Posts Tagged ‘Keith Smart’

They Can’t Escape This

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The final, insignificant moments of a blowout that had been decided before halftime were not so insignificant after all: coach Keith Smart played two Kings starters, Jason Thompson and Jimmer Fredette, all 12 minutes in the fourth quarter of the fourth game in six nights, and two others from the opening lineup, Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, eight and seven minutes, respectively. They made “the mess,” as Smart called it, so they could stay around to clean it up.

“I want them to understand,” Smart said. “You can’t escape this…. You can’t go hide on the bench.”

It was so bad Wednesday night at Power Balance Pavilion, staying in the game was a punishment. It was so bad, it was as historic as could be proven.

The Nuggets scored 92 points in the paint alone – ninety-two! – as part of embarrassing the Kings 122-93, the most in the league this season by 20 and the most, period, since the statistic began being kept in 2000-01. Denver made four baskets outside the paint, according to Sacramento tracking, a pair of three-pointers and a pair of twos.

It’s not like the Nuggets have an overpowering interior presence either. Kosta Koufas opened at center, alongside Nene. The usual starter, Timofey Mozgov, was with his wife for the birth of their son. Also, two key Denver wings, Arron Afflalo and Rudy Fernandez, did not play because of injury, and Ty Lawson logged just 15 minutes before getting hurt.

The Kings offered no resistance to perimeter players getting into the lane or to power players. The worst indictment? They made such a little effort to stop anything that for all the time the Nuggets spent in the paint with the ball, Denver shot just 25 free throws.

The Kings couldn’t be bothered with trying to distract them.

What a mess.

The Kings Did The Right Thing


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.”


Rick’s Tips: Waiver Watching

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been watching so much basketball that you almost feel guilty about all the time spent on the couch. But don’t beat yourselves up basketball fans, because we waited five months for this, through a late start and even near cancellation. So ignore the cold shoulders, the honey do’s, and even the cat calls, because you’re an NBA fan, and this is what we do.

I know a lot of you are pretty bummed out about all these DNPs, but get used to them — and their unpredictable nature. I’m a big believer in the law of percentages, what goes around comes around, and all that jazz, so don’t sweat it if you’ve lost a game or two due to excessive DNPs. You have to trust that these random events will even out over time.

The powers that be at wanted me to look ahead on the waiver wire for you, which is a great idea because a) it’s the quickest and easiest way to improve your team, b) the waiver wire has never been more important with all these injuries, and c) working the waiver wire is a personal specialty of mine. So let’s get started…

Marreese Speights

Zach Randolph’s knee injury caused the Grizzlies’ front office to trade for Speights, who had 17 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes Sunday against the Lakers. The numbers are pretty good, but what’s impressive to me is that he did it in his second game with his new team.

You have seen the spike in production from Marc Gasol and that trend will continue until 20-10 gets healthy enough to play, roughly two months from now. And when you combine the absence of 20-10 with Darrell Arthur’s season-ending injury, the door is wide open for Speights to play starters’ minutes and rack up the goodies.

Matt Barnes

While I’m not a fan of his game in reality (too many bad passes and too much complaining), I am a fan of his fantasy numbers when he’s rolling — and right now Matt Barnes is rolling. In the last two games he has 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks, three steals, and two 3s, making him viable in any fantasy format.

Barnes was a disappointment for the Lakers last season, largely because of a lingering knee injury. But he’s healthy and making plays in Mike Brown’s non-triangular system. Barnes is probably still on waivers in your league, but he won’t be for long if he keeps playing like this.

Jimmer Fredette

The reigning College Player of the Year is being dropped by impatient owners two weeks into the season. This is a mistake.

The dude can ball, he just needs minutes — and those minutes could come under new coach Keith Smart, who ran a guard-friendly offense in Golden State last year. Smart has played Jimmer only 37 minutes in his first two games as head coach, but coaches change their minds — and their rotations — all the time.

Jimmer is the perfect stash player because he has plenty of upside in assists and threes, typically the two toughest categories to find on waivers.

Toney Douglas

Douglas is being dropped like sippy cups at a birthday party. Fantasy owners are turning their backs on Douglas because of Iman Shumpert’s emergence, and the fact that Douglas was scoreless in 18 minutes over his last two games. Douglas has been dealing with a shoulder injury though, so don’t give up on him just yet.

In fact, check him out tonight on NBA TV and be ready to pounce if he gets back to bringing the MSG crowd to its feet. Douglas is a great source for threes and steals, so keep your eye on his minutes.

Tony Allen

Allen posted back-to-back 20-point games leading into Sunday’s tilt with the Lakers, but he crashed back to earth with four points and four fouls in 13 minutes. That was to be expected, though, as Allen is charged with guarding the opposition’s top wing player — and Sunday it was future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.

Lionel Hollins is using a committee approach in trying to make due without Zach, and Allen is a big part of that committee. The Grizzlies’ junkyard dog is probably still on waivers in your league, but you need to add him to your scout team and stay ready. One more 20-point game and Allen won’t be on waivers for long.

Only A Matter Of Time For Westphal


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The news that the Kings relieved Paul Westphal of his duties earlier this afternoon didn’t even rate a raised eyebrow here at the hideout.

“What took so long?” someone shouted from the back.

Was there any other possible outcome in a situation that had become a certifiable mess in recent days?

The Kings’ 2-5 start to this season coupled with Westphal’s repeated clashes with second-year big man DeMarcus Cousins will no doubt be held up as reasons for his dismissal, and they had to play a factor in this decision.

But his 51-120 record in two-plus seasons was bound to cost him his job sooner rather than later (and now Keith Smart assumes those duties for the team). It was only a matter of time for Westphal, who you should have known would not finish the season on the Kings’ bench after the craziness that transpired last weekend (when he said Cousins demanded a trade, Cousins was suspended and then comes back to the team and denies Westphal’s claim).


Blogtable: Coaches on the hot seat

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Which NBA coach will be the first to go once the regular season ends? Care to weigh in on who should be the first to go?

Steve Aschburner: Detroit’s John Kuester, only because he works in the Eastern time zone and the Pistons might be asking him to clean out his office before his team leaves Philadelphia on April 13, whereas Golden State’s Keith Smart will be finishing up that night three hours later against Portland. Both of these fellows will get zapped because of ownership changes, on top of mostly miserable seasons. Who should get the gate? Sorry, can’t urge someone out of a job in this economy.

Fran Blinebury: Whether he’s been set up to fail by his veteran players or G.M. Joe Dumars or both, there seems little question that John Kuester has lost respect and control in Detroit.  Once that happens, there’s no going back.  The once-proud franchise has to get its ownership situation settled, turn the page and move on.  Now. (more…)

Warriors Need To Make Smart Move

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With the assortment of wild and crazy stories and rumors we that make their way through the hideout each day, there’s usually nothing that truly shocks us.

But if there is any validity to these rumblings out of Oakland that Keith Smart is in danger of being ousted as coach of the Warriors, then we have our first truly shocking story of the month.

If there is “no problem between Smart and Warriors guard Steph Curry,” as my main man Matt Steinmetz of states clearly, then why in the world is their “relationship” at the center of this chatter about Smart being weeks away from the unemployment line?

These details from Steinmetz might help explain the issue:

If you’ve been watching the Warriors all season long you’ve seen it. To say Smart has had Curry on a shorter leash than Don Nelson did a year ago would be an understatement.

You’d have to be watching a different game to not notice all those times Smart showed his frustration after a Curry mistake or misplay, which was typically followed with Acie Law at the scorer’s table.


Did You See What We Saw?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The hump day schedule in the NBA is usually a robust 12 or 13 games deep, but we went with the diet plate (just 10 games) this week.

Lucky for us all, there was no skimping on the action.

Between John Wall‘s triple double, the Bucks’ beatdown of the Hawks, Michael Beasley‘s 42 points in a Minnesota win, David Lee‘s triumphant return to Madison Square Garden and a second straight epic comeback for the Utah Jazz in Florida, our table is loaded with plenty for you to chew on.

So all we have to figure out now is Did You See What We Saw?

The Prime Minister kicks things off with this special report on that Jazz-Magic thriller:


Looking good: Another night with Jerry Sloan‘s comeback kids! The Jazz rode the back of Deron Williams in the third quarter and Al Jefferson down the stretch to rally from an 18-point hole and sweep their annual trip to Florida. In their last five quarters (four regulation, one overtime), Utah outscored its opponents (Miami and Orlando) 153-112. And, as our man Dick Scanlon points out, the Jazz have rallied from 16-, 19- and 10-point halftime deficits in the last four days. Safe to say, the Jazz have this whole comeback-wins thing down.

Sound the Alarm: For Stan Van Gundy‘s bottle of Pepto Bismol, which is surely taking a pounding right now. Unlike when the Jazz beat the Heat two nights ago, Orlando’s lack of killer instinct wasn’t an aberration. Van Gundy was not pleased that after nearly blowing an 18-point lead against the Bobcats two games ago, the Magic didn’t learn from their mistake and totally blew their big lead against Utah. A jingle of the bell, too, for starter Ryan Anderson, whom Van Gundy cited for a lack of effort in his postgame comments.

HT’s Take: Big props for Sloan, who in back-to-back nights made crucial in-game adjustments. One night after the Jefferson-for-Kyrylo Fesenko center swap down the stretch in Miami, he switched to a zone defense in the second half against Orlando. That move flustered Orlando’s shooters and kept Dwight Howard a little more under control, allowing the Jazz to get some stops and sway momentum their way. Jefferson’s little rest in Miami worked out well last night, too, as he nailed a bunch of clutch shots in the post to seal the win.



Looking good: An early 13-point deficit for the Bucks disappeared when the reserves hit the floor. Corey Maggette and Ersan Ilyasova entered the game and promptly turned things upside down. By the time the Bucks’ reserves had finished their first half work they were up 54-40 and the rout was on. The Bucks are finally looking like the team many of us thought they’d be with a healthy Andrew Bogut back in the mix.

Sound the Alarm: The Hawks did that for us. Did you hear what they had to say about their power outage on their home floor? “I don’t understand what happened,” Al Horford said. “When adversity hit us in the face we went our separate ways,” Josh Smith said. Not exactly the sorts of things coach Larry Drew wants to hear from a team that was undefeated as recently as Sunday morning .

HT’s Take: The Bucks weren’t just good last night, they were fantastic once they got going. Like Bucks coach Scott Skiles said, if you get up 30 on the Hawks in their building, you’re doing work. If the Bucks can keep this up, they might look back on this early stretch of the season as the turning point. It certainly helps that Brandon Jennings (19 points and 4-for-5 from deep in the win over the Hawks)  is heating up right now, too.


Nellie’s long walk on thin ice

OAKLAND — There is a good chance Don Nelson would have been fired as coach of the Warriors even without the natural opening of an ownership change, general manager Larry Riley said Monday in officially announcing the move from Nelson to Keith Smart as the team reconvened for the start of the season.

“Possibly so,” Riley said when asked if the same move would have been made if Chris Cohan would have still been the owner. “Quite likely.”

The difference, Riley said, is that any change would have been made earlier in the offseason instead of at the start of camp, an awkward timetable because the sale of the Warriors from Cohan to a group headed by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber is not expected to become official until next month. The comments by Riley, though, strongly indicate Cohan was ready to break ties with Nelson as well, even while eating the $6 million due for 2010-11.

Then there’s the other question: Did Nelson want to come back?

He clearly would have when the option was walking away from the money. But Riley, a longtime close friend and former Nellie assistant before moving to the Warriors’ front office, conceded Nelson’s heart may not have been into the job.

“I think part of him maybe did [want to come back] and I also think part of him did not,” Riley said. “I think he felt that with all the things that were happening, it was just the opportune time.”