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Phelps.jpg

There were smiles from Kings fans on Sunday night at Arco Arena. Just look at that pic above for the proof. Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, of course, claims the purple passion more than ever now. Gavin Maloof bleeds purple (and would someone get the man a tourniquet?!) And Olympic legend Michael Phelps, according to Gavin during this sideshow between the first and second quarters, is a Kings fan.

But beyond the three amigos, everyone else affiliated with the Kings wore a look of serious concern after this night of historic humiliation. How bad was the mood in Kings land? Let's just say it was no coincidence that Phelps was a major topic of discussion on the team's television postgame show, with the powers-that-be opting against the standard opponent interview that usually follows games.

It wasn't the first time (in the last week) that the emotions sparked by losses leaked into the TV world. When the Kings were being routed by San Antonio last Monday, I was told that Gavin Maloof was so incensed at the way the Spurs' broadcast team was talking about the Kings that he called Spurs officials at the AT&T Center during the game to voice his displeasure.

Yet the only phone calls that will make a difference at this point are the ones that lead to a trade. While it continues to look as if nothing is heating up on that front, losses like these may very well change the team's outlook on doing a deal. Even if it's not the Brad Miller move that is expected to be atop the priority list, it could be something smaller in an attempt to change the mix.

The thing about Miller is that - based on conversations with executives, coaches and agents around the league - the interest in him continues to be lukewarm. For all the time I spent looking at the possibilities with Chicago, I left out the part about the Bulls having almost no interest at this moment.

Because the Kings wouldn't mind getting cap room earlier than expected, teams with potential young pieces to offer along with attractive expiring contracts like Cleveland (Wally Szczerbiak, $13 million), Miami (Shawn Marion $17 million), and maybe even New York (Stephon Marbury, $20.8 million) would fit their needs. Except that I've been told there have been no talks with the Cavs (who announced their lack of desire to make moves just days ago because they're rolling), Miami is in playoff position and isn't believed to be eager to do a deal, and the Knicks appear more motivated to buy Marbury out than to ship him out.

Since I haven't spent any time talking about the NYC scenario, the thinking on the Kings' side would be that it's a whole lot of money you get back this summer and - all things considered - Marbury could actually help this bunch. On the other side, a deal involving Miller and Kenny Thomas gets the Knicks two players who could contribute and whose money comes off before the pivotal summer of 2010 in NYC. Throw Brooklyn native Quincy Douby in, and he probably becomes yet another shooter to flourish under Mike D'Antoni.

At this point, I see Miller's situation dragging out until much later in the season. He just isn't atop anyone's wish list, meaning the bigger names of desired players must be scratched off for those respective teams before he becomes the priority. Yet maybe Miller's declaration that he would welcome the chance to contend again will expedite the process. Until then, the Kings may want to ask Phelps if he can become a regular distraction at Arco.

***

* From what I've absorbed online, on the radio and from talking with regular folks, the Maloofs continue to take a beating from their fans during these down times.

The vibe was no less contentious at Arco tonight when Gavin addressed the crowd of 16,029 between the first and second quarters to honor Phelps. When public address announcer Scott Moak introduced Gavin, the reaction was as lukewarm as the Miller trade interest (with some boos mixed in). When Gavin introduced Johnson, the volume quadrupled (at least), and was boosted again when Phelps received the loudest cheers.

* Mikki Moore's insertion back into the starting lineup at the expense of Spencer Hawes obviously didn't matter much. Moore is valued largely for his defensive presence, but Kevin Garnett hit 10 of 11 and there wasn't much defense of any kind.

Moore had eight rebounds and five points in 24 minutes, while Hawes had four points and four rebounds in 22 minutes.

* The Kings obviously didn't put up much of a fight, but that doesn't mean there wasn't fisticuffs.

In the second quarter, Boston's Glen "Big Baby" Davis was grappling with Kings rookie forward Jason Thompson in the post. It got physical enough that Davis fell backward toward the Kings bench, where he must have heard something he didn't like as he began to run his mouth that direction.

Kings assistant Rex Kalamian, who coached Garnett in Minnesota and always raves about his passion for the game, showed some of his own by yelling "Shut up!" to Davis numerous times. The Celts' were pulling away at that point, as an Eddie House three moments later pushed their lead to 31-17.

The funnier fracas came soon after, when a young man was claiming a Kings jersey with Phelps' name on the back and his signature. The jersey was thrown into the stands as part of the promotions, but everyone around the man indicated he'd stolen it from an innocent young lady. With enough crowd pressure (and an older man standing over him with a glare), he gave up the jersey and thereby avoided the tar and feathers. The Kings, of course, weren't so lucky. - Sam Amick

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