SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Sacramento Kings fired coach Paul Westphal just seven games into the season after a slow start and controversy involving second-year center DeMarcus Cousins.

Keith Smart, a former head coach with the Golden State Warriors, was promoted to head coach, according to the team. Terms of the contract weren’t disclosed but it’s believed to be a two-year deal. Smart was in his first season as a Kings assistant after eight years with Golden State.

Exclusive: Westphal Leaving Kings Offices After Firing

“I want to thank Paul for all of his effort on behalf of the Kings,” said Geoff Petrie, the Kings’ president of basketball operations, in a press release sent out by the team Thursday morning. “Unfortunately, the overall performance level of the team has not approached what we felt was reasonable to expect. I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

In two-plus seasons as coach of the Kings, Westphal’s record was 51-120. Sacramento went 24-58 last season and 25-57 in 2009-10.

“I would like to thank the Maloof family for the incredible opportunity they gave me to participate in the attempt to bring the Sacramento Kings back to prominence,” said Westphal in the press release. “While the job is far from finished, I am proud of the strides we were able to make.

“Geoff Petrie and his staff have been nothing but honest and supportive throughout my time here. They are first class in every way and I wish them nothing but success. My hope is to see the fans of the Kings and the city of Sacramento rewarded with many years of great basketball.”

Westphal declined further comment when approached by CBS13’s Ben Sosenko at the Kings’ practice facility adjacent to Power Balance Pavilion on Thursday afternoon. “Everything I have to say is in my statement,” he told Sosenko before extending a wave of his hand as he drove off.

In a critical season for Sacramento as the city works for a new downtown arena to keep the team in town, the Kings got off to a rousing start on Dec. 26 with a win over the Los Angeles Lakers before a sold-out crowd at Power Balance Pavilion. But they regressed since then, losing five of their next six games, including a lopsided 110-83 defeat at Denver on Wednesday.

Westphal told Cousins not to suit up for a home game against New Orleans on New Year’s Sunday, the only game the Kings have won since the victory over the Lakers, after the coach said Cousins asked to be traded.

Westphal said it was “only the tip of the iceberg” regarding issues with his second-year big man. Cousins has denied he ever asked to be traded.

Sacramento drafted Cousins with the fifth overall pick in 2010 after he spent one season at Kentucky. The 21-year-old is averaging 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in 26 minutes per game this season.

Cousins’ behavior has been well documented going back to high school and his one season at Kentucky, mixing in astonishing athletic ability for a man of his size with outbursts of anger and sulking. His conditioning and work habits have been called into question, but he came into this season in excellent shape.

Asked if he thought his run-ins with Westphal led to the coach’s firing, Cousins said, “I don’t have any control over that. Keith Smart’s our new coach, so it’s time to play ball.”

Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is spearheading the city’s efforts to build a new downtown arena after the Maloofs nearly moved the team to Anaheim after last season, expressed regret for Westphal’s firing on his Twitter account. Johnson played for Westphal when the two were in Phoenix and they went to the NBA Finals in Westphal’s first season, 1993, losing to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.

“Sorry to hear the news abt Paul Westphal. He coached me for many yrs I have great respect for him. wish him the best. More to say later,” Johnson tweeted.

Smart, 47, has more than 22 years of experience in professional basketball as a player and coach. He led the Warriors to 36 wins last season in his only year as the head coach there but was not retained after the team changed ownership. He originally joined the Warriors in 2003 as an assistant coach.

His playing career is best remembered for hitting the game-winning shot for Indiana in the 1987 NCAA championship game against Syracuse.

“Keith will bring a new perspective to the team as we try to move forward with the season,” said Petrie. “He’s very well prepared and will assume the job with some new ideas and new approaches of his own. We’re all excited and looking forward to working with him.”

Smart is the right man for the job, Westphal said.

“When I asked Geoff to add Keith Smart to our staff, I knew that he would be a tremendous asset going forward,” Westphal said in a press release announcing Smart’s promotion. “Keith has my respect and blessing as he assumes the position he is exceptionally qualified to fill.”

Comments (17)
  1. Whitey says:

    Well, I really like the guy, but I guess this had to happen. Paul looked like death warmed over at his press conference last night.

    Maybe now DeMarcus and the other punks will start to actually hustle on that court. Schedule is brutal… but it’s brutal for everyone. Some of these players don’t look to be working very hard and Westphal took the bullet. DeMarcus needs to grow a pair and Tyreke might try making a free throw now and then. When your two ‘best’ players suck… what is the coach going to do?

  2. former Kings fan says:

    Typical MaFool’s maneuver. Makes you wonder what they think will make the crybaby happy.

    1. Matt W says:

      You prefer 20 point losses…It was the right move…players weren’t buying what he was selling. He HAD to go.

  3. . termite says:

    Bring on the white boys ! trouble maker in high school , sulking tantrums , just another ban . . Westphal to the fall.

  4. Fred says:

    The Maloof’s have sucked at being owners. Ever since they bought the team they have run it down. They are the Al Davis of the NBA. This is just another step for them to move the team

    1. KingsRuleLastPlace says:

      Al Davis’ team would generally win at a better than 50% average…

    2. Matt W says:

      The team had a losing record nearly every year before the Maloofs got here. Don’t try to rewrite history.

      1. Fred says:

        I am not trying to rewrite history. When the kings came to Sacramento they were selling out every game. The Maloof’s bought the team at their peak. They starting making changes the year they had their best season. Ever since they started making changes the team and fan support has gone down hill.

  5. stan atkinson says:

    Maloof’s the Goof’s.

  6. Dude says:

    So the owners who whined and had a tantrum to force the city to build a new arean for them … have bowed tot he whining tantrums of players who have never worked a real job for a real days pay in their life … and fired the hardest working man in their organization … and they think that these same whining lazy players will now suddenly decide to work hard … now that the guy who was telling them to work hard is gone?

    Yep, that makes sense.

    Is it too late to demand that the NBA force the MaGoof brothers to sell the team to new owners like MLB forced McCourt to sell the Dodgers ???

    1. Matt W says:

      I must disagree with your statement that the Maloofs threw a tantrum. It was the OBVIOUS business decision to move the team. Value goes up in LA. Revenue goes up in LA. PROFITS go up in LA. They have given Sacramento a chance to keep the team and THAT was an honorable thing to do. If we turn them away that is on the people of Sacramento.

  7. Jim Davis says:

    We don’t know all the backroom or front office reasoning,but it looks like Maloof’s caved to a spoiled, unintellegent,arogant baby. Meaning, DeMarcus.
    If the Maloofs can’t back-up their coach why should we even bother to root fot the team?

  8. andy says:

    I don’t get the cable channel they are on, They have not been on regular TV in years. So I have watched a game in a very long time. What’s the point anyway, the NBA won’t let a smaller market win the chamopinship anyway.

  9. Nathanael Willis says:

    I thought Paul Westphal was going to help the Kings make the whole NBA West Fall, knock out the east, and win a championship, but guess that’s not going to happen now with the Kings.

  10. Chipper Caswell says:

    As long as we expect these stupid,, ignorant ballplayers to contribute to the league this i s what we can expect!

    1. jt says:

      who cares…..let them go….they won’t sign a premier player and they cleaned house years ago to save $$ when they let Webber, Peja, Christie, Williiams, and Martin go, among others……….sorry Jimmer, they know they have one foot out the door, the downtown parking plan is ridiculous, impeach mayor Johnson too….this is a baseball town

      1. Matt W says:

        Webber was hurt (knee), Peja was hurt (back), Christie was old, Williams was traded for a better player (Bibby). You are way off and appear to know nothing about the Kings or the NBA.

Leave a Reply to stan atkinson Cancel reply