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Kings extend contract of coach Keith Smart


Posted Mar 5 2012 5:54PM - Updated Mar 5 2012 7:06PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Keith Smart has found some job security as an NBA head coach in Northern California after all.

In California's state capital with the Sacramento Kings, that is.

Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie announced Monday that the team has extended Smart's contract through the 2012-13 season. The 47-year-old Smart replaced the fired Paul Westphal in early January -- giving him another shot as a head coach after being let go by the Golden State Warriors last April after one respectable season.

"Keith has done a terrific job of taking control of the direction of the team," Petrie said. "He is active, engaged and working hard to develop our young players along with a complimentary style of play."

Keeping Smart is another encouraging development for the franchise, which has a full financing plan in place for a new arena that could keep the Kings from leaving town. The City Council is set to vote on the plan Tuesday night, with former player and mayor Kevin Johnson taking a lead role in the efforts.

The Kings, who lost 96-88 at Phoenix on Sunday, were 12-25 and had dropped eight of their last 10 games going into Monday night's contest at Denver.

Smart took over after Westphal was dismissed Jan. 5, just seven games into the lockout-shortened season. The Kings were 2-5 and sitting in last place in the Pacific Division at the time - and Petrie and the Maloof ownership family swiftly promoted the experienced Smart to the top seat on the bench.

A longtime NBA assistant before coaching Golden State, Smart led a 10-game improvement by the Warriors last season for a 36-46 record -- bettering the previous finish of his mentor and career wins leader Don Nelson -- only to be replaced when owner Joe Lacob decided to bring in his own guy: first-time coach Mark Jackson.

When he got another chance from the Kings, Smart said he hoped the new job would be a good fit for both sides and give him some stability again.

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