Kings Blog and Q&A

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

December 17, 2008
And One: Unemployment-line edition

*Is it possible beating the Lakers at Arco Arena ended up costing Reggie Theus his job? Backwards logic, but consider the timing. The Kings had several moments as bad or worse than the first quarter against the Knicks on Saturday, what turned out to be Theus' finale, but didn't make a move despite a schedule that would have allowed successor Kenny Natt more practice time. But the Maloofs / Geoff Petrie gave their coach two games after what Joe Maloof said "might have been the most important regular-season win since we bought the team" and one game after a credible showing against the Lakers in L.A.? Sure seems like the win in a charged Arco made management realize the Kings are capable of doing much better now, before the roster was at full strength with the return of Kevin Martin.

*What timing. The Kings are in Houston on Friday for a Rick Adelman reunion. That would be the same Kings who are on their third coach since firing Adelman in May 2006, with the strong likelihood of a fourth around the three-year anniversary. This is no time to get nostalgic about how he should still be in Sacramento. The pairing had a very good run, but it was an understandable breakup after eight years. Rick himself does not debate that notion. It's everything that happened after that makes Adelman look so good and the Kings decision-makers so bad.

*It used to be that coaches loved seeing the Knicks -- mostly talentless, mostly heartless -- on the other bench with coach Isiah Thomas mailing it in. Now: lock the doors if you see them coming. New York used seven players because of trades that recently shipped out its two leading scorers and still dropped 122 on Washington, and the Wizards fired Eddie Jordan about 36 hours later. Oklahoma City fired P.J. Carlesimo seven days after losing to New York. Then the Knicks game became Theus' farewell.

*That makes 14 coaching changes around the league since the end of last season, one short of half the teams. Pat Riley left the sidelines on his own in Miami and Mike D'Antoni sort of left on his own in Phoenix, having gotten the message that it would avoid an ugly scene if he found employment elsewhere. Mike Woodson, in his fifth season in Atlanta, is the longest-tenured coach in the Southeast Division by four seasons. Erik Spoelstra replaced Riley in the summer and is already tied for 17th in the entire league.

*And not a Clippers firing among them. What are the odds.

*The other long shot that has come through: Six coaches fired since the start of the season and Memphis' Marc Iavaroni isn't among them. His future was so uncertain after 2007-08 that the Grizzlies announced Iavaroni would return in the fall, an unusual step for someone under contract. They since have gone from tied for last in shooting defense to 23rd and from 28th in scoring defense to 18th. The Grizz, 22-60 last season, are on early pace to win 30 while starting three rookies (O.J. Mayo, Marc Gasol, Darrell Arthur) and a second-year point guard (Mike Conley) in addition to Rudy Gay.

*Marty Burns of SI.com with the best perspective of all: Three of the last four, um, winners of Coach of the Year have been fired (Sam Mitchell in Toronto and Avery Johnson in Dallas) or had the door held open for them to leave (D'Antoni in Phoenix) since the end of last season. Byron Scott in New Orleans is the exception. As Phil Jackson notes, "A guy takes a team that is struggling, rights it and gets it going, and then a lot's expected." That speaks to the award too. The media usually reward a coach whose team has made a big, if not unexpected jump, rather than someone who has been consistently good and continues to meet high expectations.

*The next to go? We're almost out of teams. Seriously. Six changes already. Eight other teams with first-year coaches, and the situation has to be a Hazmat disaster for any club to bail so soon. Ten others are either untouchable or appear to be well out of the danger zone, especially with Cleveland going so good and New Jersey exceeding expectations. Atlanta, which debated Woodson's future a few months ago, would have home-court advantage in the first round if the playoffs opened today. Denver is 17-8 when most expected it to go headfirst into the lottery. Memphis, as noted, is improving. That leaves the Warriors, Clippers and Pacers. Except that Mike Dunleavy in L.A. and Don Nelson in Oakland are incredibly protected. Dunleavy just became personnel boss as well as coach, while Nelson just signed a two-year extension, to begin in 2009-10, at $12 million.



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