Perhaps sooner than he could have hoped, Tyrone Corbin has been given another chance.
But it's not without mixed emotions, including a good bit of frustration. Corbin was fired as head coach in Utah after last season. He was then hired as an assistant by the Sacramento Kings by head coach Mike Malone. But, after the Kings' 11-13 start didn't meet expectations, Malone was fired and Corbin was named interim coach, with the interim take ultimately removed this week.
"It's a blessing to have an opportunity to coach these guys for the remainder of the year," Corbin said before his Kings played the Wolves at Target Center on Thursday night. "But there is still work to be done."
It has been a challenge. A defensive-minded team under Malone, the Kings have tried to open things up offensively under Corbin. The transition hasn't been smooth; the Kings are 3-6 under Corbin, and the emphasis on changing the offense has resulted in defensive lapses as well.
All while knowing Corbin replaced the good friend who hired him.
"It's always tough when you've worked with someone like that," said Wolves assistant Sidney Lowe, who was Corbin's assistant for three years in Utah. "I know coach Corbin, and his emotions are very mixed because he's a very loyal guy and I know he likes Mike. It's a tough way to get the position. ... It's part of the job, but it's a tough thing."
Almost as tough as turning the Kings around. Corbin is still trying to get the Kings moving on offense while getting back to their early-season defense. "We need balance on both ends of the floor," he said. "We've paid so much attention trying to pick up the pace, but we have to get back to getting some stops."
Martin on the mend
It's been five weeks since Kevin Martin had his broken right wrist operated on, four weeks since he started rehab. But his wrist is feeling so good Martin said it's not out of the question that he might return within two more weeks.
"Hopefully sooner," he said. He took a number of shots Wednesday and did so again Thursday, without pain. Suddenly a timeline that indicated a return after eight to 10 weeks of rehab — a return in six weeks was the best-case scenario — has perhaps been shortened. It was assumed that Martin would return after both Ricky Rubio (ankle) and Nikola Pekovic (ankle). Now he might be the first of the three to return.
"It actually feels good," Martin said. "I really thought this one was going to be closer to the 10-week mark. … But it feels good. I have to get some swelling down, but there is progress."
Wolves coach Flip Saunders said before the game that Martin might get a game or two in the D-Leageue as a tune-up before his Wolves return. Martin, though, sounded like a guy who didn't think that was necessary.
"That would be my decision," Martin said. "I don't know how much sense that makes. I haven't been out a year. I had this injury before, I know what it takes for me to get back. I'll just see. I'm all right. I'm a gazelle. I can run all day."
Meanwhile, Saunders said Pekovic would have an MRI on his ankle next week. If it comes up clean, Pekovic — who has been doing some running on the treadmill — could begin easing back into practice.
A new name
Wolves veteran Thaddeus Young says the team has a nickname for second-year teammate Shabazz Muhammad: Bazz Buckets.
"I have never seen somebody who can instantly get buckets the way that he does," Young said.
"He's a guy who's going to go out there and he's capable of getting anywhere from 10 to 30 points, depending on what type of night he's having."
Staff Writer Jerry Zgoda contributed to this report.