Blog Entry

Kings sign Smart as head coach... for two years?

Posted on: January 5, 2012 9:26 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 9:29 pm

By Matt Moore

So Paul Westphal was fired today as head coach of the Sacramento Kings. That's not really surprising, given the disappointing start to the season for the Kings and the continuing discord between Westphal, star power forward DeMarcus Cousins, and the general unrest in the locker room. Assistant coach Keith Smart was assigned as head coach for the time being, then immediately upgraded to interim coach. OK, that makes sense. Smart's been interim coach for two different teams in the past, has a lot of experience, and the Kings could use a steady hand and won't want to pay the money to essentially bring on a second coach when they have to pay out the rest of Westphal's contract. 

This all makes a modicum of sense, at least in the way that most NBA things do. 

But then there's this.

Yahoo Sports reports that the Kings have signed Smart for two years, with the deal guaranteed through 2013.

Sorry, come again?

The Kings have just committed to two years of a very qualified, very well-respected interim coach...who went 36-46 with the Warriors last year. The Kings are in a crucial position right now. They have to get Cousins back on the track to not only calming down emotionally, but contributing efficiently on the court. Tyreke Evans has to get sorted out because his game is mess right now. Marcus Thornton has to learn how to play off the ball. The team has to learn what a pass is. There's a world of work to be done, and if it goes wrong, it's going to set the franchise back another two to three seasons. 

Which is why you don't buy the cow just because you know it can produce milk of some kind.

I want to be clear, it's not that Smart can't work out. For all we know this could wind up as a genius signing if Smart pulls a Thunder Brooks and takes the team to the next level. It's a different situation entirely in a lot of ways but "young team with talent struggles, fires its coach and finds its answer from within" is not an impossible scenario. But you want to leave yourself an out.

Putting Smart in for the rest of the year gives you the ability to look for an upgrade at season's end. If someone is looking to get back into coaching and likes what he's seen of the Kings and is an upgrade on Smart, why not take a look at him? If Smart really does excel, you can always re-sign him or extend him. Even make the second year non-guaranteed. It's great to give a coach your confidence and the ability to coach without fear for his job. But you're not worried about this year in terms of wins and losses. You're worried about the next four years. 

The terrifying element behind this for Kings fans is that it seems financially-related. Getting Smart now at a cheap price keeps their costs low.  It seems like a move made not for what's best for the team, but to cover for the financial impact of Westphal without risking Smart's price going up. And for a team in the Kings' situation, they can't afford to not afford what's best for the organization.

Since: Aug 23, 2010
Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:40 pm

Kings sign Smart as head coach... for two years?

The problem was Westphal doesn't know how to call a set play.  He is a defensive coach and doesn't have a offensive mindset.  You are not going to be around long if your a defensive coach and your team is poor defensively as well as offensively.  Westphal was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  You have the youngest team in the NBA you should be running teams out the gym not walking the ball up giving it to one person while the other four stand around.  You have to coach to your talent and sometimes the talent doesn't fit your system so you have to adjust and Westphal didn't adjust.  Smart just told the players to go out a play hard and don't worry about anything.  They overcame a 21 point deficit against the Bucks and that wouldn't have happened with Westphal coaching.  The Key here is to just let the players go out and play and let the identity develop and go from there because right now they have no identity.Cool

Since: Oct 10, 2006
Posted on: January 6, 2012 10:45 am

Kings sign Smart as head coach... for two years?

Until this team gets rid of the MaGoof brothers AND Petrie expect not much to change!

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: January 6, 2012 10:32 am

Kings sign Smart as head coach... for two years?

While I agree it was unnecessary to extend Smart, it isn't as though the Kings have to keep him if things don't work out.  If the season goes poorly and Smart proves he is not the guy, buy out his contract...which is probably around 1 million a year.  A lot of money to you and me, but not so much to an NBA owner.  Chances are, Smart actually survives into next season.  Expectations aren't that high for the Kings, so they'd have to be really bad to prove that a change has to be made.

Since: Jan 6, 2012
Posted on: January 6, 2012 10:01 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Feb 19, 2007
Posted on: January 6, 2012 7:09 am

Kings sign Smart as head coach... for two years?

As a Warrior fan, I say good luck to Keith Smart...He got a raw deal with the Warriors last year - he deserved better...Kings fans, don't worry, I watched just about every Warrior game last year and it was obvious Smart knows what he's doing. Nice to see him get another chance so soon.

Since: Jan 6, 2012
Posted on: January 6, 2012 1:00 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Mar 30, 2010
Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:50 am

Trailer Park Team

A.) Nobody cares about the NBA.--- B.) 2nd year dunce identifies and rids team of weak coach equals... what? I don't know, and don't care. --- C.) Kings going to Anaheim in 2013 anyway because taxpayers in Sacto will not fork over a half BILLION for 41 home dates per year. Even at 10 years of home games that's 12 million dollars per game the city hands over to private entity that owns the team and threatens to move again in 20 years. Keep doing the math. Can Sacramento tax payers afford to pay the NBA $6 million per game for a twenty year stretch? Exactly how many tax dollars are earned at each game via the 12 dollar beers????

Since: May 16, 2007
Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:46 am

Kings sign Smart as head coach... for two years?

YAY! THE IGNORANT COACH JUST GOT FIRED! Was my response on 11/27/00 when the Sonics fired Westphal.Smile

Since: Aug 9, 2009
Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:13 am

Kings sign Smart as head coach... for two years?

The Kings had a chance to make a statement as a franchise with a young team that this is how things were going to be dealt.  Now they have a young team full of egos who think they can get their way and will have more power than any coach they have.  Smart will be a pushover for them like he was in Golden State and the Kings will sink further into NBA obscurity. 

Since: Mar 8, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:42 pm

Kings sign Smart as head coach... for two years?

I agree w/ Eichler34: While I like Westphal, he's alays seemed to me to be a coach who guides, not one who teaches. That was not a good match for the Kings, as young & inexperienced as they are.

But allowing even the APPEARANCE of a "bratty, selfish player gets coach fired" scenario strikes me as a very dangerous move for a troubled organization. Leaving aside the "is Smart a good choice?" question for the moment, how many quality NBA coaches can you name who would want a job with this kind of negative atmosphere surrounding it?

I agree; I couldn't think of one, either.

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