Kings Blog and Q&A

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

April 24, 2008
Artest undergoes surgery

Kings small forward Ron Artest underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb on Thursday, the team has announced.
Artest, who missed five games due to the injury in the final two weeks of the season, had the procedure done by Dr. Michelle Carlson at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Artest will wear a removable splint for six weeks and return to full strength in approximately eight to 10 weeks.
Artest, who has until late June to exercise the early termination option in his contract and become a free agent on July 1, has been through this before. He had the same ligament repaired on Feb. 19, 2004 while playing with Indiana and returned after missing just five games. - Sam Amick

April 24, 2008
Offseason goings on

Chuck Person was among the many items on my "things to watch" list for the Kings this offseason.
Apparently, he's on Donnie Walsh's list too.
The Kings assistant is reportedly being discussed as a potential part of the post-Isiah Thomas era in New York, where his longtime friend and new Knicks' basketball president is considering head coaching candidates to replace Zeke. Person is a head coaching candidate, but he could wind up on staff in a different capacity as well. For a quick review, Person has strong ties to Walsh from their Indiana days.
Person Ė who played six of his 13 seasons in Indiana Ė was hired as a Pacers special assistant in 2002. He split his time between conducting individual workouts with players and assisting Walsh, then the Pacers CEO, and team president Larry Bird in the front office before becoming an assistant. Last summer, Person interviewed for the head job that went to Jim O'Brien. He has a two-year contract with the Kings, although it's safe to say - in my estimation - that they wouldn't hesitate to give permission for Person to talk to Walsh.
Whether it's the subtraction of Person or a separate addition, there could very well be a new look on the coaching staff by next season. To review, this was Kings co-owner Joe Maloof speaking on March 30 about the organization's desire to bring in a big man's coach...

Maloof on the desire to bring in a big man's coach this summer to develop the young big men...

"What Gavin (Maloof) and I want to do and (Kings basketball president) Geoff (Petrie) is to try to bring a big manís coach to help Spencer (Hawes) and Shelden (Williams). Weíve got to see what Shelden can do too. Weíve got a lot of hope for Shelden as well. But itís hard for a first-year coach to get a grasp of what he needs to do as far as playing the vets and the young guys. Itís a tough situation for any coach.
"We need some help in the coaching area as far as our big men. We really need that to strengthen that part of our coaching staff. Thatís what I think will be our first priority (in the offseason). When you have a 19-year-old kid who's seven foot and still growing, and youíve got great vets like Brad (Miller) and Mikki (Moore) and a young kid like Shelden. Thereís some talent there, but I think a big manís coach who can really develop those two young players could really help."

And for sheer viewing pleasure, we have this...

THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE (PRESIDENT)

It's been a good run of ads from the NBA in recent months, from the successful and fitting "Where Amazing Happens" commercials to the latest "There Can Only Be One" spots.
And as league exposure goes, it doesn't get much better than having your concept picked up by Time magazine and applied to the neck-and-neck race for the Democratic nomination in the presidential race...

Time

Below is one of the many spots, but I noticed something different about this particular one with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Watch Bryant's eyebrow at the end of the clip, and tell me that's not an intentional impersonation of Shaq. The big man has been doing that eyebrow raise for years as part of his comedic shtick, and Bryant is more than witty enough to have actually put some thought into mocking his old teammate and rival.

BIBBY TAKES A BEATING

As if shooting 4 of 17 in two playoff games against Boston isn't bad enough, Atlanta point guard/former King Mike Bibby took a beating for his crazy comments in regards to the Celtics fans.
Amid all the attention paid to the matter, though, this story caught my eye more than most. Read it first, but there's a Kendrick Perkins element there that actually dates back to Bibby's final days with the Kings. In a Dec. 26 loss at Arco Arena, Perkins was the talk of the Kings locker room for the way in which he talked trash all night. The general consensus: he was an average player who suddenly chirped like an All-Star because he was surrounded by future Hall of Famers. I remember Kevin Martin making a comment to the folks on press row about how they found it laughable, a sentiment that was apparently shared by Bibby. - Sam Amick

April 22, 2008
Starting over again...

The positive ending to the Kings' season shouldn't be tainted by the recent theatre. And in attempt to look ahead, here's a list of what's to come as it relates to the Kings...

April 27 NBA Early Entry Eligibility Deadline, 11:59 p.m. ET
May 20 NBA Draft Lottery
May 27-30 NBA Pre-Draft Camp (Orlando, Florida)
June 16 NBA Draft Early Entry Entrant Withdrawal Deadline
June 26 NBA Draft (WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY)
July 1 NBA Teams may begin negotiating with free agents
July 9 NBA Teams may begin signing free agents
July 11-20 Las Vegas Summer League - Sam Amick

April 22, 2008
Sanity restored, in the end, by Marty Mac

Make that two newspaper writers now who have advised Kings coach Reggie Theus to stop talking while he was....really far behind.

Hopefully Marty Mac's column restores the sanity once and for all, since Jim Crandell's radio show on Saturday clearly did not. (Crandell-Amick-Theus Interview Part Iand Part II)

Theus has been doing a much more entertaining type of talking on ESPN as a guest analyst for "NBA 2Night" as well as some ESPN radio work. The former TNT and Lakers commentator already has one show in the books with the Worldwide Leader and is supposed to be on the next couple of nights. On its own, I'd say it's a good thing for the Kings franchise, since their national relevance continues to plummet and Theus can remind the masses that they exist while resting easy that there will be no Kevin Martin questions.

* Martin's hometown paper in Zanesville, Ohio has been weighing in on this whole matter from a distance. Story No. 1 has additional Martin comments made to writer Sam Blackburn, and story No. 2 is a column.

* In my Lakers piece on Sunday, the heavy focus was on how Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak saw his team's season that went from chaos to championship hopes. On Monday, Kobe Bryant weighed in on how he saw the history that's still in the making.

* Speaking of Kings folks who can't stay out of headlines, Ron Artest is his funny self in this Rocky Mountain News column. The writer ran into him at LAX coming back from the Lakers-Nuggets game and got him chatting about the deal with Denver that didn't go down.

* A Bee poll from a couple of days ago gave some Kings fans a chance to weigh in on the question of who should be winning games late.

Who would you want to take the last shot with a Kings' game on the line?
Ron Artest, 13 percent
Kevin Martin, 87 percent
Total Votes: 196

* And to end all of this for good by starting with the beginning, this whole thing could have been avoided if not for this interview that left tire tracks on my head and was the worst example of in-house media spin control/slandering I've ever heard between Theus and Grant Napear.

-Sam Amick

April 21, 2008
The NBA (playoffs): Where amazing happens

As much as you see in an NBA game when sitting courtside, it's amazing how much you miss at the same time.
If only they had DVRs for live action.
So after a weekend of watching from my couch with the advantage of the HD bird's eye view combined with the ability to pause and rewind, I weighed in on the wild weekend in this story.

BLOG UPDATE: I'm getting roasted for picking Shaq as the 'Defensive Player of the (Games 1)! Oh well, I'm sticking by it. Yes, Duncan killed, but I still like the way Shaq played in the paint.

LOOKING AHEAD IN THE POSTSEASON

* LeBron's coach wants more calls in the Cleveland-Washington series.

* Former Kings coaching candidate and Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau will be juggling a long postseason run with more head coaching opportunities. This guy was already considered a defensive-coaching guru before helping the Celtics go from near worst to first in the league on that end of the floor.
His team rolled over Atlanta in Game 1, where Mike Bibby struggled badly in his return to the postseason stage on which he made much of his name.

* For the lede alone, let Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News recap the Nuggets' loss to the Lakers for you.

* Ron Artest enjoyed the Lakers game while sitting courtside at Staples.

* The Suns are cranky after blowing it in San Antonio on Saturday. We'll see tomorrow if their edginess can give them an edge.

* I've been a Reggie Evans fan ever since the Sonics beat the Kings in the playoffs in 2005. Now helping Philadelphia move closer to an upset over Detroit, he's still a one-man ugly win every night.

* Paul has Dallas reeling big-time in the Big Easy.

* The Dwight Howard era has officially begun now, by way of his first career playoff win. Geesh, big man, what took so long? You're already 22!

* Rick Adelman says his Houston Rockets are better than their Game 1 loss to Utah. - Sam Amick

April 19, 2008
Shaw happy with fate

Shaw.gif

Brian Shaw was the next Kings coach.
Not officially. Not enough to report it in the newspaper. Not even enough to throw it up on ye' old blog. But just enough that when word of Reggie Theus landing the job last June began to spread, it came as quite a surprise to me. There were strong indications from within the organization that Shaw was the one with pole position, only to be passed late by Theus in a development that some tied to his old pal Jerry Tarkanian.
But Shaw is doing just fine, having returned to his Lakers assistant job and about to begin a playoff run on Sunday with Kobe & Co. And while Shaw may not have gotten the Kings job, he did receive a Christmas card from Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie during the holidays. Petrie, who was said to be a huge fan of Shaw's during the interview process, apparently remains so.
"I felt pretty good about the way I interviewed and the way I was received," Shaw told me in Los Angeles on Monday. "I think (his not getting the job) was more the Maloofs and their relationship with Reggie Theus. He played for the Kings, has a connection to Las Vegas and theyíre in Vegas. He was at New Mexico State; their business started in New Mexico. So you know, it was a valuable experience. Iím happy for Reggie. I think he did a good job this year."
The 42-year-old Shaw, meanwhile, went back to waiting his turn in the head coaching line while holding one of the most coveted assistant jobs in the league.
"Had it worked out, it wouldíve been great," he said. "I wouldíve been one of those young guys who was gaining experience on a game by game basis.
"At the same time, when it didnít work out, I come back here and Iím still learning from one of the best in Phil Jackson and all the experience we have on our staff Ė (assistants) Frank Hamblen, Jim Cleamons, Tex Winter, Kurt Rambis Ė all guys who have won championships as players or multiple championships as coaches." - Sam Amick

April 19, 2008
Jim Crandell restores the sanity

Per Friday's radio saga, I'll be going on with Fox 40's Jim Crandell at 11:20 a.m. to discuss the matter on 1140 AM. Crandell, as always, will bring a welcome dose of level-headedness and anti-spin that I just couldn't seem to find on the airwaves yesterday afternoon. There's an added bonus, too. Crandell actually listened to the entire post-mortem media session on Wednesday where this all began. In person! Tune in... - Sam Amick

April 18, 2008
LOL

So Kevin Martin read the paper on Thursday, and this was his reaction as printed in Friday's editions.
"I cleared my mind, and I just laughed," Martin said by phone.
Hmmm. I know the feeling.
That was me after hearing today's local sports radio show in the afternoon in which the local pro basketball coach went along with the red-headed host who claimed this beat writer had taken him out of context in this story that led to this story.
As cliche' approaches to attacking print media folks go, that's a good one when said interview can only be found on the paper that refuses no ink. But apparently said radio host who did not attend this media session didn't notice that the interview in its entirety has been available online for two days now. So for those like him who missed it, we present - once again - 28 minutes of raw and uncut context...

- Sam Amick

April 18, 2008
Martin fires back; Grades are in

A few quick notes to provide context to today's continuing end-of-season coverage...

* In regards to Kevin Martin's reaction to his coach's comments on Wednesday, let it be known that there was no searching for a story taking place. It's always easy for fans to assume we're all a bunch of muckrakers, but there was no "mucking it up," as Theus likes to say, in this case.
Also, after a text message led to a phone call, Martin was adamant that this had nothing to do with Theus' assessment of Ron Artest as the team's best player.
"It's not even about being the best player," Martin said. "That's not even it. Some people will say me, some will say him because that's how it is, but that's not it."
As a footnote, Martin's list of player comparisons to himself was shorter than Theus' in relation to Artest. While the coach invoked the names of Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan in terms of Artest being the closest the Kings have to that type of guy, Martin called himself a "two guard who can score in many ways like a D-Wade (Miami's Dwyane Wade), like a Tracy (McGrady)," and who "takes the (other) team's best defender every night when they're trying to stop you."

* Tom Ziller of Sactownroyalty dug up quite a little nugget regarding Martin's ability to draw fouls as a slasher and hit the long bomb. I had the Elias Sports Bureau verify it for accuracy, just to be extra sure...

This season, Kevin Martin got 9.5 FTAs per game (#5 in the league). He also took 4.4 3PAs per game, and scored on 40.2% of those. That's good diversity. (<-- Understatement.)

How many players have ever averaged at least 9 FTAs per game and shot at least 40% from three (taking at least 1 three per game)? One. Kevin Martin, this season.

How many players have ever averaged at least 8 FTAs per game and shot at least 40% from three (taking at least 1 three per game)? Two. Kevin Martin and Michael Jordan.

And as it turns out, Bee research shows the stat goes a bit further. Forget about free throws attempted: This season, Martin became the first player in NBA history to make at least eight free throws per game while shooting at least 40 percent from three-point range.

* Lastly, any claims that I went soft on the report card will be met with an admission that my standards were drastically lower this season and the marks reflected that. From the front office on down, they were all the benefactors of the downgraded expectations. Let us not forget, it has very quickly gone from a climate in which the fans yearned for the playoffs to a reality in which simply playing hard every night seemed to be enough. - Sam Amick

April 17, 2008
Awards ballot revealed

My picks are in. Feel free to pick 'em apart in the comments section...

Most Valuable Player

1. Kobe Bryant, Lakers
2. Chris Paul, New Orleans
3. Kevin Garnett, Boston
4. LeBron James, Cleveland
5. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio

Explanation: Bryant made it easy by winning the West, because Paul's season was nothing short of tremendous and the Hornets' season was even more special because no one saw it coming.
But after years of being considered the best player on the planet by almost all of his peers, Bryant finally gets the nod because he won. He was his sensational self on both ends almost from beginning to end, continuing to dominate while working wonderfully with Pau Gasol after the trade and focusing heavily on helping the role players with their roles. And when the award was in the balance, the Lakers were winning eight of nine down the stretch (including Bryant outplaying Paul on April 11) while the Hornets lost four of their last six. In truth, New Orleans lost the West and Paul the MVP at Arco Arena last Saturday, when Paul followed his faceoff with the Lakers with an inexcusable loss and a 4 of 13 shooting night against the Kings. I had this going to LeBron at the halfway point, but there just isn't enough number-crunching in this stat-driven world that can convince me fourth place in the East deserves the brass.

Rookie of the Year

1. Kevin Durant, Seattle
2. Al Horford, Atlanta
3. Luis Scola, Houston

Explanation: Durant nearly blew the award when he continued to get more and more unconscious with his shot selection, but he had a strong second half while showing an unreal ability to score at the next level upon arrival.

Coach of the Year

1. Rick Adelman, Houston
2. Byron Scott, New Orleans
3. Phil Jackson, Lakers

Explanation: A trusted former NBA coach told me the Rockets' talent beyond the two superstars was perhaps the worst among the Western Conference playoff teams, and there they were finishing two games away from the Western Conference crown. They not only reeled off a 22-game winning streak was second longest all time, they won 10 of those games without Yao Ming after his season-ending injury while finishing 19-7 without him overall.

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Kevin Garnett, Boston
2. Shane Battier, Houston
3. Marcus Camby, Denver

Explanation: With the way Bryant and Paul were putting up MVP-type campaigns, I could never buy into the logic of KG taking home that trophy. But since it was his defensive presence that sparked the league's biggest turnaround in history and had the Celtics as the second-best defense in the league, this is a no-brainer in my book. Garnett changed the culture in Boston and was a spiritual leader in every way.

All-NBA First team

F LeBron James
F Kevin Garnett
C Dwight Howard
G Chris Paul
G Kobe Bryant

All-NBA Second team

F Carlos Boozer
F Dirk Nowitzki
C Amare Stoudemire
G Manu Ginobili
G Deron Williams

All-NBA Third team

F Carmelo Anthony
F Paul Pierce
C Tim Duncan
G Tracy McGrady
G Steve Nash.

Explanation: In a round-a-bout way, insisting that Anthony was given a spot meant moving Duncan to atypical third-team territory. Which was just fine by me, considering the Spurs are hardly looking like the belle of this ball and Duncan wasn't nearly as dominant as in the past and he struggled often in recent weeks.

Sixth Man of the Year

1. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio
2. Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix
3. J.R. Smith , Denver

Explanation: Ginobili wins this one going away, Barbosa is an obvious second and Smith is one of the main reasons the Nuggets played well late and grabbed the eighth seed in the West.

Most Improved Player

1. Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando
2. Mike Dunleavy, Indiana
3. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland

Explanation: The league ballot says this award should go to an up-and-comer, but the guideline seems more directed toward ensuring the title doesn't go to a 'Comeback Player of the Year' type than it does keeping a Turkoglu-type from winning it. Eight seasons in, the former Kings draft pick had the ball in his hands like never before (thank you, Stan Van Gundy) and was the benefactor of playing alongside Howard and Rashard Lewis. Still, he set career highs in scoring (19.5 points per game - 6.2 points-per-game increase from last season), field goal percentage (45.6), rebounds per game (5.7), and assists per game (five) for a team that finished 52-30.

April 16, 2008
Theus speaks on season (audio file)

Courtesy of our online gurus from today's post-mortem media session at the Kings practice facility, we bring you Kings coach Reggie Theus. The raw audio file is approximately 28 minutes (Hit play button). We should have a video segment soon as well...

-Sam Amick

April 16, 2008
The end is here, with some reason for cheer

Last night established two truths in my mind: Kobe Bryant is the MVP, and the Kings deserve plenty of kudos.
I went digging through the old blog archive (on the right side of the page if you ever want to look back) to pull out this tidbit from an Oct. 13 post...

* CBSSports.com's Tony Mejia has the Kings winning 26 games this season, while ESPN's John Hollinger sets the mark at 27 (Insider only article). All of which proves (Kings coach Reggie) Theus has a very real chance to overachieve here.

And that was with the presumption of relative health, or at least something short of the ailments that led to 17 starting lineups. That was before Mike Bibby was gone, before Theus would be asked to coach 21 players by the time it was all over. To be truthful, though, I thought the predictions like those above were insane all along.
If they had stayed healthy, I actually saw this team sneaking into the playoffs. The reason was pretty simple: too many guys with plenty to play for. Brad Miller needed to rebound from his disastrous season, Ron Artest needed to continue repairing his reputation on and off the floor, Kevin Martin needed to show he was worth his huge extension, Mikki Moore needed to show he wasn't an overpaid pickup, and Bibby needed to remind the league that he could play as he approached free agency. And after they spent so much of the 2006-07 season trying to accomplish individual goals and losing sight of the team objective, it seemed reasonable to think they would try the collective approach this time around.
It didn't work out quite like that, but this was some other version of success. In any normal season, the Kings would have been in playoff contention almost until the end. Remember this from a Feb. 4 post? The last 15 No. 8 seeds in the West...

2006-07: Golden State, 42-40
2005-06: Kings, 44-38
2004-05: Memphis, 45-37
2003-04: Denver, 43-39
2002-03: Phoenix, 44-38
2001-02: Utah, 44-38
2000-01: Minnesota, 47-35
1999-00: Kings, 44-38
1998-99: Seattle, 25-25
1997-98: Houston 41-41
1996-97: Clippers, 36-46 (three teams under .500 made it)
1995-96: Kings, 39-43
1994-95: Denver, 41-41
1993-94: Denver, 42-40
1992-93: Lakers, 39-43

What's more, the most hopeful of fans could easily fall back on the argument of how things could have been different if a few of the 'should have won' games went the other way. In all, they had 12 losses to sub .500 teams - with seven of those coming against the lowly Clippers (three times), Memphis (twice), and Minnesota (twice).

VOTING BALLOT UP NEXT

I'll be back tomorrow to reveal my awards voting ballot that is due to the league on Thursday, so head back for that. - Sam Amick

April 14, 2008
Super Kobe

LOS ANGELES - Of course he could have done it.
Kobe Bryant can do almost anything he puts his mind to when it comes to physical feats, but the notion that he would actually jump over a speeding Aston Martin just to grow Nike's brand is about as believable as the idea that Barack Obama is a good bowler. Nonetheless, it's a great spot that fooled millions of fans.
At Lakers practice today, my local sources confirmed that the commercial was fake. The jump is real, having taken place on the rooftop of the Los Angeles athletic club. But the car wasn't even on site, to be added later by way of computer mumbo jumbo. No, Kobe has way to much to lose by messing around with car hopping, from the MVP he's about to win to the West crown that is only one game away and a possible return to the top of the league. Such a stunt would be insane in every way...

- Sam Amick

April 13, 2008
Greetings from Laker Land

LOS ANGELES - As the Kings showed last night, the Western Conference championship apparently goes through them.
They downed the first-place Hornets and host third-place San Antonio on Monday only to finish the regular season on Tuesday against the same Lakers who are tied with the Hornets. Win out, and the Kings just might be considered the most legendary spoilers of all-time.
All of which is why I made the trip to LA-LA land today for the Lakers-Spurs affair that is equally as relevant to the Western Conference race. Tipoff is minutes away, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson wanted to send his thanks to the Kings for their efforts last night. Actually, he's planning on sending something different.
Before the game, LA Times Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan asked Jackson if he called "Reggie" - as in Kings coach Reggie Theus - to show his appreciation.
"Reggie?" Jackson asked confused.
"Theus," Bresnahan answered.
"Oh, no," Jackson replied. "Ron Artest is the one everybody is going to send a birthday cake to. But (Artest) may come down here on Tuesday night and kick our butt anyway, so it might not matter."

* In other Western Conference race news, Denver has another must-win tonight at home against Houston in their fight for the eighth spot. Even if the Nuggets don't make it, I don't think firing George Karl is the answer.
The Warriors, who are tied with the Nuggets but don't have the tiebreaker, are desperately hoping for a Denver loss. Warriors guard Kelenna Azubuike, specifically, is calling on old college buddies for help. - Sam Amick

April 12, 2008
Injury update vs. New Orleans

BLOG UPDATE: (1:19 p.m.)According to the Kings PR department, Martin is officially out for tonight's game.

Kevin Martin left last night's game against Portland in the third quarter with a strained right knee and did not return, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he doesn't play tonight against New Orleans.
The knee has been bothering him for some time, and this may become one of those perfect opportunities to let him rest and make room for the likes of Quincy Douby to get more playing time than he's seen all season. The Hornets need a win after last night's loss to the Lakers to stay alone atop the Western Conference standings, meaning Douby and the other youngsters who will see time had better be ready. Ron Artest is, as has been the case for some time now, a gametime decision. The Kings small forward has sent mixed messages through various media outlets recently, from a radio statement before he missed last night's game that he would play every game until to the end to telling myself that he would likely play the home games to indicating to others that he's done for the season.

BANDING TOGETHER

In regards to the headband movement last night at Arco Arena, the idea began with Martin.
Apparently he thought it would be a fun way to unify the bunch at this late season juncture when motivation can be hard to come by, all while serving as a sign of respect for Kings center Brad Miller and the season he had that has ended. Now granted, Miller hasn't worn the headbands for a while now, but the concept still works. Unless, of course, you're Beno Udrih.
The Kings point guard took all sorts of grief afterward for not wearing the headband, and he blamed it on the fact that he has too much hair and it would just look goofy. The excuse didn't fly, as his teammates were on him about it until he left the arena. - Sam Amick

April 11, 2008
Miller honored by teammates

For those of you wondering what's with the white headbands, the Kings are wearing them in honor of Brad Miller.
The Kings center's season is over due to a bone chip in his right elbow that he had successfully removed today, and he is also suffering from a stress fracture in the left fibula head of his leg. - Sam Amick

April 11, 2008
Weekly Web Watch (E-Muss' blog, Team Dime and more...)

Tipoff isn't too far away and I"m on the run, but there are a few quality nuggets to share here...

E-MUSS BLOGS? INDEED

Our own Ailene Voisin found Eric Musselman's blog a while back but asked that I refrain from revealing it so she could turn it into a story. Alas, the hard-working blogosphere folks dug it up this week and the secret is out.
But man, what a priceless find. Organized or OCD? Impressive or insane? Well-done or just a little too wacky? You decide.
One thing I can relate to is this: When you have a blog people tend to have some natural apprehension about winding up as blog fodder, as I can't tell you how many times people these days throw out qualifiers like, "Now I don't want to see this on the blog, but..." That being said, I'd be afraid to have lunch with Musselman lest the whole world know. What's more, a little birdie tells me that Musselman's blog actually hurt his chances at getting the USF job that remains open.

THE DYNAMICS OF HOOPS ENTOURAGES

The Wall Street Journal did a great piece on the Economics of Entourages. The piece includes some great stuff from the Kings' own Ron Artest and former Kings point guard Mike Bibby, whose "Team Dime" group is no stranger to Sacramento.

CANDACE PARKER'S BIGGEST FAN

Watch this clip of Tennessee-star/newest No. 1 draft pick of the WNBA Candace Parker being selected by the Los Angeles Storm on Wednesday, and look for the recognizable face...Clip here.

That's right. None other than Kings forward Shelden Williams, who has been dating Parker for some time now. Williams made the trip to Tampa, Fla. for the event after pitching in eight points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes at Golden State on Tuesday night.

SPENCER HAWES JOINS THE 'PEACHES' MOVEMENT

The backstory is at the bottom of this blog post as well as this one, and the latest development is this...

None other than Spencer Hawes was seen at this morning's shoot-a-round donning one of the Grant "Peaches" Napear t-shirts that the Kings media man wishes would just go away. Not sure if that's in accordance with the league's dress code, but it got a laugh out of a few Kings folks nonetheless.

MP the MVP...for a night

Golden State's Mickael Pietrus had quite a return from injury to face the Kings on Tuesday night, providing a late spark with the sort of athleticism that he wishes he could use elsewhere.
In terms of back-to-back blocks, you won't see many as good as these (tip courtesy of Odenized.com)...

On Shelden Williams with 9:18 left in the fourth...

On Kevin Martin with 7:47 left...

AN ADDITION TO THE BEE BLOGOSPHERE

Bee columist Ailene Voisin has joined the blogging family, and her musings can be found here. - Sam Amick

April 10, 2008
Well done, Brad. Well done...

Brad

When I think back to Brad Miller in the 2007-08 campaign that has ended for the Kings center, my synapses will fire off this memory (and, no, not the one from above that started the season on a hair-raising note)...

I have to admit - and this is no exaggeration - that I never thought we would see that again. After his 2006-07 season, the last thing I saw coming was a resurgence that included high-flying Youtube clips of the big man who had been grounded for so long. This particular highlight was followed by the best soundbite of the year that never hit the paper.
After Miller celebrated this dunk with a crotch-area gesture a la Sam Cassell , Ron Artest said, "Sometimes in life you've just got to do that. When you're doing something you may never do again, you've just got to grab your crotch."

As we would later learn, though, that would not be the last time. After Miller spent the offseason rededicating himself to the game and being inspired by fatherhood, he was new and improved in every way. Not only did Miller re-introduce the attack-mode to his offensive game, he hit the boards so hard he wound up ranked 14th in the league on the glass (9.4 per game). The rebounding efforts - and the health - weren't there last season, when former coach Eric Musselman would have killed to have this year's version of Miller.
Don't believe me? Check out E-Muss' Wikipedia file, which I'm convinced was written by the man himself considering the nature of all the super-positive news links. There's a line in there that says "not a single Kings player ranked in the top 50 in rebounding or blocked shots (last season)." And while that's not entirely accurate (Artest was 36th in the league in rebounds, leading the Kings with 6.5 per game), the point is well taken.
Miller improved his defensive presence as well, although it peetered at the end when the bumps and bruises caught up with him. In all, he was a far better version of himself than anyone expected. And considering he's still on the books until 2010, it's a success story for Miller and the Kings.
Take a moment to compare, and appreciate, the before and after...

06-07
Games (63)
Minutes (28.3)
Field-goals attempted/made (3.6-7.8 per game); Field-goal percentage (.453)
Threes attempted/made (0.1-0.5); Three-point % (.152)
Free throws attempted/made (1.8-2.4); Free-throw % (.772)
Blocks per game (0.6)
Rebounds per game (6.4)
Assists per game (3.6)
Points per game (9.0).

07-08
Games (72)
Minutes (34.9)
Field-goals attempted/made (4.7-10.1); Field-goal percentage (.463)
Threes attempted/made (0.4-1.3); Three-point % (.311)
Free throws attempted/made (3.6-4.3); Free-throw % (.848)
Blocks per game (1.0)
Rebounds per game (9.4)
Assists per game (3.7)
Points per game (13.4)

Well done, Brad. Well done... - Sam Amick

April 10, 2008
Beno talks Ron and karma

Four games to go, and the courting continues.
Beno Udrih, future Sacramento Kings point guard? We won't know until July, but everything that takes place from now until that point could come into play in the decision-making process on both sides. Part of the equation will certainly be how Udrih thinks he's perceived by the Kings, and that's where today's story comes in. Udrih's reaction to the doubt he was sensing from within - whether real or perceived - came after he was defending Ron Artest on a similar matter.
The Kings small forward, of course, was roasted on the radio on Tuesday afternoon when he decided not to play against Golden State because of his sprained left thumb. Udrih didn't think that was fair, nor did he think it was right if anyone with the team was questioning him.
ďHe's fighting for every ball," Udrih said of Artest, "he really puts a lot of emotion in the game. I admire that about Ron. If heís hurt, heís hurt. He does a lot of good stuff for us - defense, drawing double teams.
ďWeíre a team, we have to support each other. You cannot prove a player doesnít feel pain. And if they donít (support you)...I think itís going to come back to you. Somehow, somewhere, some way, itís going to come back around and get you somewhere else. Maybe not in basketball, but .... karma. Bad karma. But I do believe Ron. Heís hurting, heís hurting.Ē - Sam Amick


April 8, 2008
Injury update: Artest to sit vs. Warriors

Not only will the Kings be without center Brad Miller tonight, they will also face the Warriors without starting small forward Ron Artest (sprained left thumb). -- Sam Amick

April 8, 2008
Miller to miss rest of season

Kings center Brad Miller will miss the remainder of the season, the team has announced.
The lower leg strain he's been citing as the reason for his absence in the last two games is apparently more serious, as Miller is suffering from a stress fracture in the left fibular head as well as a bone chip in his right elbow. The news obviously means the Spencer Hawes show will reach new heights, as the rookie center will start in Miller's place. Thus, Miller's impressive season comes to an end. After playing just 63 games last season due to a foot injury and having his worst season in years, Miller recovered to average 13.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 72 games this season while shooting 46.3 percent overall. - Sam Amick

April 8, 2008
Injury update vs. Golden State

Maybe the Kings will be helping the Warriors out after all...
They will be without center Brad Miller tonight, as he will be missing his third straight game with a lower leg strain. Small forward Ron Artest (sprained left thumb) remains a gametime decision and is said to be 50-50. There is some good news for Kings fans, though, as point guard Beno Udrih is keeping his word and finally returning after missing 10 of the last 11 games with a lower back strain. - Sam Amick

April 7, 2008
The lost Kings notes (and grading Reggie Theus)

Per our occasional online hiccups, today's Kings notes weren't put on the web site until minutes ago. They hit on everything from Reggie Theus' never-ending quest for .500 to his response to a Woody Paige column in the Denver Post and more Mikki Moore.
Also, be sure and cast your vote in our "Grading Reggie Theus" poll on the home sports page before the polling stations close. Thus far, he's a solid B student.- Sam Amick

April 7, 2008
Mikki Moore commercial, Part II (And injury update)

If you haven't been a loyal Kings blog reader and read about Mikki Moore superfan Mark Seier, then do your homework here first.
In that context, the NBA commercial featuring Moore that was released on Sunday essentially captured why Seier is such a huge Moore fan. What's more, the Davenport, Iowa native was good enough to explain his inspiration in a follow-up e-mail he agreed to share about his experience in Memphis with Moore. For the quick Cliff Notes, he had made a drawing of Moore that he gave the Kings player at the Grizzlies game (and was suprised to receive Moore's shoes in return), but lamented the fact that he didn't sign his own artwork.
If anyone's wondering why I'm going on and on about this, it's because I applaud the NBA for making an unorthodox pick for one of their commercials and think they served their fans well by doing so. Considering so many fans are turned off by the attitudes, sense of entitlement, and perceived lack of appreciation for making ungodly amounts of money that's prevalent among so many players in the league, it's a brilliant move to highlight a guy who represents something entirely different. Seier explains...

"When I didn't sign my poster, because I wasn't counting on trading it, I felt kind of down because Mikki wouldn't even know who made it, let alone know why I even did it, which I never told you yet.
"Mikki has a unique story, in which he passed up half a million dollars to play in the D league just to become a better player (which I'm certain you already knew). He's a player that I hope to tell my kids about one day; a "blue collar" player, who most certainly paid his dues. Any fan of the game can appreciate that. That is just ONE of the reasons why I made the drawing over anyone else on the team. Again, Thanks Sam. I certainly appreciate it!

Sincerely,
Mark Seier

p.s. Go Kings!

INJURY REPORT FOR TUESDAY AT GOLDEN STATE

Center Brad Miller (lower leg strain, questionable)

My take: Brad is probably in that state of could-play-if-they-were-in-the-playoffs condition, but he may also be loving watching Spencer Hawes get some serious time. That being said, the Kings don't want to help their NorCal rival into the playoffs for a second straight year.
Best guess: he plays.

Point guard Beno Udrih (lower back strain, questionable)

My take: Beno told me himself that he was eyeing this game as a return, and I've heard nothing different since.
Best guess: he plays.

Swingman Francisco Garcia (turned ankle, not officially on the team's injury report)

My take: As Kings coach Reggie Theus always says, Garcia has 'cajones' like no other on this team, meaning...
Best guess: He'll play. - Sam Amick

April 6, 2008
Mikki Moore commercial

Mikiki Moore just hit a layup to put the Kings up 7-6 over the Lakers.
The NBA, where early leads happen.
OK, so that was a weak attempt, but here's a much better one. Here's the NBA commercial on the Kings forward I teased to last night.

Barry Bonds appears to be a fan of Mikki's, as the slugger who's sitting with Joe and Gavin Maloof courtside just bust up laughing when Moore followed his putback by jumping his way down the floor.
He was just introduced at the 5:34 mark in the first quarter, with the cheers and boos split until Bonds stood up and blew kisses and everyone forgot that he's' a cheater. - Sam Amick

April 6, 2008
The Lake-show comes to town

The Kings can take this spoiler role to new heights in the next few days, adding a California chapter to the movement with a win tonight over the Lakers and Tuesday over Golden State.
If they don't beat the Warriors, it may become the second straight season the Kings had helped their NorCal rival into the playoffs. This version, though, would be even more aggregious with the combination of upsetting Denver on Saturday and losing to the Warriors (although considering the Hornets just went up 59-51 over Golden State in New Orleans at halftime, none of this may matter for Nellie's crew).
As for tonight, there's plenty to pay attention to, so here's a few footnotes before the Arco Arena action - which will be the Kings' third sellout this season - starts at 6 p.m...

* It's 1-1 between Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest, who didn't play because of a sprained thumb on Saturday but would have to be missing the thumb altogether to not face the Lakers.
Relive the collar-popping controversy in this post from the last matchup.

* Sasha Vujacic doesn't have Mike Bibby to pester anymore in these matchups, but the Lakers guard was fuming after the Kings win at Staples on March 9 for a myriad of reasons and was already talking in terms of revenge in the rematch.

* Plane's leaving now, so one more item here just might mean I don't even make it to the game... - Sam Amick

April 6, 2008
Nuggets from the win over the Nuggets

DENVER - A media member was waiting for Kings coach Reggie Theus to come talk about his team's upset when he couldn't help but comment on the hooting and hollering you could still hear inside the visitor's locker room.
"It's like they won the title in there," he said.
He was right.
The Kings were certainly celebrating after their win, effusing praise for each other and continuing to enjoy playing the spoiler. A few final thoughts beyond the game story on this one...

* Kings coach Reggie Theus couldn't sing enough praises for Kevin Martin, specifically noting how aggressive the shooting guard was all night long. Martin getting to the line was nothing new (13 of 13), but he was drawing fouls while trying to finish every time too. It's a key distinction, as Martin has plenty of nights when he relies on getting the call and doesn't always try to finish.
And, of course, his 36 points came after he missed the morning shoot-a-round because of a headache and nausea.
"I felt bad when I woke up this morning," he said. "When I got (to the game), I still didn't feel good, but it's the time of year when you just have to fight through things. Everybody is not going to be out there every night, so I just went out there and played for the team."

* For a night, Francisco Garcia disproved Theus' theory that his swingman can't be nearly as effective when he plays the point.
He ran the offense well all night, with Theus noting how he handled the smaller, quicker Allen Iverson with no problems at all, and still managed to score 29 points and dish out six assists.

* I now know what it feels like to have some 19,000 people in shock at once. That was the vibe in the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets hadn't lost since Feb. 25 en route to a 31-7 home record coming in.
From what I was told, the Nuggets locker room was a ghost town afterward, with Iverson doing his standard press conference but the other players bolting quickly.

* The infamous Linas Kleiza showed why Geoff Petrie was so high on him leading up to the February trade deadline, scoring 28 points while starting for the suspended Kenyon Martin.

* As an addendum to the Grant Napear item from below, there was a backstory on why he said he asked Ziller to stop selling the shirts.
In general terms, Napear said he had dealt with a similar situation years ago, with someone making shirts that had all of his most well-known catch phrases and promising to donate the proceeds to charity.
Napear was fine with the idea until the money never found its way to the charity, at which point the organization came his way with the assumption that he had been part of the project. The experience was, as Napear said, "embarrassing," and nothing he wanted to go through again.

MIKKI MOORE FEATURED IN NBA COMMERCIAL

Kings forward Mikki Moore told me this evening that he is being featured in an NBA - "Where Amazing Happens" - commercial during Sunday's ABC telecast of the Phoenix-Dallas game.
I've got to imagine the spot focuses on the arduous path Moore took to get where he is, from playing overseas to the D-League to even giving up $500,000 once so his NBA team (I believe the Jazz) would cut him and let him get his game right in the minors.
Tipoff at 12:30 Pacific, so keep an eye out for that. As a frame of reference in case you haven't seen this attention-grabbing series of spots, here's an example...

- Sam Amick

April 5, 2008
Pre-game injury update

DENVER - Kings shooting guard Kevin Martin will play tonight against Denver despite battling an illness.
Center Brad Miller (lower leg strain) and small forward Ron Artest (sprained left thumb) will not play, however. The Kings will start Anthony Johnson at the point, Martin at the two, John Salmons at the three, Mikki Moore at the four and Spencer Hawes at the five. - Sam Amick

April 5, 2008
Three Kings starters possibly out tonight

DENVER - Shooting guard Kevin Martin, small forward Ron Artest and center Brad Miller may all sit tonight against Denver for the Kings.
Martin is sick, Artest has a sprained left thumb and Miller has a lower leg strain. Miller said his injury took place on the dunk he missed against the Clippers on Thursday, while Artest said his thumb may have been hit during that game as well. Artest said he is having X-Rays done today. Point guard Beno Udrih remains out with a lower back strain as well, and is looking to return against Golden State on Tuesday.
On the flip side, the Nuggets are without Kenyon Martin and coach George Karl isn't happy about it. Interestingly, Karl brought this story (the previous link) up in this morning's post-shootaround session. He admitted his frustration but thought the virtual Karl vs. the NBA sort of headline didn't reflect his comments. Without having been there, I'd say that's a tough argument based on his words alone. He was pretty strong in his stance. And really, there's nothing wrong with him saying what he did.

NAPEAR DOES Q&A WITH BLOGGER

The Sactownroyalty saga involving Grant Napear appears to have reached an end, but not before the Kings' media man did a Q&A with the man he threatened to sue.
BLOG UPDATE: I misspoke a bit here, as Napear did not threaten to sue Ziller. Technically speaking, he told the web site operator in an e-mail that his lawyer would be in touch with him if he didn't cease the sales of the t-shirts that carried Napear's likeness. - Sam Amick

April 5, 2008
Artest says Denver didn't have a chance

DENVER - There was a Ron Artest quote missing from today's Kings notes, and it was an interesting one.
In an e-mail in which he hit on the trade talks that nearly landed him in Denver before the Feb. 21 deadline, he said he didn't believe he would've gone to the Nuggets even if small forward Linas Kleiza was included in the deal.
"They never had a chance," Artest wrote. "I think Kleiza wasn't enough."
He could be right. In the week leading up to the deadline, Artest was playing his best basketball of the season and I remember asking a Kings official if Kleiza might not have been enough anymore to do that deal. I received a shrug in return, followed by an "I don't know."

* Ailene Voisin has a lengthy and intriguing Q&A with Kings coach Reggie Theus today if you haven't seen it already.

* Scott Howard-Cooper looks at the historic Western Conference playoff race.

* Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News caught up with Artest regarding the Nuggets trade talks as well. He had a few different thoughts from the Kings small forward.

* On a non-Kings related note, the latest celebrity sighting on the road was our own Urijah Faber.

Urijah.jpg

The UC Davis product and WEC fighter was leaving the Sacramento airport on Friday and headed for Las Vegas with a couple of other brawlers. As our own Blair Anthony Robertson wrote today, Faber will be home soon enough to defend his featherweight crown at Arco Arena. - Sam Amick

April 4, 2008
Weekly Web Watch (The Superfan edition)

Let's get right to it, with a small sampling of the funny and phenomenal from around the association this week...

MIKKI LIKES THEM, AND THEY LIKE MIKKI

It never gets old hearing from hoops fans who simply love their teams, and it's even better when you come across people who take it to the next level of fanhood. A few months ago, it was Drew Cieszynski sharing his tour of all the NBA arenas. Then a few a weeks ago, I met another superfan in Mark Seier.
He and his girlfriend were at the Kings game in Memphis on March 26, and I noticed Mark wearing a Ron Artest jersey. I said hello mainly out of sympathy, as Artest wasn't going to play that night and I wondered how far this poor couple had come to see the player who wouldn't be suiting up. As it turns out, they'd made the 550-mile trek from Davenport, Iowa. It was worth it, though, as they went home more than happy.
Seier, you see, is quite the artist, and he had drawn a sketch of Mikki Moore. Sure enough, Moore - who is as good with fans as any player I've seen in the league - stopped to chat with Mark and was floored by the drawing. Next thing you know, Moore's going home with the drawing. He didn't want to be the selfish sort, though, so he gave Seier a pair of autographed shoes. And it doesn't stop there.
Moore told me last night that he's thinking about having Seier come to his brother's house in South Carolina to paint murals in his studio. Make no mistake folks, this stuff doesn't happen all that often.
"I'm just a normal guy man," Moore said. "I keep trying to tell you guys. Just because I make millions of dollars doesn't mean I'm not a normal guy."
Anyhow, this relates to Web-Watch, in the technical sense, because Seier e-mailed me pics of the materials exchanged. Here they are...

Fan4.jpg

Fan2.jpg

Fan3.jpg

* Not that Mikki is the only big man in the league who slows down to mingle with the fans. Heck, Shaquille O'Neal hitched a ride to his car with some Phoenix fans recently. Check it out here.

* And not that we didn't already know that Mikki is a different dude in many ways, from his way with the fans to his penchant for reptiles...

* And speaking of snakes, KingsTV's Angela Tsai had a feature on Reggie Theus speeches that somehow became its own reptilian discussion. As a tip for you YouTube nation citizens, do a search for Tsai's name on the site if you're ever starving for Kings video content.

* Last but not least but certainly not relating to Web Watch in any way, Reggie Theus had the line of the year last night while arguing on Mikki Moore's behalf. After his forward seemed to have taken a charge but was whistled for the block, Theus shook his head at official Kevin Fehr and said, "Kevin, that's the only time Mikki has been right all year."

GRANT NAPEAR ENTERS THE BLOGOSPHERE

The old adage about how any kind of press is good press has some truth to it, so Grant Napear should be flattered that some of the Kings' most well-known fans gathered to celebrate his infamy.
This is a new kind of press in the online world, where Tom Ziller of Sactownroyalty started a hilarious movement in Grant's name by making a t-shirt with his mug and the nickname I hadn't heard until this of 'Peaches.' One of the goals for Ziller and his followers was to get their grass roots operation to the big-time, and they did just that at last night's Clippers game when the t-shirt was captured on the telecast (without the nickname, however). See kids, dreams really do come true...

Grant.png

* Speaking of bloggers, the story of Dallas owner Mark Cuban banning bloggers from his team's locker room may have ended a while ago when the league pulled the trump card. Nonetheless, Cuban makes some excellent points in his response to the situation on his personal blog. - Sam Amick

April 4, 2008
Nuggets up next

The season isn't over just yet and neither are the storylines. Especially not with Denver coming up next on Saturday in the Mile High City.
To review, in chronological order...

1) There was the build-up of Ron Artest trade talks between the Nuggets and Kings.
2) There was the deal breaker otherwise known as Linas Kleiza as the trade didn't go down.
3) There was the Nuggets sliding as the decision not to acquire Artest looked nothing short of boneheaded.
4) There was the Nugggets' resurgence that was largely tied to the improved play of forward Kenyon Martin.
5) There was Martin getting suspended for Saturday night's game against the Kings and threatening the Nuggets' playoff lives in this ridiculous Western Conference playoff race.
6) We shall see in a few days...

April 3, 2008
Q&As (without the owner this time)

After Joe Maloof was good enough to answer so many of my questions the other day, maybe I should have him answer reader e-mails one of these days just to mix it up a bit. Until then, here are a few of my takes in what is a long-overdue Q&A session...

Question: What does the hiring of (former Indiana CEO Donnie) Walsh in New York (as the new Knicks team president) do to the chances of (Ron) Artest opting out and going to New York? Ė David, Sacramento

Donnie.bmp Old Ron.jpg

Answer: Iíve wondered that myself (check the bottom of this blog post), but I canít help but think it lessens the chances. Iíve been a believer (with very good reason) in the notion that Artest would like to play there. But just to be sure of my own opinion, I asked someone who knows Walsh very well whether he would rejoin with the player with whom he enjoyed some wonderful years (those top-notch Pacers teams) and some not-so-great times (the 2004 brawl in Detroit). The answer: ďProbably not.Ē From having talked with Walsh about Ron before, I can say that he's among the many people around the league who see Artest as a delightful guy who you want to succeed as a human but who you know will always make things hard on himself and those around him.

Question: Is it me or is (Kings coach Reggie) Theus finally starting to see the value of Martin? It seems to me that he has had a limited offensive game plan in the past and focused exclusively on Artest and to some degree (Francisco) Garcia's three-point shot while calling plays primarily for them.
Is he finally starting to understand how to use Martin and (John) Salmons? This has seemed to be a very real weakness in his game plan. It may be improving for Martin, but I don't think for Salmons. It seems they have to create their own points instead of having plays called for them. Ė Mike, Sacramento

Kevin7

Answer: Ever since the coach and the player started working together, Kevin has been playing phenomenal. Iím not saying anything over the edge, considering he just got done averaging 26.3 points on 47.1 percent shooting overall and 38.2 percent from three-point range for the month of March. He followed that, of course, with Tuesdayís game against Houston in which he scored 27 points on 8 of 14 shooting. Even with the team being out of playoff contention for so long, itís a huge positive for the organization that Martin is finishing strong.
Salmons, meanwhile, is the only Kings player this season who has both helped and hurt his own reputation. The conclusion that league executives will likely draw from his season is this: If weíre going to start him, then heís worth looking at, but not to come off the bench. His inability to produce as a reserve has been perplexing, although his defense is always a much-needed asset no matter how many minutes he plays.

Question: How come Anthony Johnson has not received more playing time? Do you think with this recent win we will see more of him? Ė Julie, Lodi, Calif.

Answer: Julie asked this before Beno Udrih was hurt, but I think the question is still relevant. To me, Johnson may as well be the spokesman for the in-house struggle that has gone on with the Kings this season. While Geoff Petrie and ownership appear to want to see all the young guys and are not consumed with winning, Reggie Theus and his staff have been placing a heavy premium on wanting to win and want to use veterans like Anthony to do so.

Question: Hi Sam, You are doing a great job my friend but something is bothering me. That kid Shelden Williams is a bust. They need to cut him loose and keep (Johnson) from the Hawks. He was great (against Golden State on March 18) with 13 points and 13 assists. Also, is there a chance the Kings could keep Ron Artest next season and maybe get another superstar in free agency like Agent Zero (Washingtonís Gilbert Arenas)? Thanks Ė Ron Woodbridge, Calif.

Gil2.jpg

Answer: There are no cutting ties with Shelden unless they trade him this summer, as he has one year left on his contract. Whatís more, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof made it pretty clear recently that he wants to see what Williams can do. He had a few bright moments against Houston on Tuesday and is still trying to get in game shape. If that game against the Rockets was any indication, though, he needs to work on his hands big-time as he wasted a couple of gimme-buckets by dropping nice passes from his teammates.
As for Agent Zero, the Kings are over the salary cap and will be working with only the midlevel exception (approximately $6 million) and a couple other small exceptions this summer so theyíre out of the running for a guy like Gilbert.

Question: If you were Geoff Petrie, would you definitely re-sign Beno Udrih? And how would you handle the Ron Artest situation in the context of developing the young talent the Kings have right now? Ė Darrell Northam, Woodland, Calif.

Answer: I would re-sign Beno if only because you donít have a plan B and heís a darn good Plan A. That being said, Beno isnít helping his cause at all right now with this prolonged absence. While Iíve spoken with him and heís expressed much frustration over the back strain lingering , the fact is that a player with a reputation for being injury-prone is always going to look at with skepticism. Instead of finishing the season strong and having the Kings campaign for him as a Most Improved Player candidate, heís in danger of leaving the lasting impression Ė to the Kings and all around the league Ė of being banged up.
As for Artest, there are those who think they shouldíve traded him a long time ago if only to delve headfirst into the rebuilding. Iím on the fence, but I do think his presence has played a big part in the Kings qualifying as a team that isnít sure if itís rebuilding or still trying to reload. And as Artest fully knows, his presence has hindered the likes of Francisco Garcia and John Salmons quite a bit.

Question: What are the chances Artest returns next season? Thank you! Ė Derek, Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Answer: For those who didnít see the latest story on that situation, here is where Ronís future stands as he sees it.

Question: With ďplaying for next yearĒ the motto for the finishing weeks, why is A. Johnson playing the point over our younger players? Is that a sign that they have their answers? Ė Phil, Sacramento

Answer: Not at all Phil. I really donít seeing AJ getting signed by the Kings this summer, but his playing time is a reflection of Quincy Doubyís situation. The second-year guard went into summer league last summer with the objective of becoming a point guard. He said he could do it. The front office folks thought it was at least worth a shot. What happened, though, was Douby missed the July session with a back problem and his reputation as a talented scorer who doesnít have a real position was cemented even more. Ė Sam Amick

April 2, 2008
Joe Maloof sounds off (the best of the rest)

In an interview on Sunday afternoon, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof opened up about a variety of Kings topics. And while his thoughts have already been shared regarding the playing time for the team's youngest players , tonight's second return of Rick Adelman, the future of Ron Artest, and even the team's plan to hold training camp in Maui next season, there was much more on his mind. In the interest of full disclosure, this is not a normal Q&A in terms of style. The questions are no longer in chronological order, since some of Joe's comments have already been published. And in some cases, it was more logical to simply provide the reader with the topic at hand instead of the actual question.

Question: Thereís been some buzz from fans on the Internet about you guys possibly having new jerseys next season. Is that true?
Answer: "I donít know if itís for next year. It could be. Either next year or the year after, we get a different design on the away jersey. I think they are coming up this next year. I believe so. It's just some subtle changes, but theyíre really nice.
"It takes two to three years (to petition the league and plan the change). First they have to get the design. You tell them you want to change and the NBA takes back different ideas. They design different jerseys and bring them back to you and you choose the one you like. Itís a two to four year process.
We want to continually update them and keep them fresh and get some new ideas. Geoff (Petrie) and the players usually discuss what kind of cut they want Ė a V-neck or a rounded neck, and all those different cuts with the jersey themselves."

On the importance of playing all of the young players and the role first-year Kings coach Reggie Theus plays...

"Heís got to evaluate his players now. Heís done a good job. Heís a rookie coach. Heís had his ups and down. Heís got to continue to work hard like he does, and try to develop this team for the future. Thatís how I look at it....
"Look how Spence (Hawes) has developed. In my mind, we may have had the steal of the draft. He plays above the rim. Heís always the first guy down the court. Heís not slow. Heís very fast. He has a lot of speed. Heís been terrific."

On the desire to bring in a big man's coach this summer to develop the young big men...

"What Gavin (Maloof) and I want to do and Geoff is to try to bring a big manís coach to help (Hawes) and Shelden (Williams). Weíve got to see what Shelden can do too. Weíve got a lot of hope for Shelden as well. But itís hard for a first-year coach to get a grasp of what he needs to do as far as playing the vets and the young guys. Itís a tough situation for any coach.
"We need some help in the coaching area as far as our big men. We really need that to strengthen that part of our coaching staff. Thatís what I think will be our first priority (in the offseason). When you have a 19-year-old kid who's seven foot and still growing, and youíve got great vets like Brad (Miller) and Mikki (Moore) and a young kid like Shelden. Thereís some talent there, but I think a big manís coach who can really develop those two young players could really help."

On how he views Quincy Douby and the question of what role he could play...

"The way the league is going, a one (point guard) can be a two (shooting guard), a two can be a one. They kind of blend into each other. Not everything is so defined anymore in the NBA. Heís a point guard, heís a two. Look at Ron (Artest) Ė he can play the two, three (small forward), and four (power forward). Kevin (Martin) can play the three or the two. Quincy can play the two or the one.
"You have to be flexible. Your coaching staff has to be flexible. Theyíve got to know that if you donít necessariliy have a point guard, youíve got to work different scenarios to get the young guys in there that you need to look at.
At the end of the season, we'll have to sit back and we have to say to ourselves, ĎWhat was accomplished this year?í And go from thereÖ"

Question: I know the season isn't over just yet, but what - in your eyes - has been accomplished this year?

Answer: "I feel that we can compete with the elite teams because weíve proven that. We can beat the elite teams. I see a lot of promise in that, but I see a lot of disappointment in losing to the bottom 10 teams the way we have. That doesnít make sense to me.
"Thatís the nature of the league, and thatís been the nature of our season is weíve played really well against the great teams Ė and in fact beaten almost all of the elite teams, which Iím very proud of. And then I think the development of Spence Hawes has been a very big bright spot. Heís got a long ways to go. We know that.
"But the promise and the skill. And if he works hard, if he dedicates himself, heís really going to be a terrific player. I donít want to put too much pressure on him, but I just think that if he gets the right big manís coach and they work with him, that he will really develop into something that in the future that is really going to be good for our franchise."

Question: On another note, there was some buzz among Kings fans about an appearance youíd made recently on the Jim Rome show in which you expressed some desire to extend Ron this summer. Was that the case?

Answer: "I think this. I think that of course itís going to be up to Ron whatever he wants to do this summer, whether he opts out or stays with us. But if he continues to play as terrific as heís played this year, itís all up to him. If he plays great this year and decides not to opt out and has another terrific year, then sure weíre going to look at signing him. Sure, absolutely.
"Itís up to him, though, really. Itís up to him. The ballís in his court. If he just continues to do what heís doing now Ė all the guys like him in the locker room, he brings such an intensity to the game. Itís up to him."

Question: How much concern, if any, have you had regarding some of the other situations regarding Ron this season? Heís a little notorious for not letting the coaching staff know until late on game days if he can play or not, and is always keeping it interesting in some way.

Answer: "Well we want him to play every game because thatís how good he is. And when he doesnít play, it hurts because he is so good and we do need his leadership. At the end of the games, heís made some plays this year that are astounding. So, yes, we do want him to play, but if he has something (physically) thatís bothering him and he doesnít feel comfortable, then we understand. We understand that. Itís a long, long season. You get beat up. Itís a tough season and there are going to be players who at times have got some nicks. Itís OK. It doesnít bother us."

Question: Is re-signing Beno Udrih a priority this summer?

Answer: "Weíve got to try to sign Beno. Weíve been good for him and heís definitely been good for our franchise, so thatís a priority. Hopefully Ron will be around and doesnít opt out. Then youíre starting to really get a group of guys that have now been together a little while.
"The good thing about the Mike Bibby trade is that it opened the way for Beno. Mikeís doing terrific in Atlanta, so itís been good for him and itís been good for us because now weíve had an opportunity to look at one of our young players, and heís really come in and stepped up and done the job. Weíve got to try to keep Beno if we can."

Question: As far as Ron goes, would you agree that his situation is almost the same as it was before if he doesn't opt out. As you guys always say, youíll listen to any trade proposal that is out there (next season) that might improve your squad and so Iíve got to assume youíll look at that regarding Ron.

Answer: "Well, you have to look at everything in the NBA. Itís a business. He understands that. All the players understand it. Thatís the toughest part of owning a team. Itís hard to get involved in those things but thatís the way it is. But the guy (who they might get for Artest) has really got to be a good player. He has to be a really great player to trade Artest." - Sam Amick

April 1, 2008
Maloof leftovers coming late tonight

You heard Joe Maloof talk about the young players, and you heard him weigh in about the second return of Rick Adelman. Around midnight this evening, I'll post some of the leftovers from that interview in an online exclusive. Among other things, the Kings co-owner talks about how he views the rookie season of Spencer Hawes, whether he wants to re-sign Beno Udrih this summer and how he looks at the future of Ron Artest. Come back later to check it out, and tell your friends. - Sam Amick



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