Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

November 27, 2006

Question: Why did Ron Artest (back strain and all) take so many shots against Utah in the Fourth quarter when Kevin Martin had shot so well? Is this going to be a pattern?
-- Shawn S., Claremont

Answer: I can't pretend to know why Ron does anything, but he did take an awful lot of shots in that fourth quarter. It's an issue for the Kings right now, especially in light of the fact that Kevin Martin is playing so well and is so much more accurate than anyone else on the roster. Artest definitely has the mentality of a guy who wants the ball in clutch spots, which is not a bad thing. But between him, Mike Bibby and Martin, they sometimes play like they're unsure who should be taking the offensive lead. For the record, though, Martin missed all five of his shots in the fourth quarter against Utah. That loss was on all of them.
-- Sam Amick

Question: Am I wrong or do I see a confused coach on the sidelines for the Kings? He is definitely intense but he really looked lost at the end of the game against Utah.
-- Steven Rapaport, Stockton

Answer: Yeah, I'm still getting used to the new demeanor myself. Former coach Rick Adelman was pretty consistent courtside, alternating from stoic to upset and back to stoic again. He complimented players in subtle fashion, with a quiet comment as they came off the floor and pat on the hip. Musselman is an emotional whirlwind during games - up, down, and everything in between. As for the Utah game, I'd look flustered too if a team was as unstoppable as the Jazz were on that night.
-- Sam Amick

Question: Simple question: The Kings held Utah to 37 points in the first half and I thought Taylor did a pretty good job protecting the paint. Where was he in the second half?
-- Don Segur, Orangevale

Answer: Well, there have been two games since and another two "did not play-coach's decision" indicators next to Taylor's name. That's pretty much all there is to it. Musselman clearly doesn't think well enough of the guy to play him, though he hasn't said exactly why. He's played six minutes in the last eight games. Taylor is definitely confused, as he was told when he signed before training camp that he would be Brad Miller's backup. But apparently, the Kings coaching staff has taken the small-ball approach instead, giving heavy minutes to Shareef Abdur-Rahim and using guys like Corliss Williamson and Francisco Garcia off the bench. And now that Miller is back, Taylor should get even more comfortable on the bench.
-- Sam Amick

Question: Upstate New York does not get a lot of coverage on the Kings. What are we in for this year? Seems that the Kings are in need of some change in player personnel to get to the next level. Many teams in the West have improved dramatically and I'm not sure that they can compete with this current roster. Are the playoffs a possibility?
-- Bev, Troy, N.Y.

Answer: Seems like more of an offseason question, but I can do a quick recap, especially since the Kings are a virtual New York West team with so many players hailing from there. Among the key personnel changes, the Kings lost Bonzi Wells and added John Salmons, who comes from Philadelphia and is a three-position guy that brings versatility. They needed to added a quality frontline player, but did not, meaning that your assessment of the West is both true and troublesome for the Kings. The playoffs will be a major challenge - not impossible, but nowhere near as predictable as in years past. But in the here and now, you should be happy - they're the seventh seed in the West if the season ended today!
-- Sam Amick

Question: I love the way the Kings are playing. I haven't been this excited since the year Chris blew out his knee. The problem I have is if you notice the bottom teams in the league the last few years aren't teams that are blown out by 20/30 points every game. They are teams that play well for most of the game but then fall apart at the end of games or can't finish games. Do you think the Kings might be one of these teams, or is it too early too tell?
-- Ben Juarez, West Sacramento

Answer: I think it's too early to tell, but they're clearly very competitive. For Kings fans, the silver lining in the Utah loss is that they showed an ability to dominate such a potent team. It was the same situation with San Antonio. And as the win over Portland may have showed, there may still be teams that can be relied on for 20-plus point beatings. You're right, though, that the West is competitive almost top to bottom.
-- Sam Amick

Question: A thought about Ron Ron's back MRI. Someone please send Ron Artest a copy of Dr. John Sarno's back pain saving book called "Healing Back Pain: the Mind/Body Connection." Sitting in a Benz does not cause lower back pain. Sarno is a genius. Sam - or someone out there with access to Ron Ron - please pass the word. Or set up an appointment for Ron Ron in NYC when the Kings play the Knicks.
-- Peter A., Fair Oaks

Answer: The Kings can pass your info along if they'd like, but they do have their own trained medical staff overseeing his situation. Then again, the back has bothered him before and may be the trickiest type of injury an athlete can face, so maybe your guy could help.
-- Sam Amick

November 20, 2006
The Douby question

Question: It would seem to me that if Quincy Douby is going to just vegitate on the bench that a trade would help the Kings and some other team. Why keep him if he is just a project? And if they are going to keep him, why not play him? You have no idea how this kid can light up a game.
-- Jack Ellery, New Brunswick, N.J.

Answer: There aren't all that many rookies in the league who aren't projects of some sort. And Kevin Martin is proof of why there's no reason to give up on a guy so quickly out of the gate. Martin was a non-factor as a rookie, with a glutton of veteran shooting guards in front of him. Two years later, look at what he's doing. Douby has definite skills, and he's a joy to watch shoot in practice. It seems like almost everything goes in from everywhere, which - to a certain extent - was the case with Martin and last year's draft pick, Francisco Garcia. Douby has put on some weight, too, which is a definite positive sign for his case. He's getting stronger, learning the NBA game and working hard. It's not even close to time to give up on him.
-- Sam Amick

Question: Maloofs ask the commissioner for an assist and either way, they come out looking like champs. They wouldn't be blamed if they move since David Stern and the NBA now become the "bad guys." Once again, the tone is set for Sac and its fans to step up. Either they work with the Kings and get a new arena OR the Maloofs/Kings move on to bigger and better surroundings ... with the NBA's blessing. To paraphrase Commissioner Stern: Sacramento doesn't have the type of facilities a lot of the other teams currently have. Good strategy by the Maloofs, don't you agree?
-- Daro, Rocklin

Answer: It may be a good strategy, but I think it's less a strategy on their part than it is a much-wanted breather from arena politics. The night Stern announced his involvement, I saw Gavin Maloof, who described his reaction as "I feel like a ton of bricks have been taken off our shoulders." The whole situation become overly emotional toward the end, with the Maloofs sick and tired of what they perceived as a constant bashing from the public (and mainly, in their eyes, by our paper). And I'm guessing that after six or so years of trying to do a deal with the city officials, they had lost some serious confidence in their ability to work together. What's more, there's the question of how focused and sharp they could have been on this topic with so much on their plate, from their casino to the seemingly countless forums they have a hand in. Stern offers a new face, not to mention a less-emotional and more qualified voice to represent the Kings and the NBA. If the situation was hopeless, I don't think Stern would get involved. This sort of intervention is unprecedented for him, a sign of how badly he wants the league to stay in Sacramento.
-- Sam Amick

Question: I really like Ronnie Price as a player, but he is no point guard. Why are the Kings not giving Hart who seems to be an active point guard minutes. He is the only true PG on the team. No offense to Mike, but he is a scorer first. Please give me your opinion. Is it a carryover from the Adelman error?
-- John Carter, Sacramento

Answer: Not sure what you mean by the "Adelman error," but I think the Price over Hart debate simply comes down to scoring. From president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie on down, this is an organization that sees little value in any player who can't provide some offense. Hart has some scoring ability - including a decent mid-range jumper - but he doesn't break people down like Ronnie can. What's more, it didn't help Jason's case that Ronnie has wound up to be quite a defender. When the Kings acquired Hart from Charlotte for a second-round pick, defense was the platform for his addition. He was supposed to be the perfect contrast to the high-scoring Mike Bibby. Price, though, is more athletic, can score and defend, not to mention being younger and cheaper. As you said, though, Ronnie is far from a conventional distributor, and the coaching staff has had to go to great lengths to implore him to limit his turnovers. Regardless, they feel the Price is right (couldn't resist:).
-- Sam Amick

Question:> How do the Kings play defense without a big man to anchor the defense Musselman wants? This grind-out game has worked so far for undisciplined offensive teams like the Bulls, Raptors and T-Wolves. I dont know if they can clamp down on a team like the Suns, Mavs or even the Spurs. What do you think?
-- Ed, D.C.

Answer: The Kings have been vulnerable down low for years, with people around the league ecstatic that they never found a shotblocker that so many saw as a huge missing piece. This team is no different. They cut Loren Woods, whose height (7-foot-2) had them wondering if he could fill the role in limited minutes but who didn't show enough oomph for their taste. They signed veteran Maurice Taylor, who is 6-9 and far from an intimidating defensive presence down low. Vitaly Potapenko may be able to pummel someone on their way into the paint, but he offers little in the way of vertical lift. The Kings' wingmen are going to have to get used to swinging away for weakside blocks and helping on their heels on occasion, but it won't always be enough. Brian Skinner, anyone?
-- Sam Amick

November 14, 2006
Martin's future

Question: Do you think the Kings will sign Kevin to a long contract or let him go? We are wondering back here in Z-town Ohio. And if he keeps scoring will he be an All-Star?
-- Mike Johnson, Zanesville, Ohio

Answer: In light of recent events, this may be the easiest question yet. I'm guessing the Kings don't want to lose the rising star who - as it stands - is leading a team in scoring that has such offensive weapons as Ron Artest, Mike Bibby and Brad Miller. If this becomes the new version of Kevin Martin, then he's a potential All-Star who the Kings will try desperately to keep once his contract is up after next season. He could very well become the next face of the franchise, with a few other key factors coming into play. Bibby has an early termination option for this season, so his future in Sacramento is unsure. Artest's contract is up after next season, too, meaning the Kings may be in a tough spot. Artest - who is making $7.1 million this season - will be looking for more, as will Martin, whose deal is paying him approximately $1 million.
-- Sam Amick

November 9, 2006
Bibby's sore wrist

Question: Hi Sam, just wondering if you know if the injury is OK. I saw him last night and he could not even follow through on the foul shots, although he made them! Do you anticipate a drop in 3's this year or assists?

- John

Answer: He’s definitely not feeling 100 percent, or anywhere close. After last night’s game, I asked him if it was nice to be a little more on target than he had been shooting-wise, and he said “Just because they went in, doesn’t mean it felt good,” or something along those lines. So even though Bibby hit 6 of 13 shots and scored 23 points – this after coming in at an 18 of 56 clip – it seems his right shooting wrist continues to be in some serious pain.
As for threes or assists, I’d predict a rise in assists and a drop in threes. Even Bibby didn’t want to shoot as many as he did last season, and he wants his game to be more versatile. And he’ll get more assists so long as shooting guard Kevin Martin is healthy, as they’ve improved a running game that often leads to fast break layups or dunks for Martin and more assists for Mike.

Speaking of Bibby, the guy cracks me up with how he denounces all individual achievements. I don’t know if it’s justifiable bitterness over never being selected as an All-Star, but he did it twice in the last week. On the Kings’ recent road trip, he became the organization’s assist leader in the Sacramento era, and responded by saying with a laugh, “That’s not going to get me a job after (basketball), is it?” Then last night, he surpassed the 10,000-point plateau for his career, and responded to questions of the mark with “No, I don’t really care.” I’ll take that over Ricky Davis throwing the ball off the backboard to fabricate his first triple-double anyday.

- Sam Amick

November 9, 2006
Miller time

Question: I thought your references to the Kings home win as a political campaign came off very well, especially the “homeland security” bit. Do you think the Kings are better without Brad Miller at this point? Maybe it was injuries nagging at him, but in the first couple of games it seemed like he could care less if he was out there or not. I appreciate ‘Reef and Thomas’ efforts on the interior; with those two it seems like we don’t need Miller. Keep up the good work,

- Patrick, from Davis

Answer: Thanks Patrick. I was kicking myself for not working in a defense department reference regarding Ron Artest, but it was a deadline casualty. The Miller question is an interesting one, and I think the underlying question is whether Kings coach Eric Musselman can get as much offensively out of Miller as former coach Rick Adelman did. Under the old regime, Miller was often the 7-foot point guard on the high post, his passing skills and hoops IQ on display nightly. But if Musselman isn’t using Miller in that way, then it’s no secret that Brad is not bringing exceptional defense, athleticism, or rebounding ability to the floor. To his credit, he was busting his tail in a new kind of way before getting hurt. But the mix without him has absolutely been more effective and productive.

- Sam Amick

November 9, 2006
Knight moves

Yeah, yeah, so the Kings looked good in their convincing win over Detroit tonight. The defense is much improved, the offense shows moments of mojo, and Kevin Martin – through five games – is fast becoming the most reliable offensive weapon.

But on to more fascinating matters: Suge Knight was in the stands at Arco Arena, a place not known for nightly celebrity sightings. But this was more in the infamous category.

Knight – or Suge, or Marion Hugh Knight Jr. to be official – is the rap mogul most notoriously known for his record label, Death Row Records, that he co-founded with Dr. Dre.

Speaking of notorious, his name always popped up surrounding the murder of rapper Notorious B.I.G.. While that case has not been solved, Biggie was thought to be killed as revenge for the murder of Tupac Shakur, one of Knight’s rappers whose case also remains a mystery.

In the pop culture world, Knight’s name is even bigger than his 345-pound frame. As for why he was there, I didn’t get a chance to ask him. But hey, the Kings are hurting for big men, so maybe that’s what brought him to town. Or maybe he’s gone from backing Snoop Dogg to Dre, Biggie, Tupac and now….Ron Artest?

– Sam Amick

November 9, 2006
Douby play time

Question: I know that Quincy Douby hasn't played in the first two Kings' games. My question is do you think he will soon be getting some minutes and what is keeping him out of the rotation? Many Rutgers fans in NJ hope he can do well.
-- Art Rostel, Union, N.J.

Answer: For now, it appears Quincy is officially a long-term project. The Kings are chock-full of shooting guards, scorers, and swingmen, and Douby simply has no place to play. The organization remains confident in him, and Douby has kept a good head about himself despite spending so much time on the inactive list. Still, I never understood the pick, not because he doesn't have potential but because this team had very specific needs they could have filled at other positions. I'm looking forward to seeing Douby's development, though. His shot and unlimited shooting range is what everyone talks about, with countless stories of incredible performances from his Rutgers days. It could be some time, though, before that translates to the NBA level.
-- Sam Amick

Question: What happened to Loren Woods on the roster?
-- Daryl, Houston

Answer: The Kings cut Woods near the end of training camp, deciding he just didn't fit the big-man bill they were looking for. The move came as a shock to Woods, who was paid $400,000 in guaranteed money to leave town. Had he made the regular season roster, he would have made $950,000.
I was told the 7-foot-2 center just didn't show enough intensity in practices, and he was hurt by the Kings' preseason game in Las Vegas in which he missed a block on weakside defense and drew the ire of Kings coach Eric Musselman. But given the recent loss of Brad Miller (torn tendon in left foot) and the lack of playing time for big men Vitaly Potapenko and Maurice Taylor, I'd be curious to see what Woods can do.
-- Sam Amick

November 5, 2006
Who are the Kings?

Maybe Chuck Daly was right.

Maybe - as the championship coach once told Eric Musselman long before he was running the Kings - it does take 50 games for a coach to get to know his team.

After going 1-2 on the opening road trip, the Kings certainly seem a ways away from knowing themselves. A number of players are indicating a dire need to work together more on offense, with no shortage of one-on-one attacks, set plays being freelanced and poor shot selection.

Forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim and small forward Ron Artest said there needs to be a concerted effort to attack the rim or concentrate on the post rather than relying on their ice-cold outside game.

But of course, even the struggling offense isn't their biggest concern right now. The injury to Kings center Brad Miller, from what I'm told, could keep him out for at least a couple of weeks. Miller left the Bradley Center floor Saturday night in the third quarter. He whipped off his left shoe, and proceeded to spend much of the evening with trainer Pete Youngman inspecting his foot that is plagued with plantar fasciitis (inflamation of the foot tissue). That's a taboo term for Kings fans, who saw Doug Christie's days in Sacramento end with the old P.F. plaguing him for so long.

But at least Miller can rest his feet in his own bed for a while. The Home Opener Tour is finally over, with the Kings set to host their own on Monday night after playing the visiting role for three straight games.

- Sam Amick

November 1, 2006
Bibby to play in opener

Adding to his reputation as a quick healer and a stubborn court-side dresser, Mike Bibby will indeed play against the T-Wolves tonight.
The Kings point guard who is nine days removed from an injury that was supposed to sideline him for 2 weeks said he will give it a go.
"I'm fine," said Bibby, who had a tendon separated from the bone on his right thumb. "I decided to play two days ago. It's not even my thumb I'm worried about."
Asked if he was playing to avoid having to wear a suit per the league's dress code, Bibby laughed.
"That's part of it," he said.

November 1, 2006
Will Bibby play tonight?

So I walked up to Mike Bibby at shootaround in Minneapolis today, trying to get an update on that mallet thumb that’s had him out since Oct. 23.
He was strangely evasive, sort of like his coach has been for three days now whenever the topic of tonight’s starting five came up. And suddenly, everything is starting to make a little more sense. Don’t be shocked if Bibby gives it a go tonight, despite the original prognosis that he would be out at least until Nov. 6. Apparently, he had an MRI Tuesday that looked good. He has been taking part in practice, though coach Eric Musselman has downplayed it since most of Bibby’s work was one handed. But Musselman went to great lengths to be secretive about his starting unit, and this may be why. We’ll see.

November 1, 2006
Are you ready for hoops?

Ah, the regular season is finally here. No more debating the merits between the 14th and 15th man on the roster. No more watching the Kobe Bryants face off against the guy who barely got an invite to camp. The Kings are about to face quite a challenge, because of the Mike Bibby injury-factor and the rigors of the road.
As if starting with three games away from Arco Arena isn’t bad enough, each of the Kings’ opponents (Minnesota, Chicago, Milwaukee) is hosting the Kings for their home opener. Throw in the incredible opening night display put on by the Bulls -- who embarrassed the defending champion Miami Heat on Tuesday night 108-66 -- and the Kings have every incentive to start off well tonight against the Timberwolves. The thing is, the T-Wolves have equal reason to start off well. After tonight, Minnesota hits the road for four games -- at Denver, Portland, Sacramento and the LA Lakers. Game on…

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