The Kings (finally) paid Mike Brown

“Time-out!”. “I would like to challenge that game,” setting rotations and running drills. Is all that worth $10 million a year? Well, that’s an oversimplification of what Kings head coach Mike Brown does.

The public negotiations between Mike Brown and the Sacramento Kings had become embarrassing, confusing, and fitting for this Kings organization. Luckily for Kings fans, this all ended Friday night when the Kings and Brown agreed to a three-year extension that runs through 2026-2027.

The Kings have a proven track record of fumbling every time something comes their way. The Kings get the second pick in the NBA draft… they take Marvin Bagley. After winning 39 games for the first time in thirteen seasons, they immediately fired their coach and hired Luke Walton.

I believe the Kings were right to pay Mike Brown, but I will explore the reasons for paying him and for waiting to pay him.

Pay Mike Brown!

After trying to decide between Mark Jackson and Mike Brown, the Kings landed on Mike Brown. He spoke about culture and building it during his first press conference. Brown said he wasn’t worried about the NBA’s longest playoff drought at the time.

In Brown’s first season, the Kings landed the best NBA offense and the third seed in the West. However, they lost to the Warriors in seven games because they are the Kings.

Nevertheless, Mike Brown was unanimously named coach of the year. He completely changed the culture and the Kings were no longer the laughing stock of the NBA. That value is worth a lot of money to Kings fans. It was nice not to have writers, podcasters, and analysts constantly mocking the Kings and how stupid they are.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 25: Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings reacts during their game against the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center on January 25, 2024 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The glass half full of last season is as follows: the general manager made virtually no changes to the team, while the teams improved internally (Timberwolves and Thunder). Other teams like the Suns and Clippers brought in players to improve their teams. The Kings just brought back the same team that won 48 games last season and ended up only winning two games this season.

That two-game drop isn’t huge. Yes, it took them from a three-seed to a nine-seed. But two games are just two games. The team went from hunters to hunted and instead of just being a match on the teams schedule, they were the ‘beam team’ coming to town.

Defense wins championships

Mike Brown is not an offensive coach, or at least that is not his reputation. The Kings were incredible on offense his freshman year and less incredible his sophomore year. The Kings jumped from 24th to 14th in defensive rating from Brown’s first to second years.

Player development is a huge aspect of coaching. There’s a reason why all the first-round picks fail and all the second-round picks don’t end up on the bench. Keon Ellis has been an absolute revelation on defense this season. He took over as top guard after two-guard Kevin Huerter went down. Coupled with an injury to Malik Monk, Ellis had to step up. He did.

Keegan Murray would make an ultimate leap into the offense in year two. He didn’t. Instead, he stepped up on defense. Murray guarded the team’s best offensive player all season, whether it was a guard or a forward.

Coach Brown deserves credit for developing these two young players and putting plans in place to help them succeed.

The two teams in the NBA Finals, the Mavericks and Celtics, ranked sixth and first, respectively, in defensive rating this season.

Wait and pay Mike Brown

I don’t think you can make the argument for not paying Mike Brown. He deserved some kind of raise. However, the Kings had a regression from season one to season two.

Their offense, which was incredible and historic in its first season, took a step back. Yes, some players had trouble making shots. But the coaching didn’t seem to help the players adapt to the misses.

The Kings lost games to teams they shouldn’t have lost to. Teams like the Pistons, Wizards and Hornets. Not being prepared for the games they should win is the responsibility of the coach and his staff.

In fact, the worst thing about the Kings were the times they led by more than 10 points and lost. They lost 15 of those clues. Once again, some of the blame for this must be placed on the coaching staff. Inflated leads happen, but they can’t stay that way. If the Kings had been able to hold on to just a third of that lead, they could have finished the season tied for fourth in the Western Conference.

Would it have hurt to wait to see how the Kings did next season? No, that wouldn’t be the case. Ty Lue coached last season on an expiring contract and just got paid. It obviously wouldn’t be unprecedented. If Brown and the Kings haven’t improved, maybe evaluate where he is and if he’s the right guy for the future.

Keon Ellis’ strange year

I gave credit to Mike Brown for developing Keon Ellis. However, I have to go back a few paragraphs and take back some of that credit. Ellis wasn’t thrust into the rotation until mid-March after an injury to Kevin Huerter.

SACRAMENTO, CA – APRIL 16: Keon Ellis #23 of the Sacramento Kings drives to the basket during the game against the Golden State Warriors during the 2024 Play-In Tournament on April 16, 2024 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Ellis averaged 10.5 minutes per game in the four months before Huerter’s injury. As of March (including the two play-in games), Ellis averaged 28.2 minutes per game. It seems like Ellis and the team would have benefited from more playing time and development. Was Brown a little too loyal to Huerter, who was riding off a poor shooting season from the playoff series against the Warriors?

What the kings did

The Kings have never had a coach as good as Mike Brown since Rick Adelman. They won’t find a better coach to come to Sacramento on the market. The rising coaching market gave Brown time to demand more money.

Brown completely changed the image of the Kings, and these public negotiations hurt the Kings more than Brown. It was strange to negotiate with someone who has achieved so much, against the backdrop of the team’s decade and a half ago.

Brown finished with something around 3/30 extra time. He earned it, and I don’t want to imagine where the Kings would be without him.

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