Kings Blog and Q&A

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

August 31, 2007
Webber fans can watch him pour it on tonight

Late notice here, but those who missed the Kevin Martin rally and would be looking for another Kings-related party to attend have another chance tonight.

Chris Webber will be at his Center Court restaurant tending bar to raise money for the Sacramento Chapter of the Make A Wish Foundation. C-Webb mix drinks (get it?) starting at 9 p.m., and maybe squeeze in a question about how free agency is going (C-Webb take the Kings' bi-annual exception of $1.8 million to return to Sacto and drive up ticket sales?). Center Court is located at 3600 N. Freeway in Natomas across from Target.

Also, keep the Kevin Martin nickname submissions coming. One of you creative folks could provide a welcome-home gift in the form a new fancy new moniker. Martin returns Sept. 9 from the "Basketball Without Borders" charity program in Africa.

- Sam Amick

August 30, 2007
More Martin musings

Musings a day after K-Mart officially became 55KKMart (Ron Artest's the math major around here, but those not numerically-inclined should know that adds up to $55 million in a very awkward manner)...

So there's my feeble addition to the Kevin Martin nickname game started yesterday, and I contributed mainly because there hasn't been nearly enough response thus far. Among the few...

*His trainer/coach David Thorpe of the Pro Training Center in Florida (and ESPN.com contributor) offers "K-Smooth," because "My players down (in Bradenton, Fla.) here who saw Kevin in person for the first time are amazed at how smooth he is in terms of movements."

*Tom Harding of Martin's hometown of Zanesville, Ohio, couldn't settle on one name, offering "The Zanesville Ace," "Z Man," "KZ," and its alter ego of "Kay Zee." I'll opt for "Z Man" with the caveat that Martin's backstory needs to become more mainstream for the name to work.

*Famed Kings blogger Tom Ziller of www.sactownroyalty.com has nominated "Speedracer," which he writes is "based both on his quickness and that story you wrote about him his rookie year." To review, my day-in-the-life style Martin piece in 2004 included a line about how the seemingly-carefree youngster cruised down I-80 in his new car doing 85 mph with no seat belt. A small detail in a 2,000-word story incited unexpected uproar and anger from many in the community, with some furious with me for including the anecdote and others at Martin for his driving habits.

*Michael Brooks of Cameron Park has taken his ball and doesn't want to play the game. He says this K-Mart is Sacramento's K-Mart, meaning Kenyon Martin should be the one looking to change his moniker. And so as not to cut short Brooks' entire take, he expects big things out of recently signed forward Mikki Moore.

As for the rally on Wednesday, it went better than I expected. With the heat, the timing and the current fading pulse of so many Kings fans, I half expected to be part of the few dozen on hand rather than a few hundred. I know for a fact that at least one person was glad there weren't more people.

At the tail the end of the event, one of the four cops on horse back looked down from his saddle to see his trusty steed relieving himself No. 1 style in a disgustingly-large splash that had about a 10-foot radius. One of Kevin Martin's best friends, former Western Carolina teammate Terrence Woodyard, was taking home video for his buddy nearby but missed the moment that could have led him to America's Funniest Home Videos and, just maybe, his own sort of payday. Luckily, he and I both sidestepped the spray. Let's hope it wasn't some sort of omen.

Of note from the news conference was that coach Reggie Theus confirmed a theory I'd had while pondering the Kings' motivation for doing this deal now.

Locker room chemistry.

Trade rumors and all, Mike Bibby has been King in this town for much longer than Martin. Legal troubles and all, Ron Artest was quickly crowned for what he did in the second half of the 2005-06 season, not to mention the fact that he now enters a contract year. But Martin's status takes a quantum leap with this contract, with the peer respect that was already on the rise almost a certainty now that the organization has made this kind of commitment.

Those days when fans cried that Martin never had enough touches and former coach Eric Musselman questioned whether he could produce if given a larger role? Safe to say they're over.

"Being the young guy on the team, being the rookie, being all those things, it plays on veterans sometimes," Theus said of the fourth-year player. "Having a contract, an extension like this, the guys know he's going to be here. He becomes immediately a staple, one of the staples, of the team. And that, in and of itself, gives him credibility."

On a final note regarding Martin mania, I had an assertion regarding his hometown in today's paper that was quickly corrected by his hometown folks. While Martin and baseball player Jay Payton are among the few pro athletes to come out of the Ohio town, they aren't the only ones. Jim Rudloff - who was on the committee that recently elected Martin as one of 10 inductees to the Zanesville City Schools Hall of Fame - cites Clarence "Pee Wee" Jones (who played for Chicago Cubs in 1967 and 1968), Bob Gaiters (running back for New York Giants, 49ers and Denver Broncos in early 1960s), and LPGA golfer Michele Redman. Apologies to the town I learn more about every day, as I was previously misinformed.

- Sam Amick

August 29, 2007
The nickname

Before we get to the on-the-floor ramifications of the Kevin Martin extension, the nickname issue warrants discussing.

Beyond the obvious fact that Kenyon Martin was K-Mart before the local version made it big, there's just no way anyone who signs a $55 million contract should be associated with a bargain shopping store. Among e-mailers, sports radio call-in folks and internet chat types, this is a popular topic, something along the lines of "Kevin's a great young player, but that nickname ... " So feel free to send all suggestions in (samick@sacbee.com) and I'll weed through the better offerings and see what we can get going since it seems he'll be in town for quite a while.

-- Sam Amick

August 29, 2007
The extension

On an ESPN radio interview Tuesday with J.J. Stokes (yes, that J.J. Stokes) and Mike "The Mouth" on a Modesto affiliate, Mike asked a good question: Is Kevin Martin being signed for $55 million based on the player he is, or the player Geoff Petrie expects him to be? The answer, in my opinion, leans more toward the future than the past.

The best case scenario in Petrie's head is five seasons of elite play, with Martin performing on par with the $15-million-per-year types but coming at a lesser cost. Martin's breakout 2006-07 season only confirmed what Petrie thought he could be in the NBA, a supremely-talented scorer with the body and athleticism to be even more. If he had any doubt that Martin's game would keep rising, the extension would have been put off and Petrie would have forced Martin to repeat his performance and his future would have waited until the free agency period next summer.

Petrie will speak Wednesday afternoon about why he chose to handle this business now, but I'm guessing it goes far beyond the financials. Signing Martin now gives the fanbase something of significance to be excited about, a centerpiece of sorts to enjoy even if the team has the rough season so many are expecting. That fact is even more true considering the lack of other offseason action. And just in case no one noticed the incessant advertising of season tickets on the team's web site, it should be noted to you fans that the organization is certainly concerned about interest.

Money-wise, I see it as a tough call for the team and a very smart move by Martin to sign now. If Martin waited until next summer, he could easily lose money by way of injury or a backslide in performance. And with a new coach and the uncertainty that comes with that environment, who knows how the season will go? Before this deal, Martin was only guaranteed $1.8 million. It's safe to say the 26th pick who hails from of Boonsville College, err, Western Carolina, has lifelong financial security now for himself a few generations to come back in his Zanesville, Ohio, hometown - where the median household income in 2000 was $26,642.

The Kings, meanwhile, paid mightily for their high opinion of Martin, budging in the neighborhood of $13 million from the start of negotiations to reach the $55 million mark. As is the case with any big deal, the pressure is on the player now that he's gone from a K-Mart bargain to earning a King's ransom.

-- Sam Amick

August 9, 2007
Which bigmen will get most of the playing time?

Question: Who do you think will get the majority time at the 4 and 5 spots with the overload (the Kings) have now? Let's count 'em down: Mikki Moore, Shareef, Corliss, K9, Justin Williams, Spencer Hawes and Brad Miller. Who'll play what, and for how long?
- Kameron, Roseville

Answer: I don't have a purple crystal ball, but it's certainly going to be competitive. For starters, I get the feeling Reggie Theus is going to have high demands of Brad Miller and not be afraid to call him out, nor will he be afraid to give the hungry young guys extensive playing time if they're producing. Meanwhile, Thomas and Abdur-Rahim know they didn't have great seasons in 06-07 and you know their pride is bruised a bit. The wildcard will be Moore, who can either prove that last season in New Jersey wasn't - as so many have said - a one-hit wonder or take the easy road and roll in all that cash he landed.
-Sam Amick

Question: I know a lot of questions surround Mike Bibby and Ron Artest, but I would like to know about the status of our - not so powerful - power forwards. Does it look like they are going to stay?
Jim M., Sacramento

Answer: Jim, it is looking like they're going to stay. Neither Kenny Thomas or Shareef Abdur-Rahim would mind being traded to a better situation, but I don't see it happening anytime soon. Thomas' deal makes him hard to move, as he will make nearly $8 million this season (more than Ron Artest) and is coming off a rough season. If they do indeed stay, Thomas is the first who could go on his own accord, as he has an early termination option after this coming season.

The best chance to move Abdur-Rahim seems to have come and gone already, as Chicago was looking for a veteran post presence but never got a deal done with the Kings.
-Sam Amick

Question: Are the Kings going to get Kevin Martin signed to a new multi-year contract or is that important to them? Do think they will just let him go too?
Rick Young, Houston

Answer: If I'm looking ahead, I say a five-year extension probably gets done that locks Martin up as one of the building blocks of the next era. I don't expect anything to get done, however, until maybe sometime in September.
-Sam Amick

August 4, 2007
Artest-to-Knicks rumors won't die anytime soon

As Las Vegas summer league came to a close in mid-July, Kings players gathered their belongings after a finale win over the Clippers and headed for the exits.

Among the last to leave was Daniel Artest, the younger brother of Ron Artest and a Kings summer league participant. The reason for his delay? He had been spotted by New York Knicks general manager Isiah Thomas, a longtime family friend and just the person whose ear Daniel wanted to bend.

They half-hugged and chatted for a moment when Daniel finally headed for the locker room.

"You campaigning to get Ron to New York," this reporter asked.

"You know it," Daniel said with a smile.

So long as the Knicks need help and Artest remains so far from his hometown team in the Big Apple, the chatter will continue about a possible homecoming. Nearly three weeks had passed since the last resurfacing of trade rumors until Friday, when ESPN writer Ric Bucher said during an on-line chat that he'd heard of a Kings-Knicks deal currently in the works.

But numerous sources said there's nothing doing at present, and the overall sense is that the Kings have never been close to what - in their estimation - would be giving Artest away. Jared Jeffries, for example, was a "centerpiece" of a proposal New York came the Kings' way with earlier in the summer, clearly meaning Thomas missed the memo stating that Kings exec Geoff Petrie is not as desperate to move Artest as once believed. And with the David Lee-types reportedly not available, the lone player of intrigue from the Kings' standpoint appears to be third-year point guard Nate Robinson. Otherwise, it's a blanket request gone unanswered for draft picks and expiring contracts as part of the Kings' rebuilding objective.

As the summer days have passed, Petrie appears to have bunkered down in his position, growing more and more stubborn and determined to improve the offers for Artest or point guard Mike Bibby. As Petrie knows, the desperation will eventually come - though not from him. Teams looking for that difference-maker to push them over the top next season will likely be more cooperative as the February trade deadline approaches. As leverage goes, the Kings are enjoying the luxury of operating under a long-term plan.

- Sam Amick

August 1, 2007
What about the assistant coaches?

Question: Sam I know its not a world class problem but what is going on with Reggie Theus picking assistant coaches? I believe coaching staffs around the league are filling out making the Kings one of the last to choose. Just curious. What gives?
-- Tom Harding, Sacramento

He said shortly after his own hiring that he was looking to hire a lead assistant and then take his time with the rest. And although Kenny Natt is the only official hiring, it's not clear if he'll be the lead guy. From what I've heard, Bob Weiss (former Seattle coach) is very much in the running, as is former Indiana assistant Chuck Person. Reggie has interviewed both, and Randy Brown is expected to be part of the staff as well. I'm not sure what the hold up is, however.

-- Sam Amick




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