Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin: Expect more Kings roster changes, but team should avoid Ellis

Published: Thursday, Jul. 11, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013 - 12:09 pm

In their attempt to alter the atmosphere and change the perception of the Kings as the doomed princes of the NBA, the new owners and front-office executives have temporarily ditched their shovels (see decrepit arena) and reached for the Sharpie.

Tyreke Evans, traded to New Orleans. James Johnson, waived. Toney Douglas, waived. Carl Landry, signed. Greivis Vasquez, acquired. Luc Mbah a Moute, acquired.

With the addition of draft picks Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum, half the roster has been restructured, and more shuffling is expected. Bottom feeders seldom become upwardly mobile after one offseason. It took years to create this mess and will require several smart draft selections and free-agent signings, slick negotiating and deal-making, and quality, consistent coaching to transform a team that is still adjusting to sticking around.

But the theme – cautiously courageous – should come with the following caveat: continue to resist the allure of Monta Ellis, one of the few upper-tier free agents still available.

No, no, no, no, no, no.

The reasons? Where to start?

The Kings don't need to imitate their neighbors in Oakland, don't need another undersized scorer, don't need another volume shooter, don't need another ball-dominant player, don't need a veteran who struggles to defend his position and who, despite a history of knee and foot problems, opted out of a contract with Milwaukee that would have paid him $11 million in 2013-14.

Given Vivek Ranadive's fondness for Ellis – the two were together with the Warriors – this is a test. The Kings' new front-office executives are probably tempted to tie their boss to a chair until Ellis signs elsewhere. Or maybe not. As a minority owner of the Warriors, Ranadive was courtside while Stephen Curry flourished after Ellis departed.

Besides, there is enough going on here without enlisting Ellis' new agent, Dan Fegan, in a heated July tussle. (The Kings and Fegan will tangle soon enough over DeMarcus Cousins.)

On Wednesday, David Stern protégé and high-ranking NBA executive Chris Granger was named president of the organization. In the basketball offices in Natomas, contracts were being drafted and physical exams arranged for the new players. With news conferences to announce their arrivals still upcoming, here are a few thoughts about the newcomers:

• Vasquez, a 6-foot-6 point guard who was en route to Sacramento from his native Venezuela, is the playmaker the Kings have coveted since the Mike Bibby/Doug Christie era. In his final year with the Pelicans, he averaged nine assists, found Ryan Anderson for open three-point shots and kept Anthony Davis happy with an assortment of lobs, court-length passes and one-bouncers off pick-and-rolls. A fierce and vocal competitor, and a mature 26, Vasquez should help clarify Cousins' role and organize the offense.

• Mbah a Moute is a decent pickup at small forward, with general manager Pete D'Alessandro determined to restore salary cap flexibility over the next two seasons. The Cameroon native provides length, athleticism, opportunistic offense and a defensive presence, assuming he remains healthy; injuries have hampered his NBA career. Free agent Andre Iguodala, of course, was the first choice at small forward. Andrei Kirilenko, who opted out of his $12 million deal with Minnesota, also would have been a better fit for a year or two. But either would have come at a much steeper price.

• Landry returns for four years and $26 million after making major contributions during the Warriors' surprising playoff run last season. In Mark Jackson's free-flowing, fast-paced offense, the combination forward was effective with quick hits, midrange jumpers and offensive rebounds.

So what next? Based on the short but extremely active history of Ranadive and D'Alessandro, nothing surprises. Times are changing. The Kings are here and nothing seems the same.

Call The Bee's Ailene Voisin (916) 321-1208 and follow her on Twitter @ailene_voisin.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

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