The next few days, even with all those pretty lights and presents wrapped with care, aren't going to be too fun for the Sacramento Kings. The team has lost 21 of 23 games, some in an almost cruel fashion, and no member of the organization is immune from criticism. In last night's loss to a mediocre (at least thus far in the season) Bucks team, the Kings scored just four points in the final eight minutes of the game. It was as brutal a watch as you could imagine.
And word filtering around today is that both coach Paul Westphal (as has long been assumed) is about to get the axe, along with GM Geoff Petrie. Petrie's alleged impermanence may come as a surprise, he was the guy who put together those fabulous Kings teams from the earlier part of this decade, but he was also the guy who put together this (young, but not super-promising) roster, while hiring and extending Westphal's contract along the way.
A person with direct knowledge of recent statements by a high-ranking member of the organization painted a different picture, telling CBSSports.com that frustration with the Kings' 5-22 record had reached a breaking point. At one point after the Kings' 84-79 home loss to the Bucks Thursday night, owner Gavin Maloof was overheard in the tunnel saying that the culture of the organization had to change. "It's time to hit the reset button," Gavin Maloof said, according to the source.
It is time to hit the reset button. Because blowing on this particular cartridge just isn't going to help.
Which is a pity. Because Petrie is quite talented, and Westphal is one of this league's truly nice guys. Honestly a very kind, sincere soul that (honestly) does some ridiculous things when it comes to running an NBA team. Like pitching a battle against Spencer Hawes(notes) last year, or his needless demotion of the (admittedly, clueless) DeMarcus Cousins(notes) this year. You can take Cousins out behind the proverbial woodshed for his moronic choke signal behind the scenes, but you don't have to make your punishment of the guy so blatant and public. That never ends well.
And the Kings won't end well. Because bringing in a new GM (unless it's me; I'd turn that lot around in a jiffy, no sweat) and coach mid-season is just a recipe for frustration. This doesn't mean I disagree with a possible clearing house (especially if Sam Amick is right, and he usually is, about the Kings even considering Bill Walton as a coaching replacement; that would be brilliant), but it's just an unfortunate situation that seems to be hitting the wrong team. The Kings are desperately trying to stay in Sacramento, but while there is a fighting spirit behind this team, you just get the feeling that everything's gone terribly wrong with this whole organization.
So send some goodwill Sacramento's way, over the next few days. Bless them, every one, because even the owners that might be lying on record and the GMs that have made many bad choices and the coach who really isn't doing it the way he should and (shock horror) the players that are playing clueless, bad basketball do, honestly, have their hearts in the right places. I understand that run-on sentences aren't exactly what these guys need right now, but every little bit helps, right?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm about to post the world's saddest press conference:
(If you did make it to the end of that clip, regarding the Pooh Jeter(notes) comment? It turns out that Paul Westphal's brand of statistics might be a little off. Check out Jeter's on/off-court numbers.)