The Sacramento Kings did the inevitable today. They fired Head Coach Paul Westphal. With Westphal, it's the same story, over and over and over. This is his is third head coaching gig in the Association, and none has lasted more than four years. In other words, he wouldn't make it out of his first contract as a college coach.
Here are the numbers:
Westphal's first three seasons in Phoenix went great. two first place finishes and one second place finish in the Pacific Division. When you're coaching a starting rotation including perennial All-Stars in Chuck Barkley, Dan Majerle, Kevin Johnson, A.C. Green, and then you have Danny Ainge coming off the bench, who couldn't coach that team to a nice finish. I could roll a ball out and have them in at least third place.
Then came the 1995-96 season. The Suns were just a bit older, and started out horribly. Westphal was fired after a 14-19 start. KJ got injured and played in only 56 games. Michael Finley was a rookie, and wasn't quite Finley. Wesley Person and Hot Rod Williams were playing significant minutes. Chuck was still Chuck. But the roster had been turned over, and now had more roll players than All-Stars.
In Seattle, 1998-01, he was fired after 15 games in his third season. He went 25-25 (strike season), 45-37, then 6-9. In Seattle, he did have Gary Payton and Detlef Schrempf. And that was about it. Vin Baker was good, and had yet to put on his heavyweight contender body. But in all three seasons, the roster was marginally OK. In the 2000-01 season, Westphal had an almost-retired Patrick Ewing, a 21-year old Rashard Lewis, and an already peaking Ruben Patterson in his third season. Too make matters worse, Shammond Williams, Brent Barry, David Wingate, Desmond Mason, and even Purvis Ellison were available off the bench. If you like former McDonald's All-Americans gone bad, that was the place to be. As you can see, Westphal didn't have much to work with.
Mr. WestphalThen. Wow. Then, you have Sacramento. What a disaster. Westphal's record in Sacto is 25-57, 24-58, and he opened the 2011-12 campaign 2-5. There isn't one legitimate all-star on the current line-up.
Geoff Petrie, the Kings operations manager, should also be on the hot seat. The Kings haven't made the playoffs since the 2005-06 season. But yet, Westphal is the fall guy. You can look at the recent draft history to see how bad Petrie has been.
Gerald Wallace (2001 1st round) - highest PPG average as a King 4.7. He became an All-Star in Charlotte.Dan Dickau (2002 1st round) - traded before he played for Kings.Corsley Edwards (2002 2nd round) - who?2003 draft - No picks. That is the definition of awesome. Lebron, Mello, Bosh, Wade. Coulda been Kings. Kevin Martin (2004 1st round) - averaged over 20 ppg, then was traded to Houston after six seasons.Francisco Garcia (2005 1st round) - Somehow, he's still on the team. Career average right under 10 ppg.Quincy Douby (2006 1st round) - Nice bench player, if you like 4 ppg, for a first round pick.Spencer Hawes (2007 1st round) - Figured out how to average double figure points, and got sent packing.Jason Thompson (2008 1st round) - A good lane filler, but inconsistent on offense. But at least he's still on the team. Sean Singletary (2008 2nd round) - Never played for SAC. Traded to Charlotte.Tyreke Evans (2009 1st round) - Best draft pick in recent years, but production has started to slip.Omri Casspi (2009 2nd round) - Played 2 seassons in SAC. Now plays for Cleveland.Jeff Pendergraph (2009 2nd round) - Never played for the Kings.DeMarcus Cousins (2010 1st round) - Oh, he's still there all right. Partially responsible for getting Wesphal fired.Hassan Whiteside (2010 2nd round) - He averaged 2 fouls per game last season. Moving on . . .
So, not counting the latest draft (the season just started, so a true idea of what will happen to those drafted isn't really available), the Kings have drafted two players since the 2009 draft, Evans and Cousins, that are making meaningful contributions to the team. Perhaps one of the most damning things for the franchise was to miss out completely on the 2003 draft. Starting with the 2004-05 season, the Kings got worse every season, finishing 12, 10, 28, 19, 48, and 32 games back of first place. But yet, Geoff Petrie still has a job.
I'm not putting all
the blame on Petrie. I don't think Westphal is a legitimate NBA coach, but the blame for such a bad run has to be shared. Petrie deserves to be fired just as much as Westphal did.