Kings Blog and Q&A

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

February 28, 2009
Opening tip: Are the Kings the worst West team of the millenium?

Kings (13-47) at Jazz (35-23)

Scoring: Kings tied for 14th (99.3), Jazz seventh (103).
Shooting: Kings tied for 24th (44.6 percent), Jazz third (47.9).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.4), Jazz 13th (99.4).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48 percent), Jazz 19th (46).
Rebound differential: Kings 29th (minus-5.4), Jazz 10th (plus-1.3).

The links: Jazz coverage in the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News.
The almanac: On this date in 1967, Wilt Chamberlain missed his first field goal in four games, ending his record streak of 35 consecutive field goals. On this date in 1987, Chick Hearn broadcast his 2,000th consecutive Lakers game.


We've already put 2008-09 in perspective as potentially the ugliest 17-car pileup in Kings history and even Rochester/Cincinnati/Kansas City/Omaha/Sacramento franchise history, and will again within the remaining quarter-season, except there is another gauge to the bottoming out: the potential of the worst record in the West since 2000.

That's serious new perspective. At 13-47, though, the Kings are tracking to 18-64, and 18-64 makes you bad for an entire generation of a conference. A conference with the Clippers, no less.

The one unknown is that the current roster is so much different than the one listed on the damage report for most of the previous four months. That makes projecting the .217 win percentage more fun with numbers than usual, and, plus, the last few weeks of any season is especially unpredictable as some teams dial down the intensity to rest for the playoffs and the less-fortunate others mail it in to finalize April vacation plans. No telling which way the Kings will go after the trade-deadline renovations -- the actual talent level is worse than before but the atmosphere and energy should be better.

February 27, 2009
Overtime: Kings follow Cal Expo's lead

KINGS 98, Clippers 86

Game story, Game notes

Box score, Video recap

Search is on for Cal Expo arena developer.

Outside Arco Arena, the buzz was about the Cal Expo board opting to move forward with arena plans. Inside the aging Natomas facility, the Kings showed they were looking to make progress as well, no matter how late in the season.
The Kings built a solid 24-point lead in the third quarter and held on for their fourth consecutive win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Here are some highlights:
* Spencer Hawes tallied a career-high 15 rebounds, beating his previous mark by one.
"Going against a team that's pretty big with (Zach) Randolph and (Marcus) Camby inside and knowing Camby's ability to get offensive rebounds and make plays that way, it was a kind of a point of emphasis to keep them off the boards," Hawes said.

* Bobby Jackson filled in for injured point guard Beno Udrih, playing 37 productive minutes and scoring 18 points (6-8 FG, 3-4 3pt, 3-4 FT). It was Jackson's fourth start of the season and he will likely get his fifth Saturday night as the Kings travel to Utah to face the Jazz.
"It's going to be a challenge (Saturday), because those guys are very physical," Jackson said. "We can't get pushed around down there in Utah. But, we did a soild job (tonight)."

* Udrih (sprained right ankle) and Drew Gooden (groin injury) will both not make the trip to Utah.

* Here's post game video of Rashad McCants, who looked solid against the Clippers. McCants scored 12 points off the bench and grabbed six rebounds.

* Here's postgame video of Bobby Jackson, who nearly ate a reporter's microphone midway through the interview.

February 27, 2009
Arena chatter abounds (and more)

UPDATE: The board has approved by a 7-2 vote the plan to move forward and the search for a developer is on.


We've had discussions of varying kinds all day long on all things Kings, from the arena to the actual team and what the future holds on all fronts. And before we move on to the multimedia, it should be noted that KHTK is reporting the Cal Expo board may vote on the proposal tonight rather than wait for the March 30 deadline.

For those who missed it...

Live blog (hit 'Completed events' and then hit 'Replay live blog')

Cal Expo story on the unveiling

Twitter updates from Arena board meeting at Cal Expo - Sam Amick

February 27, 2009
Live blog: So much to talk about

Join The Bee's Sam Amick, Scott Howard-Cooper and myself at 11 a.m. to talk all things Kings. There's plenty of topics for you to chose from:
* The Cal Expo proposal will be unveiled today.
* The Kings are among 12 teams borrowing from a pool of $200 million secured by the NBA.
* The Los Angeles Clippers are in town to face the Kings at 7 p.m.
* How are the new Kings players gelling with teammates?
* And many more.

Click here to join the conversation.

February 27, 2009
Opening tip: The Cal Expo primer (while awaiting the Sacramento Warriors)

Clippers (15-43) at Kings (12-47)

Scoring: Kings 15th (99.3), Clippers 26th (95.2).
Shooting: Kings 25th (44.5 percent), Clippers 30th (43.6).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.8), Clippers 24th (103.6).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.2 percent), Clippers 23rd (46.7).
Rebound differential: Kings 30th (minus-5.5), Clippers 28th (minus-4.3).

The link: Clippers coverage in the Los Angeles Times.
The almanac: On this date in 1959, Bob Cousy had 28 assists as the Celtics scored 173 points against the Minneapolis Lakers, a team record for a regulation game that still stands. Scott Skiles of the Magic later topped Cousy with 30 assists. On this date in 1998, the Pacers beat the Trail Blazers 124-59, a 65-point difference that remains the second-largest margin in league history. Only the Cavaliers beating the Heat by 68 in 1991 is wider.


Not sure who's in charge of bringing the smoke and who is responsible for the mirrors, but it's a big day on the arena front as NBA reps "unveil an ambitious plan to turn much of Cal Expo into a densely packed urban community" with a new home for the Kings as the centerpiece, as The Bee's Tony Bizjak describes the hours ahead in the paper today. No intersection moment, no major decisions, in other words, but important because the league is scheduled to discuss where they've been hiding the printing presses that will generate the hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for the project with no end in sight to the worst economic crisis since the Depression.

This is a story that will mostly be handled by people with special insights into the worlds of business, public planning and government. It is so not about the Maloofs in particular or the Kings in general. But one quick thought on the topic and then on to important NBA-related aspects.

Loved the comment by John Moag, the league's point man on the project, that "We have about a year to put something together that makes sense. If we miss that opportunity, we do have a problem on our hands."

They have a problem on their hands if they miss the opportunity?

What exactly does he call all the previous about-a-years of wading through the arena sludge?

The pertinent NBA points, to clear up bad speculation and bad reports:

February 26, 2009
Overtime: The coach who got away


Game story, Game notes, Photo slideshow

Box score, Video recap

The latest from the woulda, coulda, shoulda category, and reminding everyone that the winning coach in Arco Arena last night - Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown - practically begged Geoff Petrie for an interview two offseasons ago. And Petrie, who historically is very conservative when hiring coaches, said no thanks. Of course, after Brown's infamous one-season (2005-06) flameout with the New York Knicks, preceded by his nasty departure from the Detroit Pistons, the NBA's reigning frequent flier was considered damaged goods, and in the opinion of many, past his coaching prime and not worth the risk.

Oooops. After a two-year coaching sabbatical eased by the buyout with the Knicks, Brown was hired last summer by his old friend/fellow North Carolina alum and Bobcats minority owner Michael Jordan. And so far, all is good. Brown, still trim and youthful-looking at 68, is invigorated and committed. His Bobcats are flawed but improving, though their 23-35 record suggests Brown will suffer only his fifth losing season in his 24-year NBA head-coaching career. (He never experienced a sub-.500 season in his four seasons in the old ABA or his seven seasons coaching in college. He also won championships with the Detroit Pistons and Kansas Jayhawks).

So, yeah, given how far the mighty Kings have fallen, and the fact that Larry is affordable these days because of the Knicks' cushion, Geoff probably regrets not extending the invitation. (Joe and Gavin Maloof were ecstatic about Brown's interest, and were ready to offer a contract before Geoff talked them down). Imagine Brown working with youngsters Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, Donte Greene? At the very least - the very least - Brown, who is universally regarded as a superb teacher and technician, would have implemented a defensive structure and restored credibility to the franchise.

Small-market franchises need to be smarter and strike it big when they can. This was one of those times. This was a blown opportunity.

The game stunk, but at least MJ showed

Jordan, who occasionally accompanies the Bobcats on the road, joined the team before tipoff and sat along the baseline, feet from the visitors bench. What was hilarious was that, while none of us were even aware he was in the building, a Kings publicist walked along press row in the first quarter, informed us of where Jordan was sitting, but said he was not to be approached for interviews. Well, whatever. In the cramped visitors locker room afterward, while some of us were talking with former Kings high-flier Gerald Wallace, Jordan came out of the training room, snuck up and grabbed me from behind. After we shared a few private words, he started yucking it up with the crowd of reporters, as playful and boisterous as I have ever seen him. I wonder if - years removed from the spotlight - he misses this stuff?

A reunion in the tunnel

Before the Bobcats boarded the team bus back to their downtown hotel, the area outside the Kings locker room resembled a Chicago Bulls reunion. Jordan, stylishly attired in a blue suit, stood talking with Bobcats vice president Rod Higgins, his close friend and traveling buddy Charles Oakley, and Kings assistant Randy Brown. Other players and coaches wandered past, and joined the conversations. When I asked the blunt-speaking Oakley about the Kings, he frowned and shook his head. His initial reaction was that they were not remotely interested in defending. But then he groused, "The whole league is soft these days." Gotta love Oak. Even with the salt-and-pepper hair, and well into his 40's, he looks like he could still set one vicious screen.

Finals thoughts on the coach who got away

LaSalle "Tank" Thompson, who was among the players accompanying the Kings from Kansas City to Sacramento in 1985, and who remained in town for two decades, was hired by Brown to work with the Bobcats' big men. He had this to say about his boss: "Larry is very knowledgeable. I was shocked at how much he knows. This man, I mean ... sometimes I wonder why we even scout. He knows so much. He knows every play that every coach in the league runs. You can ask about any player in the league and he can give you a thorough scouting report on him. He is just a fountain of knowledge."

February 25, 2009
Gooden video and live chat reminder

Don't forget to join Sam Amick, Scott Howard-Cooper and myself at 11 a.m. on Friday for a live chat at Last week's was a success, with over 900 questions and comments.
There will be plenty of topics to cover, from the Cal-Expo arena deal to the impact of the seven newly acquired Kings players.

For now, I'll leave you with Drew Gooden's thoughts on his first game since Jan. 19. Gooden finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds before leaving with a groin injury. Here's what he said about his chances of getting back on the court:

February 25, 2009
Opening tip: The coaching options, continued

Bobcats (22-35) at Kings (12-46)

Scoring: Kings 15th (99.4), Bobcats 30th (92.2).
Shooting: Kings tied for 24th (44.6 percent), Bobcats tied for 22nd (44.7).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.9), Bobcats sixth (94.5).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.2 percent), Bobcats tied for 11th (45.3).
Rebound differential: Kings 30th (minus-5.7), Bobcats 17th (minus-0.5).

The link: Bobcats coverage in the Charlotte Observer.
The almanac: On this date in 1977, Pete Maravich of the New Orleans Jazz scored a career-high 68 points. On this date in 1995, Dana Barros of the 76ers set a record with a three-pointer in 44 consecutive games, a mark that eventually reached 89 in a row over two seasons. On this date in 1998, Bill Fitch of the Clippers passed Red Auerbach for second place on the career list for coaching wins. On this date in 1999, Reggie Miller of the Pacers became the first player to reach 4,000 three-point attempts in a career.


Here's the other consideration: the when, not the who.

There's almost zero chance the Kings resolve their coaching uncertainty before the end of the season, barring the unexpected of some greatly desired candidate signaling he is ready to commit now, but there are pros and cons to weigh no matter how unlikely. Kings execs have obviously scanned a similar rundown in their minds, if not out loud, and Kenny Natt knows the way the process works, so no such thing as undermining the interim guy who may win the job as the inexpensive guy.

But a little more than a quarter-season still remains, 24 games in all between now and the April 15 finale, and that's more than enough time for someone to have an impact, even on a roster disjointed by trade. Players themselves know bad habits are forming, mostly related to young players and learned behavior on attitude and effort, or lack thereof, and that will be the gift that keeps on giving into next season unless corrected. Dismissing the final seven weeks as playing out the string is definitely not the approach you want.

February 24, 2009
Gooden to play tomorrow; Moore update

A few quick updates from today's practice...

* New forward Drew Gooden will make his Kings debut tomorrow against Charlotte at Arco Arena. He says he'll play "until the wheels fall off" this season after dealing with a tricky groin injury.

* Mikki Moore is headed for Boston, according to the Rocky Mountain News. He'll be a great fit there. Look forward to seeing you do your thing and maybe get a ring, big fella. - Sam Amick

February 24, 2009
The potential McGrady-Stoudemire-Boozer fallout -- and Kings

Not to be lost in the revolving door of Kings coming and Kings going is the news that Tracy McGrady is done for the season in Houston and that Amare Stoudemire may be done in Phoenix, faraway developments that reverberate in Sacramento.

The Kings have the Rockets' first-round pick unless Houston is in the lottery. Rick Adelman's club was already close enough, then lost McGrady to knee surgery, complete with the indignity of T-Mac telling the media before he told the team. The Rockets, having stuck up for him for years through public-relations beatings of nonstop first-round playoff losses, were understandably bothered by his communication skills.

Whether they're worse off for the absence remains to be seen. More than one non-Houston executive has suggested in stinging assessments that these Rockets might be better, minus the loss of 15.6 points a game or not. (Also the loss of 38.8 percent shooting).

The early going without McGrady: 4-1, a loss to the Bucks followed by victories over the Nets, Mavericks and Bobcats, with only Dallas managing to get within 11 points.

Either way, they Rockets are 35-21 and No. 5 in the Western Conference, 3.5 games ahead of No. 9 Phoenix and the lottery. Of course, the Rockets are also three games out of No. 2, so this could go any number of directions, but it will be interesting and it will be watched from Northern California.

If the Rockets make the playoffs, the Kings get the pick. If the Rockets miss, Houston keeps the selection and the Kings get paid off in 2010 for the Ron Artest trade. That wouldn't be the worst development for Sacramento, given the trajectory of the '09 draft as weak and greatly lacking the star power of the previous two years. It would, however, be a setback to the rebuilding.

February 23, 2009
Overtime: Is toughness contagious? (With postgame video)


Game story, Game notes

Box score, Video recap

* * *

Although I had seen Andres Nocioni play in person on numerous occasions, both in the NBA and international competitions (Athens Olympics, Tournament of the Americas in Puerto Rico, World Championships in Indianapolis), I was really impressed with his overall game in his Arco Arena debut earlier this evening. I was reminded of how physically he and his Argentine countrymen Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola attack the game. And it's not as if they aren't skilled. Nocioni is just a basketball player. He can pass, shoot, run the floor, make plays, and defensively he gets into the body of his opponent. He is fun to watch.

Stop the whining, please

Jason Thompson's recurring foul trouble is becoming worrisome. Most worrisome is that he actually believes he's being victimized because he's a rookie. Undoubtedly there is some of that. (Against the Hornets, he was called for his third foul less than four minutes into the game). But I agree with Jerry Reynolds and Grant Napear - and I can't believe the words are actually spilling out of my laptop - that he needs a reality check. During the telecast Saturday night from Dallas, both announcers scolded Thompson for his constant overreaction to foul calls. And as Reynolds noted at halftime Monday night, the referees' calls are accurate the vast majority of the time. (That fourth quarter of Game 6 against the Lakers in 2002 was an aberration, believe me). Based on the replays I look at, he consistently is guilty of reaching, using both hands on an opponent's body (and not being very subtle about it), and continuing to draw attention to himself with his angry, frustrated gestures. The refs are human. Make them look foolish at your own risk. I asked Geoff Petrie the other night what was going on, whether he was troubled about the situation, and he said the matter had been raised with Thompson on a number of occasions.

Thompson has been and remains a real bright spot, but he is one stubborn young man. He doesn't know the league nearly as well as he thinks he does, a la Spencer Hawes a year ago.

February 23, 2009
Let's not get greedy, Kansas City

I always enjoy my exchanges with Jason Whitlock, a colleague with the Kansas City Star. We have chatted during press conferences, during games, at restaurants, and once while jogging on adjacent treadmills in a hotel fitness center. I also have a particular fondness for Kansas City: As a first-year NBA beat writer in 1981, my first road trip was covering the former San Diego Clippers against the former Kansas City Kings in Kemper Arena. The late Cotton Fitzimmons was the Kings' coach. After the game - and before reporters could ask a question - the feisty Cotton filled up the notebook. I can't say the same about the building. The place was dark and half-empty. The fans I interacted with were passionate about the Chiefs and seemed to care a lot about the Royals.

Some things haven't changed. When I visited Kansas City again in 2005 to write about the mayor's campaign for a downtown arena (to read story, click here), I learned that the community still adores the Chiefs, has become disillusioned with the chronically lousy Royals, is just as interested in Big 12 basketball, and has become swept up by the NASCAR craze.

So, when I heard that Jason had written a column suggesting the Kings relocate to the new downtown arena, I thought, okay, why not? And then I remembered why the franchise left in the first place - mainly because Kansas City was too small a market to support a third professional franchise. "Cotton actually used to say the Kings were the fourth team in town," related Kings player personnel director Jerry Reynolds, who was coaching college ball in the area when Gregg Lukenbill brought the franchise to Sacramento in 1985. "He said it was the Chiefs, the Royals, college basketball, and Tom Watson, who was at the height of his career. Don't get me wrong. Kansas City is a great sports town. It's just a small market (31st in Nielsen rankings), smaller than Sacramento (20th)."

Besides. It wasn't like anyone cared that much even when the Kings were good. When they won the Midwest Division title in 1979, for instance, they ranked 10th in attendance. Of 22 teams.

Let's get not greedy, folks. This is the time to share the wealth. Kansas City has NFL and Major League Baseball franchises, major college basketball teams and tournaments, NASCAR events and a fabulous Negro Baseball Leagues museum. And what does Sactown have? The Kings ... the Kings ... the Kings ... the Kings ...

February 23, 2009
Opening tip: What the trade deadline may say about the coaching search

Hornets (32-22) at Kings (12-45)

Scoring: Kings 14th (99.3), Hornets 25th (96).
Shooting: Kings 24th (44.6 percent), Hornets 13th (45.6).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.9), Hornets third (93.6).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.2 percent), Hornets 14th (45.4).
Rebound differential: Kings 30th (minus-5.6), Hornets 22nd (minus-1.1).

The link: Hornets coverage in the New Orleans Times Picayune.
The almanac: On this date in 1986, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Lakers passed Elvin Hayes to become the career leader in games played, at 1,304. Abdul-Jabbar eventually logged 1,560 appearances and was passed by Robert Parish (1,611). On this date in 1987, Nate McMillan of the SuperSonics tied the single-game rookie record by recording 25 assists. Ernie DiGregorio had 25 on Jan. 1, 1974.


The trade deadline last week was a lot about scoring cash for the Maloofs and hardly at all about building to the future with first-round draft picks (zero) or prospects (maybe Rashad McCants, and that's a big maybe) or players of any age with a good chance to be around next season (Andres Nocioni, who will turn 30 the first full month of 2009-10). These were bank-account moves more than basketball moves, minus the certainty of the past that the savings would be reinvested in the team.

So welcome to the next shoe drop: the coaching search.

It's only logical to consider the possibility (likelihood?) of a similar shift toward the cost cutting. This is a serious financial crisis for all and the Maloofs are reliant on entertainment spending that doesn't exist in Sacramento or Las Vegas, the locations of two major holdings. And, by the way, that entertainment spending doesn't exist in many other places the great speculators assume the Kings are headed. Based on the tightening that has already become public, not to mention the parts that haven't, this is a time for hanging on more than committing huge dollars.

Player moves at the trade deadline.

Coaching moves after the season.

February 23, 2009
Overtime: Hitting the links


Game story, Game notes

Box score (Video not available)

Day-after story on Kings' meet-and-greet practice

Meet the Kings' new men chart with predictions as to whether each guy returns next season (although I have no idea where Nocioni disappeared to, as he was on the list that was originally sent in. We'll use this opportunity as an incentive to read this entire post, as I'll republish my thoughts on Nocioni at the very end)

Ailene Voisin's column on the late Larry Miller

Kings week ahead (with weekly Fire and Ice feature)


No, this edition of "Overtime" wasn't delayed because it was a day on the greens (Yes, I play occassionally; And, no, I'm not any good), it was pushed back because of yet another technology malfunction.

This time it was ye' old trusty laptop taking a fatal spill. And in the spirit of the Academy Awards that were front and center tonight, we offer a screenplay version of this digital death...

February 21, 2009
Opening tip: The 2006 draft class bottoms out in 2009

Kings (12-44) at Mavericks (32-22)

Scoring: Kings tied for 13th (99.4), Mavericks 12th (100.8).
Shooting: Kings tied for 24th (44.6 percent), Mavericks ninth (45.9).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.8), Mavericks 14th (99.5).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.1), Mavericks tied for 10th (45.2).
Rebound differential: Kings 30th (minus-5.4), Mavericks 13th (plus-0.6).

The link: Mavericks coverage in the Dallas Morning News.
The almanac: On this date in 1952, the Celtics and Fort Wayne Pistons tipped off at midnight in a "Milkman's Special" with an announced attendance of 2,368 following an ice show at Boston Garden. On this date in 1960, Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors tied his own rookie record by scoring 58 points. On this date in 1993, John Stockton and Karl Malone of the Jazz became the first players from the same team to share the All-Star game MVP.


But first: Sad time in the NBA with the passing Friday of Larry Miller, the one-of-a-kind Jazz owner. Miller was unpretentious and caring and passionate, sometimes to a fault. He argued -- literally argued, finger pointing and all -- with opposing players from his courtside seat, rebounded during pre-game warm-ups, had a stall in the locker room, and lashed out at his own stars over contracts and poor production.

Karl Malone drove him mad with requests to renegotiate, but the two were close and knew part of the problem was being too alike in stubbornness and leading with their emotions. They had a deep affection, and by the end the Mailman was a partner in some Miller auto dealerships and had talked about buying a portion of the Jazz, which Miller would have welcomed. For all their jousting, Malone is undoubtedly brokenhearted today.

Miller probably saved the Jazz from leaving Salt Lake City in the late-1980s and turned the team into one of the model franchises of the NBA on stability and fan support. And though it never received the attention of his impact with the Jazz, he awarded college scholarships to the child of any full-time employee at his many other businesses.

This involves the Kings as much as anyone. They just traded one disappointing first-round pick from 2006 (Shelden Williams), acquired one (Cedric Simmons) and waived another (Quincy Douby) within about a day, though Douby was the 19th selection and therefore a longshot all along to have any real impact. Few places have had to cover their eyes regarding the '06 draft more than Sacramento.

We're talking historically bad. There's still time for a recovery, but the better part of three seasons is enough time to render judgment, punctuated by the news that four of the top 13 selections from that fateful night were either dumped in trade or cut within the last two weeks and a fifth was dealt for value. A lot of GMs trying to cover their tracks.

February 21, 2009
Overtime: The 'eight amigos' and their friendly ways


Game story, Game notes, Preview of tonight's game at Dallas

Box score, Video recap


MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Despite what this piece of paper said...


...there wasn't anything close to that many people at the game on Friday night. And that was a good thing for me, as it meant I could move up a few rows from my assigned media seat and observe from an arm's reach of Kings coach Kenny Natt and his team. I was told the vacant front-row seat goes for $275. And because this was the perfect night to be that close, it was worth every penny I didn't spend.

After months of watching a group that has had less chemistry than a team of unemployed scientists, this was different. Whether it was the recent roster shakeup or the post-All Star break second wind or maybe the sheer adrenaline rush of playing in such an electric environment (rim shot, please), a funny thing happened on the way to the FedEx Forum.

The Kings had fun.

February 20, 2009
Trade deadline attrition

MEMPHIS - The meet and greet hasn't started just yet, as the Kings have seven new names on their roster but they have yet to see any new faces.

Put it this way: the Kings currently have just one more player present at FedEx Forum than they have coming their way in the days to come (eight to seven).

Specifically, Willie Solomon was scheduled to take part after coming from Toronto to Memphis but has apparently missed a number of flights and isn't likely to make it. Nor will Ike Diogu, who I thought was coming but won't be here (although, truthfully, Kings coach Kenny Natt pointed out to me that he hadn't said that in our phone conversation last night and I may simply have not been listening well enough due to trade deadline fatigue).

The Donte' Greene show? - Sam Amick

February 20, 2009
Reggie Theus chimes in on trades, jobs, his firing ...

Curious to hear Reggie Theus' thoughts on the Kings, the recent moves, and his own plans, I reached him on his cell phone a few minutes ago and found him eager to chat. (My few previous attempts found him reluctant to rehash his one-plus seasons in Sacramento). Anyway, he was about as candid as he could be without damaging his future job prospects. He still refuses to totally bash his former employers, but he had some interesting things to say. We'll give him the microphone and let him vent:

On being replaced by Kenny Natt on Dec. 14 with the Kings off to a 6-18 start during his second season

"Obviously, with the record, and the way things were done, it wasn't my coaching. The team we had wasn't healthy. The thing I don't understand is that Geoff (Petrie) said I wouldn't be evaluated until the team was healthy. How do you justify that? That was tough. I don't think I got a fair shot. But watching the team disintegrate was even tougher. Watching it go into the toilet ... watching the personalities lose confidence, regress ... that was tough. I thought Beno (Udrih), who was struggling, got worse.

"Spencer (Hawes), who had been playing pretty well, went totally downhill. Jason (Thompson) stayed pretty consistent. Pushing Kevin (Martin), demanding that he play defense and play on a high level, expecting him to be a high-level player, that's the challenge Kevin needs to be the player he needs to be. ... This team was being laughed at after we (Theus and assistant Chuck Person) left. For the most part, we played hard every night. This team was not a joke. If you didn't come in and play hard, the Kings could beat you. We were a team that could steal a game on you if you didn't come to play."

On the trades of Brad Miller, John Salmons, Shelden Williams, Bobby Brown, and the waiving of Mikki Moore and Quincy Douby

"I think the moves were very confusing for the guys, but I think they were necessary given the economic stress the team has been under. If you can save $26 million and stay under the cap so you can make other moves down the road, I think that's good. Obviously, I hope there's an overall game plan. I think Geoff (Petrie) finally decided that the team wasn't what he thought it was."

On the newcomers

"I particularly like (Andres) Nocioni because of his toughness. The team lacked toughness as a whole. It was just a general perception, and by that I mean, needing a physical presence. Guys who would bust through screens, make it clear (to opponents) that you are not going to take any crap."

On his preference between coaching in the NBA or college

"Either one. Whichever is a better opportunity. There are going to be jobs opening up in the league at the end of the season, so we'll see. I do know I'm a better coach today than I was when I took the job. I am grateful for the opportunity.

February 20, 2009
Live blog: The new Kings, trade talk and ... the best burgers

Press replay below to check out the first installment of what will be a regular live chat with Kings reporters. Join us next Friday at 11 a.m. for round two.

February 20, 2009
Opening tip: The back end of the trade front

Kings (11-44) at Grizzlies (15-39)

Scoring: Kings 14th (99.1), Grizzlies 29th (93.2).
Shooting: Kings tied for 24th (44.5 percent), Grizzlies tied for 22nd (44.9).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.8), Grizzlies 14th (99.4).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.3 percent), Grizzlies 27th (47.4).
Rebound differential: Kings 30th (minus-5.2), Grizzlies 21st (minus-1).

The link: Grizzlies coverage in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
The almanac: On this date in 1972, Larry Brown of the Denver Rockets set ABA records for assists in a game (23), half (18) and quarter (10) in a 146-123 win over the Pittsburgh Condors. On this date in 1996, John Stockton of the Jazz passed Maurice Cheeks to become the NBA's career steals leader with 2,311. On this date in 2001, Mark Jackson of the Raptors moved into fourth place on the all-time assist list.


Sam Amick is slacking off, for some reason thinking it's OK to go five minutes without a post, so I'll jump in.

News and notes after speaking with teams in the middle of the trade-deadline mosh pit that finally dispersed Thursday:

*The Lakers never so much as flinched in the direction of Sacramento to make a move for Brad Miller. Didn't even float out a one-sided trade proposal to see if the Kings were ready to fire-sale Miller at a time the entire league knew he was very available. It's a double-surprise given that L.A. knows better than anyone how these things can go, having scored Pau Gasol for laughably little only a year earlier.

The rationale for the Lakers steering clear is obvious and understandable: they're deep into the luxury tax and Miller would be on the books for $12.25 million next season, which means that he would actually cost them $24.5 million with the dollar-for-dollar tax. Twenty-five mil for Brad Miller? No, probably not. But he also would have been in the last year of the deal and, therefore, a prime trade candidate, so L.A. could have used him this season and then had a good chance to flip him next.

February 19, 2009
Your two cents

Join the post trade chatter on Friday at 11 a.m. as Scott Howard-Cooper and I host a live chat wrapping up today's roster moves for the Kings and around the NBA.

Go to

February 19, 2009
Kings do two small deals before deadline; waive Mikki Moore

By Sam Amick

According to a league source, the Kings ended an active trade season by squeezing in one last deal before today's noon deadline.

In a three-team trade, the Kings receive Will Solomon and cash considerations from Toronto, with the Raptors acquiring Patrick O'Bryant from the Celtics and Boston getting a conditional future second round pick from the Kings. Solomon is a second-year point guard out of Clemson who has an expiring contract worth $711,517 this season. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the Kings received approximately $500,000 in the deal for Solomon.

It was the second move made by the Kings on the final day, as they sent forward Shelden Williams and point guard Bobby Brown to Minnesota in exchange for fourth-year guard Rashad McCants and veteran big man Calvin Booth during the morning portion of the final day of trading.

On the financial front, the deal - which is done but pending league approval - takes the Kings off the hook for the $736,420 owed to Brown next season (player option) while giving them two players who have expiring contracts in McCants ($2.6 million, restricted free agent this summer) and Booth ($1.1 million). On the floor, McCants enters as a fiery addition to the backcourt who will be looking to breathe new life into his career in Sacramento after falling out of the TImberwolves' rotation this season. The 6-foot-4, North Carolina product who was drafted 14th overall in 2005 scored a season-high 23 points at New York on Dec. 26, but has struggled to find minutes or make an impact otherwise. Booth hasn't played this season.

With Williams and Brown leaving Sacramento, they become the latest Kings experiments that simply didn't pay off. Brown was signed last summer as a hot commodity, an undrafted point guard out of Cal State Fullerton who played one season in Germany and drew league-wide interest during July's summer league in Las Vegas in which he flourished while playing with New Orleans. Yet even with Kings starting point guard Beno Udrih struggling this season, Brown didn't pan out as Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie hoped.

Williams was the No. 5 pick out of Duke in the 2006 draft who came to the Kings from Atlanta on Feb. 16, 2008, in the trade that sent Mike Bibby to the Hawks. The Kings had hoped he would prove his critics wrong in Sacramento, but he struggled to find playing time and had little impact during his stay.

The Kings had a late flurry of action during trade season, trading Brad Miller and John Salmons to Chicago on Wednesday in exchange for forwards Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons and Michael Ruffin. Ruffin was then sent to Portland for forward Ike Diogu. In a phone interview with The Bee on Thursday, he said he will fly to Sacramento on Friday and plans on playing in Saturday's game at Dallas. The players must still pass physicals for the deal to be finalized.

On an active day for the Kings in which they narrowly missed out on a deal that would have sent forward Kenny Thomas to New York for point guard Nate Robinson and forward Jared Jeffries, they also waived forward Mikki Moore. The veteran had only $2 million guaranteed of his $6.2 million salary for next season if he was cut by June 20.

"I'm kind of glad that I'm leaving Sacramento because I thought that I was going to make a home here," Moore said by phone. "Especially after having a good season in New Jersey, I thought that they wanted me and needed me here. So I was looking forward to retiring here, but it just didn't work out that way.
"(But) these are the last years of my career, so I've got to get somewhere where I'm wanted. I'm looking forward to doing something."

Read the Kings blog at

February 19, 2009
Kings do small trade with Minnesota

By Sam Amick

The Kings have agreed on a trade to send forward Shelden Williams and point guard Bobby Brown to Minnesota in exchange for fourth-year guard Rashad McCants and veteran big man Calvin Booth, according to two league sources.

On the financial front, the deal - which is done but pending league approval - takes the Kings off the hook for the $736,420 owed to Brown next season (player option) while giving them two players who have expiring contracts in McCants ($2.6 million, restricted free agent this summer) and Booth ($1.1 million). On the floor, McCants enters as a fiery addition to the backcourt who will be looking to breath new life into his career in Sacramento after falling out of the TImberwolves' rotation this season. The 6-foot-4, North Carolina product who was drafted 14th overall in 2005 scored a season-high 23 points at New York on Dec. 26, but has struggled to find minutes or make an impact otherwise. Booth hasn't played this season.

With Williams and Brown leaving Sacramento, they become the latest Kings experiments that simply didn't pay off. Brown was signed last summer as a hot commodity, an undrafted point guard out of Cal State Fullerton who played one season in Germany and drew league-wide interest during July's summer league in Las Vegas in which he flourished while playing wtih New Orleans. Yet even with Kings starting point guard Beno Udrih struggling this season, Brown didn't pan out as Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie had hoped.

Williams was the No. 5 pick out of Duke in the 2006 draft who came to the Kings from Atlanta on Feb. 16, 2008 in the trade that sent Mike Bibby to the Hawks. The Kings had hoped he would prove his critics wrong in Sacramento, but he struggled to find playing time and had little impact during his year-long stay.

Read the Kings blog at

February 19, 2009
The ongoing trade string begins anew...

The directions, copied and pasted from yesterday's fun, with this thread to be updated until today's noon deadline...

It basically goes like this: hit refresh, then hit it again a little while later, then hit it again. I'll be updating this particular post with chatter of the day, although I can't adhere to any sort of update quota because I just don't know how it will go. In the event something more formal goes down, we'll break off and cover a trade in the more conventional form (an actual story).

(3:45 a.m.)

* Consider this is a teaser for the morning (Good gracious, I hope I wake up). The Bulls-Kings deal should be just fine in terms of becoming official, but Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie indicated that Drew Gooden has a groin injury that may be problematic in terms of the physical. I don't see it as a deal-breaker, but I'm starting to wonder what kind of shape Gooden will be in and whether he is in the rotation anytime soon.

* The possibilities for the final hours are too wide-ranging too speculate across the board, but Petrie certainly didn't indicate the Kings were done and there were other signs that it could be an active morning. We shall see...

(7:47 a.m.)

And we're off...

February 19, 2009
Overtime: The Maloofs and Madoff to Miller and much more


Game story, Game notes, Photo slideshow

Trade story

New Kings at a glance

Ailene Voisin column on trade

Box score, Video recap


The games will matter again at some point, but just not now.

But while the Brad Miller-John Salmons trade was certainly creating plenty of buzz at Arco Arena on Wednesday, it had stiff competition in that department. With one paragraph in a Newsday story, an already-shaky culture inside Arco Arena was jostled even more with the reported revelation that the root of the Maloofs' financial troubles was tied to the Bernard Madoff scandal.

One team that is believed to have asked about (Stephon) Marbury is the Sacramento Kings, a franchise believed to be in serious financial distress because its owners, the Maloof family, lost hundreds of millions in the alleged Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.

Within hours, that paragraph was removed from the story and all indications are that it was simply a bad mistake. The writer, Alan Hahn, said to me via e-mail that he was contacted by a representative of the Maloofs who informed him that his information was incorrect. I was told from the Kings side that it was Donna Lucas, the Maloof's public relations consultant and spokeswoman who relayed word that the Maloofs claim to have had no connections whatsoever to the scandal. Kings vice president of media relations and basketball operations Troy Hanson said he had spoken to Gavin Maloof about the issue and was told it was simply not true. What's more, a Department of Justice list of victims has no mention of any Maloofs.

February 18, 2009
Shhhh! Don't tell 'Nique it's all about finances

Hall of Fame forward Dominque Wilkins, who happens to be one of the most unassuming and most underappreciated superstars in the modern era, and who also happens to work as the Atlanta Hawks television analyst, was in Sactown last night, and more than willing to offer his opinion on the Kings' series of moves. And -- surprise, surprise - don't tell him the Kings' six-player trade that essentially sent Brad Miller and John Salmons to Chicago for Andres Nocioni and Drew Gooden was motivated primarily by an attempt to trim their team payroll and create salary cap flexibility for the next two seasons. 'Nique didn't volunteer much about Gooden, but he couldn't stop praising Nocioni. "He only plays one way," said Wilkins, chatting near the press table before tipoff. "He plays hard, plays hard. He never stops. I told him one time, 'I love that about you, man. Don't ever change.' That's one of the things that bugs me about the way people remember me. They all talk about, 'oh, he was a two-time Slamdunk champ.' But they forget that I was All-League most of my career, and an All-Star most of the time, except for my first few years, when I was going up against guys like Marques Johnson, Larry Bird, Bernard King, Doctor J - and that was in the Eastern Conference alone.

February 18, 2009
Spencer Hawes will miss Brad Miller. Just not in every way

Lots of Spencer Hawes implications. Brad Miller was a guy he was compared to while playing at the University of Washington -- superior passing skills for a big man, the ability to score from the perimeter, skin color, makes a difference without a lot of athleticism --a guy Hawes in many ways modeled his game after coming into the pros and the guy Hawes was stuck behind for playing time until Wednesday.

Miller was his mentor and friend. But Miller was also the player whose January surge kept Hawes in a reserve role when Hawes obviously should have gotten the minutes in the season that should have made grooming the future the priority.

It had been much better lately: 41, 31, 33, 28 and 43 minutes with Miller sidelined by a strained hip flexor. The season average, though, was 27 per game before tipoff about a half-hour ago, a number that will obviously jump as the Kings finally crossed the bridge to the center/power forward tandem of Hawes and Jason Thompson, rather than continuing to groom Miller for the future.

The pregame Hawes Q-and-A on his new role and his relationship with Miller:

Question: I know that when you first came here that one of the things you were looking forward to was playing with Brad Miller. I'm curious how the relationship went in the time you were together.

Answer: He was always great to me from Day 1. When I got drafted, he called me and pretty much welcomed me. He's been my veteran since I came in the league. On and off the court, I learned a lot of things that I'll carry with me the rest of my career.

February 18, 2009
Miller, Salmons speak on trade

Departed Kings Brad Miller and John Salmons have spoken for the first time about today's trade. The trade has been officially announced.

I spoke with Salmons a while ago by phone, and the transcribed interview is below. I haven't caught up with Miller yet, but I'm told he had an emotional chat courtside at Arco Arena with KHTK's Grant Napear and Mike Lamb that can be heard by clicking here. The Bee's Melody Gutierrez caught up with Brad at Arco as well, and she reports that Miller was emotional all over again in recounting his time in Sacramento. We should have that audio up on this blog post later in the night as well, so be sure to check back.


On his reaction to the trade

"Right now it's just shock. I really don't have any emotion to it right now...I wasn't 100 percent (sure he was being traded), because (teams) are talking about making deals all the time. But all of these rumors and everything going on, I was pretty confident that it was going to happen."

Click below for more...

February 18, 2009
Kings, Chicago agree on Miller-Salmons deal

Update: Miller, Salmons speak on trade


By Sam Amick

According to numerous league sources, a trade sending Kings players Brad Miller and John Salmons to Chicago in exchange for Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden, Michael Ruffin and Cedric Simmons has been agreed upon and is pending league approval.

In a separate deal with Portland, fourth-year forward Ike Diogu comes to the Kings for Ruffin. The Kings are also expected to receive approximately $1 million in the trade with Portland.

The trades put their roster at 17 players, and it is expected that they will waive newly-acquired point guard Sam Cassell and third-year guard Quincy Douby. They will need to make an additional cut as well to trim the roster to a league-limit 15.

Nocioni, a fifth-year small forward out of Argentina, has averaged 11.7 points and five rebounds during his career. Gooden has been on the Kings' radar for years, most notably during the 2008 summer in which he was part of discussions between the Kings and Cleveland for a trade involving former Kings point guard Mike Bibby.

The seventh-year forward has been a steady producer during his career, averaging 12 points and 8.1 rebounds during his career while playing for Orlando, Memphis, and the Cavaliers before going to the Bulls.

"I've been traded before and the way I look at it is it means somebody wants you," Gooden told the Chicago Tribune when reached by phone. "Sacramento has been interested in me for a couple years, so maybe something can work out long-term there. If not, I'm an unrestricted free agent this summer, so I'm auditioning for other teams.
"I enjoyed my time in Chicago. It's a good bunch of guys and great management. They treat players with respect. I just wish we had won more and I had been healthier."

The Kings are not only a bad team, but an expensive bad team that had a payroll of $69 million before this deal. At a time when they desperately need to improve their salary cap situation for the future, the Chicago trade saves them approximately $10.2 million in salary cap room for next season. It could potentially make them more relevant in the free agent market this summer or allow the payroll flexibility to be more active on the trade front after this season. Beyond next season, though, Nocioni's contract will add $6.9 million to payroll in 2010-11 and $6.7 million in 2011-12. Gooden, Ruffin and Simmons all have expiring contracts worth $7.1 million, $1.1 million, and $1.7 million respectively.

Diogu's contract is worth $2.9 million this season, and he will be a restricted free agent this summer. He was drafted ninth overall in 2005 and will follow in the footsteps of Shelden Williams as the latest frontline prospect the Kings hope experiences a revival while on their roster.

Read the Kings blog at

February 18, 2009
The ongoing trade string begins...

It's been a year since it was down to the wire whether Denver would include Linas Kleiza in a Ron Artest deadline deal, so I won't blame those of you who forget the rules of this game.

It basically goes like this: hit refresh, then hit it again a little while later, then hit it again. I'll be updating this particular post with chatter of the day, although I can't adhere to any sort of update quota because I just don't know how it will go. In the event something more formal goes down, we'll break off and cover a trade in the more conventional form (an actual story). Most likely, we'll reconvene and do it all over again tomorrow up until the noon deadline.

So we start here...

February 18, 2009
Opening tip: Why you may not have wanted Amare Stoudemire anyway

Hawks (31-22) at Kings (11-43)

Scoring: Kings 14th (99.1), Hawks 18th (98.6).
Shooting: Kings tied for 24th (44.5 percent), Hawks tied for 13th (45.6).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.9), Hawks 12th (97.0).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.4 percent), Hawks tied for 12th (45.3).
Rebound differential: Kings 30th (minus-5.2), Hawks 24th (minus-2.4).

The link: Hawks coverage in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The almanac: On this date in 1964, Wilt Chamberlain scored 52 points, giving him back-to-back 50-point games. On this date in 1972, Randy Smith of the Buffalo Braves played in the first of what would become a record 906 consecutive games over an 11-year span that ended in March 1983. A.C. Green would later break the mark. On this date in 1986, Alvin Robertson of the Spurs had 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals to join Nate Thurmond as the only players to reach a quadruple-double. Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson later joined the list. On this date in 1996, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of the Bulls became the sixth pair of teammates to score at least 40 points in a non-overtime game.


Every story coming out of Phoenix is that the Suns, in a dramatic shift, now either have little intention of dealing Amare Stoudemire before the Thursday trade deadline or have upped the asking price so much that it makes a move very unlikely. Then again, they have covered every bit of roster landscape the last 13 months -- trade your best defenders while preaching a commitment to being defense-oriented, acquire Shaquille O'Neal and pair him with Steve Nash and decide you want to go back to playing a young man's up-tempo game -- so pledges there are not exactly absolute.

But this much is certain:

Stoudemire does not want to be in a rebuilding situation like Sacramento and will gladly signal as much to the Kings, hoping to steer them away from the huge risk of parting with a package of prospects, picks and expiring contracts for someone who can opt out after next season. He would report, he would play hard, he would turn the electricity back on at Arco -- but he would arrive with zero intention of staying beyond July 1, 2010.

February 18, 2009
Trade winds keep blowing and the importance of fine print

Today's trade-related story

Kings notes

Ailene Voisin column on Kings' future

Scott Howard-Cooper's Mike Bibby feature


For those of you who simply want the nitty gritty beyond the above coverage, we'll start there...

* A John Salmons trade before Thursday's noon deadline looks likely. The Kings have been in touch with as many as 10 to 12 teams, so interest is high and something probably gets done. Expiring contracts and draft pick(s) would come back in return, as well as the possibility of cash to help pay for some expirings.

* A Brad Miller trade isn't as likely, but it could happen and I recount some relevant anecdotal information about Dallas later in this here blog. And a mini-update on that front: While I added Cleveland to the mix with Miller, it appears that could be somewhat outdated (as in days late) information and they may not be a player anymore.

* I don't see anything close to a blockbuster deal going down for one of the available impact players, but surprises can happen. Bobby Jackson, Jason Thompson, and Spencer Hawes only get traded if something like this does go down.

* Something could happen with a host of other Kings with expiring contracts, from Mikki Moore (quasi-expiring with $2 million guaranteed next year) to Shelden Williams, and Quincy Douby.

OK, now let's talk fine print.

February 17, 2009
Good news for contenders, bad news for the Kings and other builders

The aggressive, as-good-as-advertised Sam Presti just made his boldest move yet as Thunder general manager, acquiring Tyson Chandler from the Hornets for the expiring contracts of Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox.

The read for New Orleans: Surrender. The Hornets, a popular preseason pick to win the West, come out of the All-Star break at 30-20 and a disappointing sixth place in the conference, and now they move a starting center who can protect the inside and rebound. So much for building up for the playoffs.

The read for Oklahoma City: Meet the new Trail Blazers. Already heading in the right direction after a disastrous start, the Thunder just stepped over the Kings, Timberwolves, Grizzlies and Warriors in the race to the future.

It requires two mild assumptions, one contractual one medical.

*Chandler can become a free agent in a season and a half, but that would be walking away from a $13.2 million in 2010-11, and that almost certainly won't happen. If it does, OKC will not have lost anything more than Smith and Wilcox, two players who were very available all along, and the rights to former Cal standout DeVon Hardin, a second-round pick in 2008 who has yet to play in the NBA.

*Chandler has not played since Jan. 19 because of a sprained ankle. The Thunder clearly do not believe it is a serious injury and will also get another look from the physical that is mandatory for all trades.

February 17, 2009
Cassell deal done

I've just been told by a source close to the Kings that the Sam Cassell deal is done.

The Kings get the Boston point guard and cash in the neighborhood of $500,000 to pay his salary and then some in exchange for a future second round draft pick. Considering cash is King for the financially-struggling Kings, it is worth noting that - per the numbers crunched by AOL/Sactownroyalty's Tom Ziller - the Kings make about $350,000 in this deal. What's more, the pick is heavily protected and I believe the Celtics won't get it if - as is expected - the Kings waive Cassell (Update: I'm told the Celtics would still get the pick, but it's conditional until 2015). I'm sure I'll be talking to Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie sometime today, but Boston GM Danny Ainge has confirmed the deal.

We should have more later in the day, but for the time being you can listen in on an interview from this morning in which KHTK's Rise Guys and I talked trade chatter.

Rise Guys interview

- Sam Amick

February 17, 2009
Cassell expected to join Kings?

A source close to the Kings just confirmed an ESPN report that the Kings will likely trade a future second-round pick (which is heavily protected) to Boston for guard Sam Cassell and cash.

But while the story said the Celtics and Kings had agreed to terms, I'm told there is more to discuss on Tuesday as it pertains to the amount of money and other details. Cassell comes in the final year of his deal worth $1.2 million, and the cash coming the Kings' way is expected to be in the neighborhood of $500,000. That would just about cover Cassell's remaining wages for the rest of the season, and so the question then becomes whether the Kings - who have a roster spot available for Cassell - would bother to do this for the mere chance to have a respected veteran presence on board.

While Cassell hasn't played this season and only played in 17 games last season, he comes with three championship rings and could serve as a quasi-coach for this team that so desperately lacks leadership. While this move would open up a roster spot for a reigning champion Celtics team on the prowl for another piece, the Kings' motivation is unclear at this time.

Cassell could wind up being waived before he gets here or playing a part in something bigger the Kings have been working on trade-wise. On the surface, it makes no sense why the Kings would simply do the Celtics a favor to help with their championship run. I'm leaning toward the more to come category...

And while this news broke too late to squeeze into tomorrow's paper, I delved into some of the other possibilities in this story. - Sam Amick

February 16, 2009
Breaking news during the All-Star break (with an unofficial Amare Stoudemire poll)

Things could get interesting for the Kings now. Or, of course, they could put the "dead" in "trade deadline."

After a short period of quiet on the trade front, I was being told by a number of sources last night that a deal could be coming 'round the bend. Truth be told, I wasn't entirely sure something regarding John Salmons wasn't going to happen before this story in today's paper was ever published.

As I mentioned in the piece and wanted to elaborate on, the potentially interesting part is in seeing what approach the Kings take now. If something happens quickly - as in sometime Monday - then chances are the Kings opted to cut payroll and maybe grab a pick or two along the way. In other words, they went down the safer (financially speaking) and longer road to rebuilding.

With the Maloofs' losses for this season projected to be from $25 million to $28 million, it's no surprise that some of these scenarios involve severe cost-cutting measures. For example, one of the many things on the table at the moment is the Kings' proposal that salary-dump deals involve the other team sending cash their way in order to pay for the remaining years on the contracts of players who are not expiring. But there is still a small chance a deal could be done that doesn't make the team's fanbase groan in collective despair.

February 13, 2009
Jason Thompson is still one of the best players from the '08 draft

Two things before getting to the topic at hand:

*This could be an important day in Phoenix, where the competition committee is meeting as part of All-Star weekend. Among the likely topics, The Bee has learned, is a major change to the goaltending rule that would allow the ball to be hit anytime after it has hit the rim, meaning it could be knocked away even if it's on the rim or over the cylinder. Goaltending would still be called for a shot on a downward trajectory or coming off the backboard.

Some teams view David Stern advocating the change to bring the NBA in line with the international game as a compromise to FIBA, the sport's worldwide governing body, altering some of its rules to be more uniform to the NBA. Specifically, FIBA is making the three-point arc similar to the U.S. distance and abandoning the trapezoid lane. A league official said there will be discussions in light of the FIBA decisions, but that Stern is not expected to advocate a specific change.

But said one representative to the competition committee, composed of one member of each team: "He's pushed that the last two or three years to the competition committee meetings and people just sleep through it. It wouldn't surprise me if he was pretty forceful about it this time."

*And, many GM types will be in Phoenix, but All-Star weekend isn't typically a trade center. Execs often arrive for league-wide meetings and get out long before Sunday and the game itself that everyone else considers the main event. Geoff Petrie will be among the Kings contingent and it's safe to expect he will be talking with other clubs. Even with the trade deadline looming Thursday, though, it's not the NBA version of baseball's winter meetings.

Consolation-prize time for the Kings.

The rookie-sophomore game takes place tonight without Jason Thompson, a disappointment for the Kings and Thompson in his credibility-building season but not much of a surprise. He's not even the first-year player with the loudest claim to getting jobbed. Minnesota's Kevin Love has that distinction.

It's no slap to Thompson and his encouraging 2008-09 and especially no slap considering the roster that was chosen from a league-wide vote of assistant coaches is one-third players from a previous draft. Nine rookies, but only six from the 2008 draft.

February 13, 2009
(Delayed) Overtime: The All-Star "break" edition


Game story, Game notes

Box score, Video recap

Latest story on Cal Expo arena situation and the San Jose/Anaheim interest


Talk about a busy week.

Not sure what I'd do if the Kings were actually winning, in which case there might be a need to follow their various All-Star participants around in Phoenix while weighing the possibilities of a long playoff run and gauging how they stacked up with the league's other elite teams to this point. As it was, the closest I came to All-Star weekend was a layover in Phoenix from Houston yesterday afternoon and a flight to Sacramento 40 minutes later.

Rest assured, there's still plenty to follow.

The arena issues and uncertain future of this organization are a hot topic now because of the Feb. 27 Cal Expo presentation and the looming March 1 deadline for relocation. Like I said before, there's more to come, and it's safe to say there have been two-way discussions between the Kings and San Jose and Anaheim. Plan A just isn't going all that well at this point, so no one should be surprised they are inquiring about Plans B and C.

Meanwhile, there's the question of whether they can make any moves before Thursday's trade deadline.

February 13, 2009
Shawn Marion won't be a King

One of the potential Kings deals to be had before the Feb. 19 deadline is apparently off the table.

I was just told by a rock-solid league source that Miami's Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks are headed to Toronto for Jermaine O'Neal, Jamario Moon and a future first-round pick. The Kings had discussed a Marion deal for some time, with the one apparent holdup that they didn't want to take back Banks. Now to be clear, there was also always a sense that the Heat had the Kings on the backburner while hoping to do something bigger than Brad Miller and Kenny Thomas. - Sam Amick

February 11, 2009
Opening tip: Robert Horry likes the Celtics and loves the Maloofs

Kings (11-42) at Rockets (31-21)

Scoring: Kings 13th (99.4), Rockets 18th (98.4).
Shooting: Kings tied for 24th (44.5 percent), Rockets tied for 24th (44.5).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (109.2), Rockets 10th (95.8).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.5 percent), Rockets tied for 12th (45.3).
Rebound differential: Kings 29th (minus-5.0), Rockets sixth (plus-2.5).

The link: Rockets coverage in the Houston Chronicle.
The almanac: On this date in 1970, the Hawks scored 97 points, the most ever in the second half of an NBA game, while beating the San Diego Rockets 155-131. On this date in 1978, George Gervin of the Spurs scored 23 fourth-quarter points, one more than the Warriors' aggregate. On this date in 1982, Moses Malone of the Rockets set a league record by recording 21 offensive rebounds against the SuperSonics.


Robert Horry wants to play again this season. That much is obvious after talking with him in advance of the Kings arriving in his adopted hometown of Houston and in the aftermath of the Sam Amick report that the Spurs weighed a bid for Brad Miller or John Salmons and could use Horry in a sign-and-trade for salary-cap purposes.

The important league-wide development is that Horry rates the Spurs and Celtics as his most likely landing spots. Both understandable. San Antonio is a contender and familiar from the past five seasons there and close to Houston, an important consideration to stay near his family. Boston is the defending champion and has kept him on the radar all along as a potential stretch-drive signing.

Boston, obviously, is not close to Houston. And even Horry jokes about a potential reunion with Celtics GM Danny Ainge and how it will take a nanosecond before someone posts the clip of Horry throwing a towel in the face of coach Danny Ainge when they were with the Suns. But the Celtics have the strong lure of a shot at another ring and the stronger lure of point guard Sam Cassell, a close friend from their Rockets days.

"The only person that can really talk me into Boston is Sam," Horry said.

February 11, 2009
Overtime: The toughest of times for the Kings and the Mark Cuban solution


Game story, Game notes

Box score, Video recap

Voisin column on Maloof's financial struggles


There's more to come.

Let's just start there. There's so much more to come it's not even funny. No, really, it's not anything close to comical for people who would prefer the Kings remain in Sacramento and who don't realize the dangerous degree to which these financial threats have grown.

And while the reporting will continue, let us first shed some light on anecdotal evidence of how much things have changed in Kingsland. For the purposes of this blog post - and without touching on everything because there is so much more to come and because a call back from team president John Thomas would certainly have been appreciated - at least consider the following and go ahead and draw your own conclusions about how bad the financial situation regarding this team has become. The following is rock-solid information ...

February 10, 2009
Opening tip: Why do you still go to Kings games?

Kings (11-41) at Mavericks (30-20)

Scoring: Kings 13th (99.4), Mavericks 11th (100.7).
Shooting: Kings 24th (44.5 percent), Mavericks 10th (45.8).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (109), Mavericks 15th (99.7).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.3 percent), Mavericks tied for eighth (45.1).
Rebound differential: Kings 29th (minus-4.8), Mavericks 12th (plus-0.9).

The links: Mavericks coverage in the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The almanac: On this date in 1949, Joe Fulks of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 63 points, a scoring record that would last nearly a decade. On this date in 1952, the Baltimore Bullets played a full 48-minute game without a substitution. On this date in 1998, Lenny Wilkens of the Hawks recorded his 1,100th coaching victory.


Seriously. No sarcasm in the headline question, no what-could-you-possibly-be-thinking? mocking.

Straight and to the point. I'm genuinely curious, as we approach the All-Star break in what can only be described as a miserable season in Sacramento, why those of you going to Arco Arena still go.

The economy is in crisis. The team isn't just bad, it's bad and apathetic. The operation has been mishandled from the very top to the players who occasionally deign to give full effort. In that light, the woeful average attendance of 12,405 per home game, although last in the league, may be better than the Kings have a right to expect.

February 9, 2009
And One: Vlade, Amare Stoudemire, the China issue, the Lakers and more

*If that's the ovation Vlade Divac got on Chris Webber's night, somebody better make sure the roof is bolted tight March 31 when Divac has his turn. Webber going to the rafters last week was an acknowledgment of the greatest player in Sacramento Kings history and an appreciation of helping to push the franchise and the city into a national spotlight. Divac having his jersey retired is going to be straight lovefest for the person.

*A year after the league said there was no reason to consider changing the voting process that allows China, the world's most populous nation, the potential to determine the All-Star starting lineups via Internet balloting, Yi Jianlian of the Nets finished third among Eastern Conference forwards despite underwhelming numbers. Yi was 253,000 votes behind Kevin Garnett for a spot in the opening lineup and received about 575,000 more than Paul Pierce and 713,000 more than Chris Bosh. Only nine players in the entire league topped Yi's total of 1,813,829. Recalling the words last season of Wang Meng, who covers Yao Ming and the Rockets for the Beijing-based Titan Sports: "The fans in China, they know they have the power. ... I do think people talk about this. They say, 'We can make Yi an All-Star starter.' I see a lot of that on the Internet."

*Talk about eventful trips. The Lakers' 6-0 swing merely included the potential season-ending and season-changing knee injury to Andrew Bynum, the trade of part-time starter Vladimir Radmanovic, Kobe Bryant scoring 61 points at Madison Square Garden, beating the Celtics, and, in the capper Sunday, becoming the first visitor to win at Cleveland all season. The Lakers are 41-9 and now get the next seven games against six opponents with a combined winning percentage of .446.

*And then there's life with the Cavaliers. Within that same stretch, LeBron James had a triple-double rescinded upon statistical review, the entire team going into convulsions when Mo Williams was bypassed as the All-Star replacement for the injured Jameer Nelson, and the home streak ending. Ending to a very good club, but also a club at the end of a long trip and with Bryant managing 19 points while dragged down by the flu. Giving up 62 points in the paint to the Lakers minus Bynum and sort of minus Bryant -- shivering with chills, needing intravenous fluids during halftime -- will only advance the debate that the Cavs need to add a big man by the trade deadline.

February 8, 2009
Thinking about Doug ... and Jackie, of course

While watching the Kings lose in Oklahoma City earlier tonight, and counting John Salmons' impressive assist total (11), I couldn't help but think about another wiry, versatile 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7 former Kings swingman. It probably helped that Doug Christie attended Chris Webber's jersey retirement ceremony Friday night at Arco Arena. Someone who watched the halftime ceremonies on television asked me why Doug seemed to avoid making eye contact when he addressed the crowd. Because he was afraid he would start crying? Absolutely. Christie was always his own person - and unfazed by the constant chatter about his, um, unusually close relationship with his wife, Jackie - and when he talked to you, he unfailingly made eye contact. He never hid from anything. He was ... who he was. How many other NBA players, for example, would have admitted "choking" in a big game, which Doug did after hoisting airballs in Game 7 of the 2002 conference finals with the Lakers?

But back to Salmons. And how much I appreciated Christie's all-court game, and especially his willingness as a passer. During the Kings' run earlier this decade, the Seattle native was the primary ballhandler, the best defender and as selfless as Vlade Divac. His only agenda was winning. I always thought he would be an excellent coach, partly because so much of coaching is teaching, and Doug has a way of explaining things in a very succinct manner. Interestingly, when I asked him the other night about his future plans, he said he is homeschooling his kids in Seattle, but has started thinking about pursuing a coaching job either in colleges or as an NBA assistant.

Like I said. I'm biased. His influence on Sacramento's most successful teams was subtle and essential, and I enjoyed watching him play immensely.

February 8, 2009
Overtime: Udrih shines, but Thunder takes it


Game story, Game notes

Box score

Video recap

Kings week ahead (with weekly Fire and Ice feature)
Kings plus feature on Shareef Abdur-Rahim's coaching life
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson more involved in Kings' arena efforts
Marty Mac on Kings' disastrous defense


My head is still ringing. Oklahoma City fans are loud, even if Spencer Hawes doesn't want to admit it. As I wrote about in Monday's Bee, Hawes was quite outspoken about his disdain for the Seattle SuperSonics relocating to Oklahoma City. He called it a "travesty."
But for the entire first quarter, it looked like the Thunder would make the Kings the mockery as Oklahoma City outscored them 34-23.
"Well, another disappointing loss, needless to say, however, the guys did respond from halftime," Kings interim coach said before repeating a well-worn quote. "We have to learn a lesson that we can't spot a team 15, 16 points. We aren't that good."
Indeed. But here are a few good notes from my one-and-done trip to Oklahoma City.

* Bobby Jackson did not make the trip to Oklahoma City after he welcomed his fifth child into the world with wife Dona on Saturday. He will rejoin the team Monday.

* Beno Udrih looked like the point guard who shined last year for the Kings. Udrih scored 29 points, including 22 in the second half.
"Beno was great," said Kevin Martin. "That was the Beno hopefully we get used to. He made a difference in the game, especially in the second half."

* Kings consultant Pete Carril is making this entire three-game road trip. We chatted before Sunday's game as we took in the scene at Ford Center. Carril had never been inside the facility. Every so often during our conversation, the legendary "Coachie" would wave his arms to signal to Kings assistant coach Shareef Abdur-Rahim what he wanted Spencer Hawes to work on during pregame drills.
At one point, Carril pulled out a notepad from his pocket to diagram something before excusing himself and heading Hawes' way.
This guy doesn't stop working.

* Beat reporter Sam Amick will pick up the next two games. However, I managed to get Amick involved during the game. With the Internet down throughout the Ford Center, reporters were scrambling to get stories sent. In-game quarterly updates featured in The Bee were sent via text message from me to Amick to be posted online. The Associated Press was forced to dictate their game story, while the remaining media scattered outside the arena searching for a signal.

February 8, 2009
Opening tip: What happens to Amare Stoudemire matters to the Kings

Kings (11-40) at Thunder (12-38)

Scoring: Kings 13th (99.1), Thunder 21st (97.2).
Shooting: Kings 26th (44.3 percent), Thunder tied for 18th (45).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (109.9), Thunder 25th (103).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.2 percent), Thunder 26th (47.1).
Rebound differential: Kings 29th (minus-4.7), Thunder seventh (plus-2.4).

The link: Thunder coverage in the Oklahoman.
The almanac: On this date in 1986, 5-foot-7 Spud Webb of the Hawks had two perfect scores of 50 to beat teammate Dominique Wilkins in the slam-dunk contest at All-Star weekend in Dallas. On this date in 1992, Cedric Ceballos of the Suns made his (allegedly) blindfolded "Hocus Pocus" dunk to win the title at All-Star weekend in Orlando. On the same night, Craig Hodges of the Bulls beat Jim Les of the Kings in the final round of the three-point contest. On this date in 1996, Charles Barkley scored his 20,000th career point.


Any potential Amare Stoudemire trade impacts the Kings even if it does not involve the Kings -- the Suns are in the same Pacific Division and same Western Conference and by dealing Stoudemire would be undertaking the same youth movement, strange as it sounds for a team that would be moving a 26-year-old power forward and keeping a center a month away from turning 37 (Shaquille O'Neal), a point guard who turned 35 on Saturday (Steve Nash) and a 36-year-old small forward (Grant Hill). But Hill potentially comes off the books after this season and Shaq and Nash after next, so moving Stoudemire would be the first step in Phoenix blowing it up.

The Suns would be joining the Kings, Thunder, Timberwolves, Grizzlies and Warriors in a race to the future in the West, though not necessarily in that order. Definitely not in that order, actually, with some new ranking of the young teams with the most promise due after the Feb. 19 trade deadline allows for an exhale. (The Trail Blazers, atop the potential list at the start of the season, are playing .600 ball and contending for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs, so they're no longer sitting at the kid's table.)

Nothing is off the table in Phoenix in a downward spiral of such velocity that it surpasses any prediction of its demise. The Suns reportedly want a package of young players, draft picks and expiring contracts, a notion GM Steve Kerr is not denying, and Kerr clearly would be trying to restore order if this was just wild, unfounded speculation. No denials that Stoudemire is very available.

February 7, 2009
Overtime: Beloved Kings honored (C-Webb)...and hated Kings hired (Horry)?

UTAH 111, KINGS 107

Game story, Game notes

Voisin on Chris Webber jersey retirement; Howard-Cooper on retirement

Box score, Video recap


It was like old times at Arco Arena on Friday night even in the ways Kings fans didn't want, beyond the electricity and the fun times and the competitive Kings product on display. They were crying foul again, and with good reason.

I'll leave it up to blogger/superfan Tom Ziller of Sactownroyalty to speak for that contingent, with one addendum to his thoughts as well. It's a rare night when I even acknowledge the zebras' performance as it relates to the Kings because there are always so many other ways in which they could have won a particular game, but the late head-shakers were so puzzling I had to call on an expert. So I inquired with a friend in the officiating ranks, and was told without question that fans like the one who yelled "It's five on eight out there," were well within their right to do so.

There were other factors to consider, including the fact that Beno Udrih was again irrelevant until his relevance was the wrong kind late. Deron Williams rope-a-doped the Kings into thinking he wasn't going to go for the jugular, waited until they re-inserted Udrih midway through the period, and proceeded to blow by him repeatedly in impressive clutch fashion.

February 6, 2009
Chris Webber's moment is everyone's moment

The quick hit on the Chris Webber jersey retirement a few minutes ago is that the old team can still electrify and that the fans of today seemed to grab hold of something to cheer for.

Tonight will be one of the highlights of the Kings season even though it had nothing to do with the actual Kings season. Deserving tribute for C-Webb, yes, but a feel-good moment for a thirsting crowd.

And it was an actual crowd -- an announced sellout of 17,317, just like the old days, even if it wasn't tough to spot several empty seats together here or there. Arco hasn't felt like this in a long time.

That was obviously one of the goals of the business side. Market Webber heading to Feb. 6 and Vlade Divac heading to his ceremony on March 31, see if memories can sell tickets. Turns out, they can sell a lot.

If the Kings win, and they're in a close game with the Utah Jazz, it will make the night complete for the crowd that cheered so loudly for Webber. Or maybe it will be complete no matter what. Fans came to see Webber get his No. 4 retired and old favorites Vlade Divac, Scot Pollard and Doug Christie take part, and that much was an unqualified success.

February 6, 2009
Opening tip: The Chris Webber trade four years later

Jazz (28-22) at Kings (11-39)

Scoring: Kings 13th (99.0), Jazz eighth (102.3).
Shooting: Kings tied for 25th (44.3 percent), Jazz fourth (47.6).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.8), Jazz 14th (99.3).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.1 percent), Jazz tied for 17th (45.8).
Rebound differential: Kings 29th (minus-4.8), Jazz eighth (plus-1.5).

The links: Jazz coverage in the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News.
The almanac: On this date in 1970, Cleveland, Portland and Buffalo were granted franchises. The Buffalo Braves later became the San Diego, then the Los Angeles Clippers.


All hail Chris Webber. It's his night, and deservedly so. At some point, the Kings business side will stop using 2002 as the primary marketing tool (second place: the dance team), but this isn't that point and anything that distracts from the moment works for the people with little about 2009 to promote.

OK, then. Backwards.

Webber, Matt Barnes and Michael Bradley were traded to the 76ers on Feb. 23, 2005, for Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson and Brian Skinner. Talk about a blockbuster that wasn't.

Thomas is the only who remains in place nearly four years later, and you'd have a hard time proving he actually is still on the Kings. Thomas, Barnes and Skinner are the only ones still in the league, Barnes with the Suns as his third stop since Sacramento and Skinner with the Clippers as his fourth team since the trade.

February 5, 2009
Would you trade Kevin Martin for Amare Stoudemire?

Double disclaimer: Kevin Martin is a base-year player, a salary-cap technicality that makes him very difficult to trade, and Sam Amick has indicated, understandably, that Martin is the closest thing to an untouchable on the Kings.

But if Amare Stoudemire really is in play, as the reliable Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is reporting today, then that has to change the degree of untouchable. At the least, it's the caliber of player that prompts internal conversations in front offices around the league, and the Kings should be having every conversation imaginable anyway.

And if, as the report says, the Suns want a package of young players, preferably a forward, along with draft picks and expiring contracts, that's the Kings. That's exactly the Kings. Of course, that's also what the Kings are looking for in a Brad Miller trade, so this gets tangled.

But the Kings have young forwards: Jason Thompson and Donte Greene.

The Kings have draft picks: their own first-rounder and Houston's first-rounder in June, plus others in later years.

The Kings have expiring contracts: Bobby Jackson, Shelden Williams, Quincy Douby, plus Mikki Moore guaranteed only $2 million next season.

The Kings are not going to risk the pick that at worst may be in the top four and has a good chance to be No. 1. But they could deal it with heavy protections, something along the lines of keeping the selection if it is in the top 10 in 2009 (very, very likely), the top seven in 2010 and the top three in 2011. Or they could deal the first-rounder coming from the Rockets, not terribly attractive but a decent chip.

February 5, 2009
Just wondering ...

After another night of channel-surfing through the games on NBA Pass, I settled upon the neighborly Warriors-Suns blowout, and was left wondering yet again how nice Rony Turiaf would have looked in a Kings jersey. He is exactly the type of role player the Kings need - and never seem to acquire. He takes charges. He blocks shots. He understands his role, and particularly, his offensive limitations. He's a wonderful teammate, so say his former Laker buddies. Forget Corey Maggette. Turiaf was Chris Mullin's best offseason acquisition. And for all their problems - maybe it's a Northern California NBA virus - the Warriors should be really happy that Elton Brand wasn't tempted by their offer. He's a nice player, but not a superstar. At his salary (approximately $16 million per year, through 2013), he should be a superstar. Injuries are limiting his effectiveness, but that was true during his tenure with the Clippers, too. Buyer, beware.

As the trade deadline nears ...

Memo to Geoff Petrie: Two weeks remain until the Feb. 19 trade deadlne. Please start shopping. Take an empty cart, fill it with every Kings player except Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes, Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia, and find the best bargain (bargains). More importantly, find pieces that fit. The Kings have some talent, and several players who could be contributors in the right situations. But on this roster, the skills aren't complementary. Puzzling, isn't it? It's up to Petrie to figure it all out ...

About that Development League

Tell me again why the Kings are affiliated with the Reno Bighorns of the D-League if they don't bother to send, say, Donte Greene down for some extra work? The 20-year-old rookie is wasting his time - and theirs - by sitting on the bench, shifting restlessly and jokingly during timeouts, and seemingly not developing his abilities. Additionally, he rarely stays after practice to scrimmage with ultracompetitive youngsters Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson, which makes you wonder about his desire/maturity level. Just a hunch, but either the Kings brain trusts need to prod Greene onto the court to improve his conditioning and his skill, or they really should send him to the Bighorns. A few bumpy bus rides might be good for him. As they say, if you aren't going to develop 20-year-olds, don't draft them ...

February 4, 2009
Trade-talk plus

When I walked into a sullen visitor's locker room in Boston on Jan. 28, the objective of the night was to chat with Brad Miller and John Salmons about whether or not they wanted out of this mess.

So they talked candidly about the notion of being traded, and the story of the night began and ended with them. But as I tried to outline in today's story, the possibilities for trades are nearly endless as the Feb. 19 deadline looms. And truth be told, the reality is that this is only the tip of the iceberg. The biggest misnomer among some fans about trade talks is that they are so formal and infrequent that media types will be tipped off when GMs are wheeling and dealing. But one non-Kings GM told me on the recent road trip that he had literally inquired about every player on the Kings roster, and so you get the idea.

February 4, 2009
A really, really crazy thought

Semi-related development: Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak tells the Los Angeles Times that the plan is to stick with the current roster rather than look to trade for a center in the wake of what could be a season-ending knee injury to Andrew Bynum. Understandable. The Lakers have the comfort of proven success with Pau Gasol at center and Lamar Odom at power forward and retain the cap flexibility with Odom's expiring contract instead of having Miller on the books through the end of next season. The risk is merely coming close to a championship again and realizing too late that another big could have made the difference. Plus, it won't be hard to deal Miller next season, as an expiring contract at a position many teams have a need.

Just conversation here. Thinking out loud. Not advocating. Exactly the opposite: The Kings should not have taken this route, they needed to move on, and this definitely would not have been moving on.

But it's at least an interesting consideration in their quicksand season:

Would the Kings be better off if they had kept Mike Bibby and Ron Artest?

Think about it. The internal mood would be terrible, but it couldn't be worse than this. The money would be about the same and cap-clearing free-agent departures would still be coming in the summer of 2009. The '08 draft standing, No. 12, would probably have been similar, if not exactly the same, so Jason Thompson might be on board anyway. (The Kings finished three games ahead of the Trail Blazers for what would have been No. 13 and 10 ahead of the Warriors for No. 14, and Golden State would have taken Anthony Randolph over Thompson even if it had been higher.)

The differences would have been in the standings, because the roster of the parallel universe would not be 11-39, and the effort, because Bibby and Artest would not have rolled over like this.

February 3, 2009
Intriguing, but unlikely

OK, so admit it. When the severity of Andrew Bynum's knee injury was disclosed, with the Lakers young center expected to miss eight to 12 weeks - assuming there are no setbacks - the thought of Brad Miller switching jerseys looked pretty appealing. But any Kings-Lakers swap also appears pretty unlikely. My sources are telling me that although Mitch Kupchak wouldn't be opposed to a trade, and Phil Jackson always has affinity for skilled passers and shooters, the Lakers would be much more interested if Miller's hefty contract expired this offseason, which it doesn't. The longest-tenured King earns $11.3 million this year and $12.2 million in 2009-10. Lamar Odom, by contrast, who would be the major element in any potential Kings-Lakers swap, comes off the books this summer at $11.4 million. Kupchak and Geoff Petrie have a good relationship, though, so they'll probably keep talking.

February 3, 2009
Mail bonding: Kevin Martin, the Kings roster, Oklahoma City, and more

If you don't think Kevin (Martin) will step up and be a leader, you've sincerely underestimated just how much he wants to win. You can't make him the fall guy when you've got six or eight other guys out there who simply aren't interested in playing defense or providing energy. It might not work, but you can bet your (bottom) he'll try.

Count on that.

-- Sam, Zanesville, Ohio

Thanks for the note from Kevin's hometown.

I don't think it's a matter of underestimating how much he wants to win. I have never questioned the dedication to improving his game or to helping the Kings win. Quite the opposite. I have regularly praised his commitment, including in the blog that spotlighted his intention to become more of a leader.

But some people have the personality to assert themselves and drive teammates in the right direction and some don't. That's a fair observation, not a knock on Kevin nor an attempt to make him the fall guy. Just the way it is.

Maybe he does step into a leadership role. I never said he wouldn't. I simply said it's not in his nature, but that if he thinks he can lead, this would be a good time to prove it, for the Kings' sake.

February 3, 2009
Overtime: All-Star caliber defense from Kings


Game story, Game notes

Box score, Video recap


PHOENIX - Shaq wants to bottle it up and go forward. The energy, the execution, the endless fun.

"I said that a couple of weeks ago, that if we could bottle this up then we have a chance," he said after the Kings eclipse had set in late Monday night at US Airways Center.

As for these Kings, this is one to bottle up and toss in that vast ocean of defeat. It's not the first, though, and that's the problem. It's the twelfth, at minimum, since they have lost by 20 or more 12 times at this point. It's the sixth time to this type of degree, as they have lost by 30 or more six times. And it's no wonder the Kings have no All-Stars in the upcoming Phoenix affair, what with the way they treat defense like it's an unnecessary part of the event and all.

February 2, 2009
Did the Lakers just enter the Brad Miller sweepstakes?

Just in from the Lakers: Andrew Bynum is expected to miss two to three months with a torn ligament in his right knee, a timeline that raises the possibility he will miss at least the rest of the regular season and possibly the playoffs as well.

Obviously crushing news for the Lakers. Not only does it cost them their No. 1 center, but Bynum had just started to look like the prodigy who last season rewarded front-office patience by averaging 13.1 points and 10.2 rebounds as a 21-year-old before surgery on the left knee cost him the second half and the playoffs.

This season, he's at 14 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.87 blocks and 55.8 percent from the field. But the last five games were 26.2 points, 14 rebounds and 3.20 blocks as West coaches voted Gasol an All-Star reserve, a public end to previous uncertainties, even within the Lakers, about whether Bynum and Gasol could mesh when both preferred to play from the post.

But, suddenly, it's decision time in Los Angeles:

Put Gasol at center and Lamar Odom at power forward, the same alignment that helped drive the Lakers to a great 2007-08 second half and a Western Conference championship, or use Odom's expiring contract to trade for a true center?

Brad Miller is a true center. Brad Miller is available. Brad Miller passes well and shoots well for a big man, and those are perfect fits for Phil Jackson's triangle offense.

February 2, 2009
Opening tip: Now even bad teams are showing up the Kings

Kings (11-38) at Suns (25-20)

Scoring: Kings 13th (99.3), Suns sixth (104).
Shooting: Kings 24th (44.5 percent), Suns first (49.6).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.4), Suns 26th (103.4).
Shooting defense: Kings 29th (48.1 percent), Suns tied for 12th (45.3).
Rebound differential: Kings 29th (minus-4.4), Suns 14th (plus-0.6).

The link: Suns coverage in the Arizona Republic.
The almanac: On this date in 1968, Wilt Chamberlain of the 76ers had a club-record 21 assists, a mark later tied by Maurice Cheeks. On this date in 1994, Lenny Wilkens of the Hawks joined Red Auerbach as the only coaches with 900 career victories. On this date in 1996, the TNT broadcast of the Lakers-Bulls game in the first meeting of Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan since the 1991 Finals set the record for highest-rated cable telecast in league history. That stood until a Bulls-Magic playoff game in 1996.


They'll always have Sunday. Kings 122, Thunder 118 in some pretty-empty warehouse in Natomas. Woo hoo. That team meeting the day before will turn things around, just like the other soul-searching moments have made such a difference.

But things are still going way backwards. No breaking news there. Except that there is fresh evidence of a new kind of backwards.

The Thunder is getting a lot better, the Timberwolves are getting better and the Warriors are sort of getting better, which means that young teams (Oklahoma City, Minnesota) are developing and veteran/youth mixes (Golden State) are finding order while the Kings are the same mess. Progress in other places, some with inferior rosters and less experience to pull themselves up, zero progress in Sacramento.

February 1, 2009
(Double) Overtime: Postgame offerings


Game story, Column (on Spencer Hawes), Photo slideshow, Preview of tonight's game @ Phoenix

Box score, Video recap


Hard to believe, but that noon tussle between the Kings and the Oklahoma City Thunder was one of the more entertaining outings of the season. I dunno. Maybe the Kings function better in the a.m.? There wasn't much defense played by either team, which is consistent with the fact that both teams rank near the bottom in stats and standings. But there is something to be said about watching talented youngsters (Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook, Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson) race up and down the court, learning as they go. Durant is spectacular, of course, but watching Westbrook penetrate, find people and make plays reinforced my belief that the Kings' most glaring deficiency is at point guard. They desperately need an athletic playmaker, and one with the quickness and desire to defend the ball. Until Geoff Petrie obtains one via trade, free agency, the draft, their major issues will not be resolved. The fact that Kevin Martin is a prolific scorer but uninspired defender - even though he should be able to collect at least a few rebounds and play the passing lanes - compounds matters. Beno Udrih would be best utilized as a backup point guard (see his Spurs days) or as a combo third guard, and for whatever reason, rookie Bobby Brown isn't providing a change of pace, lift off the bench. And he certainly shows no inclination toward pressuring his man and disrupting an opponent's offense. One other observation about Westbrook: his footwork is exceptional.

Other postgame thoughts:
* With Udrih out with a calf injury, Francisco Garcia played a lot at the point, and he responded with one of his most poised all-around efforts: 17 points, five rebounds, seven assists - and of greatest significance - only one turnover.
* The Kings were outrebounded 51-43, but Spencer Hawes seemed to respond to Kenny Natt's repeated pleas to "rebound, Spencer!"
* Further evidence of the Kings' inability to stop the ball, especially on the perimeter: Westbrook converted 20 of his 22 free throws, the most by an opponent in the Sacramento era. And the hits just keep on coming ...
* I am already impressed with one thing about the Thunder's Scotty Brooks as one of the interim coaches hired for the duration of the season. A few days after replacing his friend, P.J. Carlesimo, Brooks, a first-time head coach, made calls around the league, asking about experienced assistants. He ultimately hired Ron Adams, the longtime NBA assistant and former head coach at Fresno State.
* Shelden Williams went to Duke, so he has to be a smart guy. So I am still wondering why he hasn't figured out that he could enjoy a long, lucrative career as a bruiser. Though undersized as a power forward/center, he has a wide, muscular body. When he concentrates on rebounding and providing an interior presence instead of scoring and holding onto the ball, he is an effective role player.
* Was it only an eight-game losing streak? Geez, it seemed longer.
* OK, a final vent: We used to accuse the "old" Kings of complaining too much about the officiating, but this bunch is relentless. The veterans continue to set a lousy example for Hawes and Thompson, both of whom have too much to say about calls and non-calls. Enough already.

February 1, 2009
Opening tip: What did you get David Stern for an anniversary gift?

Thunder (11-36) at Kings (10-38)

Scoring: Kings 13th (98.9), Thunder 24th (96.3).
Shooting: Kings tied for 24th (44.5 percent), Thunder tied for 19th (44.8).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.2), Thunder 25th (106.2).
Shooting defense: Kings 29th (48.1 percent), Thunder 26th (47.1).
Rebound differential: Kings 29th (minus-4.4), Thunder seventh (plus-2.2).

The link: Thunder coverage in the Oklahoman.
The almanac: On this date in 1967, the American Basketball Assn. was born in all its red-white-and-blue-ball glory. Four teams made it to the eventual merger with the NBA in the summer of 1976: the Nuggets, Pacers, Nets and Spurs. On this date in 1984, Bernard King of the Knicks scored 50 points for the second night in a row, becoming the first player to do that since Wilt Chamberlain in 1964. On this date in 1984, David Stern replaced the retiring Larry O'Brien as commissioner. On this date in 1995, John Stockton of the Jazz passed Magic Johnson of the Jazz to become the career assist leader.


But first: The Kings hit bottom. Last in the league. Not just tied for the fewest wins after the Wizards won Saturday night to get to 10-37. The worst by percentage at .208, edging the Wiz and Clippers (.213), Thunder (.234) and Grizzlies (.239). The over-under today for attendance is, oh, 8,000, maybe 7,500.

David Stern wouldn't sit down with the Bee. The NBA PR machine asked the topics of the interview, was given two polar-opposite ideas under consideration, and returned with two thumbs down from the commish. One was very probing that the league couldn't get away from fast enough and the other was more basic and agreeable -- Stern's legacy as his silver anniversary as boss arrives today and how he views a time of far more positives than negatives -- except that word came back he didn't approve of that line of questioning either.

So I can only go by his interview with Jack McCallum on on that line of questioning. Stern originally only expected to stay at the league a few years on the legal side but everything changed when he got The Promotion that took effect 25 years ago, that his biggest regret is not convincing players the lockout threat in 1998 was real, that the biggest success on his watch has been the NBA's role in educating the public about HIV and AIDS in the wake of Magic Johnson's medical disclosure.

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