DALLAS Although Saturday marked Keith Smart's first time coaching in American Airlines Center this season, it was almost his home arena this year.
Smart verbally agreed to join the Dallas Mavericks during the NBA lockout, but his contract signing was postponed until the lockout ended.
The Kings wouldn't be so patient.
They met with Smart and secured the former Warriors head coach by signing him during the lockout instead of waiting.
Smart became the Kings' head coach Jan. 5 when Paul Westphal was fired.
Taking the Kings job allowed Smart and his family to remain in the Bay Area, where they spent the past eight years.
"(Dallas coach) Rick Carlisle was great through the whole process," Smart said. "He really made me feel like he wanted me here."
Smart said Carlisle understood why he would decide not to come to Dallas.
"He said, 'You've got an opportunity to stay close to home, and your family is right there,' " Smart said.
Learning as they go Smart has had just one full practice since taking over because of the compacted 66-game schedule.
"We're using the term 'traveling training camp,' because that's pretty much what it is," Smart said.
The Kings are scheduled to have today off after playing back-to-back games. The next available practice day is Tuesday.
Smart said film study still must take the place, and he sometimes has to try things in games to get them on film, even if the Kings haven't worked on them yet.
He used some zone defense against Philadelphia on Tuesday, even though the Kings had yet to practice it, he said.
Getting healthy Guard Marcus Thornton returned to the starting lineup after missing three games with a left thigh contusion. DeMarcus Cousins has been ill but started at center.
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