Caron Butler: Kings locker room deflated when George Karl wasn't fired

Remember when the Sacramento Kings pretty much fired coach George Karl right before the All-Star break? Remember when they suddenly decided not to? That was a weird time to be a King, and -- guess what? -- it did not affect the team in a positive way. Sacramento forward Caron Butler appeared on ESPN's First Take on Friday and spilled the beans, saying that the team never addressed Karl trying to get DeMarcus Cousins traded and the last part of the season was a slog.

"As players, from All-Star break and everything, I mean, as far as we knew, he was fired," Butler said. "We're in Philadelphia a game before All-Star break and all of a sudden it's like, 'You're not moving [on], I'm coming back.' It was deflating to the locker room, it was deflating to the guys, and we tried to move forward and tried to do the best that we possibly could. But that was deflating to the team, it was a big blow and it was tough to move forward."

At the time, the players didn't want to talk about how toxic the situation was, or they would at least use coded language when doing so -- Cousins' comments about there being "a bigger issue" affecting the team was the best example.

Now that Karl has been fired, though, the Kings are free to explain what was weighing them down. Sacramento big man Willie Cauley-Stein told Sirius XM NBA radio a couple of weeks ago that everybody knew the relationship between Karl and Cousins was not going to get better, and ultimately Cousins was going to run the show. Cousins sat down for a long interview with Sports 1140 KHTK and talked about the "chaos" and lack of trust that marked the short Karl era. No one will look back on Karl's 112-game tenure with the Kings fondly.

Sacramento hired former Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger to replace Karl three-and-a-half weeks ago. He has a tough job ahead of him, but the good news is that things can only get better from here.

George Karl in Sacramento
George Karl is not exactly beloved in Sacramento. USATSI
CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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