After just seven games in his third season with the team, Paul Westphal is out as coach of the Sacramento Kings. The team released a statement shortly before 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning. He will be replaced by former Warriors head coach Keith Smart for Sacramento's game with Milwaukee tonight.
The firing represents the fastest coaching changes to start an NBA season since 1976-77. Philadelphia's Gene Shue was replaced by Billy Cunningham after seven games for the 76ers in 1977-78.
Westphal recently clashed with center DeMarcus Cousins, questioning his commitment to the team and suspending him for one game -- Sunday's contest at New Orleans. Cousins rejoined the team on Tuesday.
Smart coached the Warriors to a 36-46 record in his first full season as head coach. He was not retained at the end of last season.
Official press release:
The Sacramento Kings today relieved Paul Westphal of his head coaching duties, according to President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie. Current Kings assistant coach Keith Smart will serve as head coach in tonights game versus the Milwaukee Bucks.
I want to thank Paul for all of his effort on behalf of the Kings, said Petrie. Unfortunately, the overall performance level of the team has not approached what we felt was reasonable to expect. I wish him the best in his future endeavors.
In two-plus seasons as head coach of the Kings, Westphal amassed a record of 51-120.
I would like to thank the Maloof family for the incredible opportunity they gave me to participate in the attempt to bring the Sacramento Kings back to prominence, said Westphal. While the job is far from finished, I am proud of the strides we were able to make.
Geoff Petrie and his staff have been nothing but honest and supportive throughout my time here. They are first class in every way and I wish them nothing but success. My hope is to see the fans of the Kings and the city of Sacramento rewarded with many years of great basketball.
Finally, I want to thank my loyal staff and players for their efforts in attempting to climb out of the hole we shared. Nothing comes easy in the NBA and I know they will not rest in their efforts to rebuild this team.