Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

November 16, 2008
Opening tip: The coaching candidates. Just in case, you know, it comes up

Spurs (3-5) at Kings (4-6)

Scoring: Kings 10th (99.3), Spurs 26th (92.1).
Shooting: Kings second (48.2 percent), Spurs fifth (46.2).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (104.4), Spurs 11th (95.3).
Shooting defense: Kings 26th (46.8 percent), Spurs 20th (45).
Rebound differential: Kings 14th (plus-0.5), Spurs 24th (minus-2.4).

The link: Spurs coverage in the San Antonio Express-News.
The almanac: On this date in 1957, Bill Russell of the Celtics set a league record with 32 rebounds in a half. He finished with 49. On this date in 1962, Wilt Chamberlain of the San Francisco Warriors scored 73 points against the Knicks. On this date in 2001, the D-League opened its inaugural season.


Joe Maloof put the issue of Reggie Theus' future in play, so it's fair conversation without appearing too much the circling vulture. And even if it does appear that way, it's still fair conversation. Rule of thumb, remember: If someone is pushing a coach so far out on the plank, they've been thinking that strong awhile and saying it a lot stronger away from public consumption.

Ailene Voisin mentions former Monarchs coach and current GM John Whisenant has already been lined up as the likely successor, at least on an interim basis, so, yeah, the Maloofs are far along in filling out the pink slips. It also shows what the organization thinks of Chuck Person, an assistant who interviewed in the summer for the head-coaching job with the Chicago Bulls.

Whisenant as interim would expose the Maloofs to huge ridicule -- a guy who has never been in the NBA on any level and has barely coached men's basketball in college -- and the Maloofs do not do well with criticism. It would be a long look at someone they obviously consider a legitimate candidate to hold the job on more than a temporary basis, having put Whisenent on the short list in 2006 for the job that went to Eric Musselman. The Kings could view that as a positive. See Whiz in action once and for all and either go for it finally or close that door at last.

But there are other options, options that could make Whisenant, if that's the choice, an actual interim instead of a rest-of-the-season interim.

It's very tough this time of the season. Spring and summer is the time for coaching turnover. You see who gets fired from jobs after disappointing playoff outcomes, you hear which assistants have really distinguished themselves and have shots at all of them.

Now, the options are basically whoever is already available. Competitors may still allow their assistants to interview for a No. 1 job, not wanting to roadblock chances of career advancement. But it's also very realistic that the Kings would get turned down if they ask for permission. Teams are going for championships. Other front offices are not going to reflexively give approval the way they would in the offseason.

Plus, all the college options are out now. College coaches will listen in the summer and some will listen hard. But no one jumps during the season.

So the list is the list of the moment, with the understanding that many more candidates will come on the market if the search for the latest long-term answer comes in April or May.

The currently available:

*Flip Saunders. There's your guy. He'd be interested, too. He'd also be very expensive at a time Musselman and Theus would both still be on the Kings' payroll. Unless the Kings bring the whole bank, the well-regarded Saunders will almost certainly wait until summer and have a choice of jobs, some that will give him a much better chance to win now.

*Avery Johnson.

*Doug Collins. Not going to happen, even if the Kings did want him. Collins turned down the Bulls, an organization he loves in a town he loves, to stay in broadcasting and never allowed his name to get in play with the Suns even though he lives in Phoenix.

*Mark Jackson.

*Mike Fratello.

*Jeff Van Gundy. If the Maloofs want defense, this is the guy who will give them defense. But the offense will suffer, and so will Geoff Petrie. Van Gundy, a good guy, is one of the all-time worry machines. His stress level wore out people in Houston.

The current assistants, with the difficulty noted above:

*Tom Thibodeau, Celtics.

*Brian Shaw, Lakers.

*Elston Turner, Rockets. How rich would that be? The guy on staff when Rick Adelman was fired allegedly for poor defense being brought back to fix the defense. But a lot of people think highly of Turner, a former Roseville resident, and the Suns seriously considered him a few months back before hiring Terry Porter.

*Scott Brooks, Thunder. Take II.

*Kurt Rambis, Lakers. Take III.

*Dwane Casey, Mavericks.

*Mike Budenholzer, Spurs.

Others will come up along the way, depending what happens as the season goes on. Some places, though, they're just trying to get through the month.

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