If you’re a Kings fan, the best approach to take for Thursday’s NBA draft is to dodge it.
Nobody available at the eighth position will solve the team’s personnel and spiritual needs. Maybe during Monday’s final predraft workouts, the Kings should have given a look at the Dalai Lama, who was in town to address the California Legislature.
Dressed in his traditional Cleveland Cavaliers colors, the D.L. told lawmakers, “Each of us has to think of the well-being of 7 billion human beings.” Talk about pressure.
For Kings general manager Vlade Divac and coach Dave Joerger, the challenge is more tightly focused. They’re only concerned about the 12 to 15 players who will fill their roster next season. And about half of them figure to be new.
Looking at the Kings, the draft is perhaps the least important part of their equation. They need more than a couple of college players to resolve their issues.
The most favorable mock draft for the Kings shows them picking Oklahoma shooting guard Buddy Hield. Sacramento didn’t get much production from Ben McLemore, Marco Belinelli and others last season, so you could chalk up Hield as a promising talent to fill a major need.
The only problem with that scenario is the Kings are going into the draft with nobody they can rely on at point guard.
Rajon Rondo, last season’s starter, looks as if he’s ready to blow town and a locker room he has described as the most tension-filled he’s seen in his 10-year NBA career.
Darren Collison, Rondo’s backup, might be unavailable for a while – or longer. He has been charged with two misdemeanors, spousal battery and domestic violence causing injury, in connection with an incident with his wife last month at their home in Granite Bay. If he gets convicted or cops a plea, he likely will have to do some NBA suspension time – even if he avoids the hard time of the Placer County jail.
So maybe the Kings will pick Kris Dunn of Providence if he’s available, but he probably won’t be.
If only the Kings could draft a free-agent point guard. Under the league’s expanded salary cap, Sacramento should be able to afford a good one.
Kings fans ought to be rooting for them to sign Mike Conley Jr. The team scored some good PR when it signed Joerger as the new coach. It’ll get a lot more if Joerger can reel in Conley from the 901, their previously shared area code in Memphis.
The Kings also need to have a discussion with Ryan Anderson, the free-agent power forward who might be looking to flee New Orleans. He would come with a high price tag, but he can shoot from afar, and it helps that he’s from El Dorado Hills.
This brings us to the Kings’ center of attention, who happens to be their center, DeMarcus Cousins, who appears to be in a good mood these days.
More than any draft pick or free agent, the most important thing for the Kings – in their decision to retain rather than trade DeMarcus Cousins, at least for the time being – is to see him grow and mature.
Cousins spoke last week with reporters during his basketball camp at Sacramento High School, where he confirmed he has been selected for Team USA for the Summer Olympics. That would improve anyone’s outlook, and he looked more at ease than ever in his 10-minute session with the media.
Here’s hoping Cousins avoids the Zika virus but somehow contracts the spirit of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Sacramento needs him to come back and spread around some samba. It’ll be easier to share than the gold medal he hopes will be dangling from his neck.
Physically speaking, there appeared to be a bit less of Cousins last week. Media types estimated him to be 18 to 20 pounds lighter than when he was last seen lumbering up and down the floor at Sleep Train Arena.
Cousins also reported on his relationship with the new coach. He pronounced himself to be “on the same page” with Joerger. This would be way better than he was with the ousted George Karl; they were never even in the same chapter.
It’s way too early to say there has been an attitude makeover by the often surly Cousins, but the early returns look good.
More than any draft pick or free agent, the most important thing for the Kings – in their decision to retain rather than trade Cousins, at least for the time being – is to see him grow and mature.
His continued petulance and anger hurt the team and detracted from his increased production last season, and the Kings missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season with him on the club.
Can he channel his emotions this season and lead the Kings to the postseason? It’s something that has to happen before he can be considered among the NBA’s elite.
“The best way of taking care of yourself,” the Dalai Lama told the Legislature, “is to take care of others.”
Let’s see if Cousins can do that with whatever team emerges around him.
- When: Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
- Where: Barclays Center,
- New York
- TV: ESPN, 4 p.m.
- No. 1 pick: Philadelphia
- Kings’ picks: Nos. 8, 59
- Fan viewing parties: Firestone Public House (1132 16th St.) and de Vere’s Irish Pub (1521 L St.)