The Kings could have waited a few months and made Keith Smart prove himself more before deciding he was their coach beyond the 2012-13 season.
But in Smart's first six months, Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie said he had seen enough.
The Kings announced Monday that Smart had agreed to a contract extension through the 2013-14 season.
"We had talked about it at length somewhat after the season, after the draft," Petrie said. "We just really moved forward on it in the last couple of weeks. It's something I'm really in favor of. He's the right coach at the right time for the group of players."
Smart took over as coach after Paul Westphal was fired Jan. 5 amid a feud with center DeMarcus Cousins and other players openly questioned his direction.
Even though Smart won over players and improved the team offensively by starting Isaiah Thomas at point guard and moving Tyreke Evans to the wing, the Kings went 20-39 after he was promoted from assistant coach and missed the playoffs for the sixth straight season.
Smart has said his focus for this season is to improve one of the NBA's worst defenses while emphasizing a fast-paced offense that shares the ball.
"I'm excited to continue this process with the Kings," Smart said in a statement. "We're trying to get our franchise moving in the right direction. The goal is to keep moving in that positive direction, and I'm glad that I get that opportunity."
Petrie said critics who think the team should have waited to give Smart an extension might also have considered him a lame duck coach if he hadn't received it before the season.
"I think it gives us stability and gives him a reasonable period of time to implement the style of play and type of teaching he wants to use," Petrie said. "We're still essentially a younger team that's in development, and he has a strong commitment to working with players and getting them to improve."
Petrie said the team has been pleased with Smart's handling of players during the season and his work with them in the offseason.
After the season, Smart visited each player on the roster and worked him out. And last week, 10 of the 14 players under contract came to Sacramento for voluntary workouts, something Smart encouraged.
"It's another example of his commitment to trying develop not just individual players but a team concept," Petrie said.
Smart's career coaching record is 65-116 (.359), including time as interim coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers (2002-03) and a season with the Golden State Warriors (2010-11).
Smart took over the Warriors in the midst of a change in ownership and just before the start of training camp. The Warriors went 36-46 under Smart, a 10-game improvement from the previous season.
But the Warriors let Smart go and hired television analyst and former NBA All-Star guard Mark Jackson.
"Golden State, he did a good job there," Petrie said. "He got caught up in an ownership change."
This is the first time Smart has been a head coach for an entire offseason, and Petrie said he has learned Smart is a "worker" year round.
"He does a lot of his own due diligence, and he has a good network of people around the league," Petrie said. "I think he utilizes all that to bring a lot of good information to the table that goes beyond how anyone might see a player or a possibility."