(Ed. note: Yeah, sorry for the late start. Hopefully we've conditioned you to not expect much on Mondays by now.)
I hadn't planned on doing a Kings Kolumn today, but news happened so I felt compelled to. The following isn't very good. At best it's the ramblings of a Kings fan who was forced to go from "relaxed, whatever happens, happens" mode to the end of his rope in about 15 mins. It's what our friend B at the H2O Poetry Slams would call "organic". And it still contains more original analysis than what Highfill will give you tomorrow. What should be the topic of his entire column will be a bullet point so he can make a joke about St. Mary's that roughly 15 people will get. If they're feeling frisky they might reprint Amick's column. I wouldn't hold my breath. So feel free to print this up, bust out the glue stick, and paste this right over Ol' Bulletpoint's ramblimng mashup of topics. The following may be rambling, but at least it's about a single fucking topic. Which brings us to our topic...
If you haven't heard by now allow me to shit in your salad. The Kings fired Reggie Theus this morning. It wasn't a particularly surprising move considering he's been on the hot seat before the season even fucking started. It's just frustrating. Frustrating and infinitely fucking depressing.
It's frustrating because, as I've said before, Reggie Theus did not injure this team. He didn't sprain Kevin Martin's ankle. He didn't peer pressure Brad Miller into smoking that joint. He didn't trade our best defensive player during the offseason. Reggie Theus did the best that he could with what he had (which right now isn't much) and did a passable job. We've beaten two of the best teams in Western Conference without our best player. If that's not a passable job, I don't know what is.
I've spent the past season and a half on various Kings sites talking about expectations. I consider last season to be successful because the team exceeded my expectations for the year. I knew they weren't going to make the playoffs and I just wanted them to play an exciting brand of basketball. Go ahead and be bad, but be entertaining while you do it. Sure that may seem like a low set of expectations, but anybody who witnessed the year under Musselman knows that asking for entertaining ball from a team that was largely unchanged from the Muss year was asking for a lot.
This season I had similar expectations. Only the most optimistic fan thought we were going to make the playoffs. In the 07-08 season 50 wins was the threshold for making the playoffs in the west. I'd have danced in the street if we hit 41 wins. With the trade of Ron Artest the message was clear to most fans, we're going young. But apparently everybody forgot what "going young" meant after the season started.
Going young means sacrificing traditional measures of success. This season's success was never going to be measured by the number of wins and losses. This season was supposed to be measured by player development. Player development that's all fucked to shit now because team brass was impatient. That's perhaps one of the most frustrating parts of this whole thing. They took an uncertain situation and made it even uncertainer. We all kind of got the hint that Reggie wasn't long for this world after the team didn't pick up his '09-'10 season option. We really knew he wasn't when Joe Maloof tore apart his defensive prowess (along with now interim coach Kenny Natt's) on KHTK.
By the time we reached the Laker game last Tuesday we all knew that barring some sort of miracle Theus wasn't going to be coaching the team next season. Theus was for all intents and purposes his own interim coach following the debacle against Utah. Then some sort of miracle happened and the Kings beat the Lakers, and then hung around with them that Friday and everyone pretty much declared Reggie's job safe for the season barring some sort of apocalyptic collapse at home against an east coast team they should be able to handle. Oh fuck.
And like that, he's gone. Patience is at a premium in sports, especially with head coaching jobs. But this has to be one of the rare instances where the owners showed less patience than the fans. Like I said before, the Maloofs haven't seen a team this bad before. We have, we had to suffer through the Gary St. Jean years. The Maloofs are different fans than us. For them, this is the lowest of the low. For us, this doesn't even touch the '89-'90 season. Maybe that's where the problem lies. Our expectations for the "bad" part of "bad, but entertaining" were different than the Maloofs' expectation of bad. They see "Remember the Spartans" and go "Wow, that's the worst thing ever" and then we go "You think that's bad? Here's a dvd of 'A Walk to Remember.'" (Fuck, that movie scarred me for life. I still haven't forgiven that ex. Yes, I was whipped beyond whipped back then.)
Now, I'm not saying Theus didn't deserve any of this. His end of the season clusterfuck where he wouldn't stop talking to the media probably accelerated matters. The team also was sorely lacking in areas that can really only be attributed to the coach. Effort and motivation. That's how a team can beat the Lakers one night, then go down by 25 in the first quarter to the Knicks on another. While you can blame a lot of the teams inconsistency on youth (and I do, a lot), the team's inconsistent effort can solely be blamed on Theus. If you can't motivate your players to give 100% every game then...well, you get fired. I just don't think he should've been fired now.
What does firing him now accomplish? Well, fucking nothing. It just breeds more uncertainty after everybody thought we had just gotten through all of that bullshit with the Laker win. If anything, the team played poorly because they had that air of uncertainty around them. Vanquishing the Lakers was supposed to lift the air of uncertainty. Now it's even more uncertain than before. We just got finished with a guy who was a massive media distraction (Artest) and now we have to deal with questions about the next coach. Did Martin give the team and ultimatum? Had the team tuned him out? Did Jason Levein have anything to do with it? Our nice, quiet, entertaining season is now the same uncertain bullshit as it's been for the past 3 years.
As fans we were able to accept the team sucking because at least we had a plan, develop young talent and clear up cap space for 2010. Sure it was the same plan every other team has but it's a fucking plan. We knew where we were going and Geoff Petrie was executing the plan exactly how we all thought it was going to go. Now? Who the fuck knows. The outlook is bleak. Am I being somewhat of a fatalist? Yeah, but you look at the list of available, experienced head coaches and you try and have a sunny outlook for the team's future (I accidently thought the words "Coach Flip Saunders" and threw up in my mouth a little bit). At least with Reggie we always had the hope that he'd grow out that glorious mustache.