At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. Phil Jackson commands $12 million because he delivers the goods. Great players win games, but great coaches win championships. It is with that in mind that I scratch my head at two recent coaching hires in particular.
Case 1: The Phoenix Suns. You're talking about making a championship run, even acquire the top-dollar contract of Shaquille O'Neal to show you're serious, and then you sign first Terry Porter and then Alvin Gentry to lead the way. Both are nice guys, don't get me wrong, but you don't get a championship-caliber coach for $2 million a year.
Case 2: The Sacramento Kings. The Maloofs are serious about winning, have issued a mandate that the team will compete for a playoff spot in 2009-10 or heads will roll . . .and then you take the lowest bidder in your coaching search. They tried to rush Rambis into taking the position, though offering only $1.5 million, and quickly signed Paul Westphal when he offered to sign for less. Westphal is now the lowest-paid coach in the league and he's expected to take a lottery team and make them a playoff contender.
I think, No. 1, there needs to be an improvement in the defense and rebounding. Without improvement in those two areas, wins aren't going to follow at all. I think that's a key thing we're going to have to focus on. I think there are some good pieces on this team. But if it doesn't get shored up in those areas, it's going to be hard to get wins. And you can't win in this league by letting teams shoot more than 40 percent on threes and by being outrebounded by a wide margin. Those are going to be big focuses.
"I'm just happy that they decided I'm the guy for them and I can't wait to get started."
Asked if all three candidates still were in the running, [Geoff] Petrie said, "I guess at this point, if it was a horse race, it may end up being a photo finish."
There's no reason to think that more candidates would be added to the list that includes [Kurt] Rambis, Paul Westphal and Tom Thibodeau. And judging from the conversations I had tonight, I'd call it a close race between Westphal and Rambis with Thibodeau bringing up the rear. To be clear, that's more of a sense on my end than it is an indirect statement from anybody of relevance in this situation.
Long before Eddie Jordan was signing with Philly for a three-year guaranteed deal worth $2 million, $3 million and $3.1 million, [Paul] Westphal's camp was agreeing to handshake terms of a deal that fell more in line with what Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof preferred. According to two sources with knowledge of the situation, Westphal's price tag will be $1.5 million per season.