Keith Smart already had the full help of his players.
Now, the Sacramento Kings coach has the backing of the franchise to go with it.
President of basketball operations Geoff Petrie announced the team extended Smart’s contract thru the 2012-13 season. The 47-year-old Smart stepped in when Paul Westphal was let go in early January. Basketball scores
For Smart, this was a second probability to show his command skills on the bench after the Golden State Warriors let him go last April after one solid season. He appreciates the opportunity, even if he didn’t think another shot would happen this shortly.
“Many coaches in the NBA, front office folks called me after that happened (in Golden State) and declared, ‘You did an excellent job. You coached that team. You proved that you could coach in the NBA. You will get another chance,” Smart said.
“(The players) have responded very well to what I’ve been doing. They take helpful criticism and take a hearty pat on the back well. We are attempting to construct something that will last a long while — not a quick fix work.”
And that’s why Petrie accepted to make this move.
“Keith has done a superb job of taking command of the direction of the team,” Petrie expounded. “He is active, engaged and working hard to grow our young players along with a complimentary style of play.”
Keeping Smart is another inspiring improvement for the franchise, which has a full financing strategy in place for a new arena that would maintain the Kings from leaving city. The City Council is about to vote on the plan, with previous player and Mayor Kevin Johnson taking a head role in the efforts. Baseball scores
Westphal was discharged on Jan. 5, just 7 games into the lockout-shortened season. At the time, the Kings were 2-5 and languishing in last place in the Pacific Division. That’s when Petrie and the Maloof possession made the move to plug Smart.
A longtime NBA assistant before training Golden State, Smart led a 10-game enhancement by the Warriors last season for a 36-46 record — improving the previous finish of his mentor and career wins leader Don Nelson — only to get replaced when owner Joe Lacob made a decision to bring in his own guy: 1st-time coach Mark Jackson.
When he got a second chance from the Kings, Smart stated that he hoped the new job could be a tight fit for both parts and give him some equilibrium once again.
“These guys have bought into it. Now, it is simply a case of us growing on the basketball floor and all coming together,” said Smart, who is 10-20 since taking over. “There have been games where you look and say, ‘Boy, if not for about seven possessions in a game defensively, we were truly, very good that night ‘ Therefore they’ve come a long way.”
His players actually price his training style.
“It takes the team confidence knowing he is going to be here and he is going to be the coach,” forward Jason Thompson said. “I had a good relationship with him as an assistant, and even when he was with the Warriors. He’s a player’s type coach.”