I still don't think Reggie Theus should be fired during the season. I feel I need to make that disclaimer every two days because given all the news and commentary surrounding the team, it's easy to see a criticism and assume they are among the growing "Fire Reggie!" chorus. I'm not a part of the chorus. I think that his finish last season, his committment to the team's best weapon, and his ability to adapt to the situation at hand (by benching Mikki Moore) has built up enough capital for him to keep his job.
But this is a Kings blog, and we can't avoid the fact Theus could very well save or damn his job Tuesday night against the best team in the conference.
Logistically speaking, there is a lay-off between Tuesday's home game and the Friday rematch in L.A. Then the team plays four games in five nights. The final of those four games begins a road trip which ends two days before Christmas. A Toronto-Boston-L.A. Clippers homestand follows Christmas. Then there's another two-day break.
Coaches rarely get fired on road trips. (Sam Mitchell lost his job after a 39-point loss in Denver with one road game left on the trip. It was noted as an odd occurence by pundits.) Coaches do get fired around Christmas, unfortunately, but Reggie isn't your average coach, in terms of his public persona and his relationships with the guys who would do the firing.
The Denver loss was huge -- HUGE -- in terms of Reggie's near future. As we've been over quite a bit in the 36 hours hence: with a healthy roster, rest and practice time, you cannot come out and play so unfocused, unexcited and unbelievably bad at home to a non-elite team. Denver is good, but they are not "blow you out in the first five minutes" good.
With another egg, there's no way you can count on Geoff Petrie's attitude staying even. By all accounts, Petrie has the gavel here. Everything points to the idea that the Maloofs have given Petrie permission to can Theus -- once again, he's the patient, forgiving one. (See: Musselman, Eric and Brooks, Scotty.) There's a key difference, though: by the time Musselman's team began embarrassing itself on a nightly basis (March), it was really too late for a coup. December's not too late.
I maintain there's a lack of instant replacements available. Permanent coaches from outside are rarely hired midseason; the last one I can recall (I'm sure I'm forgetting someone) is George Karl in 2004-05. The interim, Michael Cooper, had 14 games before Karl took to the sidelines. Petrie moves slowly on coaching hires. If he canned Theus with eyes at making a hire (Flip Saunders, Avery Johnson) this season, how long would the interim (John Whisenant, Kenny Natt, Chuck Person) have?
To the subject of the way the team is playing, jjham15 had a lucid comment on the team's focus early in the Denver game. jj points out the sensical gameplan Theus apparently implemented, but noted that the players didn't exactly run it to proficiency.
The players have no interest in listening to anything Theus has to say which is where I draw the comparison to Muss. I think the coaching staff had a game plan, I think it would have worked if the players would have executed. This is a game that I hope Martin takes to heart because regardless of injury, he has decided to play and right now he isn’t really playing basketball. What happened against Denver has nothing to do with growth, it has everything to do with getting your coach canned which looks like the current agenda of Martin and others.
Honestly, I don't think Martin wants Theus canned. I offer last week as an example. Still, it's hard to ignore the fact we're seeing the type of effort associated with the late Musselman Kings, perhaps the early 2005-06 Adelman Kings pop up here. Not a good sign for Reggie.
I think if the Kings hang tight with the Lakers or (gasp!) win outright, Theus has the job for the rest of the season. If it's an early blowout, I wouldn't be surprised to see Whisenant or one of the assistants take over Wednesday.