BLOG UPDATE (10:40 a.m.): The news has been confirmed by the Kings media relations staff.
A Kings head-coaching position that has been a musical chairs post in recent years changed once again around 10 this morning, when - according to two sources close to the team - Reggie Theus was fired with assistant Chuck Person and assistant Kenny Natt was given the role of interim head coach.
While Theus entered the season on the hot seat because the option for his third season (2009-10) had not been picked up by the team, the seat had grown hotter by the day during the Kings' atrocious start. They have lost 14 of the last 16 games while dealing with the continued absence of injured shooting guard Kevin Martin (left ankle), yet quite clearly Sunday's blowout to the Knicks was one defeat too many for Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof and team basketball president Geoff Petrie. The Kings fell behind 43-21 after the first quarter and did it much the same way that had incensed ownership early this season, giving up a barrage of three-pointers (13 of 27) and allowing 100-plus points for the ninth time in the last 11 games.
While Natt will have 58 games to prove himself and perhaps earn a chance of retaining the job beyond this season, the Kings are expected to begin a coaching search for the third time in the last four summers. Unemployed coaches Flip Saunders and Eddie Jordan, should they still be available, will likely be pursued. Jordan is reportedly a candidate to take over in Philadelphia, and the Kings could make another change long before the summer based on such circumstances of urgency as well.
By all appearances, Person's firing is tied to his culpability as the team's defensive coordinator as well as his close relationship with Theus. While Natt was the lead assistant, Person had taken on much of the lead assistant role midway through last season and had a much greater influence on Theus. The firing means the Kings have yet another coach to pay to go away, as they owe Theus the remainder of his salary through this season from his original contract (two years guaranteed for approximately $4 million). They are still paying Eric Musselman as well, as the payment of his contract ($5 million remaining) was spread out over four years from his April 2007 firing.
Theus did not immediately return a phone call for comment. Stay tuned for more... - Sam Amick