone else to keep him away from the Kings and Knicks, who were both interested. The first season after Kobe's retirement was actually an improvement as the Lakers went from 17 to 26 wins. The Lakers won 35 games the next season and 37 with a portion of LeBron James last year. Walton was fired after the season. With Anthony Davis and a healthy LeBron James, the Lakers have already won 41 games this season as they head to the All-Star break.
Within 24 hours of losing that Lakers job, the Sacramento Kings hired Walton. Coming off a 39-43 season where they just barely missed the playoffs, expectations were high. Instead the team has taken a step backwards and currently have the 13th-best record in the Western Conference.
Even if the NBA wanted to do Walton a favor by throwing in the 39 wins with the Warriors, he'd still be 27 games under-.500 for his career. Maybe he was just thrown into an impossible situation with a rudderless Lakers team, but the complete regression of a young Kings team is troubling. Walton is the Kings' 10th head coach since they last made the playoffs in 2006 under Rick Adelman. While Vlade Divac and the Kings are standing by Walton now, you have to wonder how many more loses Walton can withstand.