Reggie Theus lasted 106 games in the hot seat, or roughly 1-1/3 seasons.
Kenny Natt made it just 58 games.
Paul Westphal has 82 games -- a full season -- under his belt. Can he do what his three predecessors could not survive this season? What will it take to do so?
The Kings picked up the third year -- an option year -- of Westphal's contract back last April, keeping the coach under contract through the 2011-12 season. It was, honestly, a coup of sorts to get a legitimate candidate to sign a deal with only two years and $2-3 million guaranteed, even if said coach hadn't worked a lead job in eight years and had no realistic (or at least publicized) prospects to get a top job outside of Sacramento. But the Kings followed through by guaranteeing the third year quite quickly, preventing lame-duck status and making Westphal's total contract slightly more reasonable from the coach's perspective.
That alone says that the Kings like what Westphal had done through April. They thought he did a good job in a 25-57 season, which is fair enough. That roster was all mixed up, young and at most positions bad. It's worth noting that despite winning 38 games with a misshapen roster of his own, Theus didn't get that third-year guarantee after his first 82 games. Theus' team performed better than that of Westphal, yet Theus got no guarantee while Westphal did get a guarantee. That right there tells you everything you need to know about what Geoff Petrie and the Maloofs thought of the job Theus did versus the job Westphal did.
It is established, then, that the front office likes Westphal and the work he has done. As such, I find it incredibly hard to imagine the team firing him mid-season. It would take a real letdown for that to happen -- a Nets-like start, or a completely disintegration of the budding team chemistry, or a fatwa from Team Tyreke, or something completely implausible.
It's just not going to happen, and I, for one, am thankful for that. Continuity is something these inexperienced players could use, and the coach of this team needs some backbone behind his decisions. Job security combined with the master key for the rotation is just that backbone.
Now whether Westphal goes on to have an Adelmanesque Kings career, or if he at some point makes way for Mario Elie or another young head coach -- that remains to be seen. But for now, he's our team's coach, and that's the way it will almost assuredly remain for the next 82 games.