Tag:Paul Westphal
Posted on: December 24, 2010 2:46 am
Edited on: December 24, 2010 6:54 am
 

Joe Maloof denies Petrie, Westphal in trouble

Kings owner Joe Maloof denied a report by CBSSports.com Friday that the team was considering firing GM Geoff Petrie and coach Paul Westphal after 21 losses in 23 games. 

“There’s nothing going on,” Maloof told CBSSports.com by phone. “Paul Westphal is the coach and Geoff is our general manager. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s going to stay.” 

When pressed, Maloof said definitively that Petrie and Westphal will be in their positions for the remainder of the 2010-11 season regardless of how many games the team loses. 

“Yes,” Maloof said. “We’re not making any moves. The answer is yes.” 

A person with direct knowledge of recent statements by a high-ranking member of the organization painted a different picture, telling CBSSports.com that frustration with the Kings’ 5-22 record had reached a breaking point. At one point after the Kings’ 84-79 home loss to the Bucks Thursday night, owner Gavin Maloof was overheard in the tunnel saying that the culture of the organization had to change. “It’s time to hit the reset button,” Gavin Maloof said, according to the source. 

Gavin Maloof did not return a phone call seeking comment early Friday. 

His brother, Joe, expressed confidence in Petrie and Westphal, citing the team’s past two first-round picks, Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, who has been fined, kicked out of practice, and most recently, fined and benched by Westphal for making a choking sign during a loss to Golden State Tuesday night. 

“DeMarcus Cousins, he’s going to be a tremendous player,” Joe Maloof said. “He’s going to have his ups and downs just like any rookie does. I’m telling you the way I feel. He’s got extraordinary talent, and with he and Tyreke, we have a tremendous future. … I think going forward, we’re in a great, great position. We’re in a wonderful situation.” 

One of the people who earlier spoke to CBSSports.com, on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss company business, said there were concerns within the organization about whether Westphal was the right coach to calm Cousins’ combustible personality and groom him into a dependable star. 

Joe Maloof said, “We’re very, very happy with all of our young players and I see a bright future with DeMarcus.” 

The same person said Petrie has gone to bat for Westphal, urging the Maloofs to give him time with Cousins before making an assessment. He said the Maloofs were deeply concerned about Westphal – Petrie’s hire – because they view Cousins as “the hope of the franchise,” and they were beginning to fear that, “Paul isn’t the right guy to mature this guy.” 

“He’s not at war with his coach,” Joe Maloof said of Cousins. “That’s not true.” 

When confronted about whether the Maloofs were concerned that Petrie had urged them to exercise a guarantee in Westphal’s contract for 2011-12 -- given the turmoil with Cousins and the losing -- Joe Maloof said, “We’re glad we did it. We did it for a reason. And the reason is that we have a lot of confidence in Paul. He’s a true professional. He’s a class act. 

“We’ve got a very young team, an inexperienced team with no veteran leadership,” Joe Maloof said. “And that’s something that we’re going to look to acquire in the future. We know what our deficiencies are: our shooting and free throws. But we’re in every game to the wire. It’s been very frustrating we’ve lost these games. You have your peaks and your valleys, and right now we’re in a valley. So what? You can climb out of that valley, and we will. We have the assets. We have the resources. When you have the cap space, it’s a tremendous thing in the NBA. And it’s a tremendous thing going forward. Next year, we’ll have a lot of money going forward. We didn’t want to spend our money until we knew what the consequences would be with the collective bargaining agreement.” 

Sources said John Whisenant, a longtime friend of the Maloofs and the GM and coach who led the Sacramento Monarchs to the WNBA championship, was at the top of the Maloofs’ list of candidates to succeed Petrie as GM. Assistant coach Jim Eyen, a longtime assistant for former Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, was the probable choice to take over as interim coach. But with Joe Maloof saying definitively early Friday that no in-season change would be made with either position, those plans are on hold. 

Petrie, understanding that his job security had taken a hit when he agreed to a severe pay cut this season, had been urging the Maloofs to let him groom his son, Mike, to replace him, according to sources who said the Maloofs recently rejected the idea. 

After enjoying a honeymoon period in his first season as Kings coach, guiding Evans to a rookie-of-the-year campaign that nonetheless resulted in another trip to the lottery, Westphal has had nothing but turmoil in his second year on the job. According to a person close to Westphal, his authority was hampered by Petrie’s selection of Cousins, a known character risk, with the fifth pick in the draft. True to his reputation, Cousins has caused problems from the beginning and very quickly began to affect Evans' attitude, the person close to Westphal said.

When asked when he wants to see progress with the current roster and executives in place, Joe Maloof said, “We want to see progress, but like I mentioned to you, our future’s very strong. … We look forward to having a lot of cap room in the future and to be able to make some moves then. 

"When we see a player that comes along that has an opportunity to help our franchise, we’ll do that,” he said. “Bt we’re not going to spend money just for the sake of spending money. That cap space is precious. It’s precious.”
Posted on: December 22, 2009 10:21 am
 

Spotlight on the Kings

Not long ago, ARCO Arena was one of the most unique and hostile environments in the NBA. The Kings are a long way from recreating those glory days, but it’s time to notice their surprisingly good start.

Sacramento improved to 13-14 Monday night with a truly amazing comeback from a 35-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Bulls 102-98. Caveat No. 1: This outcome said more about how dysfunctional the Bulls than how good the Kings are. Caveat No. 2: It’s ridiculously early to start talking about a playoff race, but the Kings are only 2 1-2 games out of the eighth spot with 55 games to go. Just saying.

What are the keys to the Kings’ early success? Where do they go from here? Let’s break down the team from Sac-Town:

Tyreke Evans: Brandon Jennings got much of the early buzz in the rookie of the year race, but Evans is fashioning a death grip on the award lately. Even if Blake Griffin comes back after the New Year, puts up consistent numbers, and single-handedly saves the Clippers, he will be hard-pressed to overtake Evans. This kid’s the real deal.

• Paul Westphal: Some thought the former Suns coach was coming back simply to go through the motions and cash a paycheck. Think again. Westphal, who hadn’t drawn up an NBA play since 2001, was the perfect coach for this team. He’s always excelled at coaching young players, and more importantly, he enjoys it. That kind of coaching is infectious.

Jason Thompson: After showing flashes as a rookie, Thompson is taking full advantage of an expanded role, more minutes, and increased confidence. His averages have increased in every major offensive category, starting with scoring (from 11.1 ppg to 15.4). What’s interesting is that the Kings’ brass aren’t necessarily surprised by Thompson’s progress. Sources say he’s improved about as much as the team expected.

Omri Casspi: While Evans, Jennings, DeJuan Blair, James Harden, Ty Lawson, and others have stood out in a surprisingly strong rookie class, no team has two rookies performing as well as Evans and Casspi. The first Israeli-born player in NBA history has exceeded the team’s expectations, emerging as a reliable starter with three 20-point games in the Kings’ last seven – two of them on the road.

Beno Udrih: As with Luke Ridnour in Milwaukee, most people assumed Udrih would fade into the background with a talented lottery pick starting from Day 1 in the backcourt. But just as Ridnour has with Jennings, Udrih has settled into a key support role for Evans. Not only can Udrih’s ball-moving abilities allow Evans concentrate on penetrating and scoring, he’s also shooting 53 percent from the field and 45 percent from point range, both career highs.

Kevin Martin: All of this is happening with the Kings’ best player out since early November with a wrist injury. Martin has begun shooting before games and is inching closer to his projected January return.

Disclaimer: The Kings understand that unexpected success can easily revert to expected mediocrity. GM Geoff Petrie and assistant GM Jason Levien also understand that Sacramento has enjoyed the third-easiest scheduled in the league thus far, with an opponent winning percentage of .452. Only the Nuggets and Celtics have had it easier. But the Kings’ rapid progress with this young group has changed the game for the front office as the trade deadline looms in February.

Having believed that this was probably going to be a non-playoff/development year, the team had every intention of letting Kenny Thomas’ $8.6 million expiring contract come off the books next summer and then explore at most a mid-level free agent. But if the Kings keep winning once Martin returns, Petrie is expected to be more open to dealing Thomas as part of a package that would bring back a solid front-line player with an eye toward transforming this lightning-in-a bottle start into a playoff berth.

Stranger things have happened. And at a time when the NBA is dominated by the haves at the expense of the have-nots, it’s good for the game when a plucky team from the hinterlands authors a surprising success story.
Posted on: June 1, 2009 2:53 pm
 

Kings trying to set date for Rambis interview

The Sacramento Kings already have interviewed Paul Westphal and Tom Thibodeau for their head coaching position and hope to sit down with Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis on an off-day during the NBA Finals.

Sacramento had hoped to meet with Rambis as early as Wednesday, but a person with knowledge of the situation said a date has not yet been set. One possibility under consideration is a Saturday meeting -- two days after Game 1 of the Finals and a day before Game 2 at Staples Center.

Internally, there was a strong feeling in the Sacramento front office that former Kings and Wizards coach Eddie Jordan would emerge as the front runner. According to a source, Jordan called the Kings two days before accepting the Philadelphia job and said he was getting close to an agreement with the Sixers. The Kings informed Jordan that, while they believed he would be a good fit, they needed to interview two other candidates.

Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee has speculated that Westphal has emerged as the front runner for the job, having thoroughly impressed Kings G.M. Geoff Petrie in his interview and having floated a reasonable price tag -- $1.5 million per season. The fact that Westphal and Rambis (two candidates with head coaching experience) and Thibodeau (whose reputation as a defensive mastermind has him at the forefront of every coaching search) indicates that Petrie and his basketball lieutenants have seized control of the search from the Maloof family. The Maloofs have pushed an in-house candidate -- John Whisenant, G.M. of the WNBA's Ssacramento Monarchs -- during previous coaching searches.

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