3-on-3 Roundtable: Weighing-in on Kings coaching hires and departures

You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics.  Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom is bringing that format to a local level with the introduction of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.

The Sacramento Kings made some major changes to its coaching staff yesterday.  Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie announced the hirings of both Bobby Jackson and Keith Smart to Head Coach Paul Westphal’s staff.  Jackson, a former fan favorite and 2002-03 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, had served the last two years as special assistant in the Kings front office.  Smart previously worked the prior eight seasons in Golden State, including serving as head coach last year.  Their hirings also meant the end for three of Westphal’s other assistants.  The contracts of Mario Elie, Truck Robinson and Otis Hughley were up after last season and were not renewed.

James Ham, Jonathan Santiago and special contributor Akis Yerocostas, associate editor of Sactown Royalty, share their thoughts on the Kings coaching hires and departures.

1.  Bobby Jackson: Your impressions on the hire.

James Ham:  Great hire.  The fans love him.  The players love him.  As a third assistant, Jackson will learn the ropes from two quality assistants in Jim Eyen and Keith Smart.  Jackson spent a lot of time around the Kings last season, so the transition to full-time assistant should be an easy one.

Jonathan Santiago:  I concur with James.  Not only has Jackson spent time in the Kings front office, but he’s played with some of their current players as well.  He’s the ideal bridge between the coaching staff and the roster.

Akis Yerocostas:  I love the hire of Bobby Jackson. He’s always been a leader on and off the court, and the returning players already know him and respect him.  It will be nice to see Bobby on the sidelines once again.

2.  Keith Smart: Your impressions on the hire.

James Ham: Again, great hire.  Smart has over ten years coaching experience at the NBA level and he boasts something that no Kings assistant coach had last season – 122 games of head coaching experience.  The Kings needed some fresh blood and Smart comes in with a solid pedigree, playing for Bobby Knight in college and working with Don Nelson at Golden State.

Jonathan Santiago:  Perfect situation for him because he doesn’t have to move very far.  After all, he spent most of the last decade here in Northern California.  People may associate offense with his head coaching tenure at Golden State.  But Nelson did make Smart his defensive coordinator in his second-to-last season as head coach.  We’ll see if he can incorporate the defensive schemes he wanted to use with Golden State in his new role with the Kings.

Akis Yerocostas:  I admittedly don’t know much about Smart, but from what I do know, I think this is a good hire.  He’s had success as a coach in the past, and I think he did a lot with a rather mediocre Warriors team last year. Perhaps he’ll introduce some more variety in our offensive sets.

3.  Which departed assistant (Elie, Robinson or Hughley) will be missed the most?

James Ham:  This is a difficult question.  I think it depends on who you are asking.  Elie had rings and appeared to have solid footing with the players.  Robinson is a long-time friend of Coach Westphal and spent a lot of time working with players like Jason Thompson.  Hughley was DeMarcus Cousins’ high school coach.  In lieu of an easy answer, I will say Elie because of his experience.

Jonathan Santiago:  Hughley, because of his relationship with Cousins.  He was essentially brought in to watch over Cousins because of the big man’s perceived volatile reputation.  But maybe by letting Hughley go, the Kings are sending a message to Cousins that they trust he’ll mature.

Akis Yerocostas:  I’ll miss Elie the most.  He was tough and hard-nosed, and I think the players respected him.  He brought a bit of a contrasting attitude to Coach Westphal’s laid-back approach.  I wish Mario the best of luck in New Jersey if he winds up there.


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