SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Rex Hughes, interim Sacramento Kings coach, says he cannot begin his job by 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 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."
Center Duane Causwell said he and Motta, 60, a former Washington Bullets coach whose 856 coaching victories in 22 seasons make him the third-winningest coach in NBA his
tory, had their share of problems.
"I hate to see it go like this," Causwell said. "We're trying to get the winning thing going here, and the team wants to play a different style, and Dick didn't want to do it like that. He wanted to do it his own way. People were not with that.
"At the same time, I think it is for the best. I think Rex understands how we want to play and that everybody wants to get into the action."
Hughes and new assistant Mike Bratz make their coaching debuts tonight when the Kings meet the Seattle SuperSonics at ARCO Arena.
Hopson said Motta's departure was a matter of the laws of nature.
"It's kind of like an old player," Hopson said. "He has to get out of the game, but he wants to hold on. Sometimes, when it's time to go, it's time to go."