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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: Dec 28, 2011
Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:05 pm

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

I wanted to make sure I get the first hiring Smart = dumb post. 

Since: Oct 7, 2006
Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:04 pm

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

They know nobody wants the job, the team stinks and they are moving at the end of the year.. this is what that comes down to. What mainstream coach is going to want to come in and establish himself with a team and then have to up and move his family at the end of the year.. this coach was already preparing for it because he was already there. its very easily understood in my mind. 

Since: Feb 16, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2012 9:57 pm

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

Westphal has always been a "I'll get out of your way" coach, and it almost worked with an extremely stacked Phoenix Suns team in the 90's that even I could have coached, but he doesn't command respect and doesn't get results.  That being said, the fact they fired him means Demarcus can steamroll a coach and get away with it.  I hope they at least told Demarcus if it happens again, it will be him thats going.  When a young player who thinks he's God gets a coach fired, watch out! 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or