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The regression of the young Kings

What got Westphal fired should have other coaches -- including Saunders -- worried

Updated: January 10, 2012, 3:49 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | Basketball Prospectus

In the Sacramento Kings chapter of "Pro Basketball Prospectus 2009-10," I noted that incoming skipper Paul Westphal sported the seventh-best winning percentage among NBA coaches with at least 400 games under their belt. This was done with tongue at least a little bit in cheek. Westphal indeed put up those lofty numbers, but he had stepped into the breach of a fully-formed power in Phoenix. He managed to roll out the ball for Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson and Dan Majerle and win quite a few games.

After three outstanding seasons, the Suns slipped under .500 and Westphal was gone after 33 games of the 1995-96 season. A few years later, he got a shot with the late, lamented Seattle SuperSonics and was basically a .500 coach over two-plus years. Then & mostly silence. Westphal coached in college and worked for the Dallas Mavericks, then, eight years after he'd last run an NBA team, Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie hired him to coach the youthful Kings beginning with the 2009-10 season.

It just didn't work out. In the NBA, Westphal had coached mostly veteran-laden squads, though you'd think his time at Pepperdine might mean that he could work with young players. He couldn't. When Westphal was canned by Petrie last week, the Kings' honcho cited the lack of development of Sacramento's young core.

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