On a day away from the Golden State Warriors championship parade in San Francisco, Mike Brown appeared 90 miles on Interstate 80 on Tuesday, introducing himself as the Sacramento Kings’ new head coach.
“I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying that,” Brown said as he sat next to Kings general manager and president of basketball operations Monte McNair during his introductory press conference. “I really couldn’t come the way I wanted because of this stubborn press conference today.”
Although his celebration was subdued after his third title in six years as Golden State’s assistant, Brown said he was excited to discuss his fourth head coaching opportunity after two stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and a stint with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“The potential here, I really believe the potential is off the charts,” he said. “It excites me to think about it. … The players here, I’m excited.
“There are just a lot of opportunities here for this place to explode, and I want to be a part of that.”
There’s nowhere for the Kings to go but up.
Sacramento hasn’t qualified for the playoffs since 2006 and has finished in last place in the Pacific Division in seven of those 16 years. The Kings went 30-52 last season, firing Luke Walton midway through the campaign and then firing Alvin Gentry from his interim position after finishing 25th in offensive efficiency and 27th in defensive efficiency.
Brown addressed the playoff drought lead on Tuesday.
“There is no elephant in the room,” he said. “You can talk about it. We’re going to accept that. I’m not coming here to have fun, to be excited, to join the region. I’m coming here to win. So we’ll accept whatever is in front of us that talks about winning. So we’re looking forward to it.
Brown, who took the job as the Warriors were in the middle of their second-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies, said he was “heavily involved” in taking control of the Kings while finishing the championship run of Warriors. On Tuesday, he revealed the majority of his coaching staff, hiring Jordi Fernandez from the Denver Nuggets, Jay Triano from the Charlotte Hornets, Luke Loucks from the Phoenix Suns and Doug Christie, a former Kings player he played against in college.
“I’ve spoken to every player multiple times,” Brown said. “Some of them I spoke to in person. Some of them I spoke to on Zoom. Same with the staff who are still there, spoke to them on Zoom, spoke to them on the phone several Obviously, Monty’s wife is a great lady, but every once in a while she might get a little irritated with him because I think he answers my calls more than his.”
He said he took advantage of a day off between the Conference Finals and the NBA Finals to travel to San Diego and watch point guard De’Aaron Fox practice. He calls him “Foxy”, a nickname he gave him in high school when he dragged him to a basketball camp.
“Obviously I came away impressed with his speed, but I thought he was a defensive dog,” Brown said of Fox. “So there’s going to be a lot of pressure on him from me, not anybody else, to get back to what I know he can do at this level night after night.”
Brown said the Warriors’ defensive success last season despite a roster of players with limited defensive reputations shows what the Kings can do to that end.
“People look at Steph Curry, [Nemanja Bjelica]Otto Porter, Jordan Poole, [Andrew] Wiggins in Minnesota, I mean I could toe the line of personnel that we had with the Warriors and people didn’t think they could defend,” Brown said. And somehow we ended up the No. 2 defense in the league. Now, will we be next year? I do not know. Probably not. It will be a process. But I’m excited for all the guys.”
Brown also mentioned Davion Mitchell, Harrison Barnes, Domantas Sabonis and Richaun Holmes during the press conference, as well as the Kings’ No. 4 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, as reasons to be encouraged about the future of the team.
“I’m thrilled to be here in Sacramento,” Brown said. “I have a lot of friends who live this way. No one has told me or said anything bad about the area. It’s always been positive. And that’s even before I got the job. So I’m excited to be in… what is it? Sactown. Sacto. Sac. The Big Tomato, something like that. There’s a lot of different nicknames for it.