George KarlThe worst kept secret in the NBA right now is the Sacramento Kings’ plan to hire George Karl as their new head coach. The team sure is taking its sweet time, though, both in hammering out a deal and making an announcement — an announcement of any kind. Karl’s name was first bandied about for the job way back in December after owner Vivek Ranadive dropped the guillotine on Mike Malone. Instead of picking up Karl and at least giving his team a puncher’s chance at being in the mix for the eighth seed, Ranadive installed Ty Corbin as interim coach to play out the season, Jazzketball-style. The Kings have gone 7-20 since, and, unless they turn into the 1996 Bulls overnight, aren’t challenging for a playoff spot.

This brings us to last week, when the Orlando Magic fired their coach, Jacque Vaughn. According to reports, the Magic — who don’t dilly-dally (like the Kings) — immediately pursued Karl, putting the pressure on Ranadive to hire they guy he wanted all along (but was willing to wait until the season was over to actually pull the trigger). Funny how things progress when somebody forces your hand. Still, signing Karl hasn’t been an easy task.

Cousins’ “camp” consists of agents Dan Fegan and Jarrin Akana, who both have history with Karl and his son, Coby (whose name has been mentioned as a member of George’s potential coaching staff):

Karl’s personal past with a number of influential members in and around the Kings organization remains relevant as well, as he previously coached Kings advisor Chris Mullin and has history with the two agents who represent franchise centerpiece DeMarcus Cousins as well. Cousins’ day-to-day agent, Jarrin Akana, worked with Karl in Denver and was re-assigned from assistant coach to scout when Karl took over for coach Jeff Bzdelik in 2005. Dan Fegan, Cousins’ lead agent, represented Karl’s son, Coby, as a player for years before he was eventually replaced. That circle, by all accounts, has been against the notion of adding Karl.

By Monday, it appeared talks were progressing.

Then, there was the unfortunate timing of Dean Smith’s passing, and Karl is currently on his way to North Carolina for the funeral, so any formal announcement would have to wait until after that. Of course, there’s another hitch in the announcement process. According to the Sacramento Beewhose sources confirmed Karl has, in fact, been hired — the team is waiting even longer so as not to overshadow Cousins’ appearance in the All-Star Game in New York City.

Karl’s hiring will not be formally announced after the All-Star Game, according to sources, because team officials don’t want the hire to distract from center DeMarcus Cousins’ first appearance in the annual game on Sunday.

As of now, Karl will be formally introduced on Monday, and his first game as head coach will be February 20th.