Keith Smart To Return As Sacramento Kings Coach Next Year, Joe Maloof Confirms

Head coach Keith Smart will have his 2012-13 team option picked up by the Sacramento Kings, according to co-owner Joe Maloof.

Sacramento Kings co-owner Joe Maloof recently spoke with Sam Amick of SI.com, and revealed that the team will exercise head coach Keith Smart's team option for the 2012-13 season. Smart took over as head coach after the team fired Paul Westphal back in January, and the same thing that led to Westphal's demise -- his relationship with star center DeMarcus Cousins -- is what has earned Smart the favor of Kings management.

Sacramento has amassed an unimpressive 10-18 record since Smart took over, but Cousins is playing the best basketball of his young NBA career. Amick points out that Cousins has averaged 17.4 points and 12 rebounds per game in 28 contests with Smart leading the way. Joe Maloof cited the great relationship between player and coach when discussing the decision to exercise the team option in Smart's contract:

"There was one game where we won, and DeMarcus didn't have a real good fourth quarter, so the next day [Smart] took DeMarcus to breakfast, sat down with him and it was fantastic," Maloof said. "DeMarcus really respects him, trusts him, believes in him. You've got to have trust, and that's the most important thing that I think he's been able to develop with the team. They have a trust and they stick together, these guys."

With regards to the specific decision on the contract, Joe Maloof added "Yes, we'll pick it up. We want him to be our coach forever." Smart served as head coach for the Golden State Warriors in the 2010-11 season, but was fired after a disappointing 36-46 campaign. He started the season as an assistant coach for Sacramento, but now it appears he will be around at least through the end of the 2012-13 NBA season.

For more on the Kings, be sure to visit Sactown Royalty and SB Nation Bay Area.

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