The Kings Did The Right Thing

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Only time will tell if Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins will live up to his immense potential or if Keith Smart will indeed have staying power as a coach in the NBA.

We can close the book on one thing: the Kings (specifically co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloofs) made the right decision changing coaches — from Paul Westphal to Smart eight games ago. That change had to happen, and not just for Cousins but for an entire team in need of a change in mood and direction.

The Kings are 3-5 since Smart took over for Westphal — that’s not exactly playoff-ready and is a mark that probably doesn’t have the Western Conference elite worried about them. But the difference in this team’s confidence is evident. They’ve shown a resilience and cohesion that was simply absent under Westphal, battling back from huge deficits to win games (last night’s win over Indiana being the latest such effort) that could have easily been blowout losses added to their pile.

Blaming the former coach for all that went wrong would be more than a little shortsighted on our part, so we’ll stop right here and point out the shared responsibility of all involved (coaches, players, front office, etc.). Still, a team that looked like a complete dysfunctional mess just a few weeks ago is at least showing signs of life now.

Sometimes a different voice, a different approach, is what it takes to get through to a team. Take Smart’s approach to his power forward rotation, per the Sacramento Bee (courtesy of my main man Jason Jones):

“I’m trying to create an environment where the power forward position is a partnership where no one is being demoted or upgraded over the next player,” Smart said. “I want to be able to write down tonight I’m expecting 20 points and 10 rebounds from that group and they form a partnership.”

That’s not just coach-speak. Those are the words of a man that has studied the situation and devised a reasonable plan for a group of young players (in this case, forwards J.J. Hickson and Jason Thompson) that he knows have to be brought along a certain way. Kudos to Smart for forging his own path.

Smart’s professed leadership approach – “I never come to practice down. I’m the leader of this team. If I come in moping and dragging, they’re dragging as well. I come in upbeat and get them on the floor to work. I have to set the tone. I can’t wait for a player or another coach to set it, so the morale will always be high … .” — is the perfect tone for a franchise trying to nurture young talents like Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette and others along the path to success in the NBA.

And it won’t be easy. There will be plenty of bumps along the way, as there should be when you are trying to take a franchise from one end of the NBA spectrum to the other.

Whatever the Kings’ long-term plan is, though, it will have to be one catered to the talent on hand the talent acquired in the future. Making sure you have the right coach on hand to help develop that talent is the only way this process works.

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18 Comments

  1. Choker says:

    whether Kings lose or win , I like them, they play good basketball and work hard, Tyreke who has been fantastic, Marcus Thornton who has been explosive in some games, Cousins who has been rebounding the ball well, Hickson and Salmons just 2 great players added to the team and Fredette taking wise shots

  2. Celticsrck says:

    kings still have problems,but in a few years they may be a legit contender

    • toast says:

      Except the Maloofs will cheap out and not keep any of this young talent on the squad; probably trading away Evans/Cousins/Fredette ect. for some salary cap space. (cap space which is never properly utilized in the off-season)

      Don’t get me wrong, I love the Kings, but I’m afraid they will never achieve what they did back in the 2002 playoffs.

  3. nbafan says:

    lebron is the best goat legend

  4. CLopez63 says:

    Being a Kings fan is certainly a ride, but watching them rise from the bottom and win games like the Pacers game last night, is exhilerating. I hope this team can continue to improve. The Sacramento region deserves it. Go Kings!

  5. scud70 says:

    For the love of god Tyreke snap out of whatever coma your in!! my fantasy team is dying a slow death with your up and down play!!!! .. lolll

  6. JDish says:

    I’m an Orlando fan, and I like Stan V but the Magic can only benefit by keeping Howard around. If they lose D. Howard well they’re giving up an All-star and not every team has someone like him. So it’s either give up Howard now in a trade and get some pieces and cash in return, and risk the probability of Howard succeeding (and coming back to Orlando every time and getting beasted by him) somewhere else. Or do as much and as best as you can to keep him and make some moves to get him help. It’s most likely more complex than that really, but hey here’s to wishing Howard stays in Orlando and that the Magic win a NBA championship with him.

  7. JDish says:

    That is so great for the Kings. Now if only the Orlando Magic can get something positive going as well by making a coaching change. I feel that Orlando can do the same, but in this case this would be directed at keeping Dwight Howard in a Magic uni. We have all heard that Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard have had their differences, so maybe Orlando would have a better chance to keep Howard if they show him that their willing even to change coaches. It could happen, it’s working for the Kings, it could work in favor of the Magic as well.

  8. Blackmamba24 says:

    God I hate this guy Cousins. His a cancer to the whole team.

  9. Ray02 says:

    As a Kings’ fan I would dare any NBA team to play the Kings in Sacramento!!! Come on Teams…no one treats the kings are kings of Basketball in Sacramento….

  10. jfada says:

    Thank God the Maloof’sfinally made a good decision and fired Westphaul. The team has the tallent, but they need to be organized and motivated for christ sakes. The first couple of games this season were a mess, we only beat the Lakers because they beat themselves.

    And for the LOVE OF GOD PLEEAAASE give more minutes to Isiah Thomas….I Mean WOW! That kid is developing fast and plays with sooooo much heart. Pay attention League…we wont stay down much longer!

    GO KINGS!!!

    • bballjunkie says:

      There you go, its too bad the average sports fan just looks through a small window of whats happening. You hardly here anyone point out how coaches lack IQ in game situations that may have cost the loses. It’s amazing what a difference a coach with ability to caoch in the moment (talent, athleticism, people management skills, X’s and O’s ). Look at what just happened with the 49ers, not mention all the players traded from Sacramento their play since leaving. I hope more players especially basket ball speak up in huddles, show dissmay for busting your behind to bill leads then have to excert just as much energy on defense because coach always takes his foot off of the coaching peddle. Not to mention the coaches who sit there watch the leads grow game after game and get off trying to coach their way back. Go Kings it will finally happen for this oranization with or with out Smart. Because contrary to what Westphal was saying this KIDD is a double double guy with the right coach pushing buttons.

    • dan says:

      agreed..gotta give isiah thomas more preference than jimmer, jimmer hasn’t been delivering.

  11. Jacob says:

    He was making an entirely valid point. Nobody argues that MJ and Kobe are greats. So why then do they have to say that they are great. “I don’t if you know this, but I’m kind of big deal.” Not to mention that if they were undoubtedly the greatest ever then they wouldn’t have to go around talking about it. COME ON MAN!

    • imad akel says:

      agreed

      and MJ and Kobe are the best of their type of player (the scoring, do it myself type)
      But there’s also strong will and determination in KG and even a young T-mac even if they didn’t get rings.

      It’s impossible to evaluate players accomplishments on their own. There was a team there. A coach. Some lucky moments (Robert Horry moments) that would otherwise change the story. And the franchise. I mean despite what Jordan said in his hall of fame speech about the players earning the championship and not the front office, that still doesn’t mean that Jordan could have played for a team like the Bobcats and won 6 championships. Because the Bobcats don’t even have the resources required to put together a championship team (unlike the Lakers, the Bulls, the Celtics, and this era’s Heat).

      And without these championships, what makes Kobe Bryant in his prime better than a Allen Iverson in his prime? Nothing. They’re both egoistic players who were great scorers and had a very strong drive and desire to win. But one of them had Shaq, and the other did not.

  12. People dont forget says:

    I still dont forgive you for that last abomination of a blog post. What gives you the right to to tell MJ and Kobe that they cant speak their minds?

    • Sekou Smith says:

      You better save some of that unforgiveness for later, when I write something else you don’t agree with!

  13. hc says:

    It’s tough being a Kings fan , but I will keep cheering for them!!