Kings Blog and Q&A

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

January 25, 2007
A time for patience

Selfishness is a pivotal part of the Kings’ storyline this season, and it's with that theme that I hope they don’t make any major trades until the month ends.

That’s because I won’t be on the upcoming road trip, as my more-than-capable colleague Scott Howard-Cooper will be covering the four-game set in what will serve as my own early All-Star break (Vegas will be anything but). As for the Kings and whether there are even moves out there with the sort of impact of last season’s Ron Artest deal, it doesn’t appear so at the moment.

They would - like so many other teams - embrace the sight of Pau Gasol in a Kings uniform, but Memphis is looking to get younger and would want more than a nearly-30-year-old Mike Bibby (whose $12.5 million salary this season is close to Gasol’s $12.3 million). A deal involving Ron Artest ($7.1 million) would need additional pieces to make it work and may have to include Kevin Martin, forcing the Kings to give up more of their future than they’d likely be willing to.

You can bet New Jersey’s Jason Kidd would be welcomed into Arco Arena, but the Nets may be holding off on moving Kidd or Vince Carter because of the recent injury to Richard Jefferson. It makes sense on many levels, though, none moreso than the benefits that would come with a pass-first point guard on a team full of young shooters. Yet Kidd's contract is not only pricey ($18 million this season), but it doesn't end until after the 2008-09 season. Just a guess here, but the odds of a New Jersey-Kings deal would go up if Kidd's contract expired after next season like Artest's does. Artest has a player option for the 2008-09 season, but - assuming his level of play maintains - will surely opt out.

The Kings aren't looking to get tied up in high-dollar deals for any longer than they already are (see Kenny Thomas and Brad Miller), and the only hope for a trade of any significance might be one of the three-plus team variety. As Gavin Maloof told me last week, the ownership and Kings exec Geoff Petrie will be exercising patience and a vision for the long term despite the dire straits. Kings fans may want to do the same.
-- Sam Amick

January 24, 2007
Building something

First there was the comeback win over New Jersey on Monday night, done in a way that could very well spark a Kings revival if they find way to build on it. Then, speaking of building, there were the Kings on Tuesday afternoon, taking part in a Habitat for Humanity house-building project in which the finished product will be shipped off to a New Orleans family that lost its home in Hurricane Katrina.

They had their hard hats on, hammers in hand, pounding away toward a common goal without an ounce of selfishness in the place. Imagine that. Something to build on, for sure.

Looking for small building blocks, the Kings have a chance to win for the third time in four games tonight against Milwaukee, and it surely helps that the amazing Michael Redd is out with a knee injury. Now on a side note, I had to mention a fan I ran into the other night for the sheer (pun intended) fact that he lost his hair for a hopeless cause.

Rudy Rangel, a 25-year-old from Chico, showed up to Arco Arena with a shorter version of the same Mohawk Ron Artest was sporting against Boston and Detroit over the weekend. Rangel – who has a “Kings” tattoo on his left shoulder – is a huge Artest fan, but he was justifiably peeved when noticed that Artest had shaved the Mohawk and gone all Mr. Clean on him. The player and his clone never did meet, although I mentioned to Artest just after halftime against New Jersey how a fan had paid homage to his haircut. He gave a hearty laugh, shaking his hairless head with a smile and perhaps wondering just who would be crazy enough to do such a thing.
-– Sam Amick

January 19, 2007
Musings from baseline in Beantown...

I ran into Leon Powe before the game, the Oakland prep/Cal product who was a second-round pick for Denver and immediately traded to the Celtics in June.

He's had some good moments for Boston this season, including grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds in 17 minutes against Toronto on Jan. 12. Powe is a great success story, as he overcame more personal tragedy and trials than anyone should endure, not to mention the multiple knee surgeries that scared so many teams away.

The Kings were one of those teams. They tried Powe out and passed. But on the health front (and I don't think the Kings blog is esteemed enough to have a jinx factor, here) all is well.

Even Powe got a chuckle out of the fact that he was the healthy one on an otherwise-injury ridden team. No Paul Pierce. No Wally Szczerbiak, Theo Ratliff, Brian Scalabrine, or Tony Allen. But there was Powe, battling with the Kings' Justin Williams early in Friday's game. Here's to many more years of the same.
--Sam Amick

January 18, 2007
Get your hands up

Question: Do you have any insight as to why Mike Bibby almost never gets his hands up to defend a shot? Maybe the coaches need to put some Ben Gay under his arms? It is irritating watching him stand there and watch an opposing player hit shot after shot against him.
-- Trevor Williams

Answer: I remember early in the year when Musselman would scream at Mike begging him to put his hands up. It's no secret that he's never been a tenacious on-ball defender, and the fact that he doesn't put his hands up that often shows a general lack of interest. I like your idea, though.
-- Sam Amick

The Oden question

Question: How likely is it that Petrie decides to blow this team up and try to make a run at Greg Oden?
-- Ed, Washington

Answer: The Kings are playing badly, but they still have a ways to go to reach the bottom of the league standings. Blowing it up might come in the form of a big trade sending major pieces out of town, and that could happen. And whether it's Oden or another promising young big guy, they will hope to land one of those in this year's draft.
-- Sam Amick

Going young ... or not

Question: I do not understand why Eric Musselman does not play the young guys more. He needs to change something in the lineup. Also, I was watching the N.Y. game and Mike Bibby doesn't seem to interested in the game. I love Artest, but he is going to have to pass the ball more and stop trying to be the main man.
-- Ron, Woodbridge

Answer: I can suddenly relate to Musselman, who has pulled the "If I had the answers, I'd fix it" sort of answer after recent losses. You have a point about the young guys, though. The tough part is that it would be a major decision to go young, and not an easy situation with so many high-paid veterans suddenly getting limited minutes. That's not to say it wouldn't work, but politics and money inevitably play a part in pro sports.
-- Sam Amick

Getting harder to watch

Question: It seems like if the Kings can't find a leader, Bibby should be handling the ball when he's on the floor like he's done since day one. I've seen Bibby asking for the ball a couple of times and Ron just ignores him and runs the point. Why hasnt Musselman let them know what their roles are? It would be easier for them, don't you think? We got a good team but our coach has to step up. I'm a big fan. I watch every game and it's hard to see them lose.
-- Raul, Fresno

Answer: Getting harder by the day, I'm sure. Mike isn't a great distributor and is almost like an undersized shooting guard, so he often comes off picks while someone else brings the ball up. As for players ignoring others, there has been a lot of that this season between various players. And it seems to be a fluid thing, changing all the time and not a sign of a good team at all.
-- Sam Amick

Where are the set plays?

Question: I am watching the game on Friday evening and thinking where are the plays. Why aren't there any set plays for the best shooter on the team, Kevin Martin? He can create his own shot but heck if they set some picks for him who knows they may even win some games.
-- Steve Rapaport, Stockton

Answer: They were there, although there have been more plays for Kevin in the past two games (New York and Toronto). One of Kevin's problems when it comes to creating is the makeup of the team. When they're posting up Artest and/or Abdur-Rahim, Kevin has a hard time getting room to drive. And both Ron and Reef can be a bit stubborn down low, working hard to get position and wanting the ball badly rather than clearing out for the leading scorer.
-- Sam Amick

Question: what idiot in the Kings organization decided that it would be better to let Adelman go and replace him with the underexpierenced, weak, loser of a coach in Eric Musselman, who is the reason for the downfall of this once great and upcoming franchise?
-- Salvador Ariaga, Sacramento

Answer: Wow, it's a good thing we don't take loaded questions on this forum! The Maloofs were the ones behind the Adelman firing, so you can send them your complaint. It starts at the top, as they say, and that's true with the Kings as well.
-- Sam Amick

Blaming the coach

Question: Would bringing Adelman back really hurt us? Enough is enough. Musselman is not doing the job! We are losing our confidence with every single loss. What do we say after this loss? Good effort? Nice try? We are losing at home, a place that we have always protected. It's not the players. It's the coach. His defensive mind is creating losses for a team that has entered the playoffs 8 yrs in a row. At the rate we are going, we are all going to have an early summer, probaly at all-star break. Petrie needs to bring back Adelman.
-- Rosana Palomo, Menlo Park

Answer: Musselman and his team are definitely at a loss to describe each loss these days. Even I'm trying to find new ways to pick their brains about what's going on. I'm not sure bringing back Adelman is a reasonable request, though. Pro sports just doesn't work that way.
-- Sam Amick

The big man question ... again

Question: I have been a relocated LA born Lakers fan all of my life. My family and I moved to Sacramento in 1989 and immediately became Kings fans through bad times (especially in those days) and now and root for them against the Lakers every time they play them. I know that the Kings have some work to do to get back to a NBA championship contender. Bibby, Martin, and Artest are great pieces, but I think that they lack an athletic big man to secure rebounds and protect the basket. What do you think the Kings need to do?
-- Alan Jones, Sacramento

Answer: Well they're giving rookie big man Justin Williams a look now, as he's playing under his second 10-day contract. Otherwise, they already have their eyes on the coming draft, which is supposed to be stocked with big men. There have already been indications that the streak of Kings picking lanky wing shooters might finally end.
-- Sam Amick

A realistic approach

Question: When do you think the Kings' organization will stop being optimistic already, and start being realistic? Why would you even think about trading Artest? With him in the lineup the Kings don't have to waste an extra body using double teams, he's basically a double team rolled up into one. Also why would you think of trading Bibby? We all know he's got that outside shot, but the man gets to the rim more than Brad Miller! Trade Miller, Martin, and a throw in for some inside presence and some depth! Eddy Curry & Co?
-- Jorie Loomis, Salt Lake City

Answer: Well I'm 12 days late answering your question, and I think reality is setting in more every day. The other realities are this: Martin is the guy the organization wants to build around, a frustrated Artest is nowhere near as effective as a pleased Artest, and Bibby's time in Sacramento may very well be nearing its end.
-- Sam Amick

January 18, 2007
Money on the table

A little extra from the Jason Hart saga…

A lot of fans wonder how the bench-ridden Kings point guard (or his agent) can complain when he wouldn’t have been with the Kings if he didn’t exercise his player option for this season (those not in the know, read today’s Kings notes). To that, Hart stated the obvious.

“You can’t leave that type of money on the table,” Hart said. “That’s ignorant to leave that money on the table.”

Hart also said he had legitimate hopes for an increased role this season because of the coaching change. He compared his situation to that of Corliss Williamson, who played little under former coach Rick Adelman but has been utilized under coach Eric Musselman.

“I had decided that it was a new coach, a new opportunity,” Hart said. “That’s what I thought, and I thought wrong.”
-- Sam Amick

January 18, 2007
He got game

And now, for Part II of the NYC reunion story (please ignore the fact that the road trip has since gone from Toronto to Boston - see blog below for Part I).

So asked about the Coney Island tour hosted by Quincy Douby and enjoyed by Justin Williams, Douby smiles at the chance to share what he deems the three top spots of his hometown.

“You’ve gotta see the rides, and you’ve gotta see the beach,” Douby said. “And you’ve got to see where they filmed 'He Got Game,' that main court.”

It’s the Coney Island Housing court, officially, the place where a young Douby used to sneak peeks at Ray Allen, the hoops star/actor who he would later compete against. The Sonics shooter starred in the Spike Lee film as the legendary Jesus Shuttlesworth, a role that remains an iconic figure among NBA players young and old.

Douby is making his own version of the movie at the moment, with a definite tweak in the script. While he claims the same hometown as Knicks star and Coney Island legend Stephon Marbury, Douby lived in an area outside the projects that meant he didn’t carry near the cred as Starbury and those like him. He attended a prep school and didn’t even get serious about basketball until midway through his high school career, meaning there weren’t tales of blacktop glory on his way up.

Still, he remembers being driven by the sight of Marbury driving home in expensive cars, much like the $72,000 Cadillac Escalade Douby now rolls in. His ride has a unique touch, as he replaced the “Escalade” piece on the back with a patented “I-Douby-lieve.”
-- Sam Amick

January 17, 2007
A Miller sighting

Hold on while I kick off my snow-filled shoes and dirty the hotel room floor... OK, much better now, back from Kings shootaround in negative-3 degrees celsius Toronto where there was, finally, a Brad Miller sighting (he actually practiced with the team yesterday, but I was traveling to Toronto at the time).

The Kings center who missed the last two games for personal reasons will play tonight. And without disclosing what he wants to stay personal, I’ll answer the many people who have wondered about his absence and say that it’s completely legit, nothing shady about it. He’s back now, and should be from here on out.

Otherwise, the only annual trip to Canada has been a better one for myself than last season. I brought a passport this time, which always helps, and became a fan of a Toronto-born band that rocks - Billy Talent. Their single, “Try Honesty,” was big in the states, but they are on a different level out here. And my luggage that didn’t make it from Sacramento to New York City with me finally caught up, just in time to throw on layers for the cold. I’m warmed up. Now we’ll see if the Kings can heat up too.
-- Sam Amick

January 17, 2007
Homecomings

It wasn’t a completely sour trip to the Big Apple for the Kings.
Sure, they lost their sixth straight game, doing it in a dramatic fashion that has made for some wild finishes but no wins to speak of in nearly two weeks. But off the court, it was a homecoming unlike any other on the schedule this season.

Beyond the well-publicized return of Queensbridge’s own Ron Artest, Quincy Douby and Francisco Garcia were back near their respective neighborhoods too. Garcia squeezed in a visit to the Bronx, where he is beloved among family and friends and instills amazing amounts of pride as the only Dominican Republic-born player in the league.

Maurice Taylor had a different sort of return, as he spent a season and a half with the Knicks that ended with his buyout during the latest offseason. He was there at the peak of the franchise's drama, from the feud between then-coach Larry Brown and general manager Isaiah Thomas to the feuds between Brown and some of his players.

"I've never seen that much stuff going on with a basketball team in my life, and it was stuff that didn't really relate to basketball," he said. "That's the thing you have to worry about out here, is a lot of people talk about stuff that doesn't have to do with basketball."

Douby had the support of his alma mater against the Knicks, as the entire Rutgers team watched the action at the Garden. On Sunday, Douby shared his home visit to Coney Island with rookie Justin Williams, surprising his family while showing his new teammate the best the area has to offer. I asked Douby to name the top three sites on that unique tour, not quite sure what sort of answer I’d get. In case that built riveting suspense for anyone, check back tomorrow for the list.

January 11, 2007
Changes in attitude

It’s a new day in Kings land when ...

"I heard someone say the other day that winning causes chemistry, but chemistry doesn't cause winning," Kings center Brad Miller said Wednesday. "I thought that actually was a pretty good quote."

No explanation needed.

The Kings are trying to win without the very element that made them so great in the glory years of the past, and the chemistry issues do not appear to be improving. What’s mind boggling about the NBA -- and probably pro sports in general -- is how quickly the state of a team can either turn around or turn against each other. Entering this recent stretch of five straight home games, I was hearing that it would be a vital period for the Kings to assess their situation before considering the next step. The talk of blowing it up with a big move died down for a few days when they beat Golden State and New York, especially in light of a 39-point Ron Artest outburst that was the rare positive kind. The collective mood took a quick turn for the better inside the locker room.

Three tough losses later, and things are as bad as they've been this season as the Kings fell to a previously-unthinkable 10-10 at Arco Arena. The locker room drama after Tuesday night's game was no small thing, and the challenge of winning with pieces that can't seem to fit isn't small either.

"There is no way we should be 10-10 (at home)," shooting guard Kevin Martin said. "This is the same starting five that got us back into things last year."
-- Sam Amick

January 9, 2007
Martin remains patient even if numbers say he shouldn't

Per the reality of the ever-shrinking news hole, there wasn’t nearly enough space to really get into the question of Kevin Martin and his role in the Kings offense in today’s story. No such space constraints here, though, so let’s meander a little deeper into the Martin situation.

The question of whether Martin should be more of a focal point is born almost entirely out of indisputable evidence, the fact that he hits shots at a rate far surpassing his teammates in a game where efficiency is becoming more valued and recognized by organizations every year.

The NBA hasn’t hit the level of baseball during the “Moneyball” era in terms of statistical-driven personnel and gametime decisions, but the movement is absolutely on the rise. And if a basketball version of the Michael Lewis book came out, Martin could easily serve as the main character.

The question so many fans have been asking is why the Kings don’t turn Martin loose offensively. And again, the numbers only support the argument. Martin has only taken 19 or more shots twice this season, scoring 35 points the first time and a career-high 40 the second. As the story points out, his numbers when taking 15-plus attempts have resulted in an average of 27.2 points per game while shooting 53.2 percent from the field (99 of 186).

By comparison, Mike Bibby has take 19-plus shots seven times, scoring 30-plus points just twice. Artest has taken 19-plus shots six times, scoring 30-plus just once. Another factoid: While Martin has fallen below the 50 percent shot barrier in a game nine times this season, Bibby has done so 24 times and Artest 18 times.

The deeper truth, however, is that the Kings are a tough team for a young player to have a role of major significance. Bibby and Artest are always going to want touches, not to mention veteran scorers like Brad Miller, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Corliss Williamson. Martin isn’t alone among youngsters looking for more, either, as second-year swingman Francisco Garcia clearly isn’t shy to shoot and rookie Quincy Douby has become more involved of late.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who are capable of putting up big numbers,” Williamson said, “and a lot of guys who have to have their hands on the ball to score.”

But the resident wise man acknowledged one main point, that the complimentary players shouldn’t make a habit out of letting the core scorers go too long without looks.

“We as players on the court have to realize when one of your main guys is not getting shots,” he said. “We have to do a little extra to get them going, setting screens to get them open.”

Swingman John Salmons said being a young player surrounded by veterans makes patience a necessity.

“Mike’s been in the league for what, his eighth or ninth year, and Ron’s in his seventh year,” Salmons said. “Brad and Reef and Corliss have all been doing it for a long time. One thing I learned about this league is that it’s about earning your stripes. You’ve got to do it for a good while before you earn that status.”

Asked if Martin growing frustrated is a concern, Salmons said, “That is a concern, but the great ones don’t let it happen.”

As always in the NBA, there is also the free agent factor to be considered. Bibby can opt out after this season. If he plans to test the market, then it’s all the more reason for him to lead the team in scoring for a second consecutive season and remind the league how good of a shooter he can be. And as Bibby said after Artest scored a career-high 39 points against New York on Jan. 2, “You can’t say anything when (the shots) go in,” meaning no one can complain about Bibby’s latest stretch in which he’s shot 54 of 103 over the last six games (52.4 percent) and averaged 25.5 points.

To Artest’s credit, he has been offering some sincere K-Mart praise of late, including saying on Monday that he considers Bibby the top scoring option, Martin second, and himself third. Artest was also impressed that Martin seems determined to continue improving on his defense.

“He’s talked to me a lot (about defense) and I try to help him out, so that shows that he wants it,” Artest said. “He’s out there working hard. He’s the first one in here every day, practice, game day, the first one in the training room, getting treatment. He’s doing what it takes to be a really good player, and it’s paying off.”

Martin said he’s well aware of where improvements need to be made.

“With my on-ball defense I feel good, but off the ball, I’m still learning and I still need to find spots (to help defend),” Martin said. “That’s how I got on the court last year. It wasn’t because of offense. The offense just came along.”

Chances are, it’ll just keep coming. And when the chance comes to see if Martin can produce at an even higher level, he said he’ll be ready.

“I’m ready to try it, whenever it comes to me, if that’s a year from now or later on,” he said. “I’m just going to keep working to become that player I want to be. Right now I’m just going to try to do what I do best.”

-- Sam Amick


January 5, 2007

Question: The Lakers just beat the Kings. What a pity the game was announced partly by Sir Charles Barkley. I had to mute him and just watch; he was so obvisely pro Kobe Bryant. He did give Mike Bibby alot of credit. What is your opinion of him as a sports announcer?
-- June Vance, Folsom

Answer: He just cracks me up in general. I love the comedy act, the unfiltered analysis and the "What will Charles say next?" element. He was at his best off camera last night, engaging in a back and forth with some 50 Kings fans who were hassling him on his way into Arco Arena. He gave jabs and took them, all with a smile and that booming laugh.
-- Sam Amick

Question: How long will the Kings owners hold onto this "defensively" minded joke of a coach Musselman? And how about "defensively" minded Artest? The Kings just gave up 74 first half points to the Lakers. 74 POINTS!
-- K. Goldfine, Santa Rosa

Answer: Yeah that was a rough half. They just get killed by teams with good big men, and Andrew Bynum and Brian Cook qualified as such last night. Their lack of size and athleticism down low is a green light for opponents, not to mention the often-spotty perimeter defense of Mike Bibby and, at times, Kevin Martin. Opponents scouting reports all have the objective of "attack the rim" highlighted and underlined. Musselman is far from being fired. And if and when they move Artest, it won't be because he can't play defense - because he does it better than 99 percent of the league.
-- Sam Amick

Question: I am so tired of fans bashing Brad Miller. Ever since coming back from his foot injury, I see Brad working harder than ever. Eric Musselman is a new coach with a new style and strategy, and it takes time for great players (like Bibby & Miller) to adjust to a new system. I know Shareef Abdur-Rahim has Brad beat in a few categories, but for roughly the same amount of minutes played, Brad has twice the number of assists and for this reason, don't you believe the Kings are a better overall team when Brad is on the floor?
-- Sean, Granite Bay

Answer: When Brad is playing his style - hitting his shots and being utilized as a passer - I absolutely think he makes them better. The problem is, as you said, that he hasn't been able to consistently do that in the new system.
-- Sam Amick

Question: Great game to watch last night only to see them fall short. Could you get the word to Francisco Garcia to put the rap and GQ world aside and spend the time in the gym working on his three-point range. The two attempts he tried late in the OT missed so badly, it could have changed the outcome of the game. Pressure is one thing, but he's a paid professional expected to produce. The look on Musselman's face told it all.
-- Al, Davis

Answer: Couldn't help but laugh at the combo of your name and your locale (Good luck in the coaching search Mr. Davis!). As for Garcia, he's not the rapper. That's Artest. And if he was in GQ, then I missed it. But you're right about his shot selection. Just because he knocks down threes with ease during practice (which he does) doesn't mean it's the best thing for this team every time he has an open look.
-- Sam Amick

Question: I believe that the Kings keep drafting 6-5 to 6-7 shooting guards/small forwards types because that is what Petrie was when he was a player. General managers that were once players draft players that they perceive to be like them. In some cases to the detriment of the team. See the Kings true need for a shot blocking big man, not another shooting guard. See also Bill Russell and Pervis Ellison. Do you agree with my this theory?
-- TP, Fairfield

Answer: I think there's some truth to that, although Petrie drafted more big men than guards early on in his Kings tenure. Lately, though, he certainly seems to be enamored with the shooters. This year especially, as you noted, they had very real needs for a big man or a backup point guard and didn't draft either. They were very close to drafting 6-foot-9 Alexander Johnson out of Florida State, a forward who went in the second round and has had some big games for Memphis this season.
-- Sam Amick

Question: What's the deal with artest? Is he really hurt or playing a game with the team?
-- Mike, Boston

Answer: He's definitely had knee and back problems. But whether that's the entire reason for his sluggish play and absences in recent weeks? Only Ron knows.
-- Sam Amick

Question: Do you think the Kings will end up trading Mike Bibby? If so, do you think he'll be heading East? If not, do you think he'll opt out after this season and sign on with a contender like the Cavs or Pacers or maybe even the Heat?
-- Adam, Seattle

Answer: The second question, to a certain extent, may dictate the first. If the Kings feel as if Bibby will opt out regardless of whether he gets an extension (don't hold your breath on that, by the way), then he likely gets moved. They don't want to lose him for nothing. Mike has said he wants to stay in Sacramento, but the question is whether that means more than the chance to land a long-term deal this offseason that would set him up for the next stage of his career.
-- Sam Amick

Question: Does Ron Artest have a health problem with his knees?
-- Michael Manoff, Rancho Cordova

Answer: He absolutely has routinely complained about knee trouble. An MRI taken in late December was negative, but Artest said there was still soreness. The more he talks about them, it's starting to sound like a chronic sort of thing as opposed to an injury - good old fashioned hoops knees, if you will. The puzzling part is that some nights it looks like they affect Ron and the next night he looks 100 percent. He continues to complain about back problems as well.
-- Sam Amick

Question: The Kings are in desperate need of a talented big, but I like their smalls. 2-3 is OK with Martin, Garcia, Salmons and Douby. I'm hoping Price develops into a Bobby Jackson-type backup point. Do you thing we could get a talented big if we packaged Bibby and Artest and a draft pick? We could throw in Thomas or Shareef. If not, do you think we could get some of the NYK young talent for Artest since Thomas is crazy enough to take him?
-- Ron Bull, Roseville

Answer: You could absolutely get a good big for Bibby, Artest and a pick, but that big better be Kevin Garnett or something close to it if I'm making that deal. I think you're better off convincing Isaiah to bring Ron home again for some young guns or maybe a Channing Frye.
-- Sam Amick

January 2, 2007
An interesting statistic

Question: Stat of the year - When Shareef Abdur-Rahim plays 26 or more minutes, the team is 8-2. When he plays less than 26 minutes, the team is 2-11. Why he is not playing more boggles the mind. There are a lot of people in the office scratching their heads about his lack of playing time.

- Roy, Sacramento

Answer: Shareef would agree with you. He has been consistent offensively, and the best post threat the Kings have among their big men. As for explaining the minimal playing time and lack of a starting job, the Kings have pointed to Kenny Thomas' athleticism, defense and rebounding. But especially when Bibby, Miller and Artest are misfiring from the outside - which has been much of the season - the lack of low-post presence on offense means things can get ugly quick with so many long-range misses. And Thomas has disappeared offensively, appearing hesitant to try that mid-range jumper he used to shoot in the few looks he gets.
Shareef isn't the player he was a few years ago, but he is still effective. He would help his own cause if he could perfect the pass-out when he's double-teamed down low.

- Sam Amick

January 1, 2007
Should have kept Williams

Question: Any idea why the Kings signed Maurice Taylor and let Justin Williams go? As an undrafted rookie, Williams would certainly have been cheaper and seemed to have the defensive shot blocking potential that would have better complemented the defensively week Miller and Rahim. Taylor's offensive skills are not really needed and have not been on display anyway. In the preseason, Williams even had some good offensive outings.

- Chris Campbell

Answer: Honestly, I don't. Taylor has done nothing of note, and he feels strongly that he's yet to be given a chance. Williams, meanwhile, is doing very well in the NBA Developmental League - which doesn't mean that much but is certainly better than not doing well down there. The puzzling part is that the Kings had one roster spot left that could've been taken by Williams at the league minimum salary, but they passed.

- Sam Amick

January 1, 2007
Trading time

Question: Sam, the Kings are going nowhere in a hurry. Is it time that they start trading. Bibby to Atlanta for a first-rounder seems like a good fit to me. Atlanta is desperate for a point guard. You've said in the past that Petrie and the Maloofs will never start over, but what can they be thinking could happen? They have no room for immediate improvement because of their salary cap situation.

- Rory Sayer, Sacramento

Answer: In a Q&A with Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof this week, he answered this question to an extent. In short, he said they weren't ready to "blow it up." Yet. They are already actively considering all options, and this stretch of games starting against Golden State could determine a lot. It's the first of five home games before a long stretch of road games begins. If they keep putting up performances like they did against the Clippers in Friday's loss, then the likelihood of making big moves goes up. They have a lot to offer, from proven players to expiring contracts that always help sweeten a deal.

- Sam Amick

January 1, 2007
Trade Brad Miller?

Question: I am a Sac expat now living in the Seattle but still follow the Kings. I am wondering, with all the trade rumors on Bibby, why is almost no one talking about trying to move Brad Miller? Aside from the injuries and that it looks like he's lost a step or two, he doesn't seem to fit with the Kings new attempt at a defensive scheme. Defensively, he could be the worst defensive 7-footer in the league. They seem play better with an undersized Shareef at center. Will or should the Kings try to move him?

- Joe, Seattle, Wash.

Answer: As it stands, no one is safe from being traded and Brad Miller is no different. His weaknesses are - as you said - pretty obvious, but his contract makes him tough to move. He's signed until 2010 for big money, and his style (jump-shooting big man, incredible passer) would only fit a handful of systems in the league. I have heard a few rumors about interested teams, though. And ironically, Miller shooting the ball so well like he has lately only increases his chances of being moved. He needs to remind the league how good he can be for an offense.

- Sam Amick

January 1, 2007
More teamwork needed

Question: What will it take for the Kings to wake up and start playing team ball? I don't believe it is the coach's fault when the team isn't scoring. He can't go out there and shoot for them. I'm looking forward to see what happens when the Nuggets show up with both Anthony and Iverson, if they will be Arco after the suspension is over.

- Rich, Grass Valley

Answer: If I had that answer, I'd apply for Eric Musselman's job. This group just can't seem to figure each other out. It's a rough mix of effective isolation scorers and guys whose offensive game relies heavily on a passing, cutting, screening style that no longer exists in Sacramento.

- Sam Amick

January 1, 2007
Shooting priorities


Question: What kind of NBA coach would allow two players on his team who are shooting in the mid-30s percentage-wise to be the No. 1 and No. 3 players on the team in shot attempts when many other players on the team are shooting much better. Both of those players should have a pass-first mentality when they are on the court and the coach should enforce that approach. Coaches are supposed to use schemes that use the various skills of players on a team to help the team succeed. If a player can't shoot effectively, he may defend, set picks, pass, or rebound.

- Terry Brown, Santa Rosa

Answer: The tough part lies with the guy who's No. 1 in shot attempts. Mike Bibby has made his name as a shooter, with eight years of resume' building in that department. But until the past few games, he's been off like never before.

I think he sorely misses the comfort level that came with being surrounded with so many good passers, and now Brad Miller is the only one who qualifies as such. What's more, Bibby and Kevin Martin were helping each other a lot more early this season. Bibby would push the ball and never hesitate to find the speedy Martin on the break. It gave Bibby a few assists, got the offense going and then mysteriously disappeared.

Beyond Bibby, the No. 3 shooter you referenced - Ron Artest - has significantly lowered his attempts in the last few weeks. Martin remains the most effective scorer by a landslide, but he is still learning how to carry a heavier load and deal with so much defensive attention.

- Sam Amick

January 1, 2007
Just Kidding yourself


Question: I was huge fan of Mike Bibby for the past few years, but his biggest downfall is his defense. With the possibility of him opting out of his current contract, do you think Petrie could package Bibby with most likely Corliss (I'd rather see Kenny Thomas go with his long-term contact) and get Jason Kidd? Kidd brings defense and the Steve Nash-like ability to bring chemistry to a team. Imagine: Kidd, K-Mart, Artest, Shareef and Brad Miller as the starting five. With the chemistry improving, Kidd would improve the defense, too. What do you think?

- Odaman, Walnut Creek

Answer: It's a heck of an idea, but the very definition of a fantasy trade. There's no reason New Jersey would give up Kidd for Bibby. They've had a good thing going with him for a while now. The more intriguing question to me is why the Nets were able to draft Marcus Williams, who has shown plenty of promise and was passed up by the Kings. With the possibility of Bibby leaving, the Kings remain without a point guard for the future.

- Sam Amick



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