Keith Smart: Head Scratcher
At 22-43 (.338) the Sacramento Kings have the worst record in the Western Conference, and it's about time they did something about it.
The Kings' latest defeat came on March 10th in a frantic 115-113 home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. This game better than any other this season highlighted two painfully obvious truths about this train wreck of an NBA franchise:
One, it's time to fire coach Keith Smart.
Two, it's time to free Jimmer Fredette from the bench.
Keith Smart, Head Scratcher
When it comes to coaching professional basketball, Mr. Smart's last name is an oxymoron. The man's personnel management and in-game strategy leave more NBA fans scratching their heads than a Head & Shoulders commercial.
The fantasy basketball gurus at Rotoworld.com summed up Keith Smart's rotations on March 7th when they wrote, "DeMarcus Cousins was benched for the entire second and fourth quarters on Wednesday, although coach Keith Smart didn't provide much of reason for it...Isaiah Thomas was also benched for much of this one, in favor of Toney Douglas, as Smart continues to just make us shake our heads in pain."
Smart's head-scratching leadership was on full display in the March 10th loss to the Bucks.
Failing to Control DeMarcus Cousins
The volatile DeMarcus Cousins was having a monster game with 24 points and 10 rebounds when he got hit low on a rebound by Mike Dunleavy at the 3:34 mark in the third quarter. Cousins' legs got taken out from under him and he fell to the ground. He got up to confront Dunleavy and was fortunately restrained by his teammates.
Cousins and Dunleavy exchanged words and a double technical was given. A timeout was called after the double technical and anybody who has ever watched DeMarcus Cousins before knew he was going to go after Dunleavy following the timeout. Cousins had morphed from Bruce Banner into the raging, green Incredible Hulk, and Dunleavy was about to get smashed.
It was obvious. But did Keith Smart sit Cousins down to let him cool off?
No, of course not. That would require something called "coaching."
Instead Smart allowed an obviously angry DeMarcus Cousins, who already had a technical, stroll right back out on the floor.
So what did Cousins do on the very first play after the timeout? Instead of me telling you, how about you take a guess from the following options:
A) He played great help side defense.
B) He tipped a ball out of bounds and graciously complimented the referee on making the correct call.
C) He continued playing a level-headed game.
D) He delivered an obvious cheap shot elbow to Mike Dunleavy's head, received a flagrant two foul, and was ejected at the 3:26 mark.
Of course, "D" is the correct answer. If you got the right answer - congratulations! You know more about DeMarcus Cousins' volatile mood swings than his own coach does.
It's time to fire Keith Smart.
Let Jimmer Play!
The March 10th loss to the Bucks also hammered home the point that it's time to finally give Jimmer Fredette minutes.
The Kings' season is over. At this point winning and losing mean virtually nothing, so come on Sactown, give the people what we want.
Because we want Jimmer!
Against Milwaukee, Fredette had spent most of the evening glued to the bench. He was finally inserted into the game in what was starting to look like garbage time with the Kings trailing 106-91 with just 3:47 remaining. Then look what happened:
3:27 - Jimmer Fredette makes 24-foot three point jumper (106-94)
2:15 - Jimmer Fredette makes 14-foot two point shot (109-101)
1:47 - Jimmer Fredette makes 15-foot two point shot (109-103)
1:24 - Jimmer Fredette makes driving layup (111-105)
1:24 - Jimmer Fredette makes free throw 1 of 1 (111-106)
Then, with the Kings trailing 115-112 with :04 seconds remaining, Milwaukee intentionally fouled Fredette in the back court to prevent him from shooting a three. Jimmer hit the first to make it a two-point game. Fredette then did the almost impossible as he missed the second free throw on purpose, causing the ball to ricochet hard off the front of the rim, right back into his own hands.
Jimmer got the offensive rebound and appeared to be mugged by a reaching Monta Ellis, but no foul was called, and the ball ended up with Tyreke Evans who barely missed a desperation three at the buzzer.
In the end, Jimmer scored 14 points in just nine minutes of beautiful offensive basketball.
Jimmer Fredette is the only watchable player on this selfish, me-first, low basketball IQ, losing Sacramento team. And for some head-scratching reason, Keith Smart jerks Fredette's minutes around, leaving Jimmer to wonder if he is going to get 20 minutes or a DNP-CD on any given night.
The Kings are going to continue to lose, so why not at least give us the satisfaction of watching Jimmer in the otherwise depressing process?
It's time to get Jimmer off the bench.
But only after first firing Keith Smart.