So the Mike Bibby to Cleveland trade talk is back in full force, and my gut is telling me for the moment that this deal eventually gets done.
For starters, the recent message from Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie that he's done looking to trade Ron Artest turns all attention to Bibby. And while stranger things have happened, there are very few people within and around this team who believe the Artest-Bibby will continue.
Yet while the Kings-Cavs trade chatter at Las Vegas summer league was discreet, there was nothing more noticeable than the lovefest surrounding Cavs forward Drew Gooden taking place during the Kings game. The Maloofs and Kings team president John Thomas all smiled and spoke with Gooden, who was equally affable.
You almost expected the whole group to walk across the way to the nearest conference room to announce their new player. But if, in fact, Gooden is headed for Sacramento, the questions surrounding Kenny Thomas and Shareef Abdur-Rahim only intensify.
Both players are well into their careers but far from ready to accept a "happy-to-be-here" attitude. They both wanted to play and didn't like sharing time before the Gooden factor, so a deal there seems all the more likely.
Other observations from the day at summer league...
Someone snuck a time machine into UNLV's Cox Pavilion, because I swear that was Rick Adelman, Geoff Petrie, Jerry Reynolds, Wayne Cooper and the rest of the gang chatting in the stands and watching summer league action just like the old days. Adelman's new Houston squad actually took on Dallas, but he visited with his old Kings contingent before and after the game. The absence of new Kings coach Reggie Theus made the scene look even more like it was 2005 all over again, as Theus was out of town for the day.
Admittedly, the Bibby talk meant I had only sporadic viewings of the Kings' 96-84 loss to New York, but at least the second half was much better than the first. Down 57-39 at halftime, point guard Mustafa Shakur (University of Arizona) scored 14 of his 19 points after the break while draft pick center Spencer Hawes (22 points) and point guard Pooh Jeter (22 points) were more steady. Kings assistant Kenny Natt said he had a strong message at halftime to his youngsters that seemed to help turn things. It's a good sign, too, that Natt won't be afraid to have a strong influence whenever it's needed.
- Sam Amick