News » New Kings coach Westphal emphasizes improvement

New Kings coach Westphal emphasizes improvement

New Kings coach Westphal emphasizes improvementSACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Paul Westphal didn't necessarily want to say that the Sacramento Kings are a team in a rebuilding phase.

But the new Kings coach, who was hired during the summer, did acknowledge that there are many areas where the team needs to get better.

"I want to see improvement and that's all I'm looking for," Westphal said at the Kings media day Monday. "I want the players to improve individually and as a team."

The Kings had a 17-65 record last season and were at the bottom of the league in several statistical categories, including 3-point defense and rebounding. Westphal said those are all area he wants the team to work on.

"We have to improve in those areas," he said. "You can do that by changing personnel and you can also do that by improving your performance. After that I don't have any preconceived ideas of how many wins that will translate into but we need take steps in improving in order to become a legitimate force in this league."

The Kings will start training camp Tuesday with a 16-man roster that includes eight players who were on last season's team. Thirteen of the players on the squad have five years or less experience in the NBA.

"This team is a young team that I think is on the way up," Westphal said. "There's a lot of reasons for optimism. I just can't tell you how soon (improvements) will happen."

Leading scorer Kevin Martin is already buying into Westphal's philosophy.

"We have a new coaching staff that's going to teach these young guys how to win and play the right way," said Martin, who averaged 24.6 points in 51 games last season.

Martin said he could tell the younger players and players who were invited to camp were ready to play for Westphal. Some of them had started voluntary practices about two weeks ago.

"I've never seen a group of guys come in two weeks before training camp and do voluntary workouts like we did every day," Martin said.

Westphal has 22 years of coaching experience at both professional and collegiate levels. He took the Phoenix Suns to the NBA finals in 1992-93, losing to the Chicago Bulls in six games.

Westphal hasn't coached in the NBA since 2001, though the Kings brass is confident he can develop current Kings players.

"We have one of the youngest groups we've probably had here in a while," said Geoff Petrie, the Kings' president of basketball operations. "I think Paul certainly has enough experience in the league and mentality to not only get the team to improve, but to work on individual growth as well."

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Added: September 29, 2009


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