Kings Blog and Q&A

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

June 17, 2009
Rubio too sick to play

Kings draft prospect Ricky Rubio, who was supposed to participate in a light workout at the practice facility early Wednesday afternoon, became ill and returned to the downtown hotel where he and his mother, Tona, are staying. Sources say the 18-year-old Spanish star had a 101-degree temperature and was prescribed antibiotics by the Kings team physician. Team officials were holding out hope that Rubio would fee well enough to work out Thursday a.m., because he officially has to end his visit after 48 hours, or about midafternoon. It was unclear whether Rubio planned to visit NBA franchises in Memphis or Oklahoma City, the two clubs that hold NBA Draft picks Nos. 2 and 3. He also could return to Sacramento later in the week.

Among the other things I have been hearing throughout the day - the Knicks interest in trading for the No.2 pick to swipe Rubio said to be legitimate - are a few red-not nuggets from former Italian league coach and Milan-based television analyst Dan Peterson. The former Delaware head coach, it appears, is not a fan of Brandon Jennings. During our conversation Wednesday afternoon, Peterson ripped into Jennings, who last week suggested to The Bee that Rubio was little more than a You Tube sensation.
"Ricky Rubio is not overhyped," said Peterson, who broadcast several of Jennings' games last season for Lottomatica Virtus Roma. "Jennings is overhyped. He has it all backwards. He is all about trying to dominate one-on-one, all concerned with individual talent. I find it hilarious."
Peterson went on to say that he liked Jennings' quickness and talent, but didn't think he was NBA-ready. Rubio, he says, is NBA ready. "One of the things that happens in the NBA, everybody has a theory on what a guy can't do. That's all you hear. Sacramento would be very lucky to get Ricky Rubio. It would be a good place for (Rubio), the capital city of California, not too big. He is just a terrific player, though he needs to improve his three-point shooting. He gets into the lane, draws fouls, has the whole package. People would love him there. He's a winner. I would throw myself in front of a bus for Ricky Rubio. But I would have a hard time having Brandon Jennings on my team. I would send him home."
Ouch. Jennings DID apologize to Rubio, by the way.
Boys, boys, boys ...

Why Peterson's words matter

When trolling for information before the NBA Draft, and relying on international sources as well as NBA types for insights, I tend to avoid the couch potato/stats geeks and consult with the coaches/scouts/sources who actually observe prospects during live games and practices. Thus, Peterson is an invaluable resource. Additionally, he has a rich history with the NBA and its international expansion. As I might have mentioned before, my introduction to Peterson occurred when David Stern trotted him out to a press conference in the old Boston Garden during the Celtics-Rockets NBA Finals. The two gentlemen sat on the dais, talking about some player named "Drazen Petrovic" who would someday be an NBA star, and insisting that several other international players had the talent and desire to play in the league. As I reminded Peterson on Wednesday - and recalling that the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan was seated alongside - I rolled my eyes, shook my head, and complained about wasting my time at a pregame press conference, when I could have been in the Celtics locker room listening to the latest witty offerings from Bird, McHale, Parish, D.J., etc. So, hey, how dumb was I? Three years later, the walls came down, Petrovic, Vlade Divac, Zarko Paspalj, Sarunas Marciulionis and Sasha Volkov signed NBA contracts, and the rest, as they say, was history. I will say it again. How dumb was I? Really, really, really dumb ...

A final thought on Rubio and Barcelona ....

While waiting to interview Rubio Tuesday evening, we were chatting about his hometown Barcelona. I recalled covering the original Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics - Rubio was barely two years old at the time - and asked whether the Las Ramblas, the grand downtown boulevard, ever recovered from Charles Barkley's nightly strolls. Charles was huge - that was his coming out party, as an NBA and international star. The sight of the Round One, dressed in his finest matching Bermuda shorts and shirts, walking along the avenue, followed by hundreds of admirers, remains inforgettable. Rubio laughed and acknowledged that he had heard the stories. His NBA mentors, of course, are considerably younger. He's a big Chris Paul fan ...

This just in ...

One week before the 2009 NBA Draft, here's the latest news flash: The Kings need to land Rubio. If they have to trade up, so be it. Given the state of the franchise - lousy attendance, lack of interest, bad economy, community's craving to love its Kings again - finding a way to sign the gifted Spanish point guard is an absolute no-brainer.

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