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Keith Smart Takes Over As Head Coach After Kings Fire Paul Westphal

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The Sacramento Kings on Thursday fired Paul Westphal as head coach after a 2-5 start that had gotten ugly. On Sunday, Westphal sent DeMarcus Cousins home and released a statement accusing the second-year center of hurting the team; after a win that night, Sacramento went on the road for a pair and got obliterated in Memphis and Denver.

Keith Smart, Westphal's top assistant, takes over for the Kings' Thursday game against the Milwaukee Bucks. In a release announcing the dismissal of Westphal, the Kings did not bestow the title "interim head coach" on Smart, which could mean that the team is willing to kick the tires on other candidates before giving Smart the reins for the season.

Smart has one full season as a head coach in the NBA, having run the Golden State Warriors in 2010-11. The Warriors won 36 games that season, a 10-win improvement over Don Nelson's final season in 2009-10. Under Smart, the Warriors were a up-tempo team (No. 5 in pace) who had an above-average offense (No. 12) but porous defense (No. 26). He rode star Monta Ellis hard; Ellis averaged 40 minutes per game, and lead the league in minutes played.

The Warriors excused Smart to hire Mark Jackson. Golden State is 2-4 this season.

UPDATE: reports that Smart will lead the Kings for the remainder of the season.