Curious to hear Reggie Theus' thoughts on the Kings, the recent moves, and his own plans, I reached him on his cell phone a few minutes ago and found him eager to chat. (My few previous attempts found him reluctant to rehash his one-plus seasons in Sacramento). Anyway, he was about as candid as he could be without damaging his future job prospects. He still refuses to totally bash his former employers, but he had some interesting things to say. We'll give him the microphone and let him vent:
On being replaced by Kenny Natt on Dec. 14 with the Kings off to a 6-18 start during his second season
"Obviously, with the record, and the way things were done, it wasn't my coaching. The team we had wasn't healthy. The thing I don't understand is that Geoff (Petrie) said I wouldn't be evaluated until the team was healthy. How do you justify that? That was tough. I don't think I got a fair shot. But watching the team disintegrate was even tougher. Watching it go into the toilet ... watching the personalities lose confidence, regress ... that was tough. I thought Beno (Udrih), who was struggling, got worse.
"Spencer (Hawes), who had been playing pretty well, went totally downhill. Jason (Thompson) stayed pretty consistent. Pushing Kevin (Martin), demanding that he play defense and play on a high level, expecting him to be a high-level player, that's the challenge Kevin needs to be the player he needs to be. ... This team was being laughed at after we (Theus and assistant Chuck Person) left. For the most part, we played hard every night. This team was not a joke. If you didn't come in and play hard, the Kings could beat you. We were a team that could steal a game on you if you didn't come to play."
On the trades of Brad Miller, John Salmons, Shelden Williams, Bobby Brown, and the waiving of Mikki Moore and Quincy Douby
"I think the moves were very confusing for the guys, but I think they were necessary given the economic stress the team has been under. If you can save $26 million and stay under the cap so you can make other moves down the road, I think that's good. Obviously, I hope there's an overall game plan. I think Geoff (Petrie) finally decided that the team wasn't what he thought it was."
On the newcomers
"I particularly like (Andres) Nocioni because of his toughness. The team lacked toughness as a whole. It was just a general perception, and by that I mean, needing a physical presence. Guys who would bust through screens, make it clear (to opponents) that you are not going to take any crap."
On his preference between coaching in the NBA or college
"Either one. Whichever is a better opportunity. There are going to be jobs opening up in the league at the end of the season, so we'll see. I do know I'm a better coach today than I was when I took the job. I am grateful for the opportunity.