As Sam Amick continues to report brilliantly on the end of Reggie Theus, it's worth wondering if the whole coaching change really came down to management's distaste for Chuck Person and the latitude granted to him by Theus. Amick offers the latest evidence:
By the midway point of last season, Natt had become Theus' lead assistant in name only while Person assumed many of the duties typically tied to the lead role. He handled practice plans, and would eventually be so active during practices and game preparation that some players would jokingly ask who was the real head coach. Over time, the front office would begin to beg that question as well. [...]
From the front office's view, the contrast between what Theus was and what Natt could be grew as the culture around the team became more lax in Theus' second season. What's more, their vastly different reputations when it came to ego, personal habits and the problems that arise when they mix with the professional, and management style were heavily considered.
Both Person's control and Theus' lax discipline combine to create power vacuum, from my view. It's hard to blame Person for grabbing the reins: you assume he saw the team's problems and saw that Theus had not addressed them. Person has not been shy in interviewing for head coaching positions, after all. He believes himself to be a leader.
And honestly, who knows how good a head coach he could be? As a "mere" assistant, he didn't have the authority in the eyes of the player. His defensive plan might be brilliant, but without Ron Artest perhaps the Kings found it confusing or silly to pay him so much mind while Theus (we assume) controlled the rotation.
Is it possible that Theus' tenure had been as messy and directionless as that of Eric Musselman? It seems hard to believe, given the reported nature of the Musselman/Scott Brooks relationship. But certainly, Theus did not provide the solid core of strength management believed it would get with his hire. That the Maloofs turned on the coach so quickly makes it clear his pitch failed the implementation stage.
All of this, of course, makes Natt's new gravity feel promising, results be damned.