In the first segment of a three-part series, find out what Kings Coach Keith Smart has in store for the team this offseason. Plus, Sacramento’s leader dishes on the keys to summer success.
With the 2011-12 Sacramento Kings season in the rearview mirror, Kings Coach Keith Smart now has a chance to look back on the condensed year.
“I like how they have come together as a group,” says Smart. “I have to get the team to have the right spirit to play with each other. I think we’ve tried to do that, and they’ve done a lot of that – they’ve grown a lot this year.”
The time for reflection will be brief for the Kings coach, though, as he has a lot of work to do as he enters his first summer as the team’s leader.
Smart’s summer schedule includes reviewing game tape, preparing for the 2012 NBA Draft and holding prospect pre-Draft workouts, organizing the roster for and attending Las Vegas Summer League, and visiting Kings players during their offseason training.
Before he begins his lengthy summer to-do list, Smart first coordinated with players about the areas in which they’ll want to focus during their summer workouts.
“I have a list of offensive, defensive and conditioning (things that) I think they need to do,” reveals the Kings coach. “What they need to do as to move forward with me now, as we get ready for the summer. The strength and conditioning coaches will have information for them, as well – where their bodies need to be, what they need to work on, if they have eating habits they need to change.”
Before the season ended, to Smart’s delight, much of the team had taken the initiative to begin planning its training.
Smart believes it’s the seemingly little adjustments – like working on weak-side defense and shooting – players make in summer programs that can help mold the framework of a winning unit.
A successful culture starts to develop once a team becomes united, a process Smart believes is well underway in Sacramento.
“I just feel the team had to grow first and get over a hump,” says the Kings coach. “Changing a culture of the way things had always been at this time of the year to where we have to change our attitude … Now we can be the first group to start turning it around, and that’s what I want to see out of this group.”
Smart, for example, believes this is an especially critical offseason for Kings guard Tyreke Evans, who plans to continue his work with a personal shooting coach.
“(Tyreke) knows how important this summer is for him as a jumpshooter,” says Smart. “He’s still going to have the ball in his hands. It’s just certain teams are trying to take away the most important thing for him – (his ability to drive to the basket).”
While Evans focuses on improvement through shooting drills, Smart says that there are ways for players to work on their respective games playing full-court, as long as the goal is growth.
“I shared with Isaiah Thomas, ‘You go play pickup somewhere, and maybe you work on just getting everybody involved. I know you want to win the game, but maybe you want to get everybody involved first. Then, maybe another day you play, you just want to work on jump shots on the right side of the floor.’
“Have a plan when you work out and play in the summertime,” emphasizes Smart.
Sacramento’s coaching staff will strive to ensure the team reaches its offseason objectives by maintaining regular contact with players, most of whom will be residing stateside to the relief of the previously jet-setting Smart.
“We have zero international players,” said the Kings coach, who also hopes to see his sons, Jared and André, play this summer. “So I will not have to spend time like the last couple of years in Latvia. So my wife will be happy that she can still reach me!”
Stay tuned for more insight from Smart as the “Offseason Chronicles” series continues on Kings.com on Wednesday.