Basketball Analysis Sacramento Kings Make a 'Smart' Move

Though Casspi moved on to Cleveland, NBA fans in Israel probably noted Westphal was finally let get for problems all too prevalent during the Israeli's stay in Sacramento.

Jerry Mittleman
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Jerry Mittleman

On Thursday, the Sacramento Kings, the former NBA home of Omri Casspi, fired coach Paul Westphal after two disappointing seasons, and replaced him with assistant coach Keith Smart.

Though Casspi has moved on to Cleveland, NBA fans in Israel have probably noted that Westphal was finally let get for problems that were all too prevalent during the Israeli's stay in Sacramento, and that ultimately prompted his exit from the Kings.

Poor communication and frequent feuds with players, a highly inconsistent rotation of players and their roles, and a recreational-league style of offense were all earmarks of the past two years in Sacramento. All of these prevented the Kings from establishing consistency and allowing their talented young players to play to their potential.

Westphal, who had success in the past as an NBA coach with a veteran Phoenix Suns team, floundered in establishing rapport with younger players such as Casspi, Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Dontae Greene.

What eventually led to his downfall was a public feud with Cousins last week; but his exit was only a matter of time. Cousins, a budding superstar center who demanded a trade out of frustration, was only the latest in a long line of Kings who landed in Westphal's "dog house."

One of the characteristics of the Westphal years was a constantly shifting lineup, where various rotation players would wind up benched for several games in a row. Casspi, feuded with his coach on at least two occasions, and rarely got off the bench during the last three weeks of the previous season.

At that point, his departure from Sacramento was a foregone conclusion. A draft-day trade to Cleveland came as a welcome relief and an opportunity for a new start, and Westpal's firing serves as addenda for that period.

Westphal's Kings and Casspi were hardly an ideal match. Coming from a background in European basketball, Casspi would have probably benefited from a more disciplined coach and a more structured system. Casspi's new coach in Cleveland, Byron Scott, is a demanding but disciplined leader; and hopefully, Casspi will do well in his system.

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