Joe Maloof offers Geoff Petrie and Paul Westphal a bit of breathing room

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The 5-22 Kings, owners of the worst record in the entire league despite having some talented young pieces, are a genuine disappointment on a number of levels. As Sacramento’s season has spiraled further and further into the abyss, rumors and reports of the seemingly inevitable firing of Paul Westphal have begun to surface. Indications that Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie’s job may also be in jeopardy have arisen as well, which is fairly standard; those with power in the NBA are sure to face a certain amount of heat when their teams are in distress.

However, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof granted both Westphal and Petrie an incredible amount of latitude, according to a recent report from Ken Berger of CBS Sports:

Kings owner Joe Maloof denied a report by CBSSports.com Friday that the team was considering firing GM Geoff Petrie and coach Paul Westphal after 21 losses in 23 games. “There’s nothing going on,” Maloof told CBSSports.com by phone. “Paul Westphal is the coach and Geoff is our general manager. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s going to stay.”

When pressed, Maloof said definitively that Petrie and Westphal will be in their positions for the remainder of the 2010-11 season regardless of how many games the team loses. “Yes,” Maloof said. “We’re not making any moves. The answer is yes.”

Coaches are fired and replaced frequently in the NBA, for reasons both fair and unfair. Having this kind of security — even if only until the end of the season — is incredibly rare. Westphal’s team is miserable, and yet Maloof all but gave his guarantee that coach and GM will still be in place by season’s end.

Whether Westphal deserves that luxury is another matter entirely. The team hasn’t performed well on the court, but at this stage in the team’s journey, player development is far more important than win-loss record. As long as the Kings view Westphal’s work with the core of the team (Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, etc.) to be beneficial to their long-term outlook, he’s the right man for the job. That is apparently the case, and though Westphal and Petrie’s jobs seem open for evaluation at the end of the year, Joe Maloof is at least approving enough of the tandem’s work to keep them in place until then.