Struggling Kings fire Theus, name Kenny Natt as coach

Though the NBA season is less than seven weeks old, it appears to be open season on head coaches after a sixth one was was given the ax, dpa reported.

The struggling Sacramento Kings fired Reggie Theus on Monday after a 6-18 start, naming assistant Kenny Natt as his interim replacement.

"Another coaching change is not a pleasant situation for anybody, certainly not for myself and not for the players," said Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie.

"It just became apparent that we need to try a different voice at this point, and we're going forward with Kenny Natt, who has a lot of experience as an assistant coach with some great teams in the NBA. I look forward to working with him throughout the remainder of the season."

Natt will make his NBA coaching debut Monday night, when the Kings host the equally dismal Minnesota Timberwolves (4-19), losers of eight in a row.

Theus, 51, joins Maurice Cheeks of Philadelphia, PJ Carlesimo of Oklahoma City, Eddie Jordan of Washington, Sam Mitchell of Toronto and Randy Wittman of Minnesota to be jettisoned, with barely a quarter of the season in the books.

After a successful coaching career at New Mexico State University, Theus was named Sacramento's head coach on June 19, 2007, and compiled a 44-62 record in a little mover than one full season.

The former Kings star guided them to a 38-44 mark in his rookie season. Hampered by injuries to key starters Kevin Martin and Brad Miller, the club is off to an abysmal start, including 10 losses in the last 11 games.

"We're in a situation where we're 6-18, and that's on pace to win less than 20 games," Petrie said. "That would equate out to 14-44 with the rest of the year, and we still have 70 per cent of the season in front of us."

Nonetheless, Petrie had kind words for Theus: "I want to thank Reggie for his hard work and efforts during the past year and a half. I think that the experiences that he's had will benefit him when his next opportunity occurs."

Natt was in his second season as an assistant coach for the Kings. He spent three seasons as an assistant with the Cleveland Cavaliers and worked nine years under Jerry Sloan with the Utah Jazz.

Taken in the 1980 draft by Indiana, Natt spent three seasons in the league playing for the Pacers, Jazz and Kings.

"Natt knows the league, he knows our players and has worked with some excellent coaches," Petrie said. "He's certainly paid his dues, so we'll support him and our players."

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