Paul Westphal Talks About the Similarities of the Orlando Magic Situation to His in Sacramento
April 9, 2012 – 8:30 am by Chris Fedor
Throughout his time in the NBA, Paul Westphal has been dealt a tough hand with some of the players he was forced to coach. Westphal was not able to handle Vin Baker, but he did do a good job with Charles Barkley after Sir Charles left Philadelphia for Phoenix. Most recently, Westphal was given the challenge of trying to keep DeMarcus Cousins under control in Sacaramento. While the big man for the Kings is loaded with talent, he also comes with baggage and needs to be motivated. There were numerous problems between Cousins and Westphal and ultimately, the baggage Cousins came with became too much and ultimately led to Westphal parting ways with Sacto.
What is happening in Orlando between Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy seems eerily similar to some of the situations Paul Westphal had to deal with. Like Westphal, Van Gundy may end up losing his coaching gig with the Magic because of a star player getting the coach run out of town.
Paul Westphal joined ESPN Radio in New York with Mike Lupica to talk about DeMarcus Cousins costing him the job with Sacramento, why he essentially told the Kings to either extend him or fire him when things were happening with him and Cousins, why he thinks Stan Van Gundy came out to the media and said what he did about the Dwight Howard situation, and his experiences with Vin Baker and Charles Barkley who were considered problem players.
On the idea that DeMarcus Cousins cost him his job at Sacramento:
“That’s pretty true. It’s nothing new about that though Mike. When you look historically at it I was at a thing last night honoring the Lakers Championship team of 40 years ago when they won the 33 in a row with Wilt (Chamberlain) and (Jerry) West and Bill Sharman was coaching and people at that time said Wilt was uncoachable and was a coach killer but then Sharman came in and he found the key and they succeeded. I was in Phoenix and we traded for Charles Barkley who was through with Philadelphia, his time had ended. People said he was uncoachable and he came to Phoenix to prove people wrong and he was the MVP of the league that year and he did prove people wrong just like Wilt proved people wrong. They didn’t want that stigma even though it may have been true and I think that is certainly what seems to be happening in Orlando. When Stan Van Gundy came out and said what he said he’s not stupid, he’s pretty surely gone because stars always win those kind of confrontations and if the guy is good enough the next guy will benefit. That’s why I read something in the New York paper today saying the Nets shouldn’t touch Dwight Howard. Are they crazy? Dwight Howard will be fantastic for his next coach. When you have problems is when a guy gets a coach fired and isn’t good enough to get the coach fired. That can happen too and that’s when it really gets outrageous.”
You said either extend me or fire me because you didn’t want to be seen as vulnerable to the guys that were in the locker room:
“The ideal is for a coach to have longevity and for the players to understand that but the reality is that almost never happens. When you read that Stan has, this is the last year of his contract and certainly for the value for the franchise Dwight Howard, you can’t let him go and get nothing in return and you’d like to build around. If he’s looking for a different coach he’s going to get a different coach one way or the other and so you like the ideal of a coach having longevity and clout but the reality is a lot of times you are hired to be fired. The next guy can come in and reap the benefits of the seeds you planted but you’re not the one to going to take them to the promised land.”
Why he thinks Stan Van Gundy came out to the media the way he did:
“I think he just had enough. You can only keep things in for so long and I really think, just like the guy in ‘Network,’ just got tired of it. (Host: So did you.) You can only allow things to continue so long and eventually they have to come out. What I felt and what I think Stan feels is when that time has come you feel a little better when you can set the parameters of how it comes out rather than just having to sit there and be a punching bag.”
On his experience in Seattle with Vin Baker as well as Barkey:
“That happens. In retrospect there are always things that you would like to think you can do differently but sometimes it’s a train wreck. In Phoenix I hit Barkley at the right time. He was trying to prove that he can be a great player and somebody you can build around. He did it. If I would’ve had him in Philadelphia I’m not so sure I would’ve had the same success with him because he wasn’t ready to do that. I think that you can look historically, Vin Baker for example, had more problems than just deciding to flip a switch. With those kinds of things you say well maybe a new coach can be a new voice so that’s the whole thing to question. Does the guy have what it takes inside to change and learn from his poor behavior? Barkley did. I think Dwight Howard does. Baker didn’t. That’s always the question and the only way you really find out is to make the change and see if the player is going to go forward or revert.”
Listen to Paul Westphal on ESPN Radio in New York here (Audio begins 16:00 into the podcast)
Tags: DeMarcus Cousins, ESPN Radio New York, NBA, Orlando Magic, Paul Westphal, Sacramento Kings, Stan Van Gundy
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