Keith Smart is getting the closest thing he has ever had to a long-term deal as an NBA coach.
The Sacramento Kings extended Smart’s contract through the 2013-14 season on Monday. Smart’s deal had been set to expire after the upcoming season.
”Keith’s extension gives us the stability we need to continue the development of our team,” Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie said in a statement. ”He has the commitment, energy and vision necessary to succeed in building a winning team. We are all looking forward to working with him as we pursue an exciting and productive future.”
The 47-year-old Smart, hired as an assistant last summer, took over for the fired Paul Westphal in January after a 2-5 start. The Kings went 20-39 the rest of the way under Smart during the lockout-shortened season and then selected Thomas Robinson of Kansas with the fifth overall pick in the NBA draft.
The extension provides Smart the job security he has never had.
The Golden State Warriors decided not to extend Smart’s contract last year after he hastily replaced Don Nelson before training camp and led the franchise to a 36-46 record — a 10-game improvement from the previous season. Smart also had a stint as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ interim head coach for the final 40 games in 2003 after taking over for John Lucas.
No interim tag this time.
Smart, the former Indiana guard best known for hitting ”The Shot” against Syracuse to win the 1987 NCAA title, is 65-116 as an NBA head coach. He already has built a strong relationship with Kings players, notably volatile big man DeMarcus Cousins, in his short time in California’s capital city and gained the backing of the Maloof family that owns the team.
Smart will be charged with leading a talented young roster that has yet to blend. Sacramento has missed the playoffs six straight years, and the franchise’s future is still uncertain without a long-term arena solution.
”I’m excited to continue this process with the Kings,” Smart said. ”We’re trying to get our franchise moving in the right direction. The goal is to keep moving in that positive direction, and I’m glad that I get that opportunity. It’s been great working with Geoff and his staff and communicating with the Maloofs in this process.”