Kings Blog and Q&A

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

February 6, 2008
Wild, wild West

During a Monday taping of the Comcast Insider show with Mike Lamb, fellow guest/former player/Kings director of player development Fat Lever was breaking down the ins and outs of the Western Conference.
He referred to it as "the wild, wild, West," prompting Lamb to joke that I should steal the line for some of my own material. So here goes...
How would I refer to the Western Conference? The wild, wacky, what-are-they-thinking? West.
Whoops. Fingers slipped there. Just had to find some other way of describing the series of unfortunate events that have taken place in the West in these last few days.
In reverse order, there's the Shaq to Phoenix trade that boggles my mind. It's not just that the Suns are currently atop the Western Conference standings with a 34-14 mark, or that they've averaged 59 wins in the last three seasons. It's that they would jump off this cliff of the unknown as it pertains to their style of play. Run-and-gun Suns? More like run and gimp now. At least for O'Neals part.
With the timeless disclaimer that I have no problem being proven wrong, I am of the mind that O'Neal is beyond having a Brad Miller-like resurgence. The big fella may have had a harder time beating official Dick Bavetta in a footrace than Charles Barkley. There may be one way he can keep up, although it would require him filling two starting spots and the other going to his trusty steed.
Even with Steve Nash setting him up, I don't see him taking the Suns to a better place than they are now. In general, I'm stunned that Phoenix gave up on its exciting core so soon.
Then again, maybe they were afraid of being known as the Kings of this era, that team that played at a championship level and could routinely beat the best of the best but never won a title. I'm going on record as saying it won't happen though.
The lesser head-scratcher in the West is this: Chris Webber is starting for the Warriors? I've come around a bit on the prospects of Webber helping Golden State, mainly because - as coach Don Nelson explained - he runs a four-man fastbreak and they badly needed a big man to balance the offense when the three-balls aren't falling and the fast-paced style is out of sync. But starting him right away, when you've won nine of 12 games and caught up to the rest in the West to be in playoff position?
If things go south quickly, Nellie will have put unnecessary pressure on himself if he winds up having to take Webber out of the lineup. If he had brought him off the bench and things continue to go well, he could easily tell Webber that's the best route because, well, it's working. But if the Warriors play poorly, then fingers will inevitably point to Webber and that road just doesn't lead anywhere good.
The Lakers still look brilliant for getting Pau Gasol, especially after his purple-and-gold debut on Tuesday. Other than that, though, the West isn't just wild. It's a little crazy, too.
. - Sam Amick

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