After the first game of the season I made this one post. (I bring this up only because the auto-fill Story Headline reminded me, but it's telling none the less.) I want to discuss the Hawes benching and I want to begin by saying I am a fan of Hawes, but not a delusional fan. I think the kid is young, fairly promising, and needs a steady system to develop. I think his offense far outweighs his defense right now and I think a team in our position, struggling to put points up, should and could use a player like him. What I can say is that all year as a Kings fan I've been fairly frustrated with PW's rotation, subs, etc. And I can't imagine what it's like to be in the locker room as a player.When we finally ended the Natt era of Kings basket ball I was relatively excited about a consistent starting five. Going into the off season I was expecting a tight lineup of 8-9 guys and watching them mature through consistency. Constant floor time, constant development, constant coaching, slow, steady, upward movement for a rebuilding team. I imagined something like [draft pick/Tyreke], Martin, Greene(I wanted this then), JT, Hawes. With some Cisco, Noc, and Beno in there as needed.
But when PW came in and we picked up Sean May, a role player by definition in the league thus far, who got the starting nod? Sean May. This current situation is not about comments to the media, it's about a lack of understanding/communication between PW & SH that has been brewing since the beginning of the year.
SH thought that starting job was his in the off season. In preseason he watched it disappear like a big mac at the five position. Eventually (I'm thinking 30 points vs. the Grizz?) Hawes had a good game and got that starting position back. When he struggled over the season it was reflected in a day to day struggle for the starting position.
At the trade deadline the team picked up another PF in Landry, slowly building for the future. As the starting center Hawes had to think he was ok, his minutes and floor time are gonna be fine. His position is secure. PW says, Nope. Yanks the center and starts two PFs. That's great, but it messes up roles for everyone involved. Here's how:
By moving a guy who generally plays the 4 and only spot minutes at the 5 it forces JT out of his comfort level, likely for the majority of the game.
By taking a guy who's been coming off the bench all year on a team where his role is defined and understood and telling him to start without a single practice, the message is disabling. Landry was effectively told to disregard all that 6th man experience that led him to be one of the front runners for SMOTY, and perform exactly the same(or better hopefully?) in what is essentially an NBA version of a pick up game.
Then our center, who has fought for his position all year against a fifth year veteran (who can't get more that $800K for one year!), is told to sit back and watch while shit hits the fan. The rotations are left uncompleted and the offense is sticky and jerky at best. When the mess has been made, Hawes gets a few minutes; essentially second quarter garbage time. Keep in mind that as of late Hawes has been a facilitator of the offense, averaging about 4 assists per game, despite his defensive liabilities(no comment on the rebounding). And it seems as thought he's even been watching a bit of Vlade on tape the way he's been dropping those assists from the high post. This doesn't mean he's the key to us winning games by any means, but it does mean that he's developing and doing his best to become more valuable to a young and struggling team. What I don't understand is how that translates into less playing time.
Essentially what I mean to say is that the benching of Hawes is not indicative of the story in the paper, the story in the Bee is just part of it. Westphal and Hawes are not on the same page. They haven't been since pre-season, and the addition of Landry and therefore the benching of Hawes, which brought us to the Bee article are all part of the same dynamic. Finally and in all fairness, why is it when JT struggles he stays on the floor but when Hawes struggles he gets 11 minutes the next night? I'm sure Hawes sees this too, and there's a message being sent here.
To finish here are some of the highlights of PW's coaching this season thus far, and I say this as a person who actually wants him to stay here for another year or two just for consistency. I like consistency:
Starting Sean May over Hawes early in the season.
Starting Desmond Mason over everyone, then the team 'suddenly' waiving Mason!!!
Starting Donte Greene at the Shooting Guard, Small Forward, and Power Forward, emphasis inconsistency.
Starting Garcia at the two IN HIS FIRST GAME BACK ALL SEASON!!!!
Starting Landry at the 4 WHEN HE HAD NEVER PLAYED WITH ANYONE ON THE TEAM YET.
Starting Martin when he came back from injury. Note this is relatively minor but I say this since the team had been playing ok without him (that rough 10 game schedule aside). I think it would have been better for team chemistry and flow to bring Martin off the bench until you knew his shot was back, even if he still played 30+ minutes that way.