AP

The Sacramento Kings fired coach Paul Westphal on Thursday following the team’s 2-5 start to the season.

“I want to thank Paul for all his efforts on behalf of the Kings,” basketball president Geoff Petrie said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the overall performance level of the team did not approach what we felt was reasonable to expect. I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Assistant Keith Smart will be the coach for Thursday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

During his two-plus seasons with the Kings, Westphal compiled a record of 51-120 as coach.   The team has lost its last four games.

But the other problem was in his locker room where promising but troubled big man DeMarcus Cousins had become a huge problem and a major distraction.  He and Westphal had their recent disagreement when it comes to the offense, after which Cousins may or may not – depending on who you believe – had demanded a trade.

Westphal likely did not help his cause in this matter when he released a statement saying that Cousins had demanded a trade which made the situation even worse.

Kings co-owner Joe Maloof has said that this move was based on the performance of this team this season and the slow start.  But the bottom line is that the Kings had invested the fifth overall pick in the draft on Cousins and while he has been a handful, he has potential and they are not ready to give up on him yet.

The easier move, as always, is to change the coach and see if someone else can get something out of the player no matter how much of a headache he might be.