Earlier this afternoon, the Sacramento Kings let go of their head coach Paul Westphal to much applause from the King fan base who’d become frustrated with the lackadaisical and uninspired play.
Letting go of a coach is never fun nor easy, especially when they have the type of personality Paul Westphal does. I’ve called for Westphal’s head many a times, but, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s an awesome guy and a pleasure for media to deal with. However, the Kings are in the market of making money, not friends and Westphal’s ability when it came to X’s and O’s along with player motivation was sub-par at best.
There will be many that claim this is a victory for DeMarcus Cousins, as if he won the battle with Westphal being removed from his duties. That’s simply ignorance. Did Cousins and Westphal’s spat add into the reasoning Westphal was fired? Sure, you could say that – though, as Paul Westphal so eloquently put the other day – “it’s only the tip of the iceberg”. There were so many pieces that made up that puzzle and while the sour relationship played a part, it was just one of many situations that put Westphal on the chopping block.
For three seasons now we’ve seen a continually improving roster with zero improvement on the court. Not only were the Kings struggling in a win/loss scenario, they simply weren’t growing as players. If it wasn’t a spat with Cousins, it was one with Spencer Hawes. If it wasn’t players upset over a lack of playing time, it was players complaining about the poor on-court performances – quietly harping about the coaching, deeply entrenched in their media comments. Make no mistake, the recent complaints about the offense aren’t something new – we’ve seen them the entire time Westphal has been in Sacramento. Omri Casspi, Jason Thompson, Tyreke Evans (multiple times) – the list goes on.
For anybody who watched Paul during his previous endeavors in Phoenix and Seattle, this is all too familiar. Fighting with players. Not reaching the promise that those rosters presented. Continued questions about rotations. It’s a book that we’ve all read.
Paul Westphal lost this team. Paul Westphal has lost previous teams when he was with Seattle and Phoenix. When it happens one time, you question it. When it becomes a trend, you have to realize it’s a problem.
However, make no mistake – removing Paul Westphal from the Kings isn’t a quick fix to solve their problems. For all of the issues Westphal brought to the table, this current grouping of players have a lot of issues to work through that will only come with time. Paul Westphal wasn’t the problem, just a problem – so while axing Paul from his duties might put a patch over the Kings open wound – it’s still bleeding.
I’ve yet to met a person who didn’t genuinely like Paul Westphal as a person and I’d be hard pressed to find any King fan who didn’t want to see him succeed during his tenure in Sacramento. But sadly, that just never came to life. There’s no hard feelings, it just didn’t work out as we all hoped for.
The Kings still have a long road ahead of them, but hopefully – a morale change for the whole group will give them light at the end of the tunnel.