Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

June 10, 2009
Final thoughts on Westphal hiring - the Kurt Rambis element

I'll have much more in Thursday's paper, as I had long conversations tonight with agreed-in-principle Kings coach Paul Westphal, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof and Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie.

But before we put this story to bed for the time being, I wanted to answer one of the more relevant questions that probably shouldn't wait.

Did Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis turn down the job before it went to Westphal?

I was tracking Rambis' status very closely all along and until the end, and here's what I was told by sources who know.

There was 27 days between Westphal's interview and his hiring, with the main obstacle in between the fact that his leading candidate competitor, Rambis, was involved in the playoffs and making it very clear all along that he wouldn't be distracted by the Kings' process. The obviousness of that reality and what it says shouldn't be forgotten.

Yet after Petrie had to convince Westphal to stay in the race late last week, he had pressured Rambis' agent, Warren LeGarie, for an answer regarding what it would take to entice Rambis to take the job. That answer came this afternoon in the form of an e-mail from LeGarie, which was essentially a non-answer insisting that they needed more time and simply couldn't commit to anything.

Without a commitment on the Rambis front and with the fact that - as Petrie told me tonight - third candidate and Boston associate head coach Tom Thibodeau had pulled out of the race earlier in the day, the desire to get a deal done with someone whose desire to be in Sacramento was no mystery rather than head further down the rocky Rambis road won out. There had been rumblings all along that Rambis had serious doubts about the job on a number of fronts and may not have taken it unless the expected salary ($1.5 million per in two guaranteed seasons) increased significantly, and it became clear at the end that Petrie preferred the security of a guy he was also high on whose interest was indisputable and whose terms had been agreed to (at least the basic structure of the terms) weeks before.

"(Rambis) was a great candidate, and certainly being involved in the Finals and the responsibilities there can make it a little bit challenging," Petrie said. "But we felt we needed to move forward. We felt we had three terrific candidates and decided to go with Paul."

As a final note, Westphal said Wednesday is his anniversary and he will remain put in Los Angeles to celebrate the occasion. As such, a press conference won't likely happen until Thursday or Friday, I would think. - Sam Amick

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