Tag: Paul Westphal

Orlando Magic v Sacramento Kings

Sacramento Kings fire Paul Westphal as coach


Locker room dissention plus confusion on the court equaled the firing of Paul Westphal as coach of the Sacramento Kings. The team made the announcement Thursday.

Keith Smart will take over in the interim, starting Thursday night when the Kings host the Bucks.

The Kings were 2-5 but not really playing even that well, with both an offense and defense in the bottom five in the league (in points scored/allowed per 100 possessions). After a loss the other night point guard Tyreke Evans said nobody really knew what the offense was supposed to be in crunch time. They looked it.

Then there was Westphal’s ongoing feud with DeMarcus Cousins. The second-year center is a Primma Donna who has detractors in the organization and around the league, but the public handling of issues and recent sitting him for a game had become a bigger distraction than it needed to be. By Westphal releasing a statement to the press saying Cousins demanded a trade he created wedge that didn’t need to exist. Westphal was clearly frustrated and not sure how to handle Cousins, but his moves exacerbated an already difficult situation.

According to Kings co-owner Joe Maloof, Westphal’s firing is more about the fact the team stunk and was not improving than it was about Cousins. NBA.com‘s David Aldridge spoke to Maloof and then tweeted this.

Kings co-owner Joe Maloof says while the Cousins/Westphal dynamic was part of the issue, “none of the guys were playing to their potential.”

The issue with the timing of the move is it makes it appear Cousins has won, which may embolden his behavior. That said, 29 other general managers would have chosen the potential of Cousins over what Westphal was giving the team. This is a team that needs some real leadership, both by a coach and a veteran in the locker room.

That leadership — and accountability — needs to start with Kings GM Geoff Petrie. He is the guy who has hired Eric Musselman, Regie Theus and Westphal in succession. He has made some smart draft picks but has in general assembled a team that does not work together, with questions about how all the pieces fit. He’s the guy buying the ingredients, if the dish doesn’t taste good he has to take some of the blame. Which makes this tweet from Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated interesting.

Per this tired routine, Kings GM Geoff Petrie spent recent days distancing himself from the coach in discussions with Maloofs and others.

DeMarcus Cousins will suit up for Kings, not start Tuesday

DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins will be in a Kings uniform on the bench Tuesday night when the Kings take on the Memphis Grizzlies.

After that… who knows?

He will not start, reports Jason Jones at the Sacramento Bee, but from there things get really murky.

Cousins will dress for tonight’s game but will not start, Westphal said….

Asked what he needed to see from Cousins to know if he is changing his ways, Westphal said: “We’ll know it when we see it … . His attitude has a long way to go. It will be up to coaches, teammates and most fans (to see a change).”

Cousins is suiting up because the Kings need to get to 12 guys on the active roster. One of those pesky NBA rules.

This fight about Cousins’ ego and if he demanded a trade has gone on for days. Tonight is when this fight really gets stupid — the Kings need Cousins’ size and athleticism up front to deal with Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies (Zach Randolph is out with a bruised ligament in his knee). But whether Westphal calls his name is up in the air, Cousins may not be in the rotation.

Neither Westphal nor Cousins will back down. Cousins has been an attitude problem since he arrived in Sacramento including fights with coaches and with Donte Green in the locker room. His reputation around the league is as a potentially very good player who is immature and acts like a Prima Donna. Westphal has struggled with this but his way of dealing with it comes off more like a frustrated parent of a toddler than a man paid to lead a franchise. And if — as reported multiple places — Cousins asked why he hadn’t been traded if he was such a problem, that is not a trade demand.

This has become a… well, I’ll say battle of egos since this is a family site. But both men need to act like grown ups, take a step back and come at this with some maturity. However, the history in Sacramento suggests it will be more of the same.

Report: DeMarcus Cousins to rejoin Kings for road trip

Toronto Raptors v Sacramento Kings

Like sands through the hourglass, so go the Sacramento Kings….

The soap opera that has become the Sacramento Kings will go on the road, tweets Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.

Source says DeMarcus Cousins will be joining the Kings on their road trip to Memphis and Denver.

It means that some kind of truce has been reached — or forced upon — Cousins and coach Paul Westphal. Although we do not have word Cousins will play. However, the Kings have a back-to-back-to-back this week (at Memphis, at Denver, home to Bucks) so they could use the depth.

Westphal suspended Cousins — not officially, because that can be appealed, but in practice — after a fight between the two after a loss to the Knicks. He did it through a strange coach-released statement that raised as many questions as it answered. He said Cousins demanded a trade, Cousins denied it. Bottom line, Cousins was not part of the Kings first win Sunday night.

Still, the tensions are there. The Kings are not going to trade Cousins, and other teams around the league didn’t really think they would after reading Westphal’s venting statement. Either Cousins and Westphal will learn to coexist or changes will have to be made.

But for now they are on the road together.

Kings GM, owner say no plans to trade DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins, Paul Westphal

The Sacramento Kings are creating a textbook case of “how not to handle an unhappy player.”

DeMarcus Cousins and coach Paul Westphal got into another in a long series of arguments after Saturday night’s Kings loss to the Knicks. Sunday, the coach released a statement saying Cousins had demanded a trade and was not going to be with the team Sunday night against the Hornets. Cousins’ agent denied there was a trade demand of any kind.

Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reports the “demands” have come a couple times as part of heated outbursts. “If I’m part of the problem then why don’t you trade me” type statements. Which can get interpreted as a trade demand if you really want, but most teams hear these and sweep them aside as moments of frustration. Not Sacramento. Well, in this case.

It’s moot, they are not trading, him. Both Kings GM Geoff Petrie and owner Joe Maloof said that Sunday.

Pietre spoke with Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, who tweeted this:

Asked Geoff Petrie if the Kings intend to trade Cousins. His answer: “No.” Plans to meet with Cousins tomorrow.

Maloof spoke to the Sacramento Bee:

“We leave that stuff (the benching) to the basketball people,” Kings co-owner Joe Maloof said before tipoff, “but we’re not trading him.”

If the people over Westphal are saying Cousins is not being traded, they are cutting the coach off at the knees. Already on a hot seat, what power does Westphal have if he releases a statement then everyone else says there will be no trade? Who is going to listen to him in that locker room?

Cousins is not easy to deal with, but the list of people who have had frustrations in Sacramento with Westphal is a long one and includes good players like Kevin Martin. There were multiple players expressing frustration with the offense on Saturday night. (As they should, the Kings offense is often stagnant and filled with isolation, although much of the blame falls back on the players for execution.) The point is, why go public with this and release a statement? To send a message? No, it really embarrasses Westphal and the Kings more. This can be handled in house. Quietly. And if you were going to trade him you just undercut your leverage, no team is going to offer anywhere near a fair deal now.

Right now that is one dysfunctional locker room. It shows on the court.

The complexity of the Kings’ Cousins situation

Dallas Mavericks v Sacramento Kings

Following the Kings’ press release from Coach Paul Westphal concerning DeMarcus Cousins’ behavior following a recent loss, the Kings are kind of facing a disaster.

To list the things that should not happen in a professional sports organization

  • A professional ball player should not behave in such a way as to elicit multiple suspensions and a press release stating that he has asked for a trade and has been sent home.
  • A coach should not, under any circumstances, issue a press release stating that a player has demanded a trade. That should come from the GM, from ownership, from a team spokesman on behalf of the entire organization. But in general, it should never happen, period. It paints the player into a corner and alienates him. Did Cousins put himself out on that plank? Absolutely. But you don’t respond to an employee acting inappropriately by releasing a statement regarding their behavior. You either fire them or work to re-integrate them.

SI.com reports that it wasn’t even a real trade demand. Reportedly during yet another long argument with Paul Westphal, who Cousins has clashed with multiple times over the years, did say “Trade me!” but it was meant in the tone of “If that’s how you feel, then trade me!”

So who’s wrong here? Everyone. Cousins is 21 years old. He’s a big boy. He gets to make his own decisions. And while pretty much everyone over the age of 21 can look back at being 21 and acknowledge that they were full of stupidity and immaturity, Cousins has a professional obligation to conduct himself better. Maybe the situation really is that bad. But if that’s the case, your representation is fully charged and capable of handling your situation.

Westphal’s in a spot. The team’s bad, he’s on the hot seat, the ownership made a handful of dubious decisions over the past three months. He’s likely to be fired, he’s been in the league a long enough time to not have to deal with this kind of abuse from a 21 year old. But that’s part of coaching. Maybe it wasn’t his idea to release the statement, maybe it was a suggestion from PR or an order from management. But the impact is the same. This isn’t about Cousins, it’s about a reflection on the organization and specifically the coaching staff that indicates they alienate and throw players under the bus.

So now they almost have to trade him. Keep him and you’ve neutered Westphal, which is worse than firing him (especially since he still gets paid). So instead, they have mortgaged leverage and now have to find some sort of way to move him without endangering their entire rebuilding project. Let’s be clear, Cousins can play. He’s off to a hard start this year, but he’s also obviously not mentally checked in. The kid has the talent, no one has ever denied that.

Furthermore, Cousins isn’t a “bad kid.” He hasn’t gotten in trouble with the law. His run ins with teammates and coaches are basketball related, not about gambling or women or anything else. That doesn’t mean he’s a good teammate; he’s clearly not. But it does impact what we’re talking about here.

The Kings’ season has been weird. It just got a lot weirder.