Reggie Theus has been fired as coach of the Sacramento Kings, according to NBA coaching sources.
Assistant coach Kenny Natt will be elevated to interim coach, sources said.
Theus is the sixth NBA coach to be fired before Christmas this season, joining Philadelphia's Maurice Cheeks, Minnesota's Randy Wittman, Toronto's Sam Mitchell, Washington's Eddie Jordan and Oklahoma City's P.J. Carlesimo.
Sources said that one of Theus' assistants, Chuck Person, was also dismissed with the Kings mired at 6-18, although star guard Kevin Martin has been limited to nine games because of injuries.
The Kings exceeded most external expectations in 2007-08 with a 39-43 record in Theus' first season as an NBA head coach following a successful stint coaching New Mexico State.
But Theus' relationship with management has been strained for months. An upset of the Los Angeles Lakers last Tuesday night without Martin appeared to ease the pressure on Theus, but the calm didn't last when the Kings were never competitive in a 24-point home loss to the Knicks.
I don't know what anyone was expecting here. No way was this team about to contend for the playoffs anytime soon and it's way too soon for any kind of hammer to fall on Theus. Someone's got an itchy finger for that "FIRE" button.
Getting blown out by the Knicks seems to be the kiss of death for coaches on the hotseat. Has anyone noticed that the Knicks aren't totally crappy anymore ... (I say this before back to back games against the Suns and Lakers)
I'll second that. It feels like the humanitarian efforts of athletes such as him, Dikembe Mutombo, et al. don't get enough attention, but there might not be such a thing as "enough". Here's hoping more athletes follow his example.