Josh Smith going off on the Kings was seemingly the final straw for Mike Malone, who opposed ownership's plans to trade for the "talent" during the offseason. Despite an 11-13 start, of which seven losses came without their star DeMarcus Cousins, Malone was fired Sunday because of an irreparable relationship with the front office. Or simply because losing to the Pistons these days is a fireable offense itself.
Stan Van Gundy, who reportedly turned down a trade with the Kings for Smith, was asked about Malone's firing on Monday [via Detroit News]:
"They've played very good basketball and then their best player, who was playing at an all-star level easily, goes down and they struggled a little bit. Very, very strange." [...]
Van Gundy was asked if he could sense any discord from the Kings in their talks, although he has never publicly acknowledged the trade discussions ever got serious from the Pistons' end.
"I never really talked to them, so, no, I didn't get anything there," Van Gundy said. "We obviously follow them more than other teams and I knew how well they were playing early in the year. And I think they're still playing really well, they're just missing a big piece of what they do. It's unexplainable to me."
Obviously follow them more than other teams? There's your public acknowledgement. (UPDATE: Just kidding. They obviously followed them more than other teams because of the familial connection. I obviously wanted to take that another way.)
Here's another theory, though: Maybe Stan Van Gundy got Malone fired. Hear ME out. The Kings' front office wanted Josh Smith and pursued a trade for him despite Malone's objections. SVG turned them down. Smith puts up a huge, box-score-stuffing game that leads to another Kings loss. Ownership takes out their frustrations on the guy who didn't want Smith from the start. Maybe, just maybe, if SVG accepts the Kings' offers for Smith, as he should've done, Malone still has a job today.
Now your thoughts.