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Getting Better Without Tangible Results

Now that all hopes of a competitive season are gone, that the dreams of a dark horse playoff bid have been popped, we are left looking for progress. To date, none has been found. The brightest youngsters -- Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins -- have struggled. The question marks -- Donte Greene, Omri Casspi and Jason Thompson -- have struggled to maintain consistency. The veterans -- Carl Landry, Samuel Dalembert and Beno Udrih -- have been as flawed as they have been productive. The slog has been tough, and bleak.

But external changes are hard to envision, and it's certainly not clear the team would be helped by course alterations. That means trades, that means with the coaching staff. If the Kings make a big trade, they will have given up assets -- cap space or young players -- and potentially hurt the real future of the team, which obviously lies beyond Sacramento's record come April 15, 2011. If the Kings terminate Paul Wespthal, they aren't bringing in a big name at midseason, and it's unlikely they'll be able to recruit a big man in June after what looks to be a dreadful season, with no assurances of an improved roster for 2011-12 and beyond.

I take it that Geoff Petrie understands this, or at least believes it. His comments to The Bee's Jason Jones indicate as much. He will err on the side of caution as the Kings try to break through and register a heartbeat. That's smart, and the right thing to do. We all have our own set of angst-y feelings about Westphal -- some measured, some ... well, angst-y. But provided he is working hard to develop the Kings' young players and hold the kids accountable, he should be here. Provided those goals (and any goals Petrie has laid out) are met, there's literally nothing to lose in keeping him on board. The benefit could be whatever a measure of franchise consistency or stability provides.

Granted, some disagree that Westphal is fair about meting out "punishment" or minutes; others may think the inconsistent rotation has hurt the development of Greene, Casspi and/or Thompson. Those are valid concerns; I don't share them. Like section214, I feel that no player on this team is sacred right now. No one has won his starting spot, or rotation spot, and frankly, only a couple players have earned their freaking roster spot.

I am certainly guilty at times of misremembering the 2008-09 season, that 17-win travesty. I remember it as FAILURE precipitating CHANGE. But really, it was FAILURE precipitating CHANGE precipitating EVEN GREATER FAILURE. The Kings under Kenny Natt were so, so bad. So bad John Salmons had to be the sweetener to lose Brad Miller, and the Kings still had to take Andres Nocioni back! So bad the team had to engage in all manner of tiny trades to cut salary to prevent catastrophic losses in the ledger. So bad the team had to leave an able-bodied player -- Kenny Thomas -- home on road trips to save on hotel costs. Seriously.

That's embarrassing in retrospect, and the specter of such should send shivers down any fan's spine. I personally believe Mario Elie to be far more qualified than Natt to be a head coach, and I understand that even if he weren't, the idea of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins playing out the season is much preferred to, say, Spencer Hawes and Bobby Jackson. Things can't go that wrong again. But they can go wrong-er than they are now, and for that, patience remains a virtue in Sacramento.