Commentary, news, analysis and reader-driven discussions focusing on this year's NBA playoffs.
Before coming up with a replacement, they must first make several hard choices with their dysfunctional 33-win roster. Will they trade Mike Bibby? Can they trade Ron Artest?
There's no sense lavishing $5 million a year on a high-profile coach at the start of a long-term rebuilding program.
A potential candidate is assistant coach Scott Brooks, 41, who is seen as a future head coach in the mode of Avery Johnson -- an overmatched 5-11 point guard who thought and fought his way through an 11-year NBA playing career. If the Kings don't hire Brooks, another team will eventually.
Brooks would represent a departure from Musselman's one-year tenure. The two went back a long way together: Musselman urged his father, Bill, then coaching the CBA Albany Patroons, to draft Brooks as a point guard from Cal-Irvine in 1987. But it was well known in the Kings' organization that Musselman and Brooks weren't on the same page by the end of this season.
Whether or not they settle on Brooks, the Kings need a coach to provide firm leadership for Artest while developing a new identity for the franchise. Owners Joe and Gavin Maloof want the Kings to establish a defensive presence, which was their main complaint with Musselman's predecessor Rick Adelman.
Even though the Kings are years away from contention, the Maloofs will have a finer appreciation for the importance of hiring the right coach. Apart from the surprise development of shooting guard Kevin Martin, there is little to show from this lost year in which Musselman steadily yielded control of the team. It didn't help that Bibby shot a career-low 40.4 percent, or that Artest was arrested in a domestic disturbance case involving his wife. Center Brad Miller slumped to a six-year low nine points a game, but his contract makes him almost untradeable.
Neither the Maloofs nor team president Geoff Petrie seem the type to blow up the roster and start anew with draft picks and cap space, because it would take years to fulfill that kind of overhaul. The alternative is to spend the next two months exploring the market and weighing options that could lead to opportunities to remake the team around the June 28 draft. Following that course is more of a priority than coming up with a replacement for Musselman.
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Two groups of Kings fans have been saying all season long that (1) Don Nelson should've been considered to replace Adelman, or (2) Rick Adelman should not have been fired. I expect the Kings to hire a big name coach (ex-NBA or current college) this time to replace Adelman.
A bad move. Petrie and the Maloofs are already panicking. If you want to transform the philosophy and identity of a team by hiring a coach whose philosophy and style are opposite that of his predecessor, success doesn't happen in one year. A losing season should not have been a surprise.
What they should've done is retool the roster to better fit a defensive-minded coach. And taking a volatile player like Artest wasn't the answer. What they should've done--and what they should do now--is shore up their frontcourt. They need good rebounding big men. You cannot transform the philosophy of the team without retooling the roster.
The Kings are horrible on the glass and that is their most vulnerable weakness. That should be the focus of this offseason. The backcourt doesn't need tinkering. Bibby, Martin, Garcia, and Salmons provide a more-than-good-enough backcourt. They should focus on the rebounding, and on getting bigger players so that they can have a defensive, dominant inside presence.
The Kings don't have the personnel to play defense. Bibby is a turnstile and they have no shot blocker. This team will have a tough time making the playoffs with this current roster next year. They need to blow things up.
I keep hearing the name Stan Van Gundy popping up as a possible replacement for Musselman in Sactown. Others say, no he is enjoying living in Miami and spending all that "time with family." Others say Reggie Theus, head coach of New Mexico State is rising fast on the list of candidates. Maybe the most buzz is over Marc Iavaroni the Suns assistant. GM Geoff Petrie says he won't even begin the interview process until he returns from upcoming 2 weeks scouting in Europe.
Firing Musselman was a good start. He just doesn't have what it takes to lead a team. I was pulling for Mario Ellie when we were trying to find Rick Adelman's successor and I really hope he's going to be considered to take it from here. He's won a championship as a player with the Houston Rockets and was an assistant under Greg Popovich. He knows what it takes to win, and win big. Plus, he's someone that everyone can respect, including Artest. And, like it or not, Artest is one of the keys for this team. With a coach like Ellie, we can finally see how good he really is because he will be focused.
The next step is to get rid of Mike Bibby. He's a shooting point guard that doesn't play defense. Trade him for a big man that can rebound. We know the Cavs are interested, and I'm interested in a few of their players like Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejo. Since Varejo is a free agent, I think we can do some kind of sign and trade to make something happen. Brad Miller and Kenny Thomas need to go too.
Why not Del Harris? He's a proven winner who led the Rockets to the NBA Finals in 1981 and has had considerable success coaching the Bucks, Lakers and the Chinese national team. The Kings need some stability right now. They need a proven winner. Harris is not only a fine coach but a very good teacher of the game. There is no margin for error on this hire. Either go with Larry Brown or Rudy T or go with Del Harris.
The coach is the least of our problems. Musselman (I'm not a fan) was thrown in a bad situation. We need to change the roster. Go younger, get rid of Bibby and Brad. Either get Ron to play like we all know he can or trade him. I just don't think anyone will work with Geoff anymore. He has pulled off some of the greatest heists of the decade.