Kings pick up Paul Westphal's option

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One of the most important things in nurturing a group of young players is consistency. They need to know the coaching staff’s expectations and have a chance to grow within them, and coaching changes hinder the ability of players to evolve as a benefit of actual coaching. That’s why the Kings made the right move in picking up the 2011 option for Paul Westphal, who has done fine work with a limited roster this year and in particular with a lot of young, exciting talent.

Still, as Ailene Voisin notes in the Sacramento Bee, the timing is a bit odd. Westphal was already under contract for all of next season, and the option the Kings have exercised will simply keep him around for the 2011-2012 campaign, which is a lifetime away. Far more surprising unravelings have taken place over the course of a single season, and the outlook on this move could seem dramatically different a year from now. Voisin’s thesis is far more logical: there may be a time when extending Westphal is the right thing to do, but that time is not now, more than a full year in advance of when that option will take effect.

That said, it’s easy to forget how good the Kings looked early in the season, when they appeared to be a dark horse contender for a playoff spot (and Westphal a dark horse contender for Coach of the Year honors). That dream tapered off when Sacramento’s defense plummeted to miserable levels, and ultimately the disparity in talent and seasoning between the Kings and their opponents was too much to overcome. The roster is full of interesting players, but they just weren’t ready yet.

Then again, as far as consistency goes, Westphal might not even be the best example. His expectations of non-Tyreke Kings have been a bit ambiguous at times, and to top it off he’s been known to flip lineups and rotations on a whim. There was also a pretty weird incident involving Spencer Hawes, which started with Hawes publicly stating that he didn’t understand his role and ended with a chest bump.

So he’s not the model of consistency, but the players should have a better understanding of Westphal in his second and third years in Sacramento. Guys like Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes, Donte Greene, and Jon Brockman could definitely benefit from that kind of team stability, even if the message from Westphal himself is the expect the unexpected.

The move is ultimately overshadowed by the curious timing of Geoff Petrie and the Maloof brothers though, and regardless of how successful Westphal’s stint with the Kings turns out to be, the timing involved makes this a pretty strange (if not irresponsible) move.

Kristaps Porzingis grew up a Kobe fan. Still is one.


When you hear player comparisons for Knicks rookie, the most common is Dirk Nowitzki — a European big with ridiculous shooting range and potential to embarrass anyone.

So did he grow up idolizing Dirk? Not so much.

Rather, like many of his generation, he grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant, he told Mike Francesa of WFAN.

“My favorite player growing up was Kobe. The Lakers were my team and I still love him.”

There is an entire generation of NBA players — and just fans — who would say the same thing.

In the interview, Porzingis laments his missed shots and turnovers, he thinks he can be a lot better. That is exactly what you want out of a rookie. It’s a huge adjustment playing at the NBA level, the speed of the game and IQ is a leap from Europe (or college). Recognizing the challenge is part of it.

There’s a lot to like in Porzingis. He could be special (we don’t know yet, we see only the potential). But idolizing Kobe — and if you understand the work he put in, the passion for the game — can be a good start.

(Hat tip NBA reddit)

Warriors’ interim coach Luke Walton’s car stolen

Luke Walton

If you’re looking for a “when are things going to go wrong for the Warriors” moment, we have one for you. But it may not be what you had hoped for.

Warriors’ interim head coach Luke Walton — the guy on the sidelines for the 15 (soon to be 16) game winning streak — had his car stolen during a crime spree, reports

One of the cars stolen during an Oakland Hills crime spree belongs to Golden State Warriors coach Luke Walton, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said late Monday.

Walton’s Mercedes Benz was stolen Tuesday by two suspects, who police believe are also responsible for a violent attack on a 75-year-old woman outside her home on Thursday. The suspects also took the woman’s car during the attack, according to police.

Yikes. That’s serious.

I’m sure Steve Kerr has like 14 cars, he can loan one to Walton.

Pacers guard George Hill returns Tuesday against Wizards

Paul George, Marcus Morris
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Pacers guard George Hill returned to the lineup Tuesday night against Washington after missing three games with an upper respiratory infection.

Hill is averaging 14 points and just under 37 minutes in 10 games this season. He was on the bench in case of emergency in Saturday’s victory over Milwaukee.

Coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday Hill’s infection had improved “to the point where he’s fine to play,” but would keep an eye out for fatigue after an 11-day layoff.

Hassan Whiteside on intentional fouls: “It’s not working, so keep fouling me”

Hassan Whiteside

Remember how Adam Silver was preaching that the league didn’t want to change the intentional foul rule — the hack-a-Shaq strategy — because it was really about two players (DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard) and a handful of others now and then. The fact that it’s not basketball didn’t matter.

Well, it’s not just two — Miami’s Hassan Whiteside has gotten the treatment this season. He’s a 53.4 percent free throw shooter this season.

And he says bring it on. From Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post:

“I’m enjoying this,” he said. “Foul me so I can get a double-double and we can win. It’s not working, so keep fouling me.”

He’s even smart at not getting fouled.

Whiteside also is liking that teams are looking at their options against the best defense in the NBA — yes, Miami at 94 points allowed per 100 possessions, is the best defense in the NBA right now — and deciding to attack Whiteside.

“There’s teams that’s out there that say ‘Stay away from Hassan,’ and there’s teams that say, ‘We don’t care if Hassan’s down there. Attack Hassan.’ I love them teams that do that. God bless them coaches. I love them teams.”

Whiteside is not as great a defender as the block totals would indicate — if he doesn’t see a block in it, his rotations can be a bit slow. One scout recently called him a selfish defender to me recently, suggesting he is in it for the numbers, not the sacrifices needed for an elite defense. True or not, the Heat have an elite defense and Whiteside is at the heart of it.

And if the strategy is to try to exploit him, Whiteside plans to make people pay.