Can Warriors assistant Mike Brown end Kings’ 16-year playoff drought as new head coach?

For their next head coach, the Sacramento Kings are reportedly turning to someone who has helped guide LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kobe Bryant to their respective greatness.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Kings will hire current Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Brown to be their next head coach. Brown has been an assistant with Golden State since 2016 and before that, he was a head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers. 

Wojnarowski notes that Brown will finish Golden State’s current postseason run before assuming his new role with the Kings. Golden State is up 2-1 in their second-round series with the Memphis Grizzlies. 

Brown will inherit a Kings team that is currently built around lightning-quick point guard DeAaron Fox and the offensively versatile Domantas Sabonis. Supporting the team stars are reliable veteran Harrison Barnes, defensive ace and 2021 lottery pick Davion Mitchell and solid role players like Donte DiVincenzo, Richaun Holmes and Maurice Harkless.

Despite the talent on the roster, the Kings finished the 2021-22 season with a record of 30-52, good for 12th overall in the Western Conference, right between the disappointing star-studded Lakers (33-49) and tanking Portland Trail Blazers (27-55).

The Kings had two coaches during the season, first coached by Luke Walton and after his midseason dismissal, Alvin Gentry assumed the mantel. Gentry and a trade deadline deal for Sabonis couldn’t get the Kings to the postseason as Sacramento has now missed the playoffs 16 years in a row, the longest playoff drought in NBA history. 

Can Brown end Sacramento’s playoff drought?


Mike Brown

Looking at the landscape of the Western Conference, getting to the postseason will certainly be a difficult challenge for Brown.

The Clippers will certainly improve with Kawhi Leonard returning from injury and the same could be said of the Denver Nuggets, who will likely welcome back scoring forward Michael Porter Jr. and the dynamite offensive talent that is Jamal Murray. The Lakers could also be much improved as well, especially if LeBron James and Anthony Davis remain healthy. Even the Trail Blazers should be better as superstar Damian Lillard is expected to return healthy after missing most of the season with an abdominal injury. And let’s not forget about Zion Williamson, who could return from a season away and join an up-and-coming New Orleans Pelicans team. 

Plus there’s the youthful talent in teams like the San Antonio Spurs (made the NBA Play-In Tournament), Minnesota Timberwolves (lost in the first round) and Grizzlies (No. 2 in the West and currently playing the Warriors in the second round).

Difficult may be an understatement for Brown and the Kings.

Kings playoffs drought history

The most recent coach to get the Kings to the playoffs was Rick Adelman, who last coached the team in 2006.

After he was fired, the Kings have had a revolving door of coaches with notable names including Paul Westphal, current Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone, 2022 Hall of Fame inductee George Karl, Dave Joerger, Walton and Gentry. 

According to Wojnarowski, the Kings organization has given Brown a clear objective: “End the longest playoff drought in NBA history and return the Kings to the postseason for the first time in 16 years.”

Brown’s coaching history

Brown though, has over two decades of NBA experience and based on his resume, he could end up guiding the Kings in the right direction during his first season. 

San Antonio Spurs

The 52-year-old coach started his NBA journey with Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs in 2000. He was part of the coaching staff that helped guide the Spurs to the 2003 NBA championship. That Spurs team was led by 2003 MVP Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili as well as veteran big man and Hall of Famer David Robinson.

Indiana Pacers

Brown then became the associate head coach for the Indiana Pacers in 2003, working under Rick Carlise. During his tenure with the Pacers, the team was led by Jermaine O’Neal, Ron Artest and Hall of Fame shooting guard Reggie Miller. The 2004-05 Pacers were viewed by many as a championship contender but the infamous Malice at the Palace halted the team from reaching their full potential. Brown was a key member of the incident, going into the stands to remove Artest from the situation.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Brown got his first head coaching chance with the Cavaliers in 2005. He immediately made a difference, guiding the LeBron James-led team to a 50-win season and a postseason berth for the first time in the superstar forward’s career. 

Under Brown’s guidance, the Cavs made it to the NBA Finals in 2007. Cleveland did end up getting swept by the Spurs but Brown and James’ ascension to superstardom kept the Cavs as potential championship contenders until his eventual dismal in 2010

“Mike Brown is a great coach,” James said in 2011. “He brought us success that we hadn’t had before in that city, and it started with his defensive concepts. He brought in a defensive mindset that we didn’t have. 50-plus wins, he was Coach of the Year, he got us to the (NBA) Finals, won us the Eastern Conference Finals … because of him and his coaching staff. I respect him. He definitely helped me become who I am today.”

Los Angeles Lakers

Brown quickly got another head coaching opportunity, signing with the Lakers in 2011 after Phil Jackson stepped down from the position and retired. Los Angeles was no Cleveland for Brown as he didn’t achieve the same success.

In his first season with the team, Brown guided the team to the second round. But after the team made moves to add Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to an already star-studded roster featuring Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the Lakers went 1-4 at the start of the 2012-13 season and Brown was quickly fired.

Golden State Warriors

Despite his quick dismissal in Los Angeles, the Cavs gave Brown another shot to be their head coach. That second opportunity only lasted for one season as Brown was let go after failing to guide the team to the postseason.

But Brown’s career was quickly rejuvenated by the Golden State Warriors.

Brown joined Golden State in 2016 as the team’s assistant coach. He was part of the coaching staff during the dynastic championship run, winning the Finals in 2017 and 2018. Brown even coached the Warriors to a 12-0 record in the 2017 playoffs when Golden State coach Steve Kerr was sidelined due to a painful back injury.

Only time will tell if Brown’s experience makes a difference in Sacramento. He is known as a defensive coach, though, and will need to immediately improve on Sacramento’s 27th ranked defense if they want to be in the hunt for a postseason berth. 

One thing is clear though, the Kings will at the very least have an experienced and capable head man in Brown guiding them next season. 

Brown head coaching record

Team Year Record Result
Cleveland Cavaliers 2005-2006 50-32

Lost in second round

Cleveland Cavaliers 2006-2007 50-32 Lost in NBA Finals
Cleveland Cavaliers 2007-2008 45-37 Lost in second round
Cleveland Cavaliers 2008-2009 66-16 Lost in Eastern Conference Finals
Cleveland Cavaliers 2009-2010 61-21 Lost in second round
Los Angeles Lakers 2011-2012 66-41 Lost in second round
Los Angeles Lakers 2021-2013 1-4 Fired
Cleveland Cavaliers 2013-2014 33-49 Missed playoffs, fired in 2014
TOTAL   347-216  
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