Sacramento Kings’ Head Coach Paul Westphal today announced his coaching staff as the team has reached agreement in principles with Jim Eyen, Mario Elle and Leonard “Truck” Robinson as assistant coaches. Additionally, Westphal retained the services of Pete Carril.
“I’m really excited,” explained Westphal. “I think we’ve put together an outstanding staff. Pete Carril is going to come back and be the one we all learn from. He’ll be around quite a bit. He won’t travel to all of the games, but he’ll be a presence at practice, home games and meetings and in helping all of us. I couldn’t be happier about that. Jim Eyen, Mario Elle and Truck Robinson each bring great NBA experience.”
Eyen, an 18-year NBA veteran assistant coach, enters his first season on the Kings’ bench, having spent the past six seasons as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers.
With 30 years of coaching experience under his belt, Eyen originally began his career with the Clippers in 1988 when he served as an assistant coach under then head coach Don Casey. The following season, he moved to the Lakers, assisting Pat Riley and was retained when Mike Dunleavy was named Lakers’ head coach in 1990. After three seasons with the Lakers, Eyen followed Dunleavy to Milwaukee, where he remained through 1996. In 1997, Eyen again
joined Dunleavy, only this time in Portland, where he worked as an assistant through the 2000-01 season. When Dunleavy was named head coach of the Clippers prior to the 2003-04 season, he again asked Eyen to join him as the team’s lead assistant. Eyen also served as acting head
coach on April 12, 2005, guiding the Clippers to a 94-85 victory over the Utah Jazz at STAPLES Center while Dunleavy was away from the team for personal reasons. Eyen began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Santa Barbara City College in 1979 where he helped lead the Vaqueros to the state tournament three consecutive years. In 1982, Eyen was named head coach of Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, CA, and led his team to the 1984 CIF playoffs as well as coaching the county all-star team. Prior to joining the Clippers’ bench in 1988, Eyen served as an assistant for his alma mater, the University of California at Santa Barbara for four seasons, helping the Gauchos earn their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. Eyen’s basketball interests also extend internationally. He has served as a consultant to clubs in the Netherlands, Germany and Japan, where in 1996 he worked with the Japanese National Team.
“Jim is one of the most well-respected long-time assistants in the league,” said Westphal. “He’s been highly regarded by everyone that I’ve talked to and we are very fortunate to add him to the mix.”
Elie, a 12-year NBA veteran, begins his first season with the Kings after spending the last two campaigns as an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks. During the 2006-07 season, he served as a pre- and post-game host for the Houston Rockets FOX Sports Net telecasts after serving as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors for two seasons (2004-05 & 2005-06). Prior to joining the Warriors coaching staff, he spent the 2003-04 season as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs.
Elie enjoyed a successful NBA playing career averaging 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 732 regular season games with Golden State, Philadelphia, Portland, Houston, San Antonio and Phoenix. He also played in 116 career playoff contests, winning three NBA Championships with Houston (1994 & 1995) and San Antonio (1999).
A native of New York City, Elie enjoyed some of his finest playing moments as a member of the Houston Rockets. He started all four games of the 1995 NBA Finals against Orlando, averaging 16.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists en route to winning his second consecutive title. Additionally, his best individual season came in 1996-97, when he averaged 11.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 78 games for the Rockets. In 1998, he was named to the Rockets 30-Year Team as one of the top 10 players in club history.
After being drafted in the seventh round by the Milwaukee Bucks (160th overall pick) in 1985 out of American International College – a Division II school in Springfield, Mass. – Elie played in Portugal, Argentina, Ireland, the USBL, the WBL and the CBA before making his NBA debut with the Philadelphia 76ers in December of 1990. After appearing in three games for the 76ers, Elie signed a 10-day contract with Golden State on Feb. 23, 1991. Five days later, he signed a contract with the Warriors through the end of the following season.
“Mario and I worked together in Dallas,” noted Westphal. “I was very impressed with him. He was one of the first guys that I targeted. He’s going to really help us with his defensive intensity and with his experience as a successful and versatile perimeter player in this league. The respect he has earned as a tough competitor will bring a lot to our staff.”
Robinson enters his first season with the Kings upon spending last season as a scout for the Washington Wizards. He was known for his tenacious rebounding and offensive firepower as a player, standing at only 6-7. An 11-year NBA veteran, averaged 15.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game over 772 contests with Washington (1974-77), Atlanta (1977), New Orleans (1977-79), Phoenix (1979-82) and New York (1982-85). A two-time NBA All-Star (1978 and 1981), Robinson helped the Bullets win the 1975 NBA Eastern Conference and was an integral player for Phoenix when the Suns won the 1981 Pacific Division. He led the NBA in minutes played (3,638), rebounds (1,288), defensive rebounds (990), and rebounds per game (15.7) during the 1977-78 season.
Robinson was a second round selection of 1974 NBA Draft by the Washington Bullets.
“Truck Robinson and I go way back,” said Westphal. “We played together twice, once in Phoenix and once in New York. Truck is one of the smartest, most accomplished players I’ve ever played with. He led the league in rebounding once as a 6-7 forward. Even though he’s never coached in the league, he’s been a specialist in working with big men. He helped us in Phoenix in that regard and has since been active in scouting and Big Man training. Hubie Brown was a big advocate of Truck’s after seeing him teach and interact with young players. Our rebounding will improve and one of the reasons will be because Truck’s on the staff.”
In a crowning achievement to his legendary collegiate coaching career, Carril was rewarded with an induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 29, 1997. After coaching 30 years in the NCAA ranks, Carril joined the Kings prior to the 1996-97 campaign. His addition to the Kings’ coaching staff reunited him with Petrie, whom he coached at Princeton from 1968-70.
The winningest coach in Ivy League history (525-273, .658 winning percentage), Carril’s career at Princeton included 13 conference titles, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, and just one losing season. Prior to his retirement following the 1996 NCAA Tournament, he was the only active NCAA Division I head coach to reach the 500-victory plateau without athletic scholarships.
In his final season as head coach at Princeton, he led the Tigers to the Ivy League Championship with a 22-7 record. In one of the most thrilling moments of the 1996 NCAA Tournament, Carril’s Tigers upset defending champion UCLA in the first round, 43-41, on a signature Carril-designed backdoor layup with only 3.8 seconds remaining in the game.
Carril played collegiately at Lafayette College under Head Coach Butch Van Breda Kolff. Following his graduation from Lafayette in 1952, Carril began his coaching career at the high school level where he stayed for 12 years. He went on to become head coach at Lehigh University for one season before beginning his stay at Princeton in 1967.