OAKLAND Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof sat courtside before tipoff against the Warriors at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night and expressed support for his head basketball decision maker and head coach.
Maloof said any reports the team is considering replacing basketball president Geoff Petrie are "totally false."
"Geoff's always been a part of the family," Maloof said. "We're in a rough stretch, but so what? Things will turn around."
After Tuesday's 93-90 loss to Golden State, the Kings are 6-15, last in the Pacific Division with the second-worst record in the Western Conference.
Petrie suggested replacing head coach Paul Westphal with assistant coach Keith Smart on Jan. 5. Smart is 4-10 since taking over, but Maloof said he is impressed with Smart's coaching.
"I know sometimes the record doesn't indicate (improvement), but I like the way he's developing our young players," Maloof said. "I like the way he's working with them and helping them learn the science of the game. We're really, really high on Keith Smart."
One reason Westphal was replaced was the lack of development by the Kings' young talent. Under Smart, center DeMarcus Cousins, forward Jason Thompson and guard Tyreke Evans have begun to make strides, while rookies Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas have played pivotal roles.
"We love the direction we're going." Maloof said. "I know it's not translating into wins, but eventually it will."
Making progress Guard Marcus Thornton is allowed to participate in practice but not in contact drills as he recovers from a hematoma in his left thigh. The injury will keep him out one to two weeks.
Thornton was injured Jan. 8 and has missed seven games.
"That area is still tender, and all it takes is one little knee or elbow to that area and then we've got to restart the whole process," Smart said.
Secret ballot Smart coached the Warriors last season and hoped guard Monta Ellis would make the All-Star team.
Smart has a vote this season and as a coach can vote for Ellis now that he is not coaching him. Smart smiled when asked about voting for Ellis this year. He didn't promise to vote for him but said he would consider Ellis.
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