There are problems with the Sacramento Kings — they are not good and seem to be getting worse. They are a terrible shooting team that has the fourth worst offense in the NBA despite having Tyreke Evans in it. Their defense isn’t much better — and it’s all slipping, they are 1-9 in their last 10.
Often, this is when the coach starts to feel his seat get hot. For Paul Westphal is should be a seat of flame right now.
Except, he’s likely not going anywhere for two key reasons, Tom Ziller wisely points out at his brilliant Sactown Royalty.
DeMarcus Cousins is one of them.
Monday Westphal threw Cousins out of practice, this coming after fines and other disciplinary measures. The Kings drafted the talented Cousins No. 5 overall and dismissed others concerns about his attitude and work ethic. The Kings started to make Cousins a key part of their marketing campaign. But so far this season Cousins has not impressed on the court and has appeared to be a challenge off it. A challenge Westphal has had to stand up to.
And as Ziller points out, this puts Kings management in a difficult spot.
And there’s the hard place: if the Kings fire Westphal once it’s widely known he severely clashes with Cousins, the decision can do nothing but embolden Bad Cousins, which is the worst thing possible for the kid’s career. That may seem like Around the Horn-like overblown commentary, but really: what we know about Cousins shows that he takes a foot when offered an inch. From shot selection to these dealings with the coaches — he’s not shy about throwing his weight around, right? Vanquishing a coach Cousins clashes with won’t do anything to help tamp down Cousins’ ego.
The other issue with getting rid of Westphal is money. Of course it is; it is always about money. Sam Amick of FanHouse points out — after noting that players are grumbling about Westphal — that the Maloofs picked up a full season, $2 million contract with their coach. Fire him now and you still have to pay the $2 million, and only Donald Sterling would try to get out of that (and fail). That may not seem like a lot of money compared to the contracts the Kings are paying out, but for a cash-strapped team in a small market that is big bank to pay out for nothing.
If enough players complain about Westphal — specifically Evans — then the Kings may let their coach go anyway. But they need very, very good reasons now because they want to make sure Cousins knows it’s not about him.
So for now, the song remains the same in Sacramento. And Westphal has his job.