WOW! Anyone who wanted a Kings fix had plenty to take in over the last 18 hours or so. After reading everyone's take on the hiring of Paul Westphal I cannot help but jump into the fray albeit a day late and a dollar short on a myriad topics.
On the Maloofs - Thanks for allowing the process (as painful for us fans as it was) to run its course. Of course I have seen old ladies run faster at JJ North's for their 'early bird buffet', but that's a boring story only my dead grandma would love.
Petrie had a strong friendship and great synergy with Adelman that he was never able to leverage during the last few coaching stints. By allowing Petrie to make this call, the success or failings of this decision can now be attributed to Petrie and given his lame duck status, it would be unfair to not renew his contract after this season because your short list of coaching hires were less equipped for performance than a Yugo at Daytona.
On Geoff Petrie - Geoff, has one last hurrah to make this franchise good again. I trust that he will maximize the opportunity to prove himself yet again (remember he was voted Executive of the year twice). I believe he will overcome the challenges associated with the Kings presently. But consider what Petrie is up against:
- A deficient roster that would not win in the Euro League.
- A Business hemorrhaging money that even Obama's stimulus package won't remedy.
- A facility that without a successor may reduce basketball in Sacramento to just the Monarchs (ugh) and the every other year NCAA Regional or Prep State Final (Sorry Sac State, Hornet Basketball is somewhere between AAU and the Fulton-El Camino Rec League at this point.
- A draft so weak that the team who selects the last PG in the first round has an equal chance to make the All Rookie Team next year. We are so lucky that we get three picks in this draft versus any other year when this could be the difference in the Kings being in the lottery again versus the 8th seed.
- A fan base that will no longer spend their last disposable dollar to witness bad basketball.
- A new coach who must dust the cobwebs off his '93 playbook on how to take an awesome team to the finals and write a new chapter on how to make an awful team awesome.
All this in 10 months just to be considered for a contract extension.
On Westphal - In agreement with a lot of your posts, Westphal makes sense. It would not have been my choice, but I already ranted and raved about that. In Westphal, Petrie has a guy that he can trust:
- Handling the Media (no idiotic statements, rants to the press after tough losses, no DUIs, etc.)
- Handling the pressures of the NBA Carousel (he is not going to pine to the Maloofs behind Petrie's back, or become overly stressed about the lack of security in the coaching ranks. Won't worry about his rapport with the players.)
- Head Coaching Responsibilities (He will be very comfortable with managing the day to day stuff, knows what needs to be done, how to do so confidently. Will round out his staff with senior guys that will be delegated with responsibilities without fear that they will take his job.)
- Evaluating Players (Petrie has an opinion and Westphal will likely feel the same so little rub here. They will be able to discuss trade scenarios, draft options with similar perspectives.)
- Win Games (We were 2-15 in games decided by 3 points or less last year. Being able to design a play that will win the game is an art and requires a feel for the game situation, but most importantly experience. As a former player and long time coach, Westphal has a lot more to pull from than anyone else we could have hired.)
- Developing Players (He like Adelman knows how to deal with players and most players like the guy. While the verdict is still out on how well he can cultivate young talent, he will benefit from a hungry young team that wants to get better. While I don't think Westphal helps our defense, insert defensive assistant here, he does have the Johnson and Payton eras to draw from so assuming we improve at point guard execution this year is a safe bet.)
On Westphal's future staff - A few names have been assumed so far. It is funny that some of the positive feedback on Petrie hiring Westphal stem from an assumption that Ellie and Porter come too. Absent that, I wonder if some pessimism quickly leaks into our psyches knowing how painfully bad we are defensively. Regardless here is some info on this alleged short list:
Terry Porter - I loved this guy back in the late '80s and early '90s when he played for Adelman (under Petrie) with Portland. Porter averaged 12.2 points, 5.6 assists and 1.24 steals, an All-Star in 1991,1993 and he is 11th on the NBA’s all-time assist list (7,160). Most interesting is Porter played for five of the top 36 coaches (games won) in NBA history: Pat Riley (1,110), Jack Ramsay (864), Rick Adelman (603), Gregg Popovich (339) and Flip Saunders (328).
As a Head Coach, despite that windfall of coaching mentorship, Terry has not faired well. His over all record in 194 games is 87 W - 107 L. He spent one season with the Kings in '03. 2 with the Bucks, and half a season with Phoenix. During the '05-'06, '07-'08 and 1/2 '09 seasons he was out of the league. In other words he has only worked full time about 50% over the last 5 NBA seasons. Those are big gaps. His defensive rating as the head coach at Milwakee was 23rd and 28th for those seasons.
As an assistant coach with Detroit, their defensive rating was 7th with a very talented core that included Chancey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace but a hobbled Chris Webber. As an assistance coach with Sac back in '03 the defensive rating was 2nd in the league--although it was Terry's first gig as a coach so not sure how much can be deduced there.
I get that the guy can help teach defense in an up-tempo offense that Westphal will likely run, I just think as as coach he may be over-rated.
Mario Elie - Super Mario was a late bloomer having more success playing ball on the streets of New York and in Europe before finally becoming an NBA player 5 seasons after being drafted. He has 3 RIngs, two with Houston and one with the Spurs before retiring after the '00 season.
He started his NBA coaching career 6 season ago with the Spurs and also spent two season at Golden State before landing in Dallas two years ago.. He has a good knowledge base of the European game and also speaks Spanish, French and Portuguese.
In the '04 season the Spurs were the best defensive rated team. The Warriors were 16th and 17th during Elie's stay there. The Mavericks defensive ratings over the last two seasons were 9th and 17th. I am not sure why Elie would leave Dallas with an owner that has money and a team that is in the playoffs where his visibility for a head coaching job will continue to improve.
I like Elie more than Porter but don't see why Kings pay for a contract buy-out and why Elie takes a step down from a winning franchise to the Kings.
Brian James - 4 years with the Bucks and stints with the Wizards, Raptors and Pistons. 5 seasons in the playoffs over 10 years. Was a scout with Seattle prior to that and former high school basketball coach. He worked under Porter while with the Bucks.
Bryan Gates - Head Coach of the Stampede in the NBA Development League. Despite never playing college basketball has been a very successful coach including 9 seasons with the Stampede where they won the D-League championship last year. He is known for teamwork, rebounding and defense.
Overall I don't have an issue with any of these coaches joining Paul Westphal. I just still feel we are light on candidates with proven defensive success in the NBA over the last several years.
On Rambis - A lot of us down here in So Cal are not surprised that Rambis was not going to happen. Phil will be done soon if not after this season, and Rambis is myopic enough to wait longer if need be to take over the most prestigious franchise in Basketball (sit down, chowder heads I know you have more rings) with all the money, acclaim, celebrities and success it will expectedly bring.
Not lost on Rambis is that the Staples Center is the crown jewel of the NBA right now. LA Live with the Nokia Theatre across the street is sick so he won't have to work part time selling the Kings to developers or worried about moving to some other hell hole mid-season.
As much as we love Joe and Gavin kickin' it with an occasional celeb, Jerry Buss is second only to Heffner in pulling in the ass. Rambis will make double what we are paying Westphal if he takes over for the Lakers so there was little upside in leaving LaLaland for the Kings. Petrie did the right thing by pulling the trigger on a guy who wants to be in Sac versus a guy that would only consider Sac as a consolation prize.
On Mayor Kevin Johnson - So this triangulation between The Kings, Coach Westphal (the sound is growing on me) and Petrie is intriguing. I hope I speak for all of us that we hoped that there would be some Kings benefit with Kevin in charge. Perhaps Westphal helps bridge that gap. I am sure Mayor Johnson wants the Kings to be successful, but you gotta believe that there will be even more love coming the Kings way now that his buddy has the job. Let's keep our fingers crossed that somehow, either downtown, West Sac, Natomas or Cal Expo translates into the Kings remaining in Sacramento.
On the Draft - We have all dissected this draft in hopes of feeling comfortable on who the 3-4 choices will be based on the what happens with picks 1-3. Even a few months into this I still don't think there is a consensus on the logical trade scenario(s) , trade(s) up/down, or needs by teams above us in the draft. Simply put Blake will be drafted first, but will the Clippers keep him and what happens next is still completely unpredictable.
There is no argument that we will draft a point guard. Given Westphal's history with Johnson and Payton, I suspect his influence will be valuable in assisting Petire on who to draft. I am keenly interested in any potential feedback on the guard evaluations this week and expect we will be debating the point guard position intensely up until draft day.
In Summary - I love all the responses regarding our beloved Kings. I am optimistic about the draft and next season and the future of the Kings remaining in Sacramento. I mean, I have to be, I don't have a cat to kick...