Paul Westphal Had To Go
Somewhere, Reggie Theus is laughing.
Theus’ 38 win season in his only full year as coach in 2007-08 is the highest win total for the Kings since 44 wins during the 05-06 season, which was also the last season the team made the playoffs. In three full seasons since, the Kings have won a total of 66 games- ouch.
All indications are that the immediate reason the Maloof brothers elected to fire Westphal was because of recent issues with big man DeMarcus Cousins, essentially choosing Cousins over the coach. But if you’ve been paying attention to the Kings, this was about more than Cousins.
Rumors swirled last December about Westphal potential being fired before the end of the season thanks to a lack of performance, or improvement.
But throughout the first seven games, the team looked disjointed and uninterested. The season opening win over the Lakers should have been both momentum building and confidence building, especially for the younger players on the squad. Three nights later the Kings had a great shot at beating the Bulls, but couldn’t seal it.
The real problem has been defense, a notorious Westphal weakness for any squad he has ever coached. And without a big man like Cousins in the middle to erase defensive let downs, it isn’t going to get any better. The Kings are currently giving up 102+ ppg, the second most in the NBA. It’s easy to see why the Maloofs picked Cousins, especially after two full seasons to evaluate him and a third season starting out just as bad.
The Kings have as much talent at their disposal now as they have in recent memory. With a solid core of Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, Cousins, Jimmer Fredette, Johns Salmons, JJ Hickson and Chuck Hays, they shouldn’t be getting beat by double figures every night.
Even if it was just about the rift between Cousins and Westphal, why is anyone shocked about him getting fired? A team doesn’t give up on the fifth overall pick in the draft after one season and seven games. Cousins’ talent and physical size can’t be disputed. However, neither can what is perceived as a questionable attitude. But, the Kings knew his reputation when they drafted him. And if anyone thinks Cousins is the reason the Kings have only averaged 22 wins a year for three years haven’t watched many of their games.
Other potential reasons why Westphal was canned:
- The possibility of the franchise moving to Anaheim is always in the background. The only way they avoid that is by winning now.
- Even after the bad start and several bad years, the Kings are still 10th in the NBA in attendance. A change was needed to show the fans that management cares about giving them a quality product.
- Westphal was in the final year of his contract.
Now enters Keith Smart. In one full year as an NBA head coach, he guided the Warriors to a 10 win improvement last season, and was then dumped by the new ownership group. In his one season he improved the Warriors defense (seven less ppg) and rebounding (five more per game) which are two areas the Kings need serious help in.
If you’re a Kings fan, you should be happy- just like Reggie Theus.