It remains to be seen whether Kurt Rambis will be a good NBA head coach. That will be decided (at first, at least) in Minneapolis, where Rambis will take over for Kevin McHale. (Fitting, no?) It won't be decided in Sacramento, where Rambis turned down the job (effectively, though not technically) due to the pay scale.
And now we find out just what the pay scale difference will be. In Sacramento, Rambis would have earned $3 million over two years guaranteed, with a team option for $2 million for a third year. In Minneapolis, he will apparently earn $8 million over four years. Guaranteed.
So the difference between Sacramento and Minneapolis on paper was $500,000 in 2009-10, $500,000 in 2010-11, $2 million in 2011-12 and $2 million in 2012-13.
A $5 million difference. It's a no-brainer for Rambis, and it's a no-brainer for Sacramento. Without knowing you're getting a good coach, a good fit, the Kings couldn't very well lock up a coach for four seasons. There have been four Kings head coaches in the last four seasons! That's throwing good money after bad, and it's not smart.
While we bemoaned the cheapness of the coaching search, in the end it's the smartest path. Open up the wallet when you know you have a good fit. If Westphal works out, pay him. If not, try again. Washington, with Flip Saunders, can be reasonably assured it has a good fit. Abe Pollin opened up the wallet. Sacramento had no idea whether Paul Westphal, Kurt Rambis or Tom Thibodeau would be a good fit. So the Maloofs didn't open up the wallet. They went with the most experienced coach, the least abrasive choice, the one who Geoff Petrie got along best with. At their price. It works for me, especially after seeing Glen Taylor fork over so much money to Rambis. (And this is a team that has had nearly as many coaches as the Kings over the last few seasons!)
Coaching in the NBA is such a crapshoot (see: Popovich, Jackson, Adelman, Curry, Musselman, Porter) that it almost makes sense to, when you're bad, try out as many as you can. Stability is good, but in the long run (so long as you're developing your players) finding the diamond in the rough is worth it. It could be argued a 60-something former head coach isn't going to be your gem, but that's beside the point. I think.