Posted by: Kingsguru21 | February 24, 2010

Paul Westphal on 1140

Since much ado has been made surrounding what happened with PW and his remarks last night after the game, I’m going to take notes on the radio interview that PW has with Peaches.

First, here is the post-game presser:

Now onto the notes (I’m hoping the audio gets linked on 1140UPDATE: Audio is now linked):

* Opening statement: Every player knows their role. There is an open door policy. Things are done behind closed doors. Conversations are confidential for a reason. We (the coaching staff/organization) want our players shone in the best light. Complaints aren’t done publicly because complaints are taken privately. He was abrupt in his Presser. There is no excuse for Spence not knowing it.

* Sean May went to PW explained why he meant what he did.

* PW had no problems with Tyreke’s comments.

* Players that play well get to play more. Especially when the matchup’s dictate it so.

* PW thinks Spence has a ways to go to where he wants to go/where the Kings want to go.

* Spence practiced today, and well. PW doesn’t know if Spence will play in Utah.

* PW likes Spencer as a person, but wants him to be the best basketball player he can now & the future (the team too). Without the proper guidelines, or discipline (inferred), that foundation can’t happen. A solid foundation is players play and coaches coach.

* PW won’t reveal what discussions have been had.

* PW: Coaching is making players responsibilities and roles clear.

Okay, I want to make several things clear. Here is what I know:

Paul Westphal says he has an open door policy. Sean May went to him and explained what was said and why he meant it. What Tyreke Evans said, and I think this is important, is that it’s hard to gain consistency playing with different guys in the starting lineup. (I agree with this.)

Spencer Hawes essentially complained about his role publicly. That’s what I know.

This is what I can’t prove: That Spence mouthed off about it behind the scenes. Compounding one mistake with another is something young players do well. Let’s keep in mind that Spence, for what he is and isn’t, is still a young player. (PW mentioned that about Spence, and he tossed in JT too. I thought that was as interesting as anything said.)

******

Here’s the reality. Spence is a 21 year old 3rd year C who thinks his role doesn’t suit him, and thus he mentions about guys being confused about their roles. However, that doesn’t mean that their role is wrong. That can simply mean they don’t like what the coaches have deemed what their roles are.

3 things that stuck out. Sean May went to his coach knowing that he needed to explain what was said. Spence, when confronted about it, got pissed off. (Or that’s what I’m reading. I may be wrong. There may have been no conversation at all. It’s equally problematic if that’s the case.)

The 2nd thing is the difference between Tyreke and Spence. I don’t really have a problem with Reke said because I think reading his quotes that he was talking about a continuity standpoint. I get that.

Spence has pushed things a bit too far every year he’s been in the L. Yesterday, and the day before, were just another example of this. I understand why people were upset about what PW said, but he was also asked a question about SPENCE right AFTER a question about his wife. You’d probably sound more upset than you might normally otherwise.

I’m not giving PW a pass. I’m definitely not giving Spence a pass. I’m not saying that the other young players (including Reke) don’t have room to grow as players either. I’m saying that there was more to this little debacle than just playing time or roles. The franchise is clearly unhappy with Spence and they are trying to get through to them. Sam Amick mentioned this in the RotoRadio interview about Beno Udrih too. Players who think they’re owed playing time can get complacent. Whether Spence is complacent, he certainly is complicit with the damage he’s done to his career. If PW has more flare-up’s like this, he will be equally complicit in his not keeping the job as a Kings head coach.

Here’s the difference. PW didn’t apologize to Spence exactly, but he knew that presser made him sound bad. He knew it was a mistake, and said as much. Is that dancing? Yes. But at least it’s bullshit you can read between the lines.

There was a lot of reading between the lines on this one. Hopefully people can let this go, but, as TZ illustrated yesterday, there is enough issues with the rotation that this may flare up again. What’s really potentially awful is that the flare up could be far worse than this particular incident. And that scares me more than anything. Right now this team is down on itself (especially the young talent so critical to leading a re-birth of franchise greatness) that any little thing is bound to make the balance work poorly.

On the other hand, questioning the coach is not something you can do unless you’re a Superstar. If Spence hasn’t learned that lesson by now, nobody can help him.

Right now I consider this a draw in terms of Spence backing off (he declined to say anything further), and PW backed off a little by saying his comments at the presser weren’t quite what he was getting at. So there’s some middle ground. Let’s hope that’s enough to get this team on track (within reason).

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Responses

  1. First about Paul Westphal’s handling of the young players in general, and then about the benching and public ridicule of Spencer Hawes:

    Most teams have a built in mechanism that requires younger players to earn their minutes and respect from a coach and team. Most teams have inherent checks and organic balances that don’t ask too much from rookies and young players and thus let them come along slowly. The veteran players are this internal mechanism. The vets are the people who make it tough for a rookie to get playing time. A vet is polished, came into the the league with a strong work ethic or learned this behavior as a necessity for earning playing time when they were a rookie or still hadn’t paid their dues.

    I think Desmond Mason, and Sean May to some degree, were PW’s attempt at creating a part of a veteran core that the “youngs” had to share minutes with and eventually overtake by showing a commitment to rebounding, defense and improvement. Garcia and Martin were also part of this, but exercise balls, dumbbells and fragile wrist bones threw a wrench into the cogs of this part of the veteran mechanism.

    Still, it seemed to work well at first didn’t it? Hawes quickly and predictably earned his starting spot in the lineup, the Baby Royals were rebounding fairly well, and sometimes when the wind was just right and the stars aligned, they would actually outrebound a team. Mason was put in street clothes, and the youngs were given a little more leash. We were scrappy, tenacious, and every player on the floor looked like he “knew his role” was to play his ass off while in the game.

    Meanwhile, Tyreke blossomed and we were an relevant NBA team again.

    February 23, 2010: The veterans have been waived (Mason, K-9), traded (Martin), are trying to get their legs under them (Garcia) or were never meant to mentor in the first place (Beno, Noce, Udoka). The Baby Royals rebound when they feel like it, are more worried about getting their shots than playing time, and play defense every now and then.

    If this team had a veteran core of good players, Spencer Hawes would be very familiar with his role: Go in when the coach says it’s okay to do so and play your ass of until it’s the veterans’ turn to go back in. This is the role of most 21-22 year old centers in the NBA. Are there exceptions? Sure. But those players, like Tyreke, make it very clear when there needs to be an exception. Spencer is no exception.

    PW could have and should have handled his comments better when questioned about the benching of Spencer. But this whole show is about Spencer Hawes, not Paul Westphal. PW has had 39 opportunities in the form of 39 losses to tell the public what we already know: this a pretty bad team that is not quite ready to compete on a nightly basis with NBA talent. Spencer is a pretty bad player who is not ready to compete with the largest and most athletic men in the world. Most of us understood this about this team and our center. Spencer apparently did not understand…and I think he might get it a little better now. I think that this move had to be done by PW because there is not a veteran core to remind Spencer that his role is to shut up and play. So the only former all-star that we have had to tell him, and yeah he got a little snarky when the media asked him about it. But Westphal has paid his dues as a player. Westphal was there with the youngs in Vegas. Hell, I bet Westphal might have even been willing to participate in some timed sprint drills that Hawes tried to sidestep. This is obviously a stretch, but the point is clear, Hawes needs to pay his dies before acting like a coach is obligated to make his role clear to him. Everyone knows Spencer is not playing as much because of rebounding and defense. These were the two major goals of Westphal coming into the season. These are the two things required of NBA centers.

    I have more, but I really have to get ready for work. It’s true, the working man is a sucka’.

    • You definitely point out an issue that the team is concerned about privately Quick (about the lack of leadership/savvy on this team).

  2. Long story short: The Kings don’t have the leadership from the players to handle Hawes and his attitude, so PW had to. He could have handled it better, but at least he handled it.

    • I agree. Better nip this in the bud now and have fallout than it be a lingering problem by ignoring it.

  3. I’ve been questioning a lot of the way Paul WestPaul has been coaching his players and there minutes but with Hawes there’s no excuse.He’s getting 26MPG! for what he brings to the table I think that’s very fair especially for such a young player who doesnt exactly put in all the work he should anyway.I didn’t really like Hawes game since the start but I never really hated him but now after he’s doing this bullshit I could care less if he stays with the team or now because he hasn’t proved shit to be discussing the team like he’s in some type of leadership role.

    Does Hawes rookie contract end after this season? or what’s the deal with his contract? If I were the Kings I would think long and hard about resigning him because at this point he really does not seem worth it in my view.He was the 10th pick in the draft and he’s in his 3rd season for god sakes he hasn’t really developed any type of player identity whatsoever.He’s a Center who does not play much defense or rebound very well, isn’t athletic or mobile, I don’t mean to sound like ya boy Stephen A. Smith but Spencer Hawes does not have a post move that he puts to memory that he can do 2 times in a row.Unless Hawes starts shutting the hell up and working more on his mediocre all around game..no disrespect to any Spencer Hawes fans but there’s not much to be a fan of at this point.

    • No KF123, Hawes contract ends after the 2010-11 season. Link here: http://www.shamsports.com/content/pages/data/salaries/kings.jsp (It’s also linked on the sidebar in the reference section.)

      As far as Spencer Hawes work ethic, I’ve seen that complaint lodged by several different fans I greatly trust. And, I guess it depends on what you mean by work ethic. I don’t really think work ethic is a problem.

      I think the problem is styles of Hawes and what PW needs out of a big, and what Hawes actually does. For the first time in Hawes career, there is a big alongside Spence who can play inside. That leaves Spence to man the high post, and in turn that makes him more dangerous because he can feed Landry the ball in spots that Tyreke won’t be able to deliver him the ball in. That’s critical if the Kings are going to improve their play without JT.

      If you go through some of Hoopdata’s data here: http://www.hoopdata.com/player.aspx?name=Carl%20Landry you’ll notice a lot of Landry’s scores are assisted inside. But, this year there was a precipitous drop in assisted scores. I wouldn’t be shocked to see if the Kings pound the ball inside with Landry now they’ve had some time to figure him out. Especially with JT out where JT was trying to roam the paint like a lost buffalo. (It is not JT’s strength really.)

      Because Spencer is what he is, I think he will improve if PW lets him play the role he’s best suited for offensively: At the high post. With Landry around, he should be only playing in the low block for the Kings. Anything other than that is a disappointment IMO.

      This is, for all intents and purposes, the real last chance Spence will ever get to gain PW’s trust. If he doesn’t, and if PW doesn’t relent because of personal problems, well there’s nothing to be done with that. However, there’s some give & take here and I think PW will adjust to all of this. Or maybe that’s just well wishing on my part.

      In short, I think we’re looking at a great opportunity to see a different Kings offense in the future that better utilizes all it’s talents rather than the older system that was squeezing JT in a role he wasn’t as well suited in because the coaching staff wants to keep JT in minutes. Now that problem doesn’t exist.

      That’s really why PW gets so much heat in this deal. But Spence deserves his share of blame. But now? No excuses left for either side to say it can’t work.

      I’m looking forward to this group without JT because I think they can thrive up to a point. Maybe the doubt and anger will dissipate as time moves along and this team is able to pick up momentum.

      Thanks for stopping by KF123.

      • Oh and for those who were wondering, this comment was also going to be the basis of a post I was going to write. I changed my mind and wrote it in the comments instead.

    • Spencer does a lot of things on the floor that really irk me. The late rotations, the way he seems to cringe when a real fight for a loose ball in the paint ensues, hell I even hate the way he looks when he gets fired up. And I can’t stand when he yells “AND ONE!!” when he believes he was fouled.

      But boy does he have flashes of brilliance. The poor man’s Dream Shake that he can pull off in the post comes too infrequently, the deep range from the center position justs begs to be paired with Reke, and the passing is just delicious at times. I really hope we don’t let him walk and instead turn him into a sweet passing Mehmet Okur. The kid is young, very young. It’s too bad that he doesn’t have Big Ben and Sheed to knock some of the girl out of his game like Mehmo got when he came into he league…..Veteran Core Pookey!

      • Hence the Troy Murphy and Derrick Favors pushing. I really believe that as a big 4 rotation, Murphy, Favors, Hawes & Landry are a great big man 4 potentially. Landry & Murphy are quality veterans, and Hawes still has shown he has talent. Favors definitely has that.

        But, like everything else, we shall see how this all transpires. As we saw last year, nothing is guaranteed come lottery time. And believe you me, I want to see a team compete for a playoff spot as soon as possible. But once they get there that core has to be ready to compete for a championship after that too!

        LOL @ the Memo/Spence comparisons. I can totally live with Memo Jr in Spence Quick. You bet your ass I could. 🙂

  4. […] would say that for all the hand wringing about what PW did in sitting down Hawes, people are forgetting some important things about that incident. 1) Sean May went and talked to PW […]


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