Kings Blog and Q&A

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

August 27, 2008
The big man goes elsewhere

If the Kings were still interested in adding a "big man's" coach to Reggie Theus' staff - and it appears that they no longer are - they missed their chance at Jeff Ruland, the former NBA center who subsequently enjoyed a long, successful run as head coach at Iona College. Ruland, who spent last season coaching Albquerque in the NBA Developmental League, was hired by the 76ers a few days ago to replace Henry Bibby.

In the NBA, he was drafted by Golden State in 1980, but spent most of his career with the Washington Bullets. At 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds, he was an excellent shooter and rugged, physical rebounder. But I was always most appreciative of his slick passing. His career ended prematurely because of foot and knee injuries. Those were the days, you might recall, before arthroscopic surgery prolonged careers.

Ruland, 49, initiated contact with the Kings several months ago, but when I spoke with him Wednesday, said he interviewed with the 76ers about a week after hiring agent Warren LeGarie. He credits LeGarie - who represents coaches, players and is particularly connected in the overseas market - with his current opportunity. Plus, it doesn't hurt that he played for the 76ers briefly before retiring in 1993, spent the 1993-94 as one of Freddie Carter's assistants, and remained highly regarded within the organization. Now he gets to work with Elton Brand. Not too shabby.

Later in the day, I called Theus and asked what happened to all the talk about adding a frontcourt specialist to work with Spencer Hawes and rookie Jason Thompson, and from what he said, it sounds like the idea has been tabled. "Whatever they (Geoff Petrie and the Maloofs) want to do is fine with me," said Theus. "I just haven't heard anything about that for a while. But I think they saw Spencer getting better late in the season, so maybe that had something to do with where we're at."

On the hunt

Before training camp opens at the end of September, Theus plans to go dove hunting in New Mexico with his 14-year-old son, Reggie. Think bows and arrows, not shotguns. We keep hearing that Reggie is quite the archer. But he's hoping that his namesake - who already stands 6-foot-4 - is more inclined to develops his basketball skills. "His feet are huge," said Theus, laughing. "I want him to keep playing."

Bobby, Bobby, Bobby ...

Theus is quickly gaining a sense of Bobby Jackson's popularity within the community. Virtually everywhere he goes, people approach and express their excitement about the veteran guard's return. "Bobby Jackson, Bobby Jackson, Bobby Jackson," Theus said. "I say, 'guys, that was eight years ago. He can still play. But that was a long time ago.' The good thing is, I've talked to Bobby, and explained to him how important his presence is going to be in the locker room. It's going to be enormous. It's important to mentor the young guys the right way, and a lot of our success is going to depend on how quickly the young guys develop."

August 27, 2008
A bad day in Oakland

The Warriors just announced that Monta Ellis underwent ankle surgery today to repair a torn ligament, an injury suffered during a workout in his hometown of Jackson, Miss., and is expected to miss "a minimum of three-plus months."

It's the setback that keeps on giving.

Ellis was heading into a huge season -- the replacement for Baron Davis as the starting point guard and the best player on the team, a guy still needing to prove he can play the position, the big-money player in the wake of the six-year, $66-million contract. And now he's out until about December in a best-case scenario, a huge hit for a team with playoff aspirations and for a player on a major upswing.

Worse, Ellis' game is speed. This cuts to the heart of what has made him one of the best young players in the game and what could easily turn him into an unguardable offensive force. He's got a very good mid-range game, but that all starts because teams have to back off. Play Ellis too close and he goes around you and takes flight to the rim.

(I asked Allen Iverson in February if there's a comparison of Ellis and a young Iverson. Iverson is one of the game's all-time small warriors and Ellis isn't close in that regard, but based on style of play: scoring guards who handle the ball, warp speed, little guys who will blast down the lane and take on the bigs. "No," AI said. "I can't jump like Monta. Nowhere near it.")

Maybe Ellis gets all his acceleration back. Players have come back 100 percent from worse. But it's concerning anytime an injury strikes directly at what makes someone so good, and the Ellis of 2007-08 was so good on offense. (So nonexistent on defense.)

August 27, 2008
Hitting the links: Wayman Tisdale, ranking Artest, and more

*The sad news of the moment is that Wayman Tisdale, the popular former King, had a portion of his right leg amputated Monday in a continuing battle with cancer. The good news is that he's apparently still Tisdale, an indomitable spirit seemingly surrounded in joy and deep faith. The warming personality was impossible to miss when I sat down with him for an April feature on pressing forward in the face of adversity. The humorous part of the very serious topic was Tisdale saying that if he could survive Bob Knight in the 1984 Olympics, he could survive this fight: "That's what I think about a lot. I didn't think I could push through that. Had I quit then, I probably would have quit now. But I remember the punishment I put myself through then. C'mon, man. If I can handle that, I can do this." Tisdale has a guest book at his site.

*If USA Basketball had its desired outcome with the Redeem Team in the just completed Olympics, reclaiming its traditional spot atop the medal platform while avoiding the Ugly American rap that had become too common, the journey was particularly valuable for the image of Kobe Bryant. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times chronicles the off-court achievement on the road to victory in Beijing. Notes Plaschke: "The Beijing Olympics may initially be known for Michael Phelps' strength and Usain Bolt's speed, but, among American sports fans, no memory will prove as indelible as Kobe Bryant's redemption."

*Jonathan Feigen, the veteran Rockets beat writer for the Houston Chronicle, puts the Ron Artest trade in perspective against the other major deals in recent franchise history. He ranks that move sixth, with good reason. Most transactions he puts higher either led to a championship or included a future Hall of Famer. The history of blockbusters there is amazing. If Artest has a key role in a deep playoff run, the order can be revised.

August 26, 2008
The sweetest man ...

I just got off the phone with Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie, who like everyone else who was around the NBA in the late 1980s and '90s, was saddened by the death of former Portland Trail Blazers center Kevin Duckworth. According to news reports out of Oregon, the man known as "Duck" died of unknown causes Tuesday at age 44.

A 7-footer who battled weight issues throughout his 11-year-career, Duckworth succumbed while representing the Blazers at a basketball clinic in Lincoln City, Ore. The two-time All-Star is best known for anchoring Rick Adelman's Portland teams that reached the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992. More importantly, he will be remembered as one of the nicest men in the league, and much to the delight of journalists, a genuinely entertaining, thoughtful character. After one particularly subpar playoff performance, for instance, he spent most of an interview session talking about his passion for fishing and his plans to become a "worm" farmer when he retired. Instead, he ran a construction company, owned a restaurant and pursued his love for hunting and fishing.

"He was a gentle giant, a real sweetheart of a guy," recalled Petrie, who joined the Blazers front office shortly into Duckworth's tenure with the club, "and he was a very effective player on a great team. He had a soft touch, a little jump hook, and face-up jumper. In his best years, he could actually run well for a guy his size. Toward the end of his career, he really struggled with his weight. It wasn't something he wasn't aware of, and it doesn't take away from the spirit of the man. It's so sad, such a premature passing."

Duckworth, who averaged 11.8 points and 5.8 rebounds, also played for San Antonio, Washington, Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Clippers. His career undoubtedly was affected by his weight problems; at times, he ballooned close to 400 pounds.

Petrie had not yet spoken to his front office assistant Wayne Cooper, a former Blazers teammate of Duckworth. "Wayne's on vacation in Hawaii," Petrie added, "but I'm sure he heard about it this morning."


Never too old to admit his mistakes

Petrie mentioned that he was impressed with Michelle Obama's speech Monday night at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and then revealed his own personal interest in the upcoming race: It's the Princeton connection, of course. Michelle Obama's brother, Craig Robinson, also played for Petrie's mentor, Pete Carril at the Ivy League school. Robinson is the new head basketball coach at Oregon State.

But what I wanted to know is this: Are the Princeton ties sufficient to bring Carril back into the "Democratic" family? The Kings consultant - now living near his family in New Jersey - voted for George W. Bush in 2000, but later acknowledged his lapse in judgment. Best guess here is that Barack Obama can count on Coachie this time ...

August 26, 2008
Chuck Daly and his Bad Boys


During my conversation on Monday with former Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly - mostly about his 1992 U.S. Olympic team - we chatted about a number of other topics, including the bad rap on his old "Bad Boys" teams. One of the things I found most interesting was his suggestion that the 2008 USA Team would have benefitted from the presence of a Dennis Rodman or Karl Malone-type rebounder. (Spain capitalized on the USA's lack of size with several timely offensive boards and stickbacks). But he had no issues with the gold medal outcome.

Here are a few of the other offerings from Daly, who remains spry at 78. He was speaking on his cell phone while at the airport in Detroit, en route to an appearance at Michael Jordan's annual Fantasy Camp in Las Vegas:
* On the "Bad Boys" reputation: "The league didn't like it much, but that whole image thing sold a lot of tickets. People loved that whole era. They still do. I go through airports today, and people come up to me all the time. They don't know my name - they never know my name - but they know I coached the Bad Boys. I get a kick out of it.
* On why former Pistons center and current Detroit Shock coach Bill Laimbeer can't land an NBA head coaching job: "I think it must be because Billy made a lot of enemies when he was a player. But I tell you what. He is as smart as a whip. Someone is going to get darn lucky in this league. They just have to take a chance. I talked to the Maloofs about him when they were looking for a coach (last year), and they would have talked to him. But Geoff (Petrie) wasn't interested."
* On busting the effective zone defenses played by Spain in the second half of Sunday's gold medal game: "There are two ways to do it. You make shots, or you make second shots. That's why I think they (Americans) could have a guy like Rodman, Malone, Barkley. Those guys would go out and get you the second shots."
* On the 2008 Team USA: "They kind of set the standard high again for the way they played, and the way they handled themselves, with dignity and class. The two people upstairs (USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski) did a great job."

August 26, 2008
Morning cup of Kings

So in these lean times, I've taken to making my own morning Starbucks at home rather than use up my $4-per-gallon gas on the drive over and pay the inflated prices at the brewhouse itself. It was over said cup of coffee that I decided it was time for a quick hit of 'Morning cup of Kings.' Savor and enjoy. And the best part for all of you? It's free.

WE HARDLY KNEW YE, SEAN SINGLETARY

The point guard out of Virginia drafted in the second round by the Kings didn't take long to go from a player the organization allegedly coveted all along to an expendable piece to make the Ron Artest trade work. And now, Singletary is on the move again. He's been traded to Phoenix.

Truth be told, the initial trading of Singletary to Houston - in which his eventual destination was known weeks before it became official on Aug. 14 - killed a feature story I had planned on him. Singletary and I had a pleasant 30-minute interview next to the McDonald's inside the Palms Casino, where he talked on everything from his hoops to family life. He's a fascinating guy who has been through a lot, as both of his parents have been battling cancer for five years.
His hoops life and family struggles intersected on draft night, when his mother was "having a bad day," as Singletary told me then and he wound up heading for his grandmother's home nearby in the Philadelphia area to watch the draft. Of course there was no television there, so he learned of his Kings drafting from a phone call from his agent.
At the time, joining the Kings was a wondrous opportunity considering it was Beno Udrih and Singletary at the point. Then came the subpar summer league performances in the final few games and the subsequent Bobby Brown signing - all of it writing on the wall. He could be in line for some decent minutes behind Steve Nash if all goes well. Good luck to you, Sean. We hardly knew ya.

August 25, 2008
Kevin Martin, Jerry West and the next Team USA

Had a story in the Sunday paper outlining why this has been a great summer for Kevin Martin and his USA Basketball future. That could be for the 2010 world championships in Turkey, the 2012 Olympics in London, both or, in the end, neither, but he's very much in the mix and that in itself is a notable step for a relative unknown in the draft just as the previous Games were played and a guy who hasn't even been an All-Star.

The premise:

*Jerry Colangelo, the Team USA managing director, and Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke coach who ran the current team of pros, were proven right in constructing a roster loaded with perimeter players. That's Martin. Building off the success of Beijing, future teams should be heavy on guards and athletic wings, agile players who can shoot and pass and on defense disrupt the pick-and-roll schemes that ruined the Americans in the past. The international game is not the isolation game of the NBA.

*There will be turnover at guard from this '08 Redeem Team. We may not know for years exactly how much turnover, but it will happen. The aging process heading toward Turkey in 2010 -- party at Hedo's house! -- mandates change in the backcourt more than any place.

*Martin was put on the select team, the group of young players brought to Las Vegas in July to practice against the Beijing-bound stars. Think of it as a farm system. USA Basketball wants him in the loop.

Again, the next major international competition for the United States isn't for two years and it may take Colangelo and Coach K that long to get the champagne smell out of their clothes. Martin, among the many candidates, still has an entire 2008-09 of auditioning. But things broke very well for his candidacy.

August 21, 2008
Bobby's back

Bobby Jackson looked around the Kings locker room and realized how much it has changed.
Besides a major remodel since he's been away, there were also different names on nearly every locker.
"It's very different," Jackson said during today's news conference at Arco Arena as the Kings welcomed back the popular player.
But for Jackson, this is still home.
"I've always loved purple," said Jackson, who was happy to see his No. 24 jersey was available upon his return to Sacramento.

Here are a few notes from today's news conference:

* Jackson's plan is still to play one to three years before getting into coaching.
"I'm not trying to get into it right now," Jackson said. "My main focus right now is basketball. Everyone knows what I want to do. I've played a long time and think I can do it. I have a lot of good qualities. I studied the game just like I played the game. I feel like I have a lot to offer on the coaching side."

* With his career timeline in focus, Jackson fielded questions on his legacy. What does he want to be remembered for after his playing days are over?
"A guy who played hard and took care of his family," he said.

* Speaking of family, Jackson and his wife are expecting their fifth child.

* Jackson will sign autographs at the California State Fair on Friday. The meet-and-greet is from 6-7 p.m. inside Building D, space 596.

* Below is video from today's news conference.

August 21, 2008
Opening Tip: Kobe Bryant turns the big three-oh. The Lakers are not celebrating

Begin with the understanding that Kobe Bryant is never out of shape during the season, save initial moments back from a lengthy injury absence. Like him, dislike him -- the indisputable fact is that he is a demon worker who prepares for games with the same passion as he plays them. It's one of the reasons he grew disgusted with Shaquille O'Neal in the lead up to their divorce. Shaq got lazy with success and Kobe seethed.

But this is worth tracking.

The United States plays Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni, Fabricio Oberto and defending champion Argentina in the Olympic semifinals Friday at 7:15 a.m. California time. Bryant turns 30 on Saturday.

Actually, he turns 30 on Saturday in the aftermath of the heaviest workload of his career, 103 games and 4,055 minutes with the Lakers, from the start of the regular season to the end of the playoffs without missing a tip, and during a summer dramatically shortened by the Team USA schedule. And now he's got finger surgery pending.

The age thing is just a numbers milestone. Figure it will matter not at all. He was the best player in the league at 29 years and five or seven or nine months, so a few extra pages on the calendar won't change that much. If anything, a full season with Pau Gasol and a healthy Andrew Bynum, per the Lakers' hopes and dreams, would mean less heavy lifting for Bryant in 2008-09.

It's an interesting coincidence, though, Kobe crossing the threshold at the very moment he's being taxed more than ever.

August 20, 2008
Advancing the blogosphere

Exhbiit A of the Kings blogosphere transformation is below: witness numerous writers adding Kings/NBA-related content in the dog days of summer. Meanwhile, I've been in and out a bit for the last little while here.
For some of you, there will never be enough hoops material to absorb. We're trying to keep up with the thirst, to be sure, and you can bet it will only grow from here. But there are two recent advancements I wanted to pass along for the hardcore blog readers.

1) When you tell your friends about this must-see web site address, you no longer have to take a breath in the middle before finishing. The previous lengthy URL has finally been shortened to a logical www.sacbee.com/kingsblog, so spread the word.

2) My apologies for allowing the Q&A portion of the site to become a Q&... We will be honing that feature leading up to the season and get back on track with answering your queries, but we (at least I) have a temporary solution to serve the same purpose. I'll be sure to browse the comments and look for questions I can answer directly there, so don't be surprised if you see myself or another of the hoops team joining the conversation.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog browsing... - Sam Amick

August 20, 2008
More Stockton, please

Fans in Stockton can expect to see more of the Kings in future years if the upcoming preseason game sells as hoped, said Pacific athletic director Lynn King at a news conference Wednesday at Spanos Center.
"Our goal with this is not one-and-out," King said. "We want them back."
The Kings will take on the Los Angeles Clippers in a preseason game at the Stockton facility on Oct. 15. Tickets went on sale today, with prices ranging from $10 to $125.
"It's such a natural thing (to have it here)," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "I'm happy to take this short road trip here. This is a big basketball area."

Here are some notes from today's news conference:

* Theus hasn't watched much of the U.S. men's basketball team this summer, but that's not because he thinks they'll come home short of gold.
"That team can't be beat," Theus said. "That's a real basketball team. The team they had before wasn't. I have only watched a couple games, because I know the outcome."

* Video of the news conference was promised in a previous post. That video was shot and ready to go until the camera froze and turned itself off. The camera did not listen to my chants of "please save, please save."
A second effort will be launched Thursday for Bobby Jackson's news conference at 1 p.m. inside the Kings locker room.

* Theus is pretty familiar with Spanos Center. While coaching at New Mexico State, his Aggies played against Pacific and he vividly recalls his last trip to Stockton.
"We won in overtime," Theus said.
New Mexico State defeated the Tigers 79-69 in an overtime game Feb. 18, 2006 at Spanos Center.
Theus also remembers playing in Stockton in 1987 while a member of the Kings. When asked by a reporter at Wednesday's news conference if he remembered who he played against in that exhibition game, Theus chuckled as he retorted: "Do you remember where you were in 1987?"
Luckily, The Bee archives remember. The Kings defeated the Golden State Warriors 122-104 in front of an announced crowd of 3,791. Theus led the Kings with 25 points.
Want to read the original game story from 1987 that appeared in The Bee? Click the "continue reading" tab below.

August 20, 2008
C-Webb, the Big O, Tiny... and Jerry Reynolds!

Great one by USA Today. Didn't find this until long after balloting had ended and then didn't blog it immediately after finding it because the time factor had passed and Ron Artest was ruling everyone's world, but it's good debate and perfect offseason fun.

Team by team, unique perspective by unique perspective, USA Today took votes on the five greatest players in the history of each franchise and came up with a starting five. So what that it's not always an actual lineup, with some tallies understandably finishing with two players at the same position, and it's not always a consensus as votes from an insider, fans and a panel from the newspaper are polled in separate tabulations. It's not always a perfect arrangement either -- Clyde Drexler is the expert opinion for the Houston Rockets and no way he was going to pick himself even though the other sets of constituents did. (He chose Rudy Tomjanovich instead, along with Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone, Calvin Murphy and Hakeem Olajuwon.)

No great surprises with the Rochester Royals / Cincinnati Royals / Kansas City-Omaha Kings / Sacramento Kings. At least maybe not. The check marks do not match the votes indicated by the comments from Jerry Reynolds, the expert insider, because Reynolds absolutely knows Oscar Robertson is one of the five best players in franchise history. He says so below.

It seems to be a technical glitch with the online graphic that has his Robertson comments in the box for Jerry Lucas, his Mitch Richmond vote comment in the box for Wayne Embry and maybe even his Lucas comments in the box for Bob Davies. That last interpretation is a tough one, but if Reynolds is praising a tremendous rebounder, Lucas rates ahead of Davies. The same had better be the case with the 10-member USA Today panel appearing to not throw its support behind Robertson. The Big O drives through your city, he becomes one of the greatest ever there.

So it takes some deciphering with the Kings / Royals. But after switching the Reynolds votes, with evidence he chose Robertson and Richmond, but not switching the USA Today vote because it's tough to determine if the graphic was bad or everyone there got dropped on their heads at a young age, the votes are in.

August 19, 2008
Opening Tip: Throw another brick on the barbie

The United States enters the medal round Wednesday against Australia at 5 a.m. California time, and it obviously doesn't look good for the Aussies. It doesn't look good for anyone, though -- the Redeem Team just blew through pool play 5-0 with an average winning margin of 32.2 points and crushed Spain, arguably the second-best team in the world, by 37 on Saturday.

Australia will cling to the hope that it delivered the closest thing to an actual game in the five U.S. exhibitions in Las Vegas and Asia and the five victory laps in these Olympics. The challengers played the heavy gold-medal favorites into the fourth quarter before falling by 11 despite Andrew Bogut, the Bucks center, resting a minor injury. Of course, that was in Shanghai in the final tuneup, the United States looked bored and ready to get on to Beijing already, and the United States has definitely not looked bored once the scoreboard started to matter for real.

Full-strength Australia, and the rest of the world, will cling to the other hope: the Americans will play like the Americans and trip over themselves on offense when the shot isn't off a fastbreak or a lob. It will take that and everything else going wrong at the same time for Team USA to lose, except that missing from 20-23 feet is a realistic starting point.
Team USA has been killing with defense -- even an opponent like Spain, with several point guards with NBA experience, quickly wilted as the U.S. pressured the ball 30 feet from the basket -- and transition makes. Superior athleticism, in other words. The decision to load the roster with smalls and mobile wings, at the risk of getting hurt inside, has paid off.

But the United States was seventh among the 12 teams in three-point percentage in the preliminary round and sixth among the eight that are into the quarterfinals. Even if it never gets to the point that it actually matters because it will continue to dictate the fast-lane pace, refusing to let anyone turn the tempo into a test of half-court wills, 36.2 percent at a shorter distance than the NBA three shows Team USA can be hurt.

(One of the few ways it can be hurt by speed is next. Australia's point guard, Patrick Mills, has rockets in his shoes. He went right past Chris Paul, a good defensive PG, a quick PG, a couple times in Shanghai. Mills will return to St. Mary's as one of the most exciting prospects in the West and draw pro scouts to Moraga.)

August 19, 2008
Kings setting sights on Stockton

Kings coach Reggie Theus will be in Stockton for a press conference Wednesday, where he will discuss his team's preseason game in October at Spanos Center. Pacific athletic director Lynn King and Dan Chapman, the president of the Stockton Thunder and Stockton Lightning, will join Theus.
The Kings take on the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 15 in a rematch of a 1988 exhibition game at the Stockton facility. The Clippers won that previous contest 125-115 in front an announced crowd of 2,817 fans.
That was the last time the Kings played in Stockton, although the team held training camp at Spanos Center during the mid-1990s.
Mitch Germann, the Kings' vice president of business communications, said last week that the organization is holding the game in Stockton because of the long-term relationship with Pacific and fans in that area. Germann said the Kings hope to return to Stockton in the future.
Tickets will go on sale Wednesday to the general public. Germann told me this morning that ticket prices will be announced at the press conference, which leads me to believe that Chapman got his way.
Chapman told the Stockton Record on Aug. 8 that he felt the Kings needed to lower ticket prices from the regular-season level or it would hurt sales.
Check back here Wednesday for video of the 2 p.m. press conference.

August 16, 2008
Deep-Fried Catfish

That's what Donte Greene said he wanted to try at the California State Fair, where he made an appearance Saturday to sign autographs and push tattoos.
With Kings fans approaching the rookie out of Syracuse in every direction, you'd think he'd be at least a little wary when babies were thrust into his arms while TV cameras rolled.
"I feel comfortable anywhere really," Greene said. "Being from Syracuse, after games you would have 20 or 30 cameras. I like the media. I like to interact with people."
Greene humored me by appearing in my YouTube movie called "Answer My Questions," which is available below. While he has been featured in many YouTube videos, I'd like to think this one ranks up there with "Gunnin' For That #1 Spot," the basketball documentary directed by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch.
Greene is one of eight players featured in that movie, which premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The other top talents include Michael Beasley, Jerryd Bayless and Kevin Love. The DVD hits stores Oct. 21.


* Check out The Bee tomorrow for a feature on Greene.

August 15, 2008
Kings going Greene

Donte Greene lifted a No. 20 Kings jersey and paused with a smile for the cameras surrounding him. His demeanor was calm and relaxed as he answered questions thoughtfully before looking around for more during Friday's press conference inside the Kings locker room.
The media event was a way to introduce Greene to Sacramento following the Ron Artest trade that became official Thursday. It was also an opportunity for the Syracuse product to showcase himself as the high-character athlete his former coaches talk about.
"It was really a privilege to coach him," said Josh Pratt, who coached Greene in high school at Towson Catholic in Baltimore, the same school Carmelo Anthony attended. "I think Sacramento is getting a very good player. He's a great kid."

Other highlights from today's press conference include:
*Greene selected No. 20 for his jersey as a way to honor his mother, who was born March 20. April Greene died when her son was in middle school.
"I'm very happy (No. 20 was available)," he said. "In Houston, I was going to have to go to my college number - five."
* Draft night was very frustrating for Greene. "I was slipping and slipping and the lottery went by," he said. "I stopped watching the draft after No. 20."
* He's not upset about Houston trading him, even if the Kings are now his third NBA team. Memphis originally selected Greene, but traded him to Houston shortly after. "This is the business side of it," he said.
* How does he feel about the Kings? "I like where I am at," Greene said. "We're a young team and I feel like we are going to come out and surprise a lot of people this year."
* The Kings aren't wasting time introducing Greene to Sacramento. Fans will have a chance to meet the newest member of the Kings at the California State Fair on Saturday from 2-3 p.m. in Building D, Space 596.

NOTE: The Bee has provided me a new gadget, which does all kinds of neat things that I have yet to figure out. In my first attempt at video, I recorded yesterday's press conference with Geoff Petrie. Below, you'll find my masterpiece, a day late because of technical difficulties.
Once I get the hang of recording video, I will begin streaming live feed from press conferences and other interviews. So, stay tuned.

August 15, 2008
Moving beyond Ron-Ron

In my first few years being around Geoff Petrie, I was convinced he sat at home writing those philosophical one-liners he's so known for.
But now I really don't think so. He drops them far too frequently - and often in a context that would prohibit him from doing his quote work in advance - to suggest this is such a calculated effort. It is, apparently, just Petrie living up to his billing as a Princeton wiz.
Sure enough, he had another one yesterday as it pertained to the Ron Artest trade and the looming presence of the departed star.
"You know, if you have a big shade tree, shade's good to a point," Petrie said. "But if there's too much shade, then the grass doesn't get to grow."
Lest anyone think he goes to the Petrie-isms simply to look like the smartest guy in the room, don't miss the part about his comment being dead-on. This trade, in many ways, was about the need to remove Artest from the yard so Petrie's other seedlings didn't die in the dirt. With that in mind, let us glance at the roster as it now stands and the roles as I see them in their changed state...

August 15, 2008
Opening Tip: United States (3-0) vs. Spain (3-0)

Keeping this short because we're temporarily back to 24-hour Artestvision, but if any game in Olympic pool play deserves buildup, it's this one.

Spain has Pau Gasol, more-physical brother Marc Gasol heading to the Grizzlies, Jose Calderon as one of the better point guards in the Eastern Conference, Rudy Fernandez coming to the Trail Blazers with considerable hype, Ricky Rubio projecting toward the top five in the draft, and other former NBA presences. The Spanish have also been shuffling the starting lineup a lot, so it's tough to say what they'll have at tipoff Saturday at 7:15 a.m. California time. Given that the team has been together for years, maybe it won't matter.

The outcome won't matter a great deal either -- both teams are advancing to the quarterfinals that begin Wednesday. The peg for tomorrow is that Spain and Argentina are the teams with the best chance to beat Team USA. An upset now, in the prelims, would be a confidence boost in the medal round, while a convincing victory by the U.S. would send a clear message to all challengers.

August 14, 2008
It takes two ....


It was no secret that the Kings had attempted to trade Ron Artest for the better part of a year, at least partly for fear of losing the small forward to free agency (2009 offseason). Nor was there much suspense about the identity of the potential trading partners. The Lakers. Miami. Denver. Dallas. Golden State. All had some interest. But the Houston Rockets made too much sense along. To improve their prospects in the Western Conference and a chance of advancing beyond the first round for the first time in what seems like forever, they needed a third star, and probably a veteran. Plus, Rick Adelman is their coach. Adelman coached Artest during his impressive second half of the 2005-06 season in Sacramento. And Geoff Petrie, who is Adelman's longtime friend and former boss, runs the Kings. Connect the dots and you get ... a trade.

So how much of a factor was the Adelman-Petrie connection? There is a hunch, then there is confirmation: During a conversation with the Kings' boss Thursday afternoon, I was surprised at Petrie's candor. Yes, he acknowledged. Their relationship was a significant factor.

"I talked to Rick over there (summer league in Las Vegas)," Petrie told me Thursday. "That's when the talks (intensified). I said, 'Is your interest in doing something serious? Would it be something you would really be interested in?' He said, yes, he was. While everybody (in Sacramento) would love to make the Louisiana Purchase, what this does is give them an immediate jolt, and for us, it's another piece, a kid I think should have been a top-20 pick. I like the Greene kid a lot. Plus, we get another first-round pick, and we have some cap flexibility."

In other words, he likes the trade.


For the history buffs ....

Forgotten everything you learned in those junior high history classes, have you? Just in case: The Louisiana Purchase, which took place in 1803 during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, accounted for the acquisition of much of most of middle America, including the states now known as Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, most of the Dakotas, etc. Back then, real estate was a great investment: the purchase price was 60 million francs, or approximately $15 million. We definitely snookered the French on that one ....


Meanwhile, while watching the Olympics ...

Chris Marlowe, a member of the Denver Nuggets broadcast team, is a superb volleyball analyst. As he should be. Known as "Cy" back in the day, Marlowe captained the American team that featured a boyish superstar Karch Kiraly, veteran Paul Sunderland (brief successor to Lakers icon Chick Hearn), and captured a gold medal in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Though a seldom-used reserve, Marlowe always had the gift of gab.

August 14, 2008
Petrie discusses Artest deal

Before I get to the comments from Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie this afternoon, I'lll hit on a question I answered in the comments section of a previous post.
Yes, Kings fans, the draft pick being acquired from Houston is lottery-protected. The protections are declining, however, meaning the Kings won't get it next year if the Rockets somehow end up with picks No. 1 to No. 14. If that unlikely scenario happens, then the protections, hence the phrase, decline every year as the likelihood increases that it would eventually be the Kings to have (I'll look into the year-by-year specifics later). The most likely scenario, of course, is the Rockets making a deep run in the playoffs and the Kings adding another young piece next June.
Now on to Petrie...

On why he pulled the trigger on this deal...

When you're sitting on the other end of the telephone all the time and you're looking at your team and things, depending on how things go, the opinion about what might be the best thing to do can change some. In terms of where our team is and with the chance for some of our younger core players to have the opportunity to expand what they can do, people like Kevin (Martin), and Francisco (Garcia) and Beno (Udrih), Quincy (Douby), Spencer (Hawes), people who have already played some here along with the rest of the core veterans we have. That's one thing that happens when you trade a fairly prominent player like Ron. I mean how much more growth and ability do they have to step in there and fill some of that?
Being able to acquire another young talent with size and skill, who should be a natural small forward in the league along with a veteran like Bobby (Jackson) and not sacrifice any real future cap flexibility, that starts to become attractive to you.

August 14, 2008
The view from the Houston perspective, and Artest himself

The Rockets did a conference call with owner Les Alexander, general manager Daryl Morey and Ron Artest to announce that the trade had become official. No new news. Rick Adelman didn't participate to talk about how Artest will fit into a lineup seemingly set with Shane Battier at small forward, Luis Scola at power forward and Tracy McGrady at shooting guard, and Alexander brushed off concerns about Artest's emotions as being in the distant past.

Most interesting was Morey saying the Rockets and Kings had been talking about an Artest deal during last season. It didn't get done then because Houston acquired Bobby Jackson from New Orleans just before the trade deadline and Jackson had obvious appeals to Sacramento: expiring contract, good guy to have around, doesn't hurt that he's very popular with fans at a time of dwindling attendance.

Jackson as a Rocket, with the No. 1 pick that came later, Donte' Greene, finally made it happen.

The three participants spoke for about 20 minutes, with an opening statement followed by questions from reporters. The Q-and-A portion jumped around from person to person, but is grouped here for the sake of clarity.

The transcripts:

Alexander

Opening statement: Ron's acquisition by the Rockets is really meaningful. What really sticks out about Ron are his recent statements on "Pardon the Interruption" and other places (are) his great desire to win and to get a ring. He will fit in great with our current players, as they have the same burning desire. Winning is winning.

August 14, 2008
Artest trade official

Per the Kings' release, the Ron Artest trade has finally become official. More later after we speak to Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie at the team's practice facility...

This is the release, in its entirety.

KINGS ACQUIRE DONTE GREENE, BOBBY JACKSON AND

A FUTURE FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK FROM HOUSTON

Ron Artest, Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing, Jr. go to the Rockets in Exchange

SACRAMENTO, CA ---- The Sacramento Kings today acquired Donté Greene, Bobby Jackson, a future first round draft pick and other considerations from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Ron Artest, Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing, Jr., it was announced by Kings' President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie.

August 14, 2008
Martin on Artest: "I'm going to miss him."

As the hours leading up to the Ron Artest trade passed so slowly, I decided to kill time with a call to Kevin Martin.
The Kings shooting guard was a bit out of touch when the news broke back in late July, as he was vacationing in Tahiti. Martin learned of the trade while hitting the weights in a gym in Bora Bora, when some passerby broke the news to him. So with the formalization of the trade still on track for this afternoon and the pieces believed to be the same (Artest, Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing Jr. to Houston for Bobby Jackson, Donte Greene and a 2009 first-round draft pick), take a moment to get Martin's take on the future of the Kings franchise without Ron-Ron.

Well, no more Ron-Ron. What do you think?

It's another chapter. Life without Mike (Bibby) and Ron, huh? Ever since (Artest) came over here, my game started to change because of how much he challenged me. I've got so much respect for him on the court. I'm sad to see him go.

You get a chance to talk to him?

I was in Tahiti, so I talked to him the next day when I got back. I said, 'I came back in the states, and you're a Rocket!' We talked a little bit.

August 13, 2008
The trade hour nears


The Ron Artest trade is hours from being finalized, but in typical Geoff Petrie fashion, the Kings basketball president will twist and turn until the swap with the Houston Rockets is official. He never wavers. He always sweats until the agreement has been approved by the league attorneys, which is expected to happen about 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.

In a small change of pace, Petrie actually relented and recently accompanied his wife, Anne-Marie, on a long-awaited vacation to Hawaii. But let's just say, the Kings basketball president is not someone who excels at idle time. He typically gets antsy after two-three days, seldom ventures outside his zip code, and eagerly returns to the office. (My sources say he returned from Hawaii only a few days early this time).

Anyway, with both organizations determined to complete the deal, the unpredictable, but always intriguing Artest should be Yao Ming's teammate by Thursday night. Or let's just say, the Kings careers of rookies Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing, Jr., consisted of an entertaining press conference and several not-so-impressive performances at the Las Vegas Summer League.

August 13, 2008
Kings release preseason schedule

The Ron Artest reunion will be much sooner than expected.
As the Kings prepare to make the deal official Thursday, the team released its preseason schedule today. Their eight preseason games feature two matchups with the Houston Rockets, including one at Arco Arena on Oct. 23.
The Kings will take on Oklahoma City, formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics, on Oct. 10 at Arco while hosting four preseason games. However, those won't all be held at Arco.
The Kings face the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 15 at Pacific's Spanos Center in Stockton.
This isn't the Kings first trip to Stockton. The Kings played exhibition games at Spanos Center in the late 1980s and held training camp there during the mid-1990s.

DATE / OPPONENT / ARENA / TIPOFF
Oct. 7 / @Portland / Rose Garden / 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 / OKLAHOMA CITY / ARCO Arena / 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 / @LA Lakers / Thomas & Mack Center (Las Vegas, NV) / 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 15 / LA CLIPPERS / Spanos Center (Stockton, CA) / 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 / @Houston / Toyota Center / 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 18 / @Dallas / American Airlines Center / 6 p.m.
Oct. 20 / PORTLAND / ARCO Arena / 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 / HOUSTON / ARCO Arena / 7 p.m.

August 13, 2008
Opening Tip: Let the Games really begin

Cue the intrigue. Team USA gets its long-awaited grudge match with Greece on Thursday at 5 a.m. California time, an actual test from Spain on Saturday and the curiosity of Germany on Monday, three consecutive games the gold-medal favorites will be / could be pointing to at the Phelpsapalooza in Beijing.

This is when the Olympics really start for the United States men's basketball team, not the opener against China, although playing the host country and national hero Yao Ming with a gazillion people watching on TV wasn't a bad alarm clock, and not Tuesday against Angola. Even with its typical lousy perimeter game, as if anyone should be surprised NBA players can't hit a jumper, the U.S. still won by 31 and 21.

Greece pick-and-rolled Team USA to bits in the semis of the 2006 world championships in the outskirts of Tokyo, and that's apparently enough motivation for this tournament and the next seven. Carmelo Anthony just told the Washington Post that "It's been circled on my calendar for two years -- since we left Japan." That would have had greater credibility if 'Melo hadn't also called the China game Sunday the "greatest sporting event in history," but you get the idea. The Americans will be into it tomorrow.

Then comes Spain, along with Argentina the team with the best chance of toppling the U.S. Germany isn't in the same class, but has Dirk Nowitzki and the capable Chris Kaman, and NBA talent can always get players' attention. Plus, it's big NBA talent and the United States roster is heavy on the perimeter. Mike Krzyzewski can run three guys at Nowitzki and that's the end of the Germans, but the days of coasting against Angola are over.

After that, Team USA is into the medal round, where one loss ends the shot at the gold, and everyone else is gunning for them. For now, though, there are the final three games of pool play.

August 11, 2008
Remember Greece, but beware of Spain


During Team USA's training sessions in Las Vegas, player personnel director (and well-known international scout) Tony Ronzone broke down the competition, and he predicted that Spain would present the USA with its toughtest competition. In order, he ranked Lithuania, defending Olympic champion Argentina, and then Greece, the team that shocked Mike Krzyzewski's team in the 2006 World Championships in Japan.
Given what we've seen thus far from the Americans - and the obvious motivational factors going into Thursday's rematch - I suspect Kobe & Co. will defeat the slick-shooting Greeks by 30 or 40 points, and as Ronzone indicated, have a more competitive game against Spain.
I always like Argentina because of their ball movement, outside shooting and team chemistry, but his denials to the contrary, I find it hard to believe that Manu Ginobili's injured ankle is completely healed. My San Antonio sources tell me that Gregg Popovich urged Ginobili to skip the Games, knowing all along that his star would be unable to resist the pressure to participate when he returned home after the season.


Shutting it down

See what happens when you go on vacation? While I was driving somewhere between Bend, Oregon, and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, I received a call from my boss, informing me of the news regarding Ron Artest. I will address the trade more extensively when the deal is finalized later this week, but my initial thoughts were these: (1) a trade was inevitable, and probably before training camp; (2) the Houston Rockets were among the logical trading partners, mainly because general managers are similar to most people - they tend to deal with colleagues they are most comfortable and familiar with, and Geoff Petrie's relationship with Rick Adelman should have been the first clue that a swap was likely; (3) it will be interesting to see whether Artest truly accepts his role as a third scoring option behind Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming and, in fact, regains his defensive intensity; and (4) if Donte Greene plays at the level he did during the Summer League in Las Vegas, and Petrie plucks another gem next summer (or uses the pick in another trade), then I like the trade a lot. I appreciate Lamar Odom's versatility, but if you are going to rebuild, you might as well go with youth.

Bad for the longterm health

Watching Yao Ming carrying the flag for his native China during the Opening Ceremonies, I thought I detected a slight limp. Not a good sign. Yao missed the final months of the NBA season with a stress fracture in his left foot, and his availability for these Olympics was in jeopardy for a while. The question is, what will be the effect on his upcoming Rockets season? Already, at age 27, the genial center has suffered significant injuries to his knees, feet and toes. And you thoughts the Rockets had cause to worry about Artest ....

August 11, 2008
Opening Tip: The teams that could challenge the United States

Not China, obviously. That was made clear in the pool-play opener Sunday, as expected.

And not Angola, probably. Very, very, very probably. That's the next game for Team USA, tomorrow beginning at 5 a.m. California time and essentially ending sometime around 5 a.m. and 18 seconds.

But this could get good at some point. Maybe this week (Greece, Spain, Germany). Maybe once the preliminary round is over and the quarterfinals begin Aug. 20 with better competition and the added walk on the high wire of knowing that one loss ends the chance at gold. More than a pressure thing -- much of the roster has played in at least a conference final in the NBA -- that advanced stage greatly reduces the margin of error.

The pre-Olympic rankings from FIBA, basketball's international governing body:

1. United States.
2. Argentina.
3. Spain.
4. Serbia.
5. Lithuania.
6. Greece.
7. Italy.
8. France.
9 (tie). Germany.
9 (tie). Australia.

(China is 11th, Angola 14th.)

August 9, 2008
Opening tip: The Redeem Team quickly gets a barometer game

Putting this up a day early because tipoff is Sunday morning 7:15 California time (Sunday night 10:15 Beijing time):

Big game for Team USA. Not because the opponent, China, is a serious medal contender, but because China has experience, talent and height with 7-5 Yao Ming, 7-0 Wang Zhizhi and 6-11 Yi Jianlian and lack of size is one of the few question marks as the United States opens as the favorite for gold.

China doesn't have the guard play to rate a legitimate threat and Kobe Bryant will make it his personal mission to deny every entry pass, so good luck getting the ball inside. The U.S. will also out-quick everybody and leave tire tracks on any opponent that gives it an opening to play in transition, and so that probably doesn't bode well for pounding it into Yao and former NBAer Wang either.

This is a decent pool-play test, though, because China has at least the potential to make the U.S. appear vulnerable on the size issue, and because Team USA is coming off an uninspired showing against Australia on Tuesday in Shanghai in the final tuneup and the Chinese will obviously be amped with the marquee event in front of the home crowd.

The zip-less performance in the 87-76 victory Tuesday was like the final stop for an NBA team on some six-game trip and just wanting to get home. The U.S. just wanted to get to Beijing and have the games count already. It will probably become a blip in that way -- the previous four outings on the tour showed the level of passion of a roster taking this seriously, particularly on defense, in the wake of the bronze in the 2004 Olympics and the 2006 world championships.

August 8, 2008
The Clippers add Jason Williams. The stable one

The Clippers are signing and trading for everybody anyway, so it only seems logical that Jason Williams would land there as a free agent as well.

It makes sense for J-Will too. The Clips may be heavily invested in Baron Davis at point guard, but Davis has failed to play 65 games in four of the last six seasons, so chances are good Williams will have a valuable role for a team that expects to push for one of the final Western Conference playoff spots. (Davis did make all 82 in 2007-08 as a Warrior. Before that, though: 63, 54, 46, 67, 50.)

L.A., in turn, gets someone with extensive postseason experience, someone on a one-year deal playing for the next contract and maybe even his NBA future, and someone who is dependable.

Jason Williams. Dependable.

In a related development, ski season opened in the great below.

With hardly anyone in Sacramento noticing, J-Wild has grown up. He's 32 now, turns 33 about three weeks into the regular season and, if you're sitting down, just finished eighth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio.

It's a meaningful statistic for point guards, just to different extents. The disclaimer is that Brevin Knight was second (after Jose Calderon and before Chris Paul) and Travis Diener was fourth, while Sebastian Telfair and Anthony Johnson were ahead of Deron Williams and Steve Nash. But it's one of the reasons the Kings had Williams on their fallback list if Beno Udrih left as a free agent and the preferred replacement, Chris Duhon, signed elsewhere.

August 7, 2008
What the Pedowitz Report should include, if it ever gets finished

Related development: The New York Daily News had a profile of one of the FBI investigators in the Tim Donaghy case, a story that included the recently retired Philip Scala saying he believes Donaghy's accusations that other referees have thrown games. The Daily News does not say there is evidence to support the charge. But if a supervisory special agent in charge of the Gambino squad with nearly three decades of experience and involvement in major cases puts someone through extensive interrogations and then concludes he believes the claims, that carries great weight. Said Scala: "Donaghy told us the truth...."


Former federal prosecutor Lawrence Pedowitz said in a recent statement that he has no timetable for the internal examination of a referee system covered in mud to be completed, so the white paper the NBA commissioned 50 weeks ago as a "comprehensive review of the league's rules, policies, and procedures relating to gambling and its officiating program" remains a work in progress.

That's fine. Better to do a thorough job on an important topic than a quick one. Pedowitz may have new information from Donaghy's sentencing July 29 and apparently has still been hoping to interview Donaghy, even as the attorney for the jail-bound former ref told the New York Times that won't happen. Maybe Pedowitz has indications to the contrary and is holding out hope.

But this had better be really, really good.

Whenever the Pedowitz Report comes out -- the next few minutes, the next decade -- it will be a measure of the NBA's promise to make its referee program more transparent in hopes that a greater level of understanding among fans and media will help restore the lost credibility. The ultimate handling of his work will be symbolic as much as practical. (In truth, much of the lack of understanding among reporters is because too many don't take the time to understand. The league has been more than willing to pull back the curtain. Fans can't know if the press doesn't get the stories out.)

August 6, 2008
Kings schedule announced

Feast your eyes on the just-released Kings schedule.
I'm just browsing through it myself, but a few initial thoughts come to mind...

* The four-game road trip to start marks the fifth straight time the Kings have started away from Arco Arena. That doesn't do much for hot starts, especially when it comes to the sort of mediocre teams the Kings have had these past two seasons.

* In another trend the organization could certainly do without, the Kings will not be on national television for the second consecutive season (or so I'm told, although the sked doesn't have any TV info).

BLOG CORRECTION: They had one ESPN game last year (who could forget analyst/coach Hubie Brown's incessant praising of Kevin Martin?) and two on NBATV. While the ESPN sked has been announced and doesn't include the Kings, they could still land at least one of NBATV's 96 scheduled games that have yet to be announced.

* The Kings could at least be looking at bookend victories to their season if they can handle the T-Wolves. They not only open at Minnesota on Oct. 29, but they end against Minnesota on April 15 (Not sure why the game is being played in Memphis...probably a typo)

BLOG UPDATE: The typo has been fixed.

* Assuming the Ron Artest trade goes down without a hitch on August 14, the reunion games against the Rockets are Dec. 19 at Houston, Feb. 11 at Houston, and April 9 vs. Houston at Arco.

* Am I missing something, or is there not one single trip to Oklahoma City on this schedule? I must be missing something. If not, hooray for me.

BLOG UPDATE: It turns out I was missing something, as they called Oklahoma City Seattle on the sked. That road game - in OK City - is on Feb. 8.

YET ANOTHER BLOG UPDATE: The OK City error has been fixed.

* Meanwhile, there were earlier revelations about the preseason sked thanks to Portland releasing its information a few days back. The Kings will be the honored guests for the Greg Oden coming out party in an Oct. 7 exhibition game in Portland. The Blazers come this way for an Oct. 20 preseason game.

* I'm told they could have a mid-October preseason game in Stockton. Stay tuned on that... - Sam Amick

August 5, 2008
The name game

I'm a big fan of Google alerts. They come in handy when attempting to keep up with the latest chatter circulating the Web on certain Kings players. Sometimes, however, news about a different Brad Miller or Kevin Martin ends up in my e-mail. That got me thinking: What would happen if I plugged the names of all the current Kings players (pre-Aug. 14th trade), into the URL of my computer? Here's what I found:

KevinMartin.com - Immediately you know this isn't the basketball players' site. This Web page is dedicated to solving the mystery surrounding the 2004 disappearance and death of a 21-year-old man.
BobbyBrown.com - Bet you thought this would take you to the site for the Bobby Brown, where you could read about his next fail-proof plan to make a comeback or find chat rooms dedicated to Whitney Houston bashing. However, the site actually is for Bobby Brown Bail Bonds and Investigations in Colorado Springs.
RonArtest.com - This is a visually pleasing site with a ton of information on the outgoing Kings player. You can listen to Artest's music or read about his partnership with PETA.
BradMiller.com - This isn't a site for the Kings veteran center unless he moonlights as a photographer, who specializes in shooting cars and birds (with a camera).
SeanSingletary.com - Bet you didn't expect the rookie to already have a site in his honor. This "Unofficial Web site of $ean $ingletary" is currently for sale, which is tastefully mentioned at the bottom of the site followed by a tag line reading: "Interested parties may contact Ezell Harris at 407-716-3617 or email him at ezellharris@earthlink.net for more details."

August 3, 2008
Public links: the locals, ranking the Celtics, and the classic video

*Who would have thought Baron Davis would be captured for posterity better than Kat Wade of the San Francisco Chronicle got Baron posterizing Andrei Kirilenko in the '07 playoffs? Historic dunk and great picture. Now comes the Davis / Steve Nash star turn that will only be circulating on the Internet the next four millenniums or so. Awful Announcing has the clip and explains the project is a promotion for the website IBeatYou in which people post videos and viewers pick the best. The first two posts on the Awful Announcing comment board put it best. "I have no idea what that was but it's better than 95% of the [stuff] that Hollywood puts out." And: "couldn't agree more... being extremely rich and a little strange has to be a good time."

*Ryan Anderson, a first-round pick of the Nets by way of Oak Ridge High in El Dorado Hills, is profiled on the NBA.com blog, The Court Reporters. Just ignore the surfing cliche. Unless a storm of Biblical proportions rolled over Folsom Lake one day. The New York Post also has the look at the prominent role Anderson, Brook Lopez and Chris Douglas-Roberts could all play as rookies. Anderson averaged a combined 13 points and 6.4 rebounds in 24 minutes while shooting 32.1 percent overall and 30 percent on threes in the Orlando summer league and the Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake City.

*Warriors.com notes the big finish for DeMarcus Nelson in the Rocky Mountain Revue and in the same top post concludes that the undrafted Sheldon High product impressed with his aggressive play in Salt Lake City and with Golden State in Las Vegas. The July 17 post is a longer profile of Nelson and his road back to Northern California. In nine total games in both summer leagues, he averaged 8.8 points and 2.9 assists in 19 minutes per.

*A little late, but still good conversation: the champions and their place in Celtics history, an especially relevant ranking coming from the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan, who has closely tracked the Celtics as a beat writer and columnist since sometime around the days that Paul Revere had courtside seats. Ryan puts the 2007-08 title club at No. 2, a surprise given that it had to go to a Game 7 in the first round against the 37-45 Hawks, and No. 3 didn't even grab the crown. He definitely does not just line up the championships in a row. His best of the best, the awesome 1985-86 club, is a sound No. 1.

*In case it flew under the radar in a busy time: Bill Cartwright went from the Nets to the Suns as an assistant coach. Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic has a nice feature and makes the valuable point that the former star at Elk Grove High and All-Star center arrives in Phoenix at the same time as first-round pick Robin Lopez. The Suns, playing to win now, will probably need Lopez to be immediately dependable as the backups to Shaquille O'Neal and Amare Stoudemire.

August 1, 2008
The original Ron Artest trade: Was it worth it in the end?

Interesting debate: With what the Kings -- and everyone -- knows now, would they still swap Peja Stojakovic for Ron Artest on Jan. 25, 2006?

Artest is the better player but eternally five minutes away from the next crisis, and combustible has no place on a team winning 30something games and playing to an increasing number of empty seats. The Lakers of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal could make that deal with the devil because L.A. was going deep into the playoffs. Portland in the Jail Blazer days could smile through gritted teeth because it was going deep into the playoffs. The Kings of 2008-09 won't go deep into the regular season.

Stojakovic brings less anguish, at least until the playoffs, but was in line for a major raise much sooner and, as it turned out, had a serious back injury on the way. Who knows how being in Sacramento as opposed to Indiana and then Oklahoma City / New Orleans would have aligned the planets differently and possibly changed the fates of a disc problem, but, again, based on what we now know, back problem.

It's a worthwhile analysis because Artest-Stojakovic is the most debate-stirring deal of the Geoff Petrie era that began in 1994 apart from Chris Webber to the 76ers and maybe even ahead of Webber-Philly. Brad Miller for Hedo Turkoglu and Scot Pollard in a three-team deal is good conversation, but without the passions that surrounded Webber and Stojakovic and now Artest at the time of their departure. Jason Williams had the same thing, except that Mike Bibby for J-Thrill is an easy Kings win, and so is Webber arriving for the popular Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe.

I thought at the time that Artest-Stojakovic was a bad trade for the Kings. Not the part about moving Peja. Too many playoff disappearing acts (although, ironically, he was good in what turned out to be his final Sacramento postseason appearance) and five months away from becoming a free agent. There was a credible case for dealing Stojakovic.

Just not for someone guaranteed to create as many problems internally as he solves with a passion for defense and a versatile offensive game. Artest was never going to get the Kings to the future, and that's what was wrong with the move. Stojakovic for Artest was part of holding on to a past that no longer existed.



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