A tumultuous week for Paul Westphal has ended today in his dismissal as Sacramento Kings head coach.
Former King Beno Udrih was caught off guard by the news.
“I was surprised and I’m still surprised,” the now-Bucks guard said to reporters following the end of Milwaukee’s shoot-around at Power Balance Pavilion this afternoon. “Coach Paul Westphal is a great coach. He was a great coach to me. We had a great relationship. I had basically my best year of my career playing under him, so I’m a little surprised of the news.”
In two seasons under Westphal, Udrih averaged career highs in points per game, field goal and three-point percentage. Despite Udrih’s improved play, the Kings managed to win only 49 games with Westphal at the helm.
“We are in this business (and) you never know what’s going to happen,” the former Kings point guard continued. “Unfortunately, I’m a little sad to see him go, but I think he’s going to just do fine. He definitely is a quality coach. He’s going to get some opportunity somewhere else, so I wish him all the best.”
Reporters also asked Udrih if Westphal faced pressure to turn things around sooner rather than later.
“Well, yeah,” said Udrih speaking of his final season as a King. ”I think we (here in Sacramento), we had a lot of young guys that wanted to prove themselves, and I think they wanted to prove themselves a little bit too quick. They wanted to basically turn the page right away…”
After two consecutive games on the road, the Kings did not hold shoot-around this morning and were therefore not available to comment on Westphal’s dismissal. Geoff Petrie, Kings president of basketball operations, and Keith Smart, who has assumed Westphal’s duties, will address media before tonight’s Kings/Bucks game at Power Balance Pavilion.
Game 8 Preview: Kings vs. Bucks
Kings Probable Starters (2-5)
|Tyreke Evans||Marcus Thornton||John Salmons||Chuck Hayes||J.J. Hickson|
No word yet whether DeMarcus Cousins will get the start at center tonight for the Kings.
Bucks Probable Starters (2-3)
|Brandon Jennings||Stephen Jackson||Carlos Delfino||Ersan Ilyasova||Drew Gooden|
Center Andrew Bogut will miss his second consecutive game due to personal reasons. Small forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. is out due to a groin injury. Beno Udrih says he’ll try to play despite being hampered by a bruised-left shoulder.