Kings welcome Motta's replacement

December 26, 1991|By McClatchy News Service

SACRAMENTO -- Interim Sacramento Kings coach Rex Hughes says he cannot begin his job trying to command respect.

"I have to earn it," he said.

But it appears Hughes already has respect.

Guard Dennis Hopson said Hughes is "a respectable guy. He's a hard worker and seems very easy to communicate with."

It was Dick Motta's inability to communicate with the players that led to their mistrust and unwillingness to accept his word and system.

"He never really said too much to me," Hopson said. "So I didn't know where he was coming from day to day. Now, I know that had a lot to do with losing and the pressure."

Guard Spud Webb said the players were frustrated not only with Motta's strategy but with his method of handling people.

"Guys were just frustrated in Dick's offense and with Dick's head games," Webb said. "He would talk to players and then go talk to other players and say they had said things about each other. I don't think Dick had the communication skills to motivate the players and make them want to play hard for him."

Webb said the players like Hughes.

"I think the players felt sorry for Rex because he was caught in the middle," he said. "We would talk to Rex about things we wanted to try, and Rex would go to Dick, and Dick would just continue to do things his way. And then it was like Rex had undermined Dick. Dick would say that his way was time-tested."

Webb said Motta's dismissal was no surprise to the players.

"I hate to see it happen," Webb said, "but for the players we have, we just weren't utilizing the talent the right way in the right offense."

Motta has been Lionel Simmons' only professional coach. Simmons believes the team will be receptive to the promotion of Hughes.

"I think it's a positive move to keep somebody here who has been with us," he said. "The team will be optimistic.

"I'm kind of surprised because Dick said [he'd retire at] the end of the year, but I guess it wasn't up to Dick. The way the [front office] reacted so quickly to Dick's actions was a little surprising."

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