Tag:Paul Westphal
Posted on: January 6, 2012 6:44 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 8:00 pm
 

3-on-2: The Cousins Complication

3-on-2 explores the answers to two questions from each of our three bloggers on EOB. This week's topic? DeMarcus Cousins and the firing of Paul Westphal. 

1. Is DeMarcus Cousins worth the hassle for the Kings, specifically?

Ben Golliver: This was an excellent question to ask... before the 2010 NBA Draft. Now it's pretty much too late with things having evolved along a worst case scenario since the Kings opted to take the plunge. Cousins hasn't matured, he hasn't produced in such overwhelming volume that would make his pouting and off-court distractions worth putting up with and he hasn't played either so well that he is truly tradeable or so poorly that, a la Hasheem Thabeet, Sacramento can just cut ties and move on without him. Sacramento is stuck with him now whether he's worth the hassle or not. A new coach can bring a second lease on life to players who act out like he has. It's a possibility worth praying for in this case but don't bank on it.

Royce Young: Yes, for now. Cousins isn't guaranteed to be the problem. Sometimes players and coaches simply don't get along. Players with attitudes like Cousins can be successful in the league as long as they fit in and are part of a culture they fit. See: Wallace, Rasheed. Cousins has enough talent to wait it out. Keith Smart will be more of a players' coach than Westphal so if Cousins clashes with him and is clearly disrupting the locker room and bringing down the attitude and development of the team, that's when you part ways.

Matt Moore: Not for this team, I'm convinced. Cousins has the potential to be an NBA All-Star but he needs rigid structure. He has to have a team that puts very specific limits on his behavior, without doing so confrontationally. He needs veteran leadership to set an example for him. (COUGH* BOSTON* COUGH.) The Kings are in too much flux to hang on to him. He has great value, and you never want to give up on a player on a rookie contract with talent. The Kings don't need further headaches. They've created enough of their own.

2. Does firing Westphal after the Cousins incident this week set a dangerous precedent? If so, why, if not, why not?

Golliver: Firing Westphal was Sacramento taking a not-particularly-expensive stand against ineffective coaching and terrible relationship management. It was clear from Sacramento's second game of the season that the Kings weren't playing for him. Bigger than any individual player who winds up looking like a coach-killer or feeling like he can do whatever he wants with no repercussions is the message that you send to every player if you keep Westphal around as a lame duck. That message would be: "We're totally cool with totally sucking." New coach Keith Smart will need to work immediately to lay new ground rules for both DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans, who hasn't played to his capabilities this year, or Sacramento will be coach-hunting again before they know it.

Young: It only seems that way because Geoff Petrie for some reason allowed Westphal to send out that trade demand press release last week. Without that, we're probably talking about why Westphal was fired because over two-plus seasons he'd only won 50 games. You never want the appearance that a player got a coach fired, but remember, Jerry Sloan kind of sort of retired partly because of Deron Williams and that situation. It's not really anything new. It's an ugly situation and it kind of scares Cousins' already tarnished reputation, but it happens. It's a players league. Always has been and always will be.

Moore: Allowing the entire debacle paints the picture. Cousins didn't want to play for Westphal. Now he won't. The better approach would have been to recognize that Cousins was a bigger part of the Kings' future than Paul Westphal. Because the result is a situation that may have been justifiable, and yet still looks bad and makes management seem weak with regards to the next time a player becomes disgruntled.
Posted on: January 5, 2012 9:26 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 9:29 pm
 

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



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.
Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:37 pm
 

What's next for Kings after Westphal?



By Matt Moore


With the predictable, yet sooner-than-expected firing of Paul Westphal today, the Kings seem to be in disarray. But looking at the roster and the talent available, plus the job being in California (be it Sacramento or Anaheim), you have to consider it to be one of the more attractive positions likely to open this year. Yes, the franchise is in disarray from an ownership and organizational perspective, but this is the NBA. Those things magically fade to the background if you start winning with a talented roster, and the Kings have a talented roster.

So who's on the radar for the Kings? We're going to give you a few options the Kings might explore and how those options play out with the different coaches, but first you need to understand the complexities of the situation.

The Kings are not, publicly or reportedly, under any financial strain, beyond the losses which were poured over in lockout talks. But the Maloofs were hit hard by the economic recession, which helped fuel their desire for the move to Anaheim last year that was thrwarted by the NBA. One of the primay reasons many believed Westphal would not be fired this season was due to the salary that must be paid to him in addition to a new coach. That the Kings felt it was imperative to move on is a good sign for Kings fans, indicating that they're willing to pay out the rest of the deal to get started on a new chapter. Still, the price tag on many of the options below may be too high. The situation in Sacramento goes beyond "get the best coach available."

Keith Smart: In November of 2008, P.J. Carlesimo was fired from the Thunder after a 1-12 start. A young
assistant and former player Scott Brooks took over. Voila. OK, so Keith Smart is 47, and this is his third stint as interim head coach. But if Smart somehow manages to get through to this team (including yes, DeMarcus Cousins), that would be the best possible situation for all. Smart wouldn't cost a fortune and has continuity. Drawbacks? Well, he was part of the horrible start and he's failed to stick at the two previous interim spots. Smart drew mixed reviews in Golden State before the Warriors hired Mark Jackson. He's got his work cut out for him.

Larry Brown: Yahoo Sports already brought up this possibility, via an executive. Brown might be great for DeMarcus Cousins with his brutal, intense ways. It also might detonate. Brown has experience (there's the understatement of the year) and brings a high-value name to the project. But Brown is also renown for crushing the souls and dreams of young guards. Let's see. Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, Jimmer Fredette... yeah, this is like an execution line of hope under Brown. Brown's also 71, so he's not a long-term solution. He's also going to want more organizational control than GM Geoff Petrie is willing to surrender.

Don Nelson: Fast guards that don't play defense and a mercurial, angry forward? What could possibly go wrong here for Nelson? Nelson would likely want more control as well, and is no spring chicken either. But man would that team be fun to watch. This idea's already been floated by the Mercury News

Mike D'Antoni: See, it's a jump-to-conclusions mat! This one's out there, but it makes so much sense from a strategy standpoint. Say D'Antoni gets scapegoated (already happening) in New York because his front office listened to a former GM that wrecked their franchise and gave up the farm for a high-usage small forward who stuggles with anything except shooting out of ISO sets and rebounding. D'Antoni lands in Sacramento. Warmer weather. An explosive big man who's a bit of an enigma. Multiple players with liquid position skills. And a shoot-first undersized guard. Come on now. You want to watch this. Even a little. This has about zero percent chance of happening, but the idea was so good I couldn't resist listing it.

Phil Jackson: Haha, just kidding.

Mario Elie: Another Kings coach. Elie is popular with the players though, and has a longer history with the team. This is pretty unlikely given the team passing him over once, but if Smart is sent out at season's end after Westphal, Elie might be promoted.

Brian Shaw: The man many felt should have gotten the job in Los Angeles might want the chance to go after his old team. Shaw is a players' coach, which might be just what the Kings need. If he were to want to put the triangle in place, though, run as fast as humanly possible.

Quin Snyder: Snyder worked under the Spurs system in Austin as the Spurs' D-League coach, then as an assistant in Philadelphia under Doug Collins and this season as an assistant for Mike Brown and the Lakers. He's a development coach who can get through to players and has had nothing but good marks since his departure from Missouri. Plus Kings fans could get wigs of the hair, which is fun.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 2:35 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 2:49 pm
 

Kings announce firing of Paul Westphal

Posted by Royce Young

It seemed it was only a matter of time.

The Sacramento Kings announced the firing of head coach Paul Westphal Thursday, according to a release from the team.

“I want to thank Paul for all of his effort on behalf of the Kings,” said general manager Geoff Petrie. “Unfortunately, the overall performance level of the team has not approached what we felt was reasonable to expect. I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Assistant Keith Smart, who was the head coach of the Warriors last season, will take over interim duties for the Kings.

While the Kings have come out of the gates slowly while also looking disorganized at times, it's hard not to think that this had more to do with DeMarcus Cousins than anything else. The Kings picked Cousins. It's really as simple as that.

Westphal seemed to be at constant odds with the talented big man from Kentucky, suspending him last season for a locker room scuffle with a teammate, benching him for mocking an opponent and then suspending him again this season for reportedly yelling "Trade me!" following a game. Westphal even had the team's PR staff send out a release on his behalf announcing that Cousins demanded a trade.

Westphal though seems to be handling the firing with class.

“I would like to thank the Maloof family for the incredible opportunity they gave me to participate in the attempt to bring the Sacramento Kings back to prominence," Westphal said in the release. “While the job is far from finished, I am proud of the strides we were able to make. Geoff Petrie and his staff have been nothing but honest and supportive throughout my time here. They are first class in every way and I wish them nothing but success. My hope is to see the fans of the Kings and the city of Sacramento rewarded with many years of great basketball."
 
Teams fire coaches in these situations out of fear for their young talent. If it's perceived that young players are seeing their growth stunted by a stubborn head coach or just a guy that's not connecting with them, he's out. The Thunder did that very early on after a little more than a season with P.J. Carlesimo. You don't mess around when you're trying to develop young players.

Consider a young player like Jimmer Fredette who has walked into this situation and is trying to learn how to play NBA basketball with all this dysfunction around him. It can't be easy.

But it's hard to shake the Cousins situations. There's no question that Cousins is an immature, strong-headed player. Following a game this season where he was asked about the team's offense he snapped sarcastically, "What offense?" So you can understand Westphal's frustration, especially since he's a veteran coach that has been around the league for a long time. It just wasn't a fit. The team probably wasn't responding to him in practice, they looked disjointed and unorganized on the court and it was time for a change. I bet Westphal is actually relieved. 

Last season in December, there was a report out that Westphal had "all but lost his team" but managed to survive the season. Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com wrote this though last night after the Kings got pasted by the Nuggets: "Other than that, the Kings did a great impression of a team that has quit on its coach. How else to explain 2-for-20 shooting from deep, 32.6 percent shooting overall, plus 12 assists and 17 turnovers as a team? The Kings either quit on Westphal or they're playing like they're afraid he's going to write another press release about him." A few hours later, he's gone. 

Plus, you can't ignore the Kings situation in Sacramento. They are looking to get a new building financed or they could be moving to Anaheim. A lame duck coach with a team that hates itself isn't exactly the way to drum up public support.

Westphal was the coach of the team for two-plus seasons and had a record of just 51-120. He was in the final year of his contract with Sacramento this season.
Posted on: January 3, 2012 11:25 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:02 am
 

Report Card:The Bulls won ugly



By Matt Moore
 and Ben Golliver

A+ Andrew Bynum

The performance of Tuesday night came from Lakers forward Andrew Bynum, who continues the tear he's been on since returning from a 4-game suspension. Bynum notched 21 points, 22 rebounds and 3 blocks in a 108-99 victory over the Houston Rockets and finished with a game-high +17. Bynum again did work on both ends -- six offensive rebounds -- and was a monster around the hoop. Houston's bigs offered little resistance. The game marked the first 20/20 night of Bynum's career.

A Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers flew by the Thunder in the second half. Their team defense on Kevin Durant was crucial, particularly in keeping him off the line. The Thunder live at the stripe and the Blazers managed to force Durant into an inefficient night while not letting him get to the line. Throw in their usual great team defense and a huge win on the road.

A LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge battled Kendrick Perkins all night. And he worked him over. 30 points and 8 rebounds for Aldridge, who repeatedly torched him in the post and face-up. Perkins got under his skin, as you can see.



But Aldridge won the game, and repeatedly bodied Perkins out of the way to score at the bucket. Perkins only managed to get to LMA after he'd done his damage.

B Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies needed to get a win to stop their bleeding. Say hello to the Kings. It's a weak opponent but the Grizzlies needed a dominant performance and they got it from Rudy Gay with 23 points and 8 rebounds on 10-16 shooting. Without Zach Randolph but with Mike Conley returning, maybe the Grizzles can right the ship as the schedule evens out.

C Bismack Biyombo

Biyombo is pretty much what we thought he'd be. He makes a huge impact with his length but also gets lost on rotations and blows several possessions. In the Bobcats' loss to the Cavs you were impressed with the way he could impact plays like a giant tarantula covering the rim, but he also wound up -14 on the night.

D Sacramento Kings

Will someone get some water? Because Paul Westphal's chair has caught fire.

F Chicago Bulls' first-half offense

The Bulls scored 24 points... in a half. They had an efficiency rating of 54 in the first half against Atlanta, with a standard efficiency mark at any time during the game between 90 (poor) and 110 (vey good). So 54 is the lowest I've ever seen. They were beyond horrific. Only to be topped by...

F Atlanta Hawks' fourth-quarter execution

The Hawks were outscored 34-18 in the final frame, and did everything wrong. Took mid-range jumpers. Fouled Luol Deng 100 times. Didn't help enough on Derrick Rose, especially on the game winning layup. And the free throws. The Hawks clanged free throw after free throw when they had a chance to win, particularly Jeff Teague with seven seconds left which would have made it a three-point game. The Bulls did enough to get the win, but you have to say the Hawks lost this game more than the Bulls won it.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 12:07 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 2:50 pm
 

Kings say they will not trade DeMarcus Cousins



By Matt Moore


UPDATE: According to SI.com, the Cousins will re-join the Kings on their upcoming road trip to Memphis and Denver.

Despite the explosive situation between DeMarcus Cousins and head coach Paul Westphal, Kings ownership says it will not trade the temperamental but talented young power forward, ownership told the Sacramento Bee.
"We leave that stuff (the benching) to the basketball people," Kings co-owner Joe Maloof said before tipoff, "but we're not trading him."
via Ailene Voisin: Situation is 'tip of the iceberg,' coach says, so where is the rest? - Sacramento Sports - Kings, 49ers, Raiders, High School Sports | Sacramento Bee.

The Kings not trading Cousins is the proper path. There's absolutely no way to get adequate value after releasing a statement of the nature of Westphal's. They have a player they don't feel they can control, and with Cousins' talent, they can't simply dump him off, especially with the struggles of the team thus far this season.

As for Westphal, he spoke to reporters prior to the Kings' game against the Hornets. Kings blog Cowbell Kingdom has video, and the comments are pretty interesting.



Something that stands out here, is this quote from Westphal (transcribed by Cowbell Kingdom):
“Well, it’s interesting that he told me before he told his agent, but he told me twice. So it’s silly to have the agent deny it just because he didn’t get a call before DeMarcus talked to me that’s the easiest one of all to answer.”
Westphal is explicitly claiming that the trade request was legitimate and that Cousins simply hasn't informed his agent, rather than his agent's interpretation, which is that Cousins was saying, in effect, "If that's the situation, then trade me" which is different from a trade demand. We're talking semantics here, but they're important on all sides. 

It's also notable that Westphal says that to solve the situation, Cousins needs to do some soul searching. There's explicitly no claim of responsbility for the situation on Westphal's part. Which, if the situation is as bad as Westphal claims it is, isn't necessarily a fault. But it sets the table for how this situation is developing, which is that the coach feels this is all on the back of Cousins and not a two-way communication issue.

Tom Ziller at SBNation.com notes that the fact that the Kings did not suspend Cousins, instead just "sending him home," speaks to how the organization is being run. A suspension escalates the situation as it restricts his pay and can be appealed by the NBPA.

After this many incidents, however, at some point the Kings are going to have to face the situation head-on. Either Cousins is a part of the team's long-term future, or Westphal is. Because its hard to see either Cousins or Westphal changing their path at this point. It's not resolving itself, and even if Cousins is lacking in maturity, painting him into a corner this way isn't going to do anything to foster an environment of growth. Cousins may be too much of a problem to keep, but he's too talented to let go.

The Kings, for the moment, are stuck.

Here's reaction to the situation from Kings players after the game, courtesy of Cowbell Kingdom. There's a wide range of comments here, with the Kings players showing the kind of professionalism that Cousins needs to learn, even if Westphal is handling the situation badly (which is certainly up for interpretation). Yahoo Sports reports that Kings players have been irritated with Cousins' behavior for some time, with one source calling him "a bully."


Posted on: January 2, 2012 12:05 pm
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Posted on: January 2, 2012 12:02 pm
 

Kings say they will not trade DeMarcus Cousins

By Matt Moore

Despite the explosive situation between DeMarcus Cousins and head coach Paul Westphal, Kings ownership says it will not trade the temperamental but talented young power forward, ownership told the Sacramento Bee.
"We leave that stuff (the benching) to the basketball people," Kings co-owner Joe Maloof said before tipoff, "but we're not trading him."
via Ailene Voisin: Situation is 'tip of the iceberg,' coach says, so where is the rest? - Sacramento Sports - Kings, 49ers, Raiders, High School Sports | Sacramento Bee.

The Kings not trading Cousins is the proper path. There's absolutely no way to get adequate value after releasing a statement of the nature of Westphal's. They have a player they don't feel they can control, and with Cousins' talent, they can't simply dump him off, especially with the struggles of the team thus far this season.

As for Westphal, he spoke to reporters prior to the Kings' game against the Hornets. Kings blog Cowbell Kingdom has video, and the comments are pretty interesting.



Something that stands out here, is this quote from Westphal (transcribed by Cowbell Kingdom):
“Well, it’s interesting that he told me before he told his agent, but he told me twice. So it’s silly to have the agent deny it just because he didn’t get a call before DeMarcus talked to me that’s the easiest one of all to answer.”
Westphal is explicitly claiming that the trade request was legitimate and that Cousins simply hasn't informed his agent, rather than his agent's interpretation, which is that Cousins was saying, in effect, "If that's the situation, then trade me" which is different from a trade demand. We're talking semantics here, but they're important on all sides. 

It's also notable that Westphal says that to solve the situation, Cousins needs to do some soul searching. There's explicitly no claim of responsbility for the situation on Westphal's part. Which, if the situation is as bad as Westphal claims it is, isn't necessarily a fault. But it sets the table for how this situation is developing, which is that the coach feels this is all on the back of Cousins and not a two-way communication issue.

Tom Ziller at SBNation.com notes that the fact that the Kings did not suspend Cousins, instead just "sending him home," speaks to how the organization is being run. A suspension escalates the situation as it restricts his pay and can be appealed by the NBPA.

After this many incidents, however, at some point the Kings are going to have to face the situation head-on. Either Cousins is a part of the team's long-term future, or Westphal is. Because its hard to see either Cousins or Westphal changing their path at this point. It's not resolving itself, and even if Cousins is lacking in maturity, painting him into a corner this way isn't going to do anything to foster an environment of growth. Cousins may be too much of a problem to keep, but he's too talented to let go.

The Kings, for the moment, are stuck.

Here's reaction to the situation from Kings players after the game, courtesy of Cowbell Kingdom. There's a wide range of comments here, with the Kings players showing the kind of professionalism that Cousins needs to learn, even if Westphal is handling the situation badly (which is certainly up for interpretation). Yahoo Sports reports that Kings players have been irritated with Cousins' behavior for some time, with one source calling him "a bully."

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