Paul Westphal Heads to Sacramento: Kings Land Their Man

Jason Coldiron@@tweetme1979Correspondent IJune 10, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 23:  Assistant couch Paul Westphal of the Dallas Mavericks coaches for head coach Avery Johnson who was ejected for going on the court after the referee while playing the Indiana Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse November 23, 2007 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Late Tuesday night the Sacramento Kings finally settled in on their man to lead the team as their next head coach: Paul Westphal.

The hiring ends a two-month coaching search for the team.

The Kings reportedly reached an agreement with Westphal after being turned down by Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis, although there are some mixed reports about the validity of this.

Sources say the Kings were turned off by one rival representative’s relentless and nasty attacks on Westphal’s candidacy.

Regardless, Westphal will receive a two-year deal worth $1.5 million for the first two years and a third year option worth $2 million. Westphal will also have financial incentives in the deal based on the team's improvement.

The 58-year-old Westphal has a career record of 267-159 in previous coaching stops in Phoenix and Seattle.

The agreement was reported first on Tuesday night by the Sacramento Bee. Westphal also relayed the message to ESPN's Avery Johnson, for whom Westphal was an assistant in Dallas.

"I have been looking for a good opportunity to get back and do what I like to do and I think that the Kings present an exciting challenge for me," Westphal told the Bee.

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"I'm really happy I got the job and whatever winding turns it had to take—I don't even know all the winding turns that it took—I'm just happy that they decided I'm the guy for them and I can't wait to get started."

“I’m really excited,” explained Westphal. “This is a great opportunity and I really appreciate the confidence the Maloofs and Geoff Petrie are showing in me. I can’t wait to get to work.”

The Kings general manager hinted on Monday that a resolution to the team's coaching situation would come, “sooner than later.”

In a team press release, Petrie said, “We are really excited to announce that we have reached an agreement in principle with Paul Westphal to become the Kings Head Coach. We set some parameters at the start of this coaching search to look for a successful, experienced leader and Paul certainly meets those qualifications.

"He has a wealth of experience in the NBA as both a coach and player having won 63 percent (267-159) of his career games as a coach with winning records in both Phoenix and Seattle.

"He has been to the Finals three times, twice as a player and once as head coach of the Suns. He was very impressive during the interview process and in the subsequent conversations we have had since the interview. Paul also was greatly supported over the past few weeks by many of his former players and staff and others around the NBA game.”

Westphal was last a head coach in the NBA during the '00-'01 season with Seattle. Before that, he was the head coach for the Suns during the Charles Barkley era, losing to Jordan's Bulls in the '92-'93 finals.

He was later an assistant for Avery Johnson on the Mavs bench during Johnson's last season there in '07-'08. Since then he had served as a consultant to the Mavs.

Westphal is expected to quickly add Mavericks' assistant Mario Elie to his coaching staff.

Sacramento had the league's worst record this season at 17-65, and the team holds the No. 4, No. 23, and No. 31 picks in the upcoming NBA draft.

The hiring leaves Minnesota with the league's only coaching vacancy as owner Glen Taylor decides whether or not to bring back Kevin McHale.


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