Sacramento Kings Made the Right Move by Extending Keith Smart's Contract
The Kings could have waited until Smart's contract expired after the 2012-13 season, but apparently they like what they've seen.
Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reported that Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie said talks of an extension for Keith Smart had been in the works since the end of the season but picked up recently.
"We had talked about it at length somewhat after the season, after the draft," Petrie said, according to Jones. "We just really moved forward on it in the last couple of weeks. It's something I'm really in favor of. He's the right coach at the right time for the group of players."
And I agree 100 percent with Petrie.
Smart's play-calling last season left room for improvement. Smart's rotations changed from night to night as he tried to figure out what he had in his first year with the team, but that was after taking over the head coaching job after the season started.
But in Generation Me, teams need a head coach who can handle personalities as much or more than one who handle a whiteboard. Smart is that guy.
Smart seems to be the first Kings head coach since Rick Adelman to be able to control the locker room and actually inspire a "team" mentality.
Adelman led the Kings to the playoffs in all of his eight seasons with the Kings. The Kings have yet to make the playoffs since Adelman was let go following the 2005-06 season.
After Adelman, head coaches Eric Musselman, Reggie Theus and Kenny Natt all failed to build any sort of identity with the team. Musselman was even charged with driving under the influence just before the start of the 2006-07 season, and was fired after the end of it as the Kings finished with their first losing record since the 1997-98 season.
Paul Westphal looked as if he might bring a winning mentality to the Kings. But after feuding with star center DeMarcus Cousins, and reportedly losing the locker room after only two full seasons, Westphal was let go on January 5th of last season. He was replaced by then-assistant coach Smart, who led the Kings to a 20-39 record.
Despite the losing season, Smart's Kings showed flashes of cohesion and unity for the first time in years. This was never more evident than when the player feuding with Westphal, Cousins, donned Smart's jacket after fouling out of a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 20th. Rather than sulking as he did several times under Westphal, Cousins finished the game by throwing on Smart's blazer and doing his best coaching impression.
Furthermore, Smart's plan of bringing a "team" mentality to the Kings seems to be working; 10 of the 14 players currently on the roster voluntarily met up to workout and scrimmage together last week. According to Jones, this was something the team had not done the previous year.
Smart will now get two years to implement his style and prove that he can bring a winning record to the Kings to go with his plan of bringing a winning attitude.
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