Ron Artest left for Indiana on Thursday morning, and may miss Saturday's game at Houston as he continues to deal with the medical matter regarding his daughter.
Artest left the Kings for the first time on Oct. 21, missing the Kings' game in Phoenix that night to travel to Indiana where his daughter underwent a kidney-related procedure.
- Sam Amick
News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.
November 29, 2007
Ron Artest left for Indiana on Thursday morning, and may miss Saturday's game at Houston as he continues to deal with the medical matter regarding his daughter.
November 26, 2007
Beno Udrih is a ribs and potatoes man, a man who speaks three languages and has no kids other than the chocolate lab that counts as a family member.
Speaking of which, the doggie delay is what put us back a bit for our dinner/interview on Sunday night at Chris Webber's "Center Court" restaurant. His pup didn't do so well on the plane ride from San Antonio to Sacramento on Saturday night, and Udrih had to run home after practice to check on his pet. Finally, though, we sat for what was a fascinating chat with a guy who so many fans have been asking about.
Here's the emptied notebook from today's piece for you Kings fans who want to get know him a little better...
* What Beno calls style, Brad calls something else. Kings center Brad Miller has been giving Udrih a hard time about his fashion, and his ridiculing became public on Sunday.
"He's a typical, goofy European with tight pants, tight clothes - pretty standard," Miller said with a laugh.
A metrosexual, one might say?
"Definitely a metrosexual," Miller said. "He has the nice accent. He's telling us, 'This team was loaded with lots of Europeans before (in the days of Peja Stojakovic, Hedo Turkoglu etc.), so everybody knows what's going on."
And who said Beno couldn't play defense? He did just fine defending himself against Miller.
"I told (the guys who give him a hard time), 'Don't be jealous that you can't wear these pants," Udrih said. "I mean, where I come from is close to Italy, where there's so much fashion. Something comes out (in the fashion world) here like it's brand new, and we had it a year before."
On the serious side, the two teammates have been talking nonstop since Udrih signed in late October and hope to hone in on the two-man game that made Miller and Mike Bibby so dangerous.
* Beno is the curious sort, which is a good thing in any profession.
At the moment, his curiosity stems from his past experiences in San Antonio and his current situation in Sacramento. He has been asking all sorts of questions during Kings practices, trying to understand the nuances of coach Reggie Theus' system (mostly the defensive material) to see if he can add anything from what he knows of the Spurs. Theus has said his defense is fashioned after the Spurs and a few other elite teams, and Udrih would obviously know a thing or two about that.
"He asks a lot of questions - some warranted, some not," Theus said. "But he has a definite thought process going on....I think that he has a lot of good thoughts about how he sees the floor, what he sees that will help him.
"He's got to pick and choose a little better time to ask questions. He's slowing practice down. It's like, 'OK, we'll talk after practice.'"
Overall, Theus said he envisions Udrih doing nothing but improving from here on out.
"He's not played his best basketball yet," Theus said. "He's a few weeks from playing his best basketball. He's probably not in tip-top shape yet. Emotionally, he's getting better. Physically, he's a little banged up."
I asked Theus to explain his comment about Udrih's emotions.
"I think when you've been sitting a long time, when you're in a bad situation for you, when the coach (that being San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich) has had his thumb on you, and all of a sudden you get a chance to play, it takes time to get past that and for you to be comfortable," Theus said.
The player and the coach have agreed that Udrih has been somewhat safe with his decision making thus far, so look for Udrih to get a bit more creative in the games to come.
* NBA Finals 2005 - Anyone within and around the Spurs organization knows that the beginning of the end for Udrih in San Antonio came against the Pistons in those Finals.
He struggled against Larry Brown-issued double-teams in Game 4 (with all of the pressure plays involving a relentless Lindsey Hunter), and was benched for Games 5, 6, and 7. What Udrih said he never talked about was that he wasn't physically right even before the Finals began. The day before Game 1, he was defending Manu Ginobili in practice. Manu went up for an alley-oop thrown by Tony Parker. Udrih jumped, but had his legs knocked toward the ceiling as he fell square on his back on the floor. He said the back bruise remained until the end of the Finals, and described it as an orange and yellow mark that went from his lower back to his tailbone.
"I couldn't walk the next day, and I was still playing," Udrih said. "My steps were shortened like three feet. I was running like a mouse instead of taking long steps. That bothered me a lot."
Much was made of one particular turnover (Read "Play of the Game"), and Udrih still insists a whistle should've been blown.
"I saw that (situation) differently than (Popovich) did," Udrih said. "I saw it like - I lost one ball in Detroit, got double-teamed. And not that I'm trying to make an excuse, but I did get fouled. I got hit in the face and the arm. I lose the ball, they laid it in."
* Speaking of "Pop," he predicts good things for Udrih in the future.
"We've always maintained that he was one of our very best shooters and one of our very best passers," Popovich said. "I really believe that he's going to have a really good NBA career, and I hope it's in Sacramento. He's a very talented young man, very intelligent, and we hope for the best for him."
"He's a very willing passer, a clever passer, and he really understands the game. He's a natural at the position."
November 23, 2007
I'm reaching into the grabbag of questions that could be pondered after the Kings' loss at Portland on Friday night, and deciding to address the one about the leading scorer who is disappearing from the offense for quarters at a time.
The coach's take, from postgame with Reggie Theus. Consider it a new version of Q&A...
Question: Kevin scores 11 in the first, not much in the second and third. Are you having trouble keeping him involved consistently? (Martin scored three points on 1 of 5 shooting in the second and third quarters and finished with 21 on 7 of 14 shooting)
Answer: "When you are one of the main focal points of the team, you run offense for your guys, but everybody scouts your team. Guys usually score off of secondary stuff. Not very many people score off the first initial, offensive set. I've been trying to get Kevin to understand that sometimes he has to find a way to get an easy basket now and then. And that is, instead of veering off to the side, he has to take it on when he gets in the middle. Those are the kinds of baskets that keep him involved in the game and keep him getting to the free throw line. We run plays, but a play is really just the grounds for running an offense. The players make a play work."
Probably an unfulfilling explanation, but - as Kenny Thomas says - it is what it is. - Sam Amick
November 21, 2007
PHOENIX - Kings small forward Ron Artest left the team this morning in Phoenix to attend to his daughter in Indiana, where she is undergoing a medical procedure. Kings coach Reggie Theus said he is hoping to have Artest back on Friday, but it was certainly an excused exit. Artest has two daughters, though it's not known which is one is experiencing the medical difficulties.
"He had to go because there was a medical procedure with his daughter," Theus said. "He talked to me about it last night, told me that it was possible, that if this came back that he was going to have to go be with his family. And of course I said you’ve got to go take care of your family first."
The Kings will also be without Beno Udrih, who left Tuesday night's loss to Phoenix at Arco Arena in the second half with a right quadricep contusion that is still bothering him. That leaves the lineup at Francisco Garcia, Kevin Martin, John Salmons, Mikki Moore and Brad Miller. Udrih said he's optimistic he could play Friday at Portland.
Lastly, forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim is inactive and is back in Sacramento. It's no secret his right knee had been sore recently, and it's a strange time for the veteran who has been alternating between active and inactive rather regularly. Either way, he was obviously not being called on by Theus, as Abdur-Rahim has played a combined 51 minutes in six games.
- Sam Amick
November 21, 2007
PHOENIX - The clock is ticking with the second Kings-Suns matchup on its way, but there are few matters to get into about exactly how last night's outing ended.
* I've been asked about why Kings coach Reggie Theus would opt for the baseball pass with 3.1 seconds, and decided it's not worth worrying about since the play that was called was executed almost perfectly. John Salmons said the team had worked on that play numerous times this past week, with Amare Stoudemire's block was the only part that got in the way. Ron Artest heaved to Kenny Thomas around the free throw line, and he tipped it to Salmons for the three that was swatted.
Now the bigger issue is this: Why didn't Theus save a timeout? It's happened a few times this season, and having a timeout would've meant the play started at midcourt and thereby eliminated Artest as the Hail Mary man. For this one game, it's a fuzzy situation as I see it, because the timeout Theus used with about 20 seconds left seemed wise considering that should've been the Kings' last possesion. No one anticipated Leandro Barbosa fumbling the ball out of bounds. Still, guarding those timeouts is a crucial skill.
* Now here's an even bigger matter - Ron Artest with the ball late. It just never seems to work out in the Kings' favor. He scores 33 and had it going all night, but Theus made it clear that he would've rather Artest gave the ball up before he took an off-balance fadeaway jumper against one of the league's best defenders in Shawn Marion. And while Artest hit a shot against Marion on the previous possesion, a fading bankshot doesn't exactly reflect dominance over your defender.
* Lastly, I forgot to mention in today's game story that the ridiculous three-pointer from Brian Skinner was the first of his career. In all, he's 1 for 2 in 12 seasons in the NBA, a statistic that sparked a great line from the Arizona Republic's Paul Coro.
Talking to Mike D'Antoni after the game, the Suns beat writer asked the Phoenix coach, "Why is it that you don't utilize a 50-percent three-point shooter like Brian Skinner more often?" Classic.
November 19, 2007
Question: Do you think that (Kings coach Reggie Theus’) past experience with (Kings swingman Francisco) Garcia at Louisville is blinding him to the fact that his shot selection is horrible and he spends way too much time dribbling away the shot clock? For all the talk about turnovers and missed free throws against the Knicks, it was his quick shot in OT that was the most egregious misstep. Sometimes his hubris is amazing for one so unproven. And some of the faithful still think (Kings point guard Mike) Bibby is a ballhog...just amazing! What do you think? - Spencer W., Sacramento
Answer: (Quick disclaimer: this was written before Garcia's effective 10-points, four rebound, one turnover outing against Detroit) For quick background for those unaware, Theus was an assistant coach at Louisville for two seasons while Garcia was dominating and leading his team to the Final Four in 2005.
Now for your question, only Theus knows the answer. I will say this: Theus certainly appears to have a long leash with Garcia, and the shot you’re referencing was really awful both on its own and because of the timing. During Theus’ post-practice session on Saturday, he talked about Garcia and used the word “cajones,” although you prefer hubris. Whatever the adjective, it’s by far disproportionate to his effectiveness. He’s not finding people like he can, is back to taking bad shots and dribbling into traffic, and – who knows? – maybe he feels more pressure because of his background with Theus.
Question: Hi Sam. Great game last night (against New York). I hear there are some big changes or trades coming to the Kings? Have you heard anything? It would sure be nice to lose Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Kenny Thomas, Mikki Moore, and Brad Miller for some new guys. It is all over the web, but things take time. Has (Kings basketball president) Geoff (Petrie) wised up? Thank you. - Ron, Woodbridge, CA
Answer: There’s a whole lot on the web that holds only a hint of truth or usually none at all, but I have heard that something may be coming soon. That’s just talk, mind you, but I would not be at all surprised if Petrie and Knicks were working on something with Ron Artest heading to New York. The key is if New York is still unwilling to give up David Lee, which seems less likely considering he’s coming off the bench now behind the Knicks’ frontline of Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry. And while Jamal Crawford may be available, I could see Petrie negotiating for Nate Robinson instead and convincing Isiah Thomas to take at least one of his big’s deals (likely Kenny Thomas). Isiah may need to do something to save his job, and maybe bringing Artest home is it. Or then again, maybe he’s already lost the sort of clout to pull off a move like this considering his own standing.
Question: The team has had a major problem scoring. Why did the coach start Mikki Moore when he could put Ron Artest at power forward and John Salmons at small forward. Salmons can score and play defense. I think we could have won the game (at Minnesota on Wednesday) with a small lineup plus Brad Miller; and Moore as back up for Miller and the power forward position . Also, one of our consistent rebounders is Garcia, but his time was cut back and we desperately need rebounding. I like the game Artest played but don't like the other moves which cost us the game in my opinion. – John Archer, Grass Valley, CA
Answer: Here’s the latest on this matter. The short version, though, is that Theus doesn’t want two ball-stoppers sharing the floor in Salmons and Artest; wants to give his power forwards (mainly Mikki Moore) a chance to save his spot; and while Artest can clearly be effective down there, it seems the small forward is hesitant to expose his body to that kind of long-term abuse and is also supportive of the players naturally slated for that spot. It could change, though.
Question: What about getting Jose Calderon from Toronto? We need a point guard of the future and he's ready to start somewhere NOW. No idea if we could get either of the freshmen point guards next year and we have two holes to fill for two years down the road, point guard and post-up player. He'd fill the spot nicely as its easy to see that he'll be a good/excellent starter. Petrie needs to let Theus worry about winning now and get busy opening cap space and getting prospects. What are the salary cap implications of buying out a contract such as KTs? – Apounders, Sacramento
Answer: Starting backwards, the salary cap implications of buying out Thomas would be that whatever agreed-upon amount of the buyout is spread out proportionally for the life of the contract. In Thomas’ case, that’s through 2010.
Now for Calderon, Toronto could have interest in Artest to add some punch on both ends and keep up with the Celtics. I could see Petrie liking Calderon, although there would need to be more pieces in a deal (Artest makes $7 million, Calderon makes $2.4). Calderon is a free agent this summer.
November 18, 2007
This is a first for me, but I'm giving up the microphone in this forum for a brief moment. In regards to today's piece about Kevin Martin and Reggie Theus, a reader dubbed "ekim4" had a good take in the comments section.
"Asking for Too Much May End Up With Nothing: As I understand it from expert commentary, Martin has the ability and slim physical frame to be the great scorer that he has shown himself to be, but his body will not withstand very long the demands of a more aggressive effort.
So I'm hoping Theus will settle for Martin's longer lasting ability to score big, and not gamble on asking the rising star's body to do more than it equipped to handle."
It's a valid point. The way I see it, there are much bigger problems on this team than whether or not Kevin Martin can make another giant leap as a player right this moment. His strides have already been incredible. And while he can maybe become the aggressive player Theus envisions in years to come, getting shots in the flow of the offense and not forcing matters - or dominating the ball - is the next best thing to Martin being the assist machine that he clearly is not. Ron Artest, for one, seemed to differ from Theus in his vision of Martin as a player.
"I think if he changes his game, it won't work for him," Artest said when asked about Martin needing to be more assertive offensively. "I think that's how he plays. That's how he made his name, playing off the team. Everyone knows he is so good and we want to win, so we give him the ball. Nobody has a problem with him shooting.
"If he takes one or even five bad shots, you know that the other 15 are good shots. He's not ballhogging at all, and (the shots) are probably going through most of the time."
The call for Martin and the other wing players to improve on the glass is a fair request in light of the team's collective rebounding woes. Theus chided Martin after Saturday's practice, saying he screwed up by grabbing seven rebounds in the first half on Friday against New York because his coach now knew he had that potential. Martin said he certainly pays more attention to rebounding when Theus goes with a small lineup.
"It's just a feel thing," Martin said. "If there are three bigs down there and it looks like they've got a rebound, then you probably want to start to get (down the floor) a little more. But (against the Knicks), Eddy Curry was down there and most of the time we had only one big man on the court. If he's boxing him out, then the guards can get the rebound."
Out of necessity, if nothing else.
"We just need it," Martin added. "Everybody's trying to do what we can do."
Lastly, for those of you who didn't see Theus' point in comparing Martin to the greats like Wilt, MJ etc..it was only in the context of his point that great players make their teammates better. It's a little simplistic to see those names and Martin's in the same story and cry as if the greats have been shamed. Look a little deeper, folks.
- Sam Amick
November 16, 2007
A short setup from the head man himself...
"(The Knicks are) big, strong, athletic, they pound it inside, do a lot of the things we don’t particularly like," Kings coach Reggie Theus said at this morning's shoot-a-round about tonight's game. "Then again, I always feel that when we’re home, we can beat anybody. We had a couple of days of practice, we’re getting our guys back, getting a couple of games under them now. We’ll see what happens."
Kenny Thomas will not play (right shin contusion), nor will the Knicks' Zach Randolph or Renaldo Balkman. And as an add-on to today's John Salmons follow piece, I was informed he was, in fact, fined $5,000.
November 15, 2007
Ron Artest was supposed to be the post presence.
So he plays small forward, supplanting John Salmons in the starting lineup? So he hardly hits the paint, shooting mostly jumpers (albeit fairly well) as Salmons disappears from the offense?
We'll see how this situation unfolds, but Salmons has spent parts of the last three games upset with his role. And it didn't start with his quick exit from the locker room while Theus was discussing the game in the locker room afterward.
Salmons was less than thrilled to be pulled late in the game against Minnesota on Saturday, later saying about the situation "It was (disappointing). Everybody wants to finish the game, so I think that’s just human nature. That’s just being competitive."
It obviously didn't get much better. Asked about possibly losing his starting job the day before the game, Salmons said, "How do I look at it? Just like I always look at it. It is what it is."
What it is, as it stands, is a whole lot of griping early on in the season, including a few words between Theus and Kevin Martin during the latest T-Wolves' game and a handful of words exchanged between players and the coaching staff in earlier games. Salmons' situation may not be as simple as his feelings with his role, with whatever was said by Theus afterward likely playing a part. As Kings center Brad Miller correctly noted, Salmons' skills can't be lost with the return of Artest. Can Theus find the answer and restore some harmony on the home court?
* For one night at least, I was wrong about Rashad McCants (or should he be called, Mc'Can'?). He was phenomenal. And Garcia - who was burned on a couple of the buckets - was the one going home with the 'L' this time. (Check numerous Mc'Can' references below for backstory)
He's got some serious offensive game and explosion, especially for a guy who had microfracture surgery. The procedure kept Mc'Can' out of action for much of last season. If he keeps scoring like this, the storyline and stats could make him a definite candidate for Most Improved Player.
While his usage rate is high, his average of 18.6 points per game on 25.2 minutes is impressive. And for the record, I was told he has the green light from the T-Wolves' brass to use that ball all he wants as they want him to dominate as often as possible.
* The debate over whether Mikki Moore or Salmons should start being put aside for a moment, let it be known that Moore had what was easily his best game yet.
He converted tips and putbacks on offense, and pulled off that pumpfake on the baseline to get his defender in the air and slam it home for the And-1 and a 64-63 third-quarter lead. In all, last season's field-goal percentage leader had nine points on 4 of 5 shooting. He could still stand to grab a few more boards (three in 28 minutes - putting his per-48 minute rebounding rate at a paltry 7.6), but at least he looked like the Moore of last season.
I'll get into this more in depth at a later date, but it must've been about the pre-game meal. Moore, whose metabolism is the stuff of supermodels' dreams, scarfed a full basket of chicken tenders and fries and a cheeseburger an hour before the game. He does all he can to put on weight, but is still Kate Moss thin. For an NBA player, anyway.
* "Coach Bill" should be banned. The local stockbroker/season-ticket holder from the Minnesota area is still a mainstay in the Target Center, still crouching during games with one knee nearly on the playing court and one clenched fist fixed to the side of his head while wearing his fancy suit. He pounds his game program on the floor and - against the Kings - nearly gave players broken ankles as they almost tripped over him. He was a good-luck charm when the T-Wolves were good. Now? Get him back in his seat.
- Sam Amick
November 14, 2007
Brad Miller, as expected, will play tonight, though forwards Kenny Thomas (right shin contusion) and Shareef Abdur-Rahim (right sore knee) will not, though he will suit up. Beno Udrih will start at point guard.
November 14, 2007
The Kings released statements regarding the end of the Justin Williams investigation and his expected return...
Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie: “We are all gratified with the outcome of the investigation involving Justin Williams. It has been a long month for everyone. He will be welcomed back as he rejoins the team for tomorrow’s practice here in Sacramento. We want to thank our local law enforcement officials for their thoroughness and professionalism.”
Justin Williams: “Thank god that it’s over with and I am looking forward to getting back with the team. I thank my fans, family, friends, teammates and the Kings organization for sticking with me through the whole ordeal.”
Also, I spoke to Petrie briefly on the phone, and he offered this nugget about Williams' potential impact on this squad: "I'm pretty sure he can still jump."
Which, believe it or not, is actually saying something when it comes to this team.
- Sam Amick
November 13, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS - Brad Miller is expected to return to action on Wednesday night, which likely means one thing for Shareef Abdur-Rahim: more time mentoring youngsters on the bench and even less time playing on the floor.
A day after Abdur-Rahim's agent, Aaron Goodwin, vented publicly about his client's lack of playing time, Abdur-Rahim played seven minutes at Utah on Monday night. The upside: He drew double teams that opened things up down low in a way no other Kings player has been able to do, then made the most of his impact by finding cutters who took advantage of the defense. The downside: He missed all three shots. The real question: How long will this be Abdur-Rahim's reality?
John Denton of Florida Today pontificates today about the Magic possibly looking to trade for Abdur-Rahim, and his logic all jives. It doesn't stop with Orlando, either, as you can be assured that Goodwin is scouring the league looking for a way out for his 12-year veteran. It's a tough situation on both sides, with the Kings needing to focus on developing youngsters like Spencer Hawes and even Darryl Watkins and Abdur-Rahim desperate to find a setting in which he can work himself back into form and revive the post-game that remains.
While anyone with two eyes can see Abdur-Rahim doesn't move like he used to, his skills down low still give him value. Even Kings coach Reggie Theus has talked about Shareef's "presence" on the block. The key is finding a team that needs that sort of specialty skill and has the right pieces to satisfy Kings prez Geoff Petrie. Abdur-Rahim is in the third season of his five-year, $29 million deal.
But Theus - who needs rebounding badly and is already behind the eight-ball from an athletic standpoint with his roster - is clearly going to continue opting for Kenny Thomas and Mikki Moore. What's more, there are plenty who believe Justin Williams will be back in the mix soon, only worsening Abdur-Rahim's situation. The X-factor on the court is that Abdur-Rahim needs consistent and abundant playing time to combat the months of lost time while he recovered from June knee surgery. The Kings, clearly, aren't likely to be the team with which he'll get that time. So which one will?
* Cisco v. McCants II - Truthfully, I hadn't even thought about the fact that these best buddies would be seeing each other for a second time in four days.
* Kevin Martin finally wore the Nike shoes that have been sitting in his locker while shoe contract negotiations continue.
For the background, here's the relative excerpt from my recent piece on him...
"Martin spent his first three seasons under contract with Nike, but is currently being courted for a new deal in which only he and New Jersey point guard Jason Kidd would wear an as-yet-unveiled Steve Nash shoe in honor of the Phoenix point guard. The shoes are currently sitting in Martin's locker, though he has not worn them because there are negotiations with other shoe companies as well."
Anyway, he waffled as to whether to wear them or not but still produced a 20-plus outing to continue his sensational scoring season (FYI - wearing the shoes means nothing other than, well, he had new shoes on. The negotiations continue). Yet for the first time since last season, the question of whether Martin needed more shots was wholly relevant once again. He hit 7 of 12 shots and - more importantly - only took four trips to the line. While he had been averaging approximately 17 shots per game, any talk after the first six games that he needed more was a bit uninformed since his league-leading trips to the line hide so many of his attempts.
But against Utah, point guard Beno Udrih had as many shots as Martin. Enough said. And as if his efficiency hasn't become well-known enough, the most impressive statistic so far this season is the fact that Martin is third in the league in scoring (27 points per game) and 34th in the league in usage rate. Usage rate, in essence, determines how many possesions per 40 minutes that a player uses. In layman's terms, he's not coming even close to dominating the action like the players who need to do so to reach the same scoring numbers. Not surprisingly, his usage rate dropped from 25th to 34th in that one game against Utah. And not to keep picking on McCants, but his name just doesn't fit on that list of usage rate leaders, does it? He's the anti-Martin, you could say.
- Sam Amick
November 12, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY - It's a good thing the Jazz frontline struggles so badly to hit the boards (ahem), because Kings center Brad Miller won't play tonight.
Miller has a right quadricep contusion suffered on Saturday against Minnesota. Kings coach Reggie Theus said Miller could play tonight if he had to, but they're opting to let it heal so he's 100 percent on Wednesday at Minnesota. Mikki Moore will start in Miller's place, with Kenny Thomas starting at power forward. - Sam Amick
November 12, 2007
PARK CITY, UTAH - Late-night greetings from Utah, where the chill has set in but the winter snow has not.
A few talking points before the Kings try to cool off the 5-2 Jazz on Monday night.
* Good for Ron Artest for agreeing on a settlement with the NBA regarding his seven-game suspension (likely giving him some of his lost wages back) after he appealed, but his team is sure wishing he could've had at least one game reduced to come back for this one. Jazz small forward Andre Kirilenko typically struggles with the much-bigger Artest, often putting the brakes on his go-go-go game when the alternative is trying to drive through the roadblock that is Ron-Ron.
Kirilenko, whose offseason trade demand and admitted misery in playing under Jerry Sloan changed nothing, is back to his versatile ways - Exhibit A: 15 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, four steals, and a block in Saturday's 118-94 win over Memphis.
* More than two weeks ago, it really seemed as if the sexual misconduct investigation on Kings forward Justin Williams was within days of reaching a resolution, so I'm wary to make any predictions.
Nonetheless, there may be reason to believe that it could finally reach an end within the next few days. As for what the resolution will be, Williams' attorney - William Portanova - has reiterated all along that he believes the case won't be filed and Williams will not face charges.
Lastly - and this is long overdue - it should be noted that KCRA's coverage of this case appears even more absurd now than it did when this situation began. From the Paparazzi approach in the driveway of Williams' home to the fancy graphic of Williams' and the team's whereabouts to the silly and sensational end to the report, it was over the top. And it's made even worse because it's KCRA - the folks who actually make the drive to Kings games at Arco Arena on a bi-monthly basis but funded Mike Teselle's flight to Albquerque, N.M. in a heartbeat.
* Jason Hart is the early winner in his eternal battle for minutes with Ronnie Price that began in Sacramento. The veteran Jazz point guard is averaging 9.1 minutes per game to Price's 2.8, though both likely spend the same amount of time marveling at starter Deron Williams (21 points per game, 10.4 assists). Although I wonder if Price ever does this to Boozer during practices now that they're teammates.
BLOG UPDATE: Talked to Ronnie this morning at shoot-a-round. The always-pleasant Price reports that not only does he not do that to Boozer at practice, but it's just better to pretend that play never happened.
"We don’t talk about those things," Price said with a sheepish laugh. "We just keep that quiet. I’m not making any comments on that. You’ll have Carlos coming after me."
- Sam Amick
November 10, 2007
THE SETUP: Keeping tabs on a struggling team means looking for the intrigue that doesn't jump right out and grab you, right?
Then I've got just the tidbit for you Kings fans.
Ignore the fact that tonight's game at Arco against Minnesota matches two teams with a combined record of 1-8, and keep your eyes focused in on Francisco Garcia and Rashad McCants.
It's safe to say - like bet-my-mortgage safe - that the Kings new point guard and Minnesota's shooting guard have no love lost for each other. Their caustic relationship dates back to their college days, when Garcia's highpoint was leading Louisville to the Final Four in 2005 while McCants' North Carolina team won the title that season.
The rivalry grew during summer league in July. Before Garcia was excused so he could go to New York and welcome his newborn daughter into the world, he had a very heated late-night exchange with McCants at the Palms casino in which I was told McCants had to be herded into an elevator to be taken out of the situation and Garcia was certainly not backing down. And by the way, it can also be safely noted that you won't ever see Garcia back down in those types of situations. For all his flair and Dominican style, he's a tough hombre. As for McCants, his Hoopshype.com bio says it all in terms of his reputation - "difficult character."
Now both third-year players are being given opportunities like never before, with this matchup the latest in what seems like a can-you-top-this? sort of competition. The spoiler, of course, will be if McCants' sprained ankle that kept him out of Friday's loss to the Lakers sidelines him again. He was probable as of Saturday morning, though.
THE OUTCOME: Ah, that was fun. Nothing like the age-old pastime of observing human nature. There was certainly plenty to watch, with Garcia and McCants carrying a whole different vibe between them than any other two players on the floor (like when your dog's at the park and he just seems put off by a certain other pooch).
The lasting image on this night, though, is that of a furious McCants ripping the head band off his head and flinging it 20 feet toward press row when the Kings' win was all-but-official and the T-Wolves had fallen to 0-5. For a moment, I thought the lasting image would have come with 1:08 left, when McCants buried a three in Garcia's face to cut the Kings lead to 94-93. Garcia was outscored 16 points to 10, but it was McCants who went home with the "L."
- Sam Amick
November 10, 2007
How to say this without having my blog unplugged by the powers-that-Bee?
Here's my best PC attempt: If players - and writers, for that matter - can have off days, then so can folks who put together newspaper web sites. Point being that it turns out the last segment of Friday's Kevin Martin piece was missing from the online version. It has since been fixed, and is worth peeking at if only to see what lies ahead in Martin's shoe endorsement deal future and to get the 411 in his higher standard of living here in town. Here's the link - in full. - Sam Amick
November 9, 2007
A secret is no more, as word has leaked that Spencer Hawes will likely play a few minutes this evening.
Now, of course, Kings coach Reggie Theus could certainly not play Hawes and then there was no secret to begin with. This does beg the question, though, as to why Theus would be talking about one or two weeks in terms of Hawes' return only to put him out there tonight? They were going to be cautious, to make sure he was ready. It definitely makes the Kings a bit more intriguing in what is their only ESPN game of the entire season, a side benefit if Theus, in fact, has changed his mind.
Hawes certainly isn't going to determine the outcome, and I've been told that we're really talking about just a couple of minutes of playing time here. Nonetheless, good for Hawes if it happens. And truthfully - not that I have one iota of medical expertise - but I had sided with Hawes on this one. He looked great, said he felt great, and pointed out that we were talking about a scope here, not a knee transplant. And as if it needs to be pointed out, the Kings could use some help in the frontline scoring department.
BLOG UPDATE: Spencer had the warm-ups on and everything and was cleared to play, but who knew the Kings would be so competitive there was no time to throw the rookie into the fire? - Sam Amick
November 9, 2007
The backstory on today's Kevin Martin piece is worth telling, so here goes.
So back in June, it was arranged for myself and our photographer, Hector Amezcua, to head for Martin's hometown of Zanesville, Ohio, to work on a profile of the Kings guard who - at that time - was expected to be nearing a long-term extension that would put him in Sacramento for years to come. Hector and I even boarded the plane, but everything changed during our layover in Phoenix. My phone rang, with someone giving a tip about a Kings coaching interview in Las Vegas. The news of the coaching search took precedence over a feature story, and so I was re-routed from Columbus, Ohio to my home away from home in Vegas. Amezcua, meanwhile, went ahead and spent a few quality days with the incredibly-accomodating Martin gathering video and taking phenomenal pictures. Anyways, it's not often that the various types of reporting don't exactly coincide. But five months later, we finally made it work.
There's more Martin mania back in his hometown, where the Zanesville Times Recorder's managing editor is blogging about the hometown boy.
November 9, 2007
Question: I'm a huge Kings fan. I think we went dead wrong by picking up Brad Miller. He's got no lateral movement and no defense whatsoever. Couple that with a bad attitude (always whining) and no wonder our defense gives up so many points in the paint. What's your take on this? - Coloradan King, Denver
Answer: Can't say I agree entirely. The thing about Brad is that you can't dispute the role he played when this team was phenomenal, playing the high-post game so well with Vlade Divac during the 2003-04 campaign in which they 55 games and keeping up after Divac was gone and the Kings won 50 games the following season.
The problem now is that the Kings don't play that style anymore, and Miller is at his best when there are two realities about his hoops existence: 1) He's in shape and healthy, which wasn't the case last year, and 2) he's a complimentary piece. Miller isn't built to be a conventional enforcer, so now his weaknesses are revealed more than ever.
His best asset - his passing - requires a coach knowing how to utilize the skill best, and Kings coach Reggie Theus is still learning that fact. And based on Theus' more conventional style, he needs a big man to block shots, rebound and score now. I will say this, though: I think it's a good thing they can't sign seven-year contracts like Miller's anymore. Too much can change with an organization and a player in that time span for that sort of long-term commitment to be even close to sane.
Question: Dear Sam,
Love the blog. I was wondering if you could expand on the Kenny Thomas-Mikki Moore-Shareef (Abdur-Rahim) situation, insofar as they relate to the coaching staff and whether or not they realize that their poor play (excepting perhaps a recuperating Shareef) is a large part of the Kings' lack of success. Thanks. - Zack, Rome, Italy
Answer: There's no way they don't know Zack, although the question is how much of the blame they place on themselves and how much they put on circumstances outside of their control. For one, I guarantee they don't see the current environment as conducive to good play. By that I mean the fact that there's a quick hook from the bench and not nearly enough minutes to make any of those guys happy. Shareef's situation is absolutely different because of his knee, but Mikki and Kenny were incredibly frustrated during and even after the last game.
While Mikki has been candid about how he needs to pick up his game, he's also discussed the guards' style of play and said it makes it tough to do what Kings coach Reggie Theus wants. Specifically, jumpers early in the clock don't allow the bigs to get set and either contribute in the post or be in position to hit the boards. There is definite truth in what he said, but it's obviously only part of the problem.
Question: Sorry if I missed it, but how do you pronounce Beno Udrih? Thanks. - Tom Harding, Sacramento
Answer: That's BAY-NO, not to be confused with BEE-NO. Although if his play stinks like flatulence, then maybe calling him Beano would help.
Question: What is Orien Greene's problem? Artest raved about him. Former teammates in Florida compared his game to Dwayne Wade's. Yet, he obviously is not panning out in real action. What is he having problems with in your opinion? Thanks. - Peter Lozancich, Salt Lake City, Utah
Answer: Only Orien knows, but I think a few things led to the rough start. For one, Theus didn't give him much time to get in a flow in the first two games in which he started. In the first game, especially, Greene wasn't spectacular in the first six minutes but the points-for/points-against margin was almost even and took a quick dive after he was replaced by Quincy Douby. But Greene went to the bench for long stretches, and may be having trouble knowing exactly what his role is. Theus wants him to play like a mad dog, diving for loose balls and hounding defenders. Greene, though, may have been taking the edge off his game because he's thinking big picture - i.e. don't get in foul trouble and take less chances.
Either way, I could still see Greene playing a key role as the games go on Udrih takes over the point guard reins. After all, Greene impressed in training camp mostly by defending three spots and bringing major energy. He could be a huge asset in that role, and maybe get more comfortable with the coaching staff and what they want out of him when he occasionally takes over the point guard spot. He's too versatile and talented not to help.
Question: Sam, I caught a glimpse of Darryl Watkins' feet during a timeout and was shocked at the size of those dogs! Looks like he could share kicks with Shaq. What size shoe does he wear anyway? They gotta be the biggest on the team. - Anthony, Sacramento
Answer: I'll put on my hard-hitting reporting cap and get an answer for you. My early guess (although I haven't focused on them like you, Anthony)? Size 17.
Question: I notice some new tattoos on Kings players - especially Brad Miller (with one on this left forearm). Do you know what they are of/look like? Thanks. - Chelsea, Davis, CA
Answer: I don't typically log the new artwork (who can keep up?!) but I do know the tattoo you speak of. Miller's left forearm reads "Anniston," with a rose vine wrapped around the lettering. It's in honor of his baby daughter, Anniston Rose, who I believe is a few months away from turning 1.
Question: Are the Maloofs purposely making the Kings a pathetic team? The lack of talent can't be a mistake. Is this their way of preparing Sacramento for losing their team to Las Vegas? - Eric Wells, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Answer: Put the conspiracy theories away, Eric. Vegas isn't the hot topic or desirable NBA locale it used to be after the All-Star weekend didn't go so well. And the Kings' roster is a simple product of a franchise in flux.
Question: Can you give your insight on where you see (Kings basketball president Geoff) Petrie taking this team? Is he still trying to create a defensive team, an offensive team, young team, athletic team, etc.? I look at the parts and I have no idea what type of team he is trying to create. I'm thoroughly disappointed in the product we have. I look at Portland and like what they've done. Phoenix just four years ago was awful. Why can't we get involved in trades that bring back young talent rather than bringing old parts and bad contracts? - Gary, Rocklin
Answer: In terms of philosophy, I think the defensive talk is just a phase so long as Petrie's running the ship. He wants scorers, and lots of them, with a roster includes skilled players both big and small with the hopes of playing a unique brand of basketball like they did a few years back.
As for how he does that, it's obvious that he has recently become fully committed to going young and sincerely entering the rebuilding phase. He's passed up on trades because they didn't include either draft picks or the other team's best young guys, and he'll continue to be stubborn in moving his guys until he gets that sort of compensation.
The moves that don't jive with that philosophy may have been made in the interim, and mostly as it pertains to the power forward spot. They haven't been able to move Kenny Thomas, but they signed veteran Shareef Abdur-Rahim to a five-year deal nonetheless. When Abdur-Rahim was hobbled, they went out and added then-31-year-old Mikki Moore. What's interesting is that Moore's contract shows that the direction of the mentality. He got the full midlevel exception just like Abdur-Rahim and John Salmons did, but was only given a three-year deal in which only $2 million was guaranteed in the third year.
Translation: Right about that time is when the Kings hope to have their younger, more athletic, more talented new core in place and be back on their feet. It's never fast enough for the fans, but hang in there.
Question: Sam, going small with Bibby, Salmons, Martin, Artest and Miller, followed by Udrih, Douby, Garcia, Shareef/Moore, Hawes/ Watkins?
The up side of no Bibby and Artest is that we get to see Garcia, Salmons, and Watkins. I hope Hawes can play with his back to the basket as well as I've heard! The bigs are killing us. I think Miller was more effective when Chris Webber was injured and he played the (power forward spot) and maybe if Hawes is as good a round the basket as they say then Miller can play the (power forward) and Hawes the (center spot)? We need Hawes, Bibby, Artest to be in games. - Bob Snyder, Rancho Cordova
Answer: A few too many cups of coffee this morning, Bob? You were all over the map there. Some good comments, though. In particular, keep an eye out for a variation of the small starting lineup you suggested once Bibby gets back. Safe to say the poor play of the bigs will most definitely lead the Kings to going small.
November 7, 2007
"A 'W' is a 'W'."
That's what Mikki Moore said on his way out of the Kings locker room late Tuesday night, and I couldn't have said it better myself. But I'll try.
A 'W' is a 'W,' especially when it erases the memory in so many minds that the Kings were down by 20 points in the first half of their home opener to a Seattle team that - at full strength - was projected to be in the Western Conference cellar.
A 'W' is a 'W,' especially when said first half included unfriendly griping at the coaching staff from both Kenny Thomas and Moore and the mood was turning more sour by the minute.
A 'W' is a 'W,' especially when your leading scorer (Kevin Martin) takes one shot in the fourth quarter, misses two key free throws, has a turnover on a key possesion late in the game courtesy of Kevin Durant that leads to a thunderous dunk and temporary momentum-stealer, passes up an open three that leads to a shot clock violation, and gets whistled for a highly-debatable blocking call rather than an inspiring charge going the other way.
A 'W' is a 'W,' especially when your starting point guard (Francisco Garcia) keeps gunning despite no signs of shooting success but saves the day with a late three-pointer to grab the lead.
A 'W' is a 'W,' especially when that 'W' looks so very likely to be followed by an 'L' once LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers come to Arco Arena on Friday.
And last but not least, a 'W' is a 'W,' especially when there were 2,409 empty seats (Arco capacity of 17,317 minus 14,908 attendance) and wins will be needed to start the sellout streak anew.
OK, now for the good stuff on Martin - and there was plenty of it that I didn't get a chance to mention in the recount of their 104-98 win over Seattle.
Here's what should excite Kings fans: seven rebounds, five assists, five steals. To wit: In the three games coming in, he had a combined 10 rebounds, three assists, and five steals.
He has the body, the athleticism and the instincts to do this much more often. Martin was a maniac on both ends, jumping in lanes to pick off balls, leaping above Wally Szczerbiak in the post to deny ball entry after the Sonics forward had been scoring at will against John Salmons. He can, and should, do this more often.
And as for Martin's lack of late scoring, he said he wasn't simply content to finish the game after leg cramps threatened to take him out. They kicked in right after a third-quarter play in which he went high for a rebound and fell hard.
There was an out-of-place DJ Mbenga sighting at the Kings-Sonics game, though I've yet to have someone tell me that he should be expected as the Kings' newest frontcourt addition.
The 7-foot, 240-pound Mbenga was waived by Dallas on Oct. 30, having played in just one preseason game after returning from an ACL injury last Feb. 7. In the one game against Chicago, Mbenga had five rebounds, two blocked shots and an assist in 12 minutes of play.
It would make perfect sense that the Kings worked him out and were considering signing him, although he remains not only a recovering hobbler but a player who didn't start playing basketball until later in life and who's in need of major development. Folks on the Sonics' side gave no indication he was there to meet with them, so it's a mystery for now.
UPDATE: My man Marty Mac has solved the Mbenga riddle (be sure and scroll to his last note).
Let's play a hoops version of "Where's Waldo?" with today's stellar picture of Francisco Garcia's game-winning shot against Seattle (the fine work of the Bee's Hector Amezcua). We'll call it, "Where's Kevin Durant's mother?" Here's a clue - look for the only person who's less than ecstatic. (Click on the pic to make it bigger)
You find her yet? Yep, the woman standing in the bottom right corner just behind her boy.
- Sam Amick
November 6, 2007
UPDATE: I'll spoil the last chapter and tell you that the streak ended. Check out this well-done look at the situation from Melody Gutierrez.
I'm hearing the league's longest active sellout streak will fall tonight against Seattle, with the record ending at 354 consecutive games in which Arco Arena was packed (although there were some sketchy "sellouts" last season).
The word is the margin is too much to make up on walk-ups alone, and you can't blame the Maloofs for not wanting to buy all the empty seats as that could set an expensive trend given the state of the team these days.
The streak began on Nov. 26, 1999 against Golden State. In all, the Kings have sold out 873 of 922 games (regular season and playoffs) since the team moved to Sacramento in 1985. Blame it on Sonics' rookie star Kevin Durant, who clearly needs to work on his drawing power. - Sam Amick
November 3, 2007
Question: Sam, we're missing 35 points per game (with Mike Bibby and Ron Artest out). The Kings played hard, but did you think they were going to win the game? You can't make chicken soup out of chicken feathers. Would the loss be any better if the score was 99 to 100?? Are the Kings the only 0-2 team out there?? There are going to be many games that they are not in because of the injury to Mike. I know you have to have some big dramatic story but get a grip. It's not the end of the world. Grab your shoes and go help them. - Bob Snyder, Rancho Cordova
Answer: I like that idea Bob! Beat writer/baller. And I even have a new pair of T-Mac (Tracy McGrady) hi-tops so I would fit right in - until the ball was actually bounced, of course.
But seriously, here's the thing. It's not that they're 0-2, it's that they have been competitive when it actually mattered for a quarter and a half in a possible eight quarters. They have the worst point differential in the league (negative-15). They played so poorly that folks who were around during the dreary Kings days of old said yesterday that this qualified as worse than even the worst of those times. And while the injuries are certainly the biggest reason, the Kings of last season won or competed in plenty of games when they were undermanned. But this situation is two-fold: the timing of Bibby going down and Ron's suspension was catastrophic in every way as it relates to the coaching staff, and a philosophy of inside-out offense is going nowhere fast in the absence of strong post play.
With Bibby and Artest on board, the roles were being defined and the veteran presence was helping Reggie Theus and his staff with their own learning curve. Now everyone is seemingly reeling to figure out how to survive this stretch without being embarrassed every time out.
It's not rocket science what's going on here. The frontcourt isn't rebounding or finishing in the post, and it seems there may be unrealistic expectations about how much any of those guys can help offensively. Up top, Orien Greene is having a tough time with Theus' rotation and can't find his rhythm, as he's played the first six minutes in both games and then only spot minutes thereafter. And for all the talk about Quincy Douby and whether he is a point guard (he's not, by the way), there may be some doubt above Theus' ranks as to whether Orien is one either.
Douby has continued to show he can score, but he repeatedly misses teammates with open looks. And while the signing of Beno Udrih is a good one and could help this disaster, it's only more bum luck for the Kings (and Udrih's bum finger) that he isn't healthy enough to help just yet. If nothing else, Bibby can take solace in the fact that it's pretty clear how valuable and underestimated his skills may be.
The tortoruous juxtaposition to all of this is that this road trip is absolutely brutal. I thought there was no better finish on this trip than 1-2 (with New Orleans the best opportunity for a win, and a small chance at that). Now they get the Mavs in their home opener with the return of Josh Howard to boot. In other words, don't expect chicken soup tonight either, Bob.
Question: I would like to say thank you to Geoff Petrie for doing an awful
job. We should protest at home games (in which not many will sell-out) to have him removed from the Kings. In closing, Dallas will beat us silly tonight. - Ron, Woodbridge
Answer: You have a point about the home games and attendance. As of a few weeks ago, the feeling seemed to be that a strong start would lead to the sellout streak staying intact, but it's clearly in trouble now.
Question: Being a Miami Heat fan, many of us often discuss the possibility of Ron Artest being traded here.
What is the skinny regarding Artest and the Kings' position of his tradeability? What would they be looking for from Miami? Would they want point guard Jason Williams, plus a draft pick or would they expect more than that? (i.e. Udonis Haslem and a few young players...) - Marty Bogrow, Weston, Fla.
Answer: Artest is tradeable, especially since he can opt out of his contract after this season and the Kings would lose him for nothing. A sign-and-trade is possible at that point, but there's no guarantee one could come together.
As far as Miami, bringing on Williams would only be to get his expiring contract ($8.9 million) and guarantee that money comes off the cap. If Artest didn't opt out, he would make $7.4 million next season (FYI, I made a mistake in today's Kings notes regarding his salary next season).
The Kings would be after draft picks, too, but I do think they'd be hoping for more than that at this point. For example, I now believe the Kings were after Ben Gordon in those three-team talks that came up recently. Even though they have a shooting guard in Kevin Martin and a player like Gordon doesn't seem to fit, he's a valuable commodity who you could move again for an even better fit or try to win with an unorthodox lineup.
Question: Why don't the Kings take a page from the Warriors book and buy out the contracts of the dead weight on the team? Yeah, I know its alot of money, but one of the players I'm talking about is an undersized cancer, the other in my opinion is done physically. (Mikki) Moore and (Justin) Williams can fill the power forward position nicely, and these two players probably won't be to happy about a lack of playing time and might cause problems. - Jim, Carmichael
Answer: There may be enough reason to do it, but here are the factors to consider...
1) Both sides have to agree, meaning Kenny Thomas (this season and two more, approximately $24 million overall) and Shareef Abdur-Rahim (this season and two more, nearly $18 million) and their agents must be given enough of their money to agree to exit. If one or both of these guys were in the final year of their deals, I think they would do it.
2) The money doesn't come completely off the cap, which must be weighed by the Kings in this decision. Whatever amount they pay the player is basically divvied up over their remaining contract years.
3) You obviously lose possible trade pieces, even if both guys seem difficult to move.
November 2, 2007
We've got the wrong kind of record-breaker in San Antonio, where this horrible, awful, atrocious half that has the Kings trailing 50-23 has broken the franchise record for least points scored.
The old mark was fifty years old, when the Rochester Royals scored 25 points in a half against Boston on Feb. 26, 1957. They lost that game 92-77, a respectable finish this squad can only hope for. The single-game record for least points scored is 59, for those searching for a reason to watch. Also, the franchise low shooting percentage is 25 percent, and they're currently at 19.4. Also, they set a franchise low for field goals made in a half (seven), beating the old record of nine.
In all, the mood couldn't be worse on the Kings bench, where the coaches are searching for answers and the tension and frustration is palpable in every way. Stay tuned. Or not.
BLOG UPDATE: The game record for fewest points scored is safe, as Quincy Douby's reverse layup with 9:07 left in the fourth keeps it alive and cuts the Spurs' lead to 75-60.
- Sam Amick
November 2, 2007
Reggie Theus flashed Francisco Garcia not once, but twice.
The ploy only worked once, though, with Garcia distracted by the sight of his coach's bare chest and missing a three-pointer that left room for Chuck Person to take the lead in a post-practice shooting contest on Thursday in New Orleans.
It wasn't the only gimmick Theus pulled, either, as he tried every prank possible to help Person prevail. Not that he needed any help.
The coach formerly known as the "Rifleman" still has it, living up to the name given not only for his long-range accuracy during a 14-year playing career but because his first and middle name were identical to that of the starring actor of a TV series dubbed "The Rifleman," Chuck Connors. He hit five of five three-pointers from the left corner, although Garcia pushed him to a tie when he claimed Person's foot was on the line and there were no other witnesses to counter the claim. On Person's only miss, he yelled aloud in the New Orleans Arena, "I haven't 'missed this shot since '87!" Garcia was up for the challenge, burying five of six of his long-range looks despite the shenanigans and laughing hysterically at his head coach's antics.
So no, if you were wondering, the Kings weren't dragging their chins on the court after their brutal season-opening loss to the Hornets. At least not a day later.
"I have to be more up than my players," Theus said afterward. "I have to be up, I have to be positive, I have to …keep these guys on their Ps and Qs about being excited about playing. This is not life or death. It’s basketball, and we understand that we are under the gun personnel wise and we’ve got nothing to lose."
- Sam Amick
November 1, 2007
The folks in Sacramento know that Mustafa Shakur was waived, but not anywhere else.
Per the routine rigors of producing a daily newspaper, a note was omitted from the online version of Kings notes that reported the late waiving of Mustafa Shakur after the Kings' loss to New Orleans on Wednesday night. The rookie point guard out of Arizona was waived, it turns out, to make way for free agent point guard Beno Udrih. Udrih is the best of the options available and feasible, with John Lucas III and Keith McLeod being considered after the likes of Gary Payton and Earl Boykins were either bypassed or uninterested. David Wesley became available, but his health is a major concern, and it's been months since a Bobby Jackson reunion was a possibility.
Word is that Udrih - a free agent from Slovenia who played his first three seasons in San Antonio - is headed Sacramento's way. His agent, Marc Cornstein, wouldn't confirm it but certainly seemed encouraged.
"I think Sacramento would provide an excellent opportunity and I know they've always expressed interest in Beno," Cornstein said. - Sam Amick