Longtime Kings assistant coach/advance scout Bubba Burrage, who was fired along with the team's other three assistants when Kenny Natt was relieved of his head coaching duties at the end of the season, has been rehired by incoming coach Paul Westphal. Burrage, who had been with the organization for 15 years, will be utilized strictly as an advance scout, according to team basketball president Geoff Petrie. He joins a staff that includes Jim Eyen, Mario Elie and Truck Robinson, and again will feature Pete Carril in the role of special assistant/consultant.
News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.
June 29, 2009
June 26, 2009
The Kings were impressed with Tyreke Evans willingness to discuss the shooting in Nov. 2007 in which he drove a sport utility vehicle that his cousin, Jamar Evans, shot and killed another man, Marcus Reason, from the passenger seat of the car.
Tyreke Evans testified he didn't know his cousin had a gun and was never charged with a crime.
Tyreke Evans said he didn't want to appear to be hiding anything so he discussed the incident with every team he met with starting with the pre-draft camp in Chicago last month.
"I started off telling them about me," Evans said Friday after his introductory press conference. "I told them what happened in that situation and they respected that. They knew I wasn't the type of guy to get into things like that. Like I said it was the wrong place, wrong time. It's something I learned from and I'm moving on from it.
Evans hadn't addressed the issue with local media before the draft. It came back to the forefront after Jamar Evans was sentenced to nine to 20 years in prison for third-degree murder and weapons charges from the incident.
Time to sell Tyreke
After today's press conference Tyreke Evans saw a preview of what will be a 25-foot billboard with Evans in his No. 13 Kings jersey with him promising to "Reke Havoc" this coming season.
Evans is the soft-spoken type. He didn't appear overly excited by the advertising campaign, but he understands his No. 13 jersey will be prominent as the Kings begin trying to lure many of the fans that stopped coming to Arco Arena back.
If the Kings wanted to take the road to easy marketing, they would have selected Ricky Rubio.
Rubio, who comes with a country (Spain) behind him, Olympic highlights and YouTube clips galore showing off his fancy passing.
"Absolutely it entered our mind," said Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof said of marketing Rubio. "But at the end of the day winning's going to sell more tickets."
Just in case you missed it, Omri Casspi will wear No. 18. Jon Brockman will wear No. 40.
And you can meet all three of the Kings draft picks tomorrow at the Bloc Party at Marshall Park (28th and J Street) in Midtown.
The event runs from 4 - 9 p.m. The rookies will be introduced at 6:30 p.m.
June 26, 2009
Kings coach Paul Westphal described the Kings draft "war room" - a term I detest, by the way - as a unified, cohesive place, even as Geoff Petrie, the scouts, the new assistant coaches, etc., waited to hear what the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder were going to do with their respective Nos. 2 and 3 NBA Draft picks. I heard the Kings were particularly concerned about the Grizzlies, whose owner, Michael Heisley, makes it clear every year that he makes the final decisions, and can trump the basketball people at a moment's notice. (As I frequently note, among intrusive NBA owners, the Maloofs are in the lower echelon). But this, from the new Kings coach: "It (the draft) always throws you a few curveballs. The first 15 minutes were the toughest. We were scared to death that something was going to happen that would change the scenario that allowed him (Tyreke Evans) to come to us. We sweated every second ... The final decision is always Geoff (Petrie), with a possibility the Maloofs deciding differently. That's the hierarchy. The good thing is, we were on same page ... and Geoff is really good at (sorting) through it and getting to the core part of what the decision should be.''
Not a stats freak, but still ...
As I wrote in today's editions of The Bee, I liked the selection of Tyreke Evans because he is considered such a major talent. My feeling all along has been that the Kings should draft Ricky Rubio because they desperately need a point guard and would benefit from his entertaining, flashy style - assuming his buyout situation was resolved, of course - or go with the physically gifted Evans, who is more of a combo guard. Every NBA type I've spoken with these past few days believes Evans is going to be a big-time player. Not everyone, however, is convinced he is going to be a big-time NBA point guard. Unlike Derrick Rose, Evans' predecessor at Memphis, his assist to turnover ratio gives one pause. In 29 minutes per game, the 6-foot-4 (without shoes) Evans averaged 3.9 assists and 3.6 turnovers. He attacks the rim, breaks down defenders (see his abuse of Stephen Curry in last Sunday's workout), can post up and draw double teams, and undeniably brings a physical toughness. But the best passer on this Kings roster is Spencer Hawes, the starting center, and so far, Spence is not Bill Walton or Vlade Divac. Who sets up Kevin Martin? Finds Jason Thompson and Hawes where they are most effective? The good news is, the Kings' talent level jumped appreciably. But the personnel has to fit. It will be interesting....
What of Rubio?
Watching the young point guard's face when he fall when he wasn't drafted by the Kings at No.4 was revealing. Watching his reaction when he was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves five minutes later was almost painful. He was crushed. He (and his agent, Dan Fegan) obviously wanted things to work out differently in Sacramento. That's why you have to remain skeptical when new Wolves boss David Kahn - former owner of the NBDL Reno Bighorns, by the way - says he plans on pairing Rubio and Jonny Flynn in the backcourt. Those phone lines to Mike D'Antoni's New York Knicks are probably buzzing as we speak ....
He will be missed
Word of Michael Jackson's passing cast an immense pall over Arco Arena in the hours preceding the draft. With the televisions inside the building turned to CNN, fans, journalists, Kings employees, etc., gathered around the sets, stunned by the news, eager for more information. As a New York native who spent her teen years in Las Vegas, I remember grabbing my fake I.D. and going with friends to see the Jackson 5 at the lounge shows on The Strip. How ridiculous was this? While The Osmonds were performing for megabucks in the main showrooms at places like Caesars Palace, us poor UNLV college students could walk into the lounge shows (free of charge), sip a single watered-down drink for about $2, and spend hours being dazzled by Michael and his brothers. Sad, tragic ending for an incredible entertainer ...
June 25, 2009
Pardon the delay regarding the last pick, but the Kings took University of Washington forward Jon Brockman with the No. 38 pick that they received from Portland.
We'll have more on him later (and in tomorrow's paper), but there is an introduction below in the meantime.
- Sam Amick
June 25, 2009
The Kings selected Israeli small forward Omri Casspi at No. 23, adding a versatile wingman to their roster who will become the first Israeli to play in the NBA.
We'll have more on him later, but here's my chat with Casspi from the predraft combine in Chicago last month.
- Sam Amick
June 25, 2009
By Sam Amick
The Kings selected Memphis' Tyreke Evans with the fourth pick of today's NBA draft in New York City, adding the 6-foot-5 guard to a roster so badly in need of more talent.
By many accounts, Evans was among the most talented - if not the most talented - player in the draft. And while he is not the conventional point guard the Kings sought, he is a dynamic scorer who led his University of Memphis team at the point guard spot last season and can also play shooting guard. After the Clippers selected Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin, Memphis selected University of Connecticut Hasheem Thabeet, and Oklahoma City took Arizona State guard James Harden, the Kings took Evans their other top candidates who were still available in Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio, Davidson guard Stephen Curry and Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn.
Earlier today, the Kings agreed to terms with Portland to acquire Blazers point guard Sergio Rodriguez in exchange for their No. 31 pick, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The Kings will also receive Portland's No. 38 pick and cash considerations.
Here's a video interview with Evans that took place after his first workout in Sacramento, followed by a highlight reel below.
June 25, 2009
The Kings have agreed to terms with Portland to acquire Blazers point guard Sergio Rodriguez in exchange for their No. 31 pick, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The Kings will also receive Portland's No. 38 pick and cash considerations. - Sam Amick
June 25, 2009
Not to put a damper on the excitement of draft day, but it appears there's a grave element to the Kings' prospect evaluation process that had gone largely unnoticed among Kings fans and media in Sacramento until today.
Memphis guard Tyreke Evans, who is believed by many to be the leading candidate for the team's No. 4 pick in the draft that is just hours away, was the driver in a 2007 shooting in which his cousin, 18-year-old Jamar Evans, killed 19-year-old Marcus Reason from the passenger seat of the car. Tyreke Evans was not charged after a police investigation, but the story resurfaced Tuesday when Jamar Evans was sentenced to nine to 20 years in jail after pleading guilty to third-degree murder and firearm charges.
A league source who has spoken to the Kings regarding Tyreke Evans said they have been aware of the tragedy and the prospect's role in it throughout the evaluation process, so it seems certain that they have taken that into account regarding their pick. The Kings issued a short statement when contacted as well, by way of text message from Kings vice president of media relations/basketball operations Troy Hanson.
"We have conducted extensive background checks on all of the prospects we are considering." - Sam Amick
June 25, 2009
So first, the cliff notes on what I'm hearing: Not a lot.
In the days leading up to the draft, the Kings were far from Wizards - literally. While I was repeatedly told the phones were ringing off the hook in Washington (which had the No. 5 pick before trading it to Minnesota), the team just below them - the Kings - seemed less primed to make a move. I don't see the search for a veteran point guard (by way of trading the No. 4) paying off. The more likely scenario is the packaging of the two later picks (No. 23 and No. 31) to move up.
As for who the Kings pick at No. 4? It's still sounding like Memphis' Tyreke Evans, but today and the in-house discussions that are going on do truly matter. Davidson's Stephen Curry may be the safe pick, and I almost wonder if he winds up being the guy with the understanding that the Kings love his offense and simply plan to add defensive pieces elsewhere to shore up that weakness (they love Louisville's Terrence Williams). Syracuse's Jonny Flynn still has fans among the team's decision makers and makes sense to them on a lot of fronts.
Lastly, Ricky Rubio. If the anti-Rubio sentiment that was so prevalent in the Kings camp over the last few weeks was actually all smoke, then Cheech and Chong would be proud. But there are strong basketball arguments to be made that he would be the best fit based on need, and the business and what his presence could do to help the bottom line is certainly being discussed.
Moving on here, I wanted to share a couple comments from Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie from last night that didn't make the paper real quick as well...
On whether he'll trade the No. 4 pick: "You're always open to listening, but right now we're prepared to make the pick."
On the fact that Petrie nor anyone else truly knows which player will wind up being the best down the road: "Whatever happens in this draft tomorrow, there is not going to be any absolute truth - only some people will say there is. The absolute truth will come down the road, when the truth becomes more self evident. If anybody wants to say they have the absolute truth, it's up to other people to accept it or not."
Now, to the logistics of the day. For those not content to watch from their couch at home, the Kings are inviting all fans to attend a draft party at Arco Arena from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Petrie will speak with the crowd before the draft and after the first round selections. Coach Paul Westphal will be there, too, along with some celebs apparently.
As for our Kings blog party, the action will be on Twitter unless something of more substance unfolds (at which point there will be more blogging before the picking begins). Follow me by clicking here, and be sure to add fellow Kings/NBA writer Jason Jones to your lineup by clicking here. For the lazy folks out there, there is a direct Twitter feed from my page along the right rail below. Enjoy... - Sam Amick
June 25, 2009
After spending the last pre-draft evening chatting with sources about Thursday evening's annual festivities, I was reminded that some things never change. Everyone lies. Coaches. Scouts. Agents. Team executives. It's never personal, though, and as one GM said earlier today, "Why would you want anyone out there to know what you really think about a player you might want to draft?"
With that in mind, here are a few final thoughts:
- The Kings desperately need a willing passer, floor leader, entertainer and charismatic personality. I have a suspicion that Ricky Rubio will be gone when they pick at No.4, but if the Spanish point guard is on the board, please, take him. The Kings are going to struggle the next two seasons, anyway, but at least with Rubio, who is a much more creative passer than Jonny Flynn, Tyreke Evans or Stephen Curry, they would be fun to watch.
- Historically, undersized or smallish point guard guards who don't shoot well (Flynn) don't fare well in the NBA. John Stockton, Mark Price and Steve Nash share two characteristics: All are/were superb shooters and exceptional passers/playmakers. When I look at Flynn, why do I think of ... Darnell Valentine? Flynn is much quicker, of course, and not as thick. But I tend to side with those who are trepidatious about undersized point guards who don't shoot well and aren't particularly gifted passers/playmakers.
- Evans' potential upside notwithstanding, do the Kings really want another 6-foot-5 swingman? Exactly how many more dents before the hardwood has to replaced? (See Ron Artest, John Salmons, an ailing Chris Webber, etc.). Word is, though, that the Memphis star is going to be a terrific scorer in this league. Some project him as the second best player (to Blake Griffin) in the draft.
- The Memphis Grizzlies, who select No.2, were set on Hasheem Thabeet before owner Michael Heisley flew into town Wednesday and reminded team execs that he will be the one deciding which player is chosen. Heisley is a wildcard here.
- Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti is keeping everyone guessing, even more than usual. The obvious choice for the Thunder, selecting just ahead of the Kings at No.3, is shooting guard James Harden. But no one around the league is even willing to venture a guess at what the secretive Presti is thinking or what he plans to do. It wouldn't be a shock, say, if Rubio is snagged with this pick.
- Speaking of owners. The Maloofs enter the mix Thursday morning. Wonder what they're thinking? I'm sure we'll find out.
- And let's not forget trades. After Griffin, this could be an unusually fluid draft.
Party time at Arco
So, okay, it's not exactly the NBA Playoffs, but fans are invited to attend the draft proceedings and watch the event on the overhead screens - free of charge - at Arco Arena. The doors open at 3:30, with the proceedings getting underway at 4.
This is what he does
It's easy to criticize some of Geoff Petrie's more recent free agent signings, specifically, his tendency to overpay role players, but his draft record is outstanding. He missed on Quincy Douby - bypassing Rajon Rondo, as did a lot of others - but that's the exception.
June 23, 2009
The old line about how 'It beats digging ditches' still rings true every day on this job, but there are those rare days in which you almost feel like grabbing a shovel instead.
It would be simple, if nothing else. No shame in that.
As for today's shift, there was some shame. It was necessary shame, of course, with grown men huddled outside the Kings practice facility waiting hours to talk to an 18-year-old. Yes, he wasn't just any 18-year-old, but the fact that it was Ricky Rubio didn't make the process any less painful for those who endured it.
The pain was eased, however, when the wait paid off.
I was able to arrange a one-on-one meeting with Rubio at the airport just before he left town, just after the Spanish point guard had finished his workout and visit with the Kings. The exclusive chat can be seen in two parts below. Apologies on the quality, as this came from the cell phone camera and there are two parts because, well, the phone rang halfway through. We'll start here, and I'll share some information and observations regarding the workout after the clips.
This clip begins with Rubio discussing how he hasn't picked up a ball since his Euroleague season ended nearly a month ago...
Now regarding the workout, the sentiment that Rubio was underwhelming was qualified by some (including Rubio) with a disclaimer that the format simply didn't show what he could do. And while I heard similar comments to this Chad Ford report regarding the lack of a wow factor (not impressive athletically, mostly), I had one person who isn't a huge Rubio backer say he was pleasantly surprised by his shot and that it was crystal clear Rubio is a true point guard.
Now the on-floor action wasn't the only relevant part, as Rubio spent more than two hours inside the facility after the workout was over. We were told he was having lunch at one point (not sure who was at the table), and then informed that he was taking a shower. At one point, some of the prospects from the morning's workout with Pitt's Sam Young left the building to head for the airport and couldn't help but chuckle at the media absurdity on display (again, the shame thing). Yet with all due respect to Sam - who has a great name and could be a great pick at No. 23 - he's just not the guy fans are curious about right now.
Now to hit on a final point on this matter, a source close to Rubio said the agreement between him and his current team, DKV Joventut, to reduce his $6.6 million buyout had a small hiccup but should still be finalized soon. All indications remain that it is not an obstacle.
Lastly, the hierarchy of prospects for No. 4 as I understand it is this (yes, knowing full well that smokescreens are everywhere and attempting to work through them): Memphis' Tyreke Evans above Syracuse's Jonny Flynn, with more to be discussed about Rubio and Davidson's Stephen Curry. And sure, I'll keep throwing UConn center Hasheem Thabeet in there as a maybe even if no one thinks he'll be there and even though he rebuffed the Kings and everyone else for a workout. - Sam Amick
June 22, 2009
I will be curious to hear the extent of Ricky Rubio's recent workout at the Kings practice facility, especially after former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry criticized the one-on-one format that his son, Stephen, participated in on Sunday. The younger Curry - competing against guards, including the physically imposing Tyreke Evans - felt that the session marginalized his playmaking and point guard skills, basically was little more than a one-on-one drill, with players trying to take each other off the dribble at the top of the key. Curry said his son had hoped to display his playmaking and shotmaking skills in transition opportunities, but often found himself stuck in the corners, shooting jumpers.
Details of the Rubio session should be interesting. Tthe Spanish guard is a floor leader, distributor and penetrator who utilizes his size and ranginess for steals and deflections in the passing lanes. He is a pass-first point maker - a true point guard in every sense of the word. The issue will be whether Geoff Petrie and Paul Westphal believe their can improve his offensive skills. One suggests that - given his age (18) - all things are possible, and his upside is too special to ignore. One Kings offiicials openly referred to the 6-foot-5, long-limbed Rubio as a "prodigy."
One last word on Sunday's workout
While Evans size (6-foot-7) and physique remind me of a younger LeBron James, he seems more like a two-three than a point guard. His turnovers are a concern, and from what we were able to observe during a 20-minute sesson, he didn't strike me as the type of player who makes teammates better. He wants the ball in his hands, wiith the intent on breaking down his man one-on-one. Just asking: But haven't the Kings seen enough of that these last few years with Ron Artest and John Salmons? Geoff Petrie, it must be noted again, is not enamored of the one-on-one game, which leads me to believe he is higher on Rubio than he is letting on. The tight-lipped Petrie guards his inner thoughts well, especially this time of the year. Don't be surprised if he draft the prodigy at point guard (Rubio) and starts filling other holes.
June 22, 2009
The Ricky Rubio red flags continue to fall, as the news that his buyout situation is almost resolved is followed by news that the Spanish point guard will work out in Sacramento today.
I've been told by a source close to Rubio that the above report is accurate, that he will fly from Los Angeles to Sacramento today and get on the floor to give the Kings a taste of what could be to come. This comes on the same day on which the Kings have their last scheduled workout, as Pittsburgh's Sam Young heads a group today that consists mostly of late first round or second round prospects.
To review, Rubio didn't work out during his Sacramento visit last week after getting sick and eventually visiting with Oklahoma City (which picks third) in LA.
June 21, 2009
St. Mary's guard Patty Mills and Florida State guard Toney Douglas discuss their workout for the Kings, how it compares to others and how they'd fit in Sacramento. If the Kings drafted either player, it would be with the 23rd or 31st pick.
June 21, 2009
I don't have the details regarding salaries, but a league source just confirmed that Kings coach Paul Westphal has hired assistants Jim Eyen, Mario Elie and Truck Robinson. Eyen, an NBA assistant for 17 years, was a recent victim of the Los Angeles Clippers' budget cuts. Elie and Robinson are former players. Elie, who interviewed for the Kings head coaching vacancy three offseasons ago, was a physical, tough-minded guard who was lethal from the corners. Robinson was a two-time All-Star and one of the league's most physical power forwards during the 1970s and 80s. During the 1977-78 season, he led the NBA in minutes, defensive rebounds, total rebounds and rebound average (15.7). Westphal apparently is addressing the two areas he emphasized while interviewing for the job: defending the perimeter and controlling the boards.
June 21, 2009
The first video is of Davidson guard Stephen Curry. He believes he's a good fit with the Kings and new coach Paul Westphal.
June 21, 2009
I'm still waiting on video from post-workout media sessions with Stephen Curry, Patty Mills and Toney Douglas. But here's a little something for you to look at. Bear with me as this was my first time behind the camera for work.
Both videos feature Tyreke Evans doing well. Not that I'm trying to give him any extra pub, the video I shot just happened to catch Evans doing well.
In this clip, Evans ends the workout by driving to the hoop and setting up Jonny Flynn for an easy bucket.
Evans goes one-on-one with Curry, showing off his ball handling and passing skills. Evans scores on one attempt and finds Mills (who's out of my camera's range) for three.
June 21, 2009
Ricky Rubio's situation is about to get less complicated.
According to a source close to Rubio, the $6.6 million buyout of the Spanish point guard's contract with his current team, DKV Joventut, will likely be reduced today or tomorrow to an amount where "he knows he'll be able to make the payments," the source said. The resolution of that element of the Rubio equation will, in effect, clear a major obstacle for teams that are considering drafting him Thursday but have concerns about when he would join their team. And that, of course, includes the Kings.
Assuming the details of the arrangement are finalized soon as expected, Rubio would plan on joining his team at NBA Summer League in July just like the rest of the draft field. Yet while Rubio's Kings visit in Sacramento last week was the first with any NBA team in America as they continue to look at options for the fourth pick, they are no longer alone in that regard.
Rubio visited with Oklahoma City representatives on Saturday in Los Angeles, where the Thunder (who pick third) was allowed to examine his DKV Joventut contract just as the Kings had before them to gain a better understanding of those particulars. While Memphis (which holds the second pick) had visited with Rubio in Spain before the Kings or Thunder, the Grizzlies - nor any other team - did not see the contract. There could be more visits to come, however, as Rubio's camp will surely explore all options in the days to come.
Rubio's eventual NBA team is only permitted to pay $500,000 of a buyout, meaning the rest of the undetermined amount will be paid by Rubio. Because he made approximately $97,000 last season with DKV Joventut, his representatives had asked an arbitrator to settle the matter while claiming the buyout is disproportionate to his salary. They also claimed Rubio never signed his contract when it was drafted when he was 16, although he reportedly did sign an addendum last season. - Sam Amick
June 20, 2009
The economic crunch continues to take its chunk out of NBA staffs. One Eastern Conference executive earlier tonight told me that he knows of nine assistants whose jobs effectively will be eliminated on July 1. The biggest cutback seems to be affecting advance scouts, or those men whose jobs consist of non-stop traveling and preparing reports for their respective teams' upcoming opponents. If the trend continues, how will coaches prepare their players for the next opponent? Retro it is. Teams will probably spend more time watching video and breaking down their foes' tendencies off tape, a la the old days, rather than relying on an advance scout's up close and personal report
The Big Game
The upcoming week is my favorite time of the year, for a few reasons. It's always fun to try to determine which scout/agent/general manager is telling the biggest whopper as the NBA Draft approaches, and it's almost as much fun trying to figure out which of these people actually know what they're doing. Most don't. The draft is a ridiculously inexact experience, but some franchises historically are more organized, detail-oriented and therefore better prepared before making their selections, those players from both here and abroad. For example: San Antonio's Gregg Popovich could probably tell you what Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the year leading up to their selection by the Spurs. I'd love to swap frequent flyer miles with Popovich and R.C. Buford, as well.
So what to believe?
Nothing. These next few days will be all about misdirection plays, and no one should be fooled by who is meeting with whom, or who is (or is not) working on where (with few exceptions). This particular draft is more intriguing than usual, mainly because except for Blake Griffin's selection by the Clips at No.1, there is universal disagreement on the ensuing Lottery picks. From what I am hearing, the Kings are among the many teams whose scouts and personnel experts are all over the place - say, five votes going for five different players. Ultimately, Geoff Petire makes the decision, and his draft record is excellent. All of which makes me wonder whether the front office's disagreement about Ricky Rubio's value means anything. In other words, I find it hard to believe that a team president who appreciated the entertainment value of drafting Jason Williams isn't secretly enamored of the 6-foot-5 Spanish star.
Today's best picks
The practice facility will be buzzing this morning. Even without Rubio, the cast of auditioners is impressive, led by Jonny Flynn, Stephen Curry and Tyreke Evans.
Consider this the one-man weigh in for the heavyweight bout, even if Sunday's Point Guard Battle Royale involves a bunch of relative lightweights who pound the hardwood instead of other men's faces.
Davidson guard Stephen Curry is in the Kings' conversation, one of four players I've been told will be discussed for the No. 4 pick by what remains an undecided Kings' front office and scouting staff. The others are Syracuse's Jonny Flynn, Spaniard Ricky Rubio, and Memphis' Tyreke Evans, two of whom will be on hand tomorrow (Flynn and Evans) to share the floor with Curry and see who can win the latest round in this fight to be fourth.
BLOG UPDATE: Quick disclaimer, UConn's Hasheem Thabeet gets a look if he is unexpectedly there as well.
I caught up with Curry at his hotel early this evening, when he talked about everything from how he would fit in with the Kings to the fact that he extended his workout schedule to include Sacramento after it appeared he would end it in Washington (No. 5 pick).
- Sam Amick
June 20, 2009
Just as the notion of Ricky Rubio in a Kings uniform is seeming less likely by the day, there is this unsurprising news: he is moving on.
A source with knowledge of the situation said Rubio was visited in Los Angeles today by the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have the No. 3 pick in the June 25 draft. This matters mostly because Rubio's visit in Sacramento this week came with unspoken terms, an understanding of sorts that a Rubio promise on the Kings' part could have stopped his American tour with just one concert. But that clearly never happened, and certainly not only because Rubio was unable to get on the floor Thursday when he fell ill.
So he continues to interview away, certainly hoping to not fall below the fourth spot if only because that $6.6 million buyout has to be paid for somehow. There has been talk of a second Sacramento visit, but I'm not sure that's plausible now since he is believed to be headed back to Spain on Sunday. - Sam Amick
USC guard Demar DeRozan worked out for the Kings today, flashing his above-the-rim game and continuing to show why he could wind up being a top five pick.
He won't be picked at No. 4, however, as the Kings have not the positional need or patience to let his game develop over the course of the next couple seasons. But there are plenty of folks around the league who think he'll wind up being one of the best pros from this draft. I didn't videotape any of the action because, well, the portion we saw just wasn't that action-packed. This is DeRozan afterward, however, reiterating that he believes he can jump higher than Vince Carter (at the 3:15 mark) and talking about the June 25 draft.
Before we go the tape, though, it's official now that the Kings will hold their second blockbuster point guard workout on Sunday. Memphis' Tyreke Evans and Davidson's Stephen Curry will now be joined by Syracuse's Jonny Flynn and Saint Mary's' Patty Mills. Florida's Nick Calathes and Florida State's Toney Douglas will also take part. In the spirit of good competition, I've been told that Flynn and Mills both asked their way into this particular workout in a fearless attempt to show their stuff against the very players they're competing with for draft position.
- Sam Amick
June 18, 2009
Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio flew back to Los Angeles a little while ago after remaining too ill to work out for the Kings Thursday morning. Team officials said Rubio still has a fever and is being treated with antibiotics. The youngster's immediate plans are unclear, though there is a strong sense that he will visit the Oklahoma City Thunder, which holds the No.3 pick - just ahead of the Kings. A return visit to Sacramento before next Thursday's draft day proceedings in New York is also being discussed. Members of the Kings front office met briefly with Rubio at the Embassy Suites hotel earlier in the day, and among other things, thanked him for the visit.
June 17, 2009
Kings draft prospect Ricky Rubio, who was supposed to participate in a light workout at the practice facility early Wednesday afternoon, became ill and returned to the downtown hotel where he and his mother, Tona, are staying. Sources say the 18-year-old Spanish star had a 101-degree temperature and was prescribed antibiotics by the Kings team physician. Team officials were holding out hope that Rubio would fee well enough to work out Thursday a.m., because he officially has to end his visit after 48 hours, or about midafternoon. It was unclear whether Rubio planned to visit NBA franchises in Memphis or Oklahoma City, the two clubs that hold NBA Draft picks Nos. 2 and 3. He also could return to Sacramento later in the week.
Among the other things I have been hearing throughout the day - the Knicks interest in trading for the No.2 pick to swipe Rubio said to be legitimate - are a few red-not nuggets from former Italian league coach and Milan-based television analyst Dan Peterson. The former Delaware head coach, it appears, is not a fan of Brandon Jennings. During our conversation Wednesday afternoon, Peterson ripped into Jennings, who last week suggested to The Bee that Rubio was little more than a You Tube sensation.
"Ricky Rubio is not overhyped," said Peterson, who broadcast several of Jennings' games last season for Lottomatica Virtus Roma. "Jennings is overhyped. He has it all backwards. He is all about trying to dominate one-on-one, all concerned with individual talent. I find it hilarious."
Peterson went on to say that he liked Jennings' quickness and talent, but didn't think he was NBA-ready. Rubio, he says, is NBA ready. "One of the things that happens in the NBA, everybody has a theory on what a guy can't do. That's all you hear. Sacramento would be very lucky to get Ricky Rubio. It would be a good place for (Rubio), the capital city of California, not too big. He is just a terrific player, though he needs to improve his three-point shooting. He gets into the lane, draws fouls, has the whole package. People would love him there. He's a winner. I would throw myself in front of a bus for Ricky Rubio. But I would have a hard time having Brandon Jennings on my team. I would send him home."
Ouch. Jennings DID apologize to Rubio, by the way.
Boys, boys, boys ...
Why Peterson's words matter
When trolling for information before the NBA Draft, and relying on international sources as well as NBA types for insights, I tend to avoid the couch potato/stats geeks and consult with the coaches/scouts/sources who actually observe prospects during live games and practices. Thus, Peterson is an invaluable resource. Additionally, he has a rich history with the NBA and its international expansion. As I might have mentioned before, my introduction to Peterson occurred when David Stern trotted him out to a press conference in the old Boston Garden during the Celtics-Rockets NBA Finals. The two gentlemen sat on the dais, talking about some player named "Drazen Petrovic" who would someday be an NBA star, and insisting that several other international players had the talent and desire to play in the league. As I reminded Peterson on Wednesday - and recalling that the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan was seated alongside - I rolled my eyes, shook my head, and complained about wasting my time at a pregame press conference, when I could have been in the Celtics locker room listening to the latest witty offerings from Bird, McHale, Parish, D.J., etc. So, hey, how dumb was I? Three years later, the walls came down, Petrovic, Vlade Divac, Zarko Paspalj, Sarunas Marciulionis and Sasha Volkov signed NBA contracts, and the rest, as they say, was history. I will say it again. How dumb was I? Really, really, really dumb ...
A final thought on Rubio and Barcelona ....
While waiting to interview Rubio Tuesday evening, we were chatting about his hometown Barcelona. I recalled covering the original Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics - Rubio was barely two years old at the time - and asked whether the Las Ramblas, the grand downtown boulevard, ever recovered from Charles Barkley's nightly strolls. Charles was huge - that was his coming out party, as an NBA and international star. The sight of the Round One, dressed in his finest matching Bermuda shorts and shirts, walking along the avenue, followed by hundreds of admirers, remains inforgettable. Rubio laughed and acknowledged that he had heard the stories. His NBA mentors, of course, are considerably younger. He's a big Chris Paul fan ...
This just in ...
One week before the 2009 NBA Draft, here's the latest news flash: The Kings need to land Rubio. If they have to trade up, so be it. Given the state of the franchise - lousy attendance, lack of interest, bad economy, community's craving to love its Kings again - finding a way to sign the gifted Spanish point guard is an absolute no-brainer.
June 17, 2009
BLOG UPDATE: Most of Porter's comments didn't 'make tomorrow's paper, so I've added them to the end of this blog post.
I'm not the biggest fan of mini-blog posts, but it's a necessity since I spilled the Terry Porter beans on Mike Lamb's KHTK show minutes ago.
The former Milwaukee and Phoenix coach told me today in a phone interview that he would not be joining the Kings as an assistant to head coach Paul Westphal. Porter said he did speak with Westphal about the job, but his current plan is to sit next season out while continuing to survey the landscape. He is being paid through next season on his Suns contract after being fired midway through last season. More in tomorrow's Bee...
Porter was fired midway through the Suns' 2008-09 season, with a 23-18 record that clearly wasn't enough to keep owner Robert Sarver and GM Steve Kerr content.
His was a tough situation, with Porter entering as the coach to follow Mike D'Antoni and his high-octane offensive ways and implement a defensive approach that simply didn't fit so much of the personnel. And after he provided an update on the fact that he wouldn't be coming on board as a Kings assistant, Porter touched on his firing and whether he thought it was fair.
"Coaches know you get hired and you get fired," he began. "Am I disappointed? Yeah. Anybody who has played this sport or been in any situation or job where they thought they'd like to be given a fair chance would be. It didn't turn out that way long enough.
"You know, it is what it is. It's the wonderful world of NBA coaching. I'm more concerned on the next phase, on my family."
On his upcoming relocation away from the Phoenix area (he didn't say where the new home court would be) and how he is getting plenty of family time now...
"You do get a chance to reconnect with your family somewhat. Coaching is such a grind, a 24-hour demand a lot of the time. There's a lot of people pulling at you, a lot of people you've got to touch bases with. When you don't have that, it's an abrupt stop. You need to reconnect with the family, and that's always nice too."
On whether he's willing to be an assistant in his next NBA job or if he is only interested in head jobs...
"I really just have to see when (job opportunities) come. I left Milwaukee and got a chance to be an assistant in Detroit with Flip (Saunders). It was a great experience, and I really enjoyed it. I learned a lot. I was blessed being in a situation where you're going to learn. You never stop learning." - Sam Amick
June 17, 2009
We already knew it was a big weekend at the Kings practice facility with Saturday's workout of USC's Demar DeRozan.
But the team just announced that Sunday's workout with Florida State guard Toney Douglas and Davidson point guard Stephen Curry will also include returnees Tyreke Evans (Memphis guard) and Nick Calathes (Florida guard). Keith Clark and Courtney Fells will also take part. The fun continues in a big way on Monday, when Pittsburgh forward Sam Young will be the big name in a multi-player workout. - Sam Amick
June 17, 2009
After experiencing seemingly-seamless travel from Spain to Los Angeles to Sacramento in recent days, there is an unexpected delay in the Ricky Rubio road trip.
The Spanish point guard who arrived Tuesday afternoon has become sick today, meaning an afternoon hoops session at the Kings practice facility is not expected to take place. Rubio, who is here only to gauge the Kings' interest in him at the No. 4 spot in the June 25 draft, may attempt to give it a go tomorrow morning. Or, of course, he may not.
After Rubio watched the Kings' workout with lesser prospects this morning and had lunch with Kings folks immediately after, a sore throat and fatigue have changed the itinerary. Per draft rules, he can only stay 48 hours and must be gone around 2 p.m., so that's the time frame with which he and the Kings have to work.
After the two sides had appeared to get off to such a successful start with dinner last night, the value and impact of the trip is obviously hard to assess at this point. It obviously would have been ideal if Rubio would have flashed his game for the Kings' brass, and that could still happen. But it could be a non-factor as well, as decisions like these are made from mountains of data of which this is merely a decent-sized ridge. - Sam Amick
June 16, 2009
This was a crazy, interesting day in Sacramento, mainly because we at The Bee didn't learn details about Ricky Rubio's scheduled visit until midafternoon. By then, I had spent 75 minutes with new Kings coach Paul Westphal at a restaurant near Arco Arena, zipped back to the newspaper and written my column for Wednesday's editions, then hurried to a downtown hotel with colleague Sam Amick and photographer Hector Amezcua for our conversation with the Spanish point guard.
Let's just say, there was a buzz around town the minute this kid landed. Whether or not his legal issues are resolved, the Kings actually draft him, or he is the player the Kings SHOULD actually draft, will be addressed in my column in Thursday's editions. But based on first impressions, here are a few thoughts:
- The charisma thing. He definitely has it. The Barcelona native walks into a hotel lobby, and people immediately notice. He also is quite personable, not pre-programmed and packaged like so many boring professional athletes.
- The Kings. Though not totally familiar with the rosters of the teams that might draft him, Rubio had perused the rosters, and interestingly, paid close attention to the birth dates. He wants to join a franchise with young players he can mature and develop with, which makes the Kings an obvious target of his affection.
- The body. Having only watched Rubio on television, most closely during last summer's Olympics, I was surprised by his physique. Dressed in a black T-shirt, shorts and sneakers, he appeared taller than his listed height - close to 6-foot-5. He also had better definition, particularly in his upper arms. He wasn't the skinny young thing he looks like on the tube.
- The idol. His favorite NBA point guard is Chris Paul, though he remembers hearing about Magic Johnson's performance in his hometown during the 1992 Games.
Absolutely, check this out (click below to continue)
June 16, 2009
BLOG UPDATE: I've added a transcript of Rubio's interview below the video.
Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio was kind enough to spend some time with The Bee during his Sacramento visit, cramming the one-on-one interview in between his physical at the UC Davis Medical Center and his dinner with Kings officials downtown.
In a hotel chat that came with a few logistical and technical challenges, the below video comes with one disclaimer: our photographer, Hector Amezcua, was videotaping without my knowledge. That doesn't really matter until the midway point, where I fumble with my handheld video cam while not realizing until after the fact that I didn't need to be taping at all. It's a comical moment in an otherwise interesting eight minutes.
After coming from Spain just days ago and then from Los Angeles to Sacramento today, Rubio does not have any other visits scheduled on his trip. The next day could very well determine whether that remains the case, so it's a vital time for this high-profile prospect in that respect. We'll obviously weigh in on his visit and whether he's headed to Sacramento in tomorrow's paper (read story here). Also, there is a transcript of the interview below the video (just click on 'continue reading')
June 16, 2009
BLOG UPDATE: Rubio has arrived. Let the visiting commence.
According to three sources with knowledge of the situation, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio will arrive in Sacramento this afternoon.
Rubio, who is a candidate for the Kings' No. 4 pick in the June 25 draft, flew from Spain to Los Angeles in recent days and will now spend parts of two days deliberating with the Kings about their interest in him as a player. While he is expected to visit with Kings officials tonight and spend time on the Arco Arena grounds tomorrow, it is unclear how much - if any - basketball-related activity will take place. Rubio - who continues to deal with the sticky buyout situation from his current professional contract with DKV Joventut - mentioned his visit on his Twitter page as well.
Also, Davidson high-scoring point guard Stephen Curry told reporters in Washington D.C. today that he is heading to Sacramento this weekend for a workout. The Washington Post's Michael Lee relayed word on that front. - Sam Amick
June 15, 2009
He's not just a fan. He's Tom Ziller, he of Sactownroyalty blog fame and KHTK glory.
In the wake of the Paul Westphal hiring and the reality that the fan voice has never been more important for the Kings, Ziller will join Carmichael Dave tonight on "The Show" from 7-9 p.m. on 1140 AM and KHTK.com (Dave is filling in for Jason Ross). Ziller and I spoke the other day for the piece about Westphal becoming official, and I'd been looking for an excuse to share more of his thoughts that appears to have now arrived.
Thus, here are his thoughts that didn't fit in print. I may do unconventional blogs like this on occasion, getting outside of Bee box and checking in with the folks who matter most to the Kings and their future. Feel free to agree/disagree with Ziller's take in the comments section. A quick teaser before we move on: I may have another one coming soon involving an old friend.
Ziller on Westphal hiring (quotes that weren't in the story)...
"I think there could have been so many more infinitely poorer decisions made. Obviously Westphal wasn't the favorite of most fans, I think. When it all started, there was a huge backing for the Eddie Jordan nostalgic contingent, of which I honestly was part of it...They could have chosen someone like John Whisenant, who would've really upset a lot of the hardcore fans."
On whether he's the right guy for this mix of players...
"It's obviously an offensive-minded team, so you need a coach who has an offensive system of note. I think a major failure over the last three years has been sort of a lack of offensive identity. (Eric) Musselman..I thought his biggest failure was on the offensive side, where Brad Miller - three quarters of the way through the season - was saying that he didn't know his role on offense when he was the most important offensive player in terms of being a facilitator. And then Reggie Theus didn't have a system - the owners called out his lack of a system a month into the season last year. I think implementing some sort of offensive scheme or offensive principles will definitely help the product on the floor." - Sam Amick
The Kings announced six players will participate in a pre-draft workout Wednesday.
Here's the lineup:
Lester Hudson, G, 6-3, 190 University of Tennessee--Martin
Ahmad Nivins, F, 6-9, 242, Saint Joseph's
Goran Suton, C, 6-10, 245, Michigan State
Jermaine Taylor, G, 6-4, 215, Central Florida
Jerome Tillman, F, 6-6, 235, Ohio
Ben Woodside, G, 5-11, 185, North Dakota State
The big names will be in Sacramento later a few days later. USC forward DeMar DeRozan (6-7, 220) will have an individual workout Saturday.
DeRozan spent one season at USC but is considered a top-5 talent.
Florida State guard Toney Douglas (6-2, 200) headlines a workout group Sunday. The rest of the players working out with Douglas have not been announced.
June 13, 2009
Chances are, Rubio wouldn't have been able to stop Jennings no matter where he was.
The 19-year-old is simply too quick. That was the prevailing impression among those who watched Jennings play. The viewing audience was just like the majority of hoops fans out there, largely unfamiliar with Jennings game because he left to play in Italy after playing his high school ball at Dominguez Hills in Compton and the esteemed Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. But as he faced off mostly against Syracuse's power-packed point guard Jonny Flynn, Jennings impressed in a big way during the full-court scrimmage.
June 12, 2009
After hearing Brandon Jennings' verbal dunk on Ricky Rubio, it's easy to forget he wasn't the only point guard of note at today's workouts.
Jrue Holiday of UCLA was in town for his second workout. It was also Syracuse star Jonny Flynn's chance to workout for the Kings.
Syracuse plays a lot of zone defense. Well, basically all Syracuse plays is zone defense.
So I asked Flynn how playing for Syracuse helped him prepare to defend NBA point guards.
"It doesn't prepare you at all," Flynn said with a laugh. "You sit in a zone all day."
Should the Kings draft Flynn, the 6-0, 186-pound burner would need to be ready to defend some of the fastest players in the Western Conference.
It's hard to tell if a Syracuse guard can do that because of the zone defense.
"On defense your athleticism gets hidden a lot," Flynn said. "You come out here and see (Kings forward and former Syracuse player) Donte Greene and you might look at him and be like nobody from Syracuse can play defense. But in practice we go over defensive principles"
But there's no denying Flynn is an athlete.
At the end of a three-man weave, Flynn took the ball and dunked it easily. He barely touched the rim, easily getting the ball over the hoop and dropping it through.
Flynn is built more like he played for the Syracuse football team so he should be able to put up a fight against bigger guards. His build reminds me a bit of the Lakers' Derek Fisher.
Besides Jennings comments, his speed and quickness were also impressive. It's safe to say he'd be the kind of point guard that would push the ball.
Flynn compared himself to Chris Paul because of his toughness. Jennings compared himself to Rajon Rondo.
The key in both comparisons you have to like is both Paul and Rondo defend and look to involve their teammates.
Unreal press conference with Syracuse's Jonny Flynn and - more importantly for these purposes - Italian professional/Oak Hill Academy product and Compton born and bred Brandon Jennings. Jennings and Flynn went at each other in a mega-workout that also included UCLA's Jrue Holiday in his second workout with the Kings.
And after Jennings showed off his game in a big way on the floor, he went about making huge headlines off of it. He was asked about Rubio and the fact that he isn't likely to work out for teams and will only interview, while Jennings is taking on big-time prospects The first Rubio mention is around the 1:30 mark, but it gets real juicy around 5:05, when Jennings is asked about the one time he faced off with Rubio (Flynn is on the left, Jennings on the right)
This second video is more focused on the workout. Jennings wasn't shy here either, pointing out that his team beat Flynn's and how Flynn wanted to go again...
JENNINGS ON RUBIO
Q: How did he (Rubio) do and how would he do to compare to the other guys in college now?
A: "Well when I was playing he only zero assists and two turnovers, you know you tell me how that was."
Q: How many minutes was he (Rubio) playing?
A: "We had about even minutes, I had 12 points, about six assists, that was the most I ever played was 30 minutes. I was a little winded but I still think I got the best of him."
Q: How would he compare to the college freshman for example?
A: "Well put it like this, if he was in a workout with me, Jonny Flynn, Drew Holiday, (Ty) Lawson, and Stephen Curry he wouldn't even be at the top."
Q: Do you think he's all hype?
A: "Yeah because he played in the Olympics, been playing pro ball since 14, you know there it is right there. His stats you know 26 minutes, having 16 points, seven assists, nine steals in 26 minutes, and you have all that? You know, I really don't know, I can't wait to play him though."
Q: Is it safe to say you think should go before Ricky Rubio in the draft?
A: "Yeah, I think I'm a better player think he is, I can shoot the ball better than he can, you know the only time I have seen him do something is when he has a homerun pass or something like that. I think the dude is just all hype. I can't even front you know, I'm just going to be real with you guys." - Sam Amick
We'll be streaming the press conference of new Kings coach Paul Westphal on Friday at 1:30 p.m.. Meanwhile, Bee sports editor Bill Bradley and columnist Marcos Breton will be taking questions and making observations in a live blog.
I will try to join in after the presser. To watch the press conference and join in on the conversation, go to www.sacbee.com/live.
I'll likely wind up Tweeting somewhere in there, too, so feel free to follow me here or fellow scribe Jason Jones here. Jason will be covering the monstrous workout in the morning that includes Syracuse's Jonny Flynn, UCLA's Jrue Holiday and Italian League professional/Oak Hill Academy product Brandon Jennings. - Sam Amick
June 11, 2009
Here is the press conference from yesterday, with Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie discussing everything from the hiring of Paul Westphal to the Kurt Rambis situation to the draft that is two weeks away.
Below we have the radio portion of this blog, from my interview with the Rise Guys yesterday to the Rambis interview in its entirety from yesterday. I only had a small portion of the Rambis interview in yesterday's post, but there was more discussion at the end in which Rambis talks about how he and his wife came to a decision on the matter followed by a few more not-so-subtle digs at the Kings to boot. Also, be sure to check out the surprise announcement from Kings draft prospect and Memphis guard Tyreke Evans at the end of this post.
Westphal, by the way, will be introduced to the media/public tomorrow and sharing the spotlight with the mega-point-guard-workout that includes Syracuse's Jonny Flynn, UCLA's Jrue Holiday (his second Sacramento stop) and Italy's Brandon Jennings. If you missed our one-on-one interview with Westphal from the night he learned he was hired, read it here.
June 10, 2009
Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie shared his views on the Kurt Rambis chapter of his team's coaching search earlier today, and now the Lakers assistant has shared his.
Speaking to the "Petros and Money Show" on Fox Sports Radio, Rambis had this to say. A transcript of the interview is below, or click on the MP3 file to hear the interview.
"I really did not want to focus on it (the Kings' coaching situation). They put some sort of timetable there. I understand that they wanted to move forward in their coaching search, but really what it came down to was that they have a bunch of young players on their team. It's a project team. As it stands right now, that team is - particularly in the Western Conference - is a ways away from winning.
"They have holes in their roster, and they certainly have to improve as a ballclub if they expect to win. And I was just looking to be involved with that team for a longer term than what the Sacramento Kings were looking for. I think that that's basically what it came down to. I like the Kings organization, I like Geoff Petrie as a general manager. The Maloofs are good owners, but my vision and their vision just didn't coincide, so I decided to turn their offer down and they moved in another direction."
June 10, 2009
PROGRAMMING ALERT: We just posted my Q&A with Paul Westphal from last night - read it here.
Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie addressed a report that the coaching job was offered to both Kurt Rambis and Paul Westphal before Westphal became the guy. I've already shared my reporting on the matter in this blog post, but here is Petrie's response with questions in between.
His first statement on the matter...
A: "The way we approached this hire was that we had a compensation structure that was basically a pre-qualifying type of...commitment that was going to be needed. So all of the people who we talked to were either told ahead of time or immediately after in their interviews what this structure was. And in order to have a chance to be offered the job, there needed to be some acknowledgement that that structure would be acceptable, which is not unlike a lot of jobs that get put out there. The job could not have been offered to somebody who hadn't said that that structure was acceptable. The only person who was offered this job was Paul Westphal. That's the bottom line.
Q: How much thought did you give to riding this thing out until after the Finals, just because Kurt had seemed so loyal to the Lakers and not wanting to deal with this process during the Finals?
A: "I just think that we gave everybody enough time to examine, analyze, mull over. It wasn't a situation where you told somebody about this and then said, 'We need an answer in 24 hours.' There was no gun, really, put to anybody's head in that form. I guess the question was, 'How much time do you need?' And I think we gave everybody adequate time to formulate their own sense of whether this works or doesn't work. At some point, you want to have a coach, we liked them all very much and decided that Paul was the best."
Q: You had mentioned Paul's enthusiasm for the job, which he showed from the beginning and continues to show. Was it revealing to you at all how Kurt decided to handle the process? Did that say something to you about his interest level?
A: "That was up to each individual person to try to come to grips with on their own. I think we gave everybody adequate time to reach some point where they could be definitive one way or the other, and we weren't prepared to wait any longer."
I'll have much more in Thursday's paper, as I had long conversations tonight with agreed-in-principle Kings coach Paul Westphal, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof and Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie.
But before we put this story to bed for the time being, I wanted to answer one of the more relevant questions that probably shouldn't wait.
Did Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis turn down the job before it went to Westphal?
I was tracking Rambis' status very closely all along and until the end, and here's what I was told by sources who know.
There was 27 days between Westphal's interview and his hiring, with the main obstacle in between the fact that his leading candidate competitor, Rambis, was involved in the playoffs and making it very clear all along that he wouldn't be distracted by the Kings' process. The obviousness of that reality and what it says shouldn't be forgotten.
Yet after Petrie had to convince Westphal to stay in the race late last week, he had pressured Rambis' agent, Warren LeGarie, for an answer regarding what it would take to entice Rambis to take the job. That answer came this afternoon in the form of an e-mail from LeGarie, which was essentially a non-answer insisting that they needed more time and simply couldn't commit to anything.
Without a commitment on the Rambis front and with the fact that - as Petrie told me tonight - third candidate and Boston associate head coach Tom Thibodeau had pulled out of the race earlier in the day, the desire to get a deal done with someone whose desire to be in Sacramento was no mystery rather than head further down the rocky Rambis road won out. There had been rumblings all along that Rambis had serious doubts about the job on a number of fronts and may not have taken it unless the expected salary ($1.5 million per in two guaranteed seasons) increased significantly, and it became clear at the end that Petrie preferred the security of a guy he was also high on whose interest was indisputable and whose terms had been agreed to (at least the basic structure of the terms) weeks before.
"(Rambis) was a great candidate, and certainly being involved in the Finals and the responsibilities there can make it a little bit challenging," Petrie said. "But we felt we needed to move forward. We felt we had three terrific candidates and decided to go with Paul."
As a final note, Westphal said Wednesday is his anniversary and he will remain put in Los Angeles to celebrate the occasion. As such, a press conference won't likely happen until Thursday or Friday, I would think. - Sam Amick
As a follow-up to the breaking news on the Kings' hiring of Paul Westphal, I wanted to share the confirmation of the news.
I just chatted with Westphal by phone, and he had this to say (and a lot more to come)...
"I'm just very excited about the opportunity. I have been looking for a good opportunity to get back and do what I like to do and I think that the Kings present an exciting challenge for me and I can't wait to get started.
"I'm really happy I got the job, and whatever winding turns it had to take - I don't even know all the winding turns that it took - I'm just happy that they decided I'm the guy for them and I can't wait to get started."
I also talked with Kings co-owner Joe Maloof, who had this (and more in tomorrow's paper) to say...
"I think we've got a gentleman who has a wonderful reputation around the league. He's had a great winning percentage, over 62 percent of his games he's won in the NBA. He has been an experienced coach in the NBA.
"We knew that he was very strong offensively, and that he had all those great teams that scored a lot of points, but you don't get into the NBA FInals (as Westphal's Phoenix team did in the 1992-93 season, losing in six games to Chicago) if you don't teach defense as well. He went through some of his ideas on defense, which made a lot of sense to us."
Maloof went on to break down some of the finer points of Westphal's pitch, which I'll get to in subsequent blogs and, of course, tomorrow's paper. - Sam Amick
June 9, 2009
UPDATE: Westphal and Kings co-owner Joe Maloof have confirmed the decision to The Bee - read here.
By Sam Amick
According to two sources with knowledge of the situation, the Kings will hire former Phoenix and Seattle head coach Paul Westphal for their vacant head coaching position.
Westphal is believed to have agreed to a deal for two guaranteed seasons at $1.5 million per with the third season a team option worth $1.7 million.
BLOG CORRECTION: Upon further review, the third year is worth $2 million
There are likely incentives in the deal that could reward Westphal if the Kings improved even moderately from their franchise-worst 17-win campaign in 2008-09.
The decision brings an end to a Kings coaching search that lasted 47 days and came with similar twists and turns as the ones that had come before. It began with Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie calling for experience over experiments, setting parameters that the Kings' fifth coach since 2006 would have to be have had "some level of success" as an NBA head coach. Eddie Jordan and Westphal were the first candidates, both of them easily meeting the qualifications and kickstarting the process with interviews on May 12 and May 13, respectively.
Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis eventually entered with a second group that also included Boston associate head coach Tom Thibodeau, just about the time Jordan was bowing out voluntarily. Despite being seen as a frontrunner largely for his ties to Petrie and the organization, Jordan was hired by Philadelphia on May 29. Just a day later, Thibodeau was interviewed by the Kings in Las Vegas and was followed the next day by Rambis' interview in Los Angeles.
Throughout the later stages of the process, Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof and Petrie repeatedly made it clear that Rambis, Westphal, and Thibodeau were all impressive in their interviews and that they were all being seriously considered. And while Rambis was believed by most to be the front runner, sources say discussions between the Kings and his agent, Warren LeGarie, stalled for too long while Westphal waited for a verdict.
With the Lakers in the midst of the NBA Finals against Orlando, Rambis was adamant that he remain loyal to the Lakers and focused on the task of winning a championship. Westphal, meanwhile, had grown impatient enough that sources say he was close to pulling out of the race. In the end, however, he was alone at the finish line.
June 9, 2009
Memphis guard Tyreke Evans has made his Sacramento stop, working out at the team's practice facility floor on Tuesday in what was his first of five workouts.
The dynamic scorer who could wind up being the team's selection at the No. 4 spot seemed to impress, with a lot of chatter about his physicality, length and the general sense that he simply looks like a top-notch NBA talent. Evans said the fact that he did a one-man workout wasn't a case of him being afraid of the competition, but that he couldn't match schedules with the players who he would typically face off against. Whether he's alone or sharing the floor, there is certainty in his potential yet certainly questions about his shooting ability, which can be seen in the below workout video and heard in the interview below that...
The Kings have announced their updated workout schedule, and Friday will surely be a doozey.
The team that is on the prowl for a point guard has convinced three of the best in the draft to face off, as UCLA's Jrue Holiday will come in for a second time and be joined by Syracuse's Jonny Flynn and Italy's Brandon Jennings.
After today's workout with Nick Calathes , DeMarre Carroll, Wayne Ellington, Damion James, AJ Price, and Terrence Williams, here is the list ahead in its updated state (the new stuff is post-June 10). Also, I've included video to Friday's faceoff at the bottom of this post.
June 8, 2009
Compelling Game 2 in LA last night, not to mention a possible step toward simplification of the Kings coaching search.
The official stance remains that all three candidates are still in the running, but it's Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis and former Phoenix and Seattle head coach Paul Westphal who come with the complications. And a Lakers sweep, it's safe to say, would be embraced by all.
With his focus squarely set on winning a title, Rambis has made it clear that he refuses to be distracted by the Kings' situation. Couple that with Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie's history of not wanting to step on other team's toes, and that means the situation is on hold (translation: no negotiations to know exactly what it would take contractually to land Rambis). Meanwhile, Westphal continues to wait while wondering exactly what to make of it all.
There were rumblings late last week that Westphal might pull out of the race, and it says something that he remains. If Westphal happened to pull out, this search would be without the only candidate that legitimately fulfills the initial parameters of experience and success. And then some. (To be fair, Rambis was 24-13 in his partial season as Lakers head coach in 1998-99, with a series win over Houston and a Western Conference semifinal loss - by way of sweep - to San Antonio)
June 6, 2009
I'm off for a week's vacation, but wanted to offer some final thoughts about Randy Smith, the former NBA star who died of an apparent heart attack while working out on a treadmill. Smith, who was only 60 years old, is the latest of three former Clippers to die prematurely - all of whom happened to have the same last name. This is particularly weird for me, because I covered all three during my first few years as an NBA beat writer. Derek Smith (35), Phil Smith (50) and now Randy Smith (60) died of different causes, but much too young.
Smith, who was later traded to the Kings in the deal for MIke Woodson and Larry Drew, died of cardiac arrest in 1992 after suffering a reaction to anti-nausea medicine while on a cruise for the Washington Wizards. At the time, he was an assistant coach for Jimmy Lynam, who gave him his start in the NBA with the 1983-84 San Diego Clips. Phil Smith, who is best known throughout the Bay Area as the former USF and Golden State Warriors star, died of cancer in 2002 at age 50. He played for the Clips in 1980-82, but after suffering a ruptured Achilles, was never the same player. I remember Phil showing up at practice one day with his twin toddlers, Phil and Martin, and when he saw me sitting in the gym watching practice, sheepishly asked if I would babysit. He placed his sons on my lap and went about his business. It was hilarious ....
Randy Smith moved west with the Clips in 1978, was re-signed by the team in 1981-82, which happened to be my first year covering the league. He was a great guy on a team filled with wonderfully rich, entertaining characters, among them Bill Walton, Jerome Whitehead, Tom Chambers, Jim Brogan,Terry Cummings, Brian Taylor, Lionel Hollins, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, and Michael Brooks. The only downer was the owner - Donald Sterling - who became notorious for failing to pay the team's hotel and restaurant bills, stripping team employees of their insurance, and trying to force the squad to travel coach instead of first class - a violation of the collective bargaining agreement for all flights exceeding two hours.One night, after a flight landed in Seattle - and keep in mind that teams traveled commercial back then, usually with beat writers on the same flight - Kobe's Dad pulled me aside and told me he had a story for me. I immediately called the late Larry Fleisher, who was head of the Players Union, and Sterling was busted!
Randy was just a sweetheart, though, and a wonderful influence on youngsters Cummings and Chambers. Same for Taylor, who played for Pete Carril at Princeton. I saw Randy on occasion in later years, mostly when he was working for the league. I wonder if he was working at the Mohegan Sun casino when the Monarchs played the Connecticut Sun during the 2005 WNBA Finals? I surely would have looked him up. You never forget the people who are so kind and professional, especially when your career is just starting.
Still confused by this one ...
Nothing against Kings coaching candidates Kurt Rambis, Paul Westphal and Tom Thibodeau, but Mike Fratello continues to reach out to team officials, and can't even get an interview? I understand Geoff Petrie's desire to hire someone whose personality meshes with his own introverted nature, but this is ridiculous. In terms of credentials and accomplishments - not to mention , it's not even close. At the very least, Joe and Gavin Maloof should insist that Fratello be granted an interview. Then, talk personalities, styles and contract.
This has nothing to do with the Kings, but ....
While Fratello was guiding the young Atlanta Hawks of Dominique Wilkins, Doc Rivers, Spud Webb, Randy Wittman, a young lefthander named Tom Glavine was the lone bright spot on a lousy Braves team that played to 2,000 or so fans nightly. Glavine endured the bad times and in the 1990s went on to become one of the most popular and successful sports figures in the city's history. He was MVP of the 1995 World Series - he pitched a classic series-clincher against the Cleveland Indians after Greg Maddux had been roughed up in Jacob's Field. Beyond all that, he represented everything organizations claim to want in their players. He was a class act, an incredible competitor, and deserved to be treated better than being waived Friday in a blatant salary dump. Braves president John Schuerholz had a sleepless night? Yeah, well, guess he won't be invited when Glavine is inducted into the Hall of Fame ....
June 5, 2009
Dionte Christmas admits he won't wow you with his vertical leap.
The 6-foot-5 guard is relying on his jump shot, not ability to jump to earn a spot on a team's roster.
"I think every team could use a shooter," Christmas said Friday after his workout with the Kings. "And I like to pride myself on being one of the best shooters in the country. I think I can bring that to a team. I' m very energetic. I think I can be a great asset to someone's team."
Christmas led the Atlantic 10 in scoring the last three seasons. He's noted for having a quick release on his jump shot with good elevation and form.
Christmas' 319 three-pointers are the most in Temple history. He made 107 threes as a senior, also a school record. He averaged 19.5 points last season.
And Christmas does his homework before visiting a team. When I spoke with him in Oakland following his workout in front of several teams, he was able to detail how he'd fit in with Golden State.
The same went for the Kings. Christmas sees himself as someone who might "follow in the footsteps" of Kevin Martin as a perimeter scorer. He added that his skills would also take pressure off the likes of Jason Thompson.
Christmas' admitted lack of elite athleticism is one of the reasons he's projected as a second-round pick. He might be considered a reach with the Kings' pick at No. 31, but there always remains the possibility of Christmas' stock rising or the Kings acquiring another pick in the second round.
Christmas is also confident he could help a team as a ballhandler, which is a skill he's working t improve.
Another intriguing player that worked out for the Kings was Pittsburgh point guard Levance Fields.
At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Fields looks a lot like a football player. And he's from Brooklyn, NY and most basketball fans know the swagger that comes with a point guard from New York.
Fields isn't considered one of the top prospects at the position.
He led a Pitt team that was known for its toughness. So it's no surprise that's what Fields touted as one of his strengths.
"I'm just tough nosed," he said. "Tough mentally, a grind it out type of player. Not really pretty, not fancy. I just get the job done and do whatever my team needs for me to do to win. I think that's all that matters. As long as my team wins, that's all I care about."
Fields averaged 10.7 points and 7.5 assists as a senior.
There will be more on Earl Clark and James Johnson in tomorrow's Bee. And I'm sure there will be some kind of update on the Kings coaching search.
June 5, 2009
Today's workout featured Wake Forest forward James Johnson and Louisville forward Earl Clark. We'll have more on them in tomorrow's paper, and Jason Jones will likely be blogging later to touch on the others who took part (Levance Fields, Marcus Landry, Leo Lyons, and Dionte Christmas).
Here's a short part of the interview with Johnson and Clark below. Both players are expected to be taken midway through the first round, meaning they aren't likely to become Kings unless there's some movement on draft day (which there could be) or if they fall to No. 23. I didn't take any action video today, but should be able to link to the team's video later.
- Sam Amick
June 4, 2009
The Kings' second workout has concluded (the first included UCLA's Jrue Holiday). Check out video of the workout and some of the interviews that followed.
The session included forwards Robert Dozier (Memphis), Omri Casspi (Maccabi Elite, Israel), and Jeff Adrien (UConn), with guards Greivis Vasquez (Maryland), Darren Collison (UCLA), and Tyrese Rice (Boston College). Collison and Casspi are seen as late first round or early second round picks and the most likely possibilities for the Kings. Click on the links on the players names to learn more about them.
June 4, 2009
We'll start with the coaching search, which I update in this story but wanted to touch on further in the trusty blog.
For starters, there's the qualifier on Kings co-owner Joe Maloof telling me there would be a decision "pretty quickly." A few moments after making that statement, he reverted back to the same old desire to have a coach in place before the June 25 draft. That's obviously a ways off, and certainly doesn't qualify as quickly in my book.
Now as for the more recent chatter about the search, there were some relevant thoughts from Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie that couldn't fit in print but are worth touching on. For the first time since the Kings interviewed Tom Thibodeau, I had a chance to ask Petrie about the fact that the Boston associate head coach simply doesn't fit the parameters that were set forth in the beginning - "no more grand experiements," as he had said - because he has no head coaching experience.
"No, that's true," Petrie quickly acknowledged. "He doesn't fit the total profile that I'd talked about, but I was impressed with him the last time (he interviewed two years ago) and he was somebody that Joe and Gavin (Maloof) had really wanted to talk to. In terms of experience, the breadth of people he has worked for is all very good."
Now on to the ongoing draft coverage...
There's just no reason for any of the material being produced on the draft to be lost on folks who always want more, so let's get our aggregating on. (Omri Casspi video below as well)
June 3, 2009
One of the more interesting tidbits of information coming out of the pre-draft workouts the last two days in Oakland is word that the agent for Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio is suddenly amenable to participating in interviews and individuals workouts with a select number of teams - the Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder and Kings. Sources told me that, at this point, Rubio's agent, Dan Fegan, is limiting the visits to the teams with draft picks 2-4. Given the fact that Jrue Holiday and Jonny Flynn are moving up on most mock draft boards, this makes sense. Plus, Rubio didn't play particularly well in his season finale. Holiday is expected to return to Sacramento for a second workout, Tyreke Evans is scheduled to work out here next week, and Flynn shortly thereafter. Since the Kings have been unusually accommodating to the media this year - in the past, the team refused to reveal which prospects were working out, and allowed no media access to the workouts - this should be a very interesting few weeks.
June 3, 2009
At the risk of sounding like a blogging Bee commercial, our web site is pretty snazzy sometimes. Specifically, I'm a fan of the feature that allows readers to "recommend" a particular comment and have it displayed more prominently than the rest.
While peeking at today's story on a couple of the Kings' big man possibilities in the June 25 draft, I noticed this salient thought from "Iloveeveryone."
"Instead of focusing on drafting a big, how about focusing on signing Ike Diogu to help out our front line rotation. We already know what we got in Ike, and if the new coach can keep that fire lit under Ike from the end of the season, Ike can be a great player. Our current/could be front court is Spenc, Jason, Donte, and Ike. While it may not currently be 'great', it has potential to be a 'great' front line. I would much rather see the Kings take a good wing player or even another PG with the #23 pick. The #31 pick will just be traded or eventually cut/waived. Sign Ike!! He is the key to our front line rotation."
It's a valid point. Yet while Diogu certainly impressed in his final two games of the season, it certainly doesn't mean the Kings won't ponder possibilities like Tyler Hansbrough or Gani Lawal. For one, there's the age factor (Diogu is 25 compared to 23-year-old Hansbrough and 20-year-old Lawal) and the question of whether older is considered better from the standpoint of who can contribute quicker or if younger with more upside is the choice because of the bigger picture at hand. More importantly, there's the money factor: while no one sees the Kings picking up Diogu's qualifying offer of $3.9 million (at which point he would become an unrestricted free agent), he'll certainly cost more than a No. 23 pick ($972K in first of two guaranteed years) or a No. 31 pick (negotiable).
From there, there's plenty to debate about Diogu's skill set as compared to the others. Yet that situation will unfold, so we'll instead say hello to Hansbrough and Lawal. Be sure to peek at the actual story, then check out these interviews that were taken at Chicago Predraft Combine.
- Sam Amick
June 2, 2009
OAKLAND--If Austin Daye is available for the Kings to select with the 23rd pick, someone might have lied to him.
He'd like a guarantee from a team that it would select him. Daye said he's heard he'll fall between 9-17.
The lanky small forward from Gonzaga hasn't hired an agent. Daye said he's "pretty dedicated to staying in" the draft with this caveat.
"I really don't want to fall into the 20s," Daye said after his workout Tuesday at the Golden State Warriors practice facility. "If that happens I'm probably going to go back to school, if that's what they're saying."
Daye spent two seasons at Gonzaga. At 6-10, 192 pounds, Daye sees himself creating matchup problems as a small forward or even a power forward like Rashard Lewis.
Daye just doesn't want to wait to be selected after the top-20 picks to show he can do that, even if it might mean going to a better team.
"If you fall to the 20s it could help you and it could hurt you," he said. "You could be buried so far down on the bench you might not get out of that hole."
Daye wouldn't be buried if he somehow fell to Sacramento, which holds Houston's first-round pick from the Ron Artest trade.
Daye's length and athleticism would be welcome on offense and defense. Daye is also a decent shooter, having made 42.2 percent of his three pointers for the Bulldogs.
Daye averaged 11.6 points in two seasons. His 70 blocks last season were third most in school history.
But if Daye is around for the Kings to pick, he's not going to be happy.
Another interesting prospect that could fall to No. 23 is Louisville swingman Terrence Williams who calls himself a "definite NBA player."
Unlike Daye, Williams isn't worried about where he'll be selected. And after four years of college, he doesn't have the option of going back to school either.
Williams isn't finding the draft process stressful.
"Not studying for a test and trying to take a test, that's nerve-wracking," Williams said. "Playing basketball and getting drafted? This is supposed to be fun. I see one website where I can go 13. I see another where I can go 25. It doesn't matter to me. Playing in the NBA is a dream. If I get drafted 30, I'm playing in the NBA. It's not going to really matter. This is basketball."
Williams (6-6, 220) operated as a point forward and often defended the opposition's best player. He said that meant guarding anyone from a point guard to a power forward.
And he's the kind of player that looks to do the little things, or as he put it, connect the dots.
"If you're a great shooter and he's a great rebounder I'm going to get you the ball so he can knock down the shot and I'm going to box out so he can get the rebound," Williams said. "So I'm a guy that does the little things."
So where did Williams learn to play like this? It started while growing up in Seattle.
"When you're a kid everybody wants to score 12 points so they go home and tell their mom 'I scored 12 points today,'" Williams said. "There wasn't enough balls for the type of teams I played on so I had to be the type of person that didn't' want to shoot the ball all the time. I had to be the type of person to get those guys involved, rebound."
Williams is living in Las Vegas and working with former All-Star Gary Payton on ways to improve his play.
Williams played on Payton's AAU team in Seattle and they share the same agent, Aaron Goodwin.
Payton, however, has his way of reminding Williams he hasn't hit the big time yet.
"I stay in (Payton's) house," Williams said. "Well I stay in the little house he stays in the big house."
As for where he fits in this year's draft class, Williams is confident he's as talented as any of the wing players available.
The stats say Williams is not a great shooter. Williams shot 43.1 percent as a senior, including 38.5 percent on threes. Both were career highs. But his free throw percentage (58.1 percent) was the second lowest of his career.
Williams defense and versatility make him worth a look. He's the only player in Louisville history with 1,500 points, 900 rebounds, 500 assists and 200 steals.
And by the way, for those of you on twitter, you can follow my work updates @jejones_sacbee where I'll provide updates as I get caught up on the NBA beat.
June 2, 2009
The Kings have added to their workout schedule, with Arizona State shooting guard James Harden set to work out in Sacramento on June 10.
Also, the Gani Lawal workout that he said was taking place on Wednesday didn't transpire and I'm not sure if it will be rescheduled. The Kings saw him in Chicago and Oakland, so that may be plenty. I discuss the possibility of Lawal or Tyler Hansbrough being picked at No. 23 or No. 31 in tomorrow's paper. Be sure to check the blog late tonight or tomorrow morning for videos from Chicago of Hansbrough, Lawal and Omri Casspi as well.
Here is the workout list in its updated state...
BLOG UPDATE: Scratch that question from the record, as a wise reader commented below that they could simply draft him to get his rights and - come to think of it - save a few bucks in the process by not having to pay one of their three picks this season. It's Rudy Fernandez style, which could also wind up being the case for Casspi.
June 2, 2009
It could be an interesting few days ahead as they pertain to the Kings coaching search, as Monday's interview with Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis in Los Angeles appears to have served as the final step before a decision is made.
There's no reason to think that more candidates would be added to the list that includes Rambis, Paul Westphal and Tom Thibodeau. And judging from the conversations I had tonight, I'd call it a close race between Westphal and Rambis with Thibodeau bringing up the rear. To be clear, that's more of a sense on my end than it is an indirect statement from anybody of relevance in this situation.
Now before I move on to sharing my chat with Kings co-owner Joe Maloof following the Rambis interview, I wanted to add a few tidbits regarding Westphal. I focus on him only because there has been some spirited debate back and forth among fans regarding the notion of him as the next coach.
June 1, 2009
OAKLAND - Patrick Mills referred to himself as a "young" point guard that wanted to prove he knew how to run a team shortly after a workout in front of 21 NBA teams Monday afternoon at the Golden State Warriors practice facility.
Mills, who turns 21 in August, however has a couple of years on a some of the other top point guards in this year's draft class.
Spain's Ricky Rubio is 18. Other point guards such as Jrue Holiday and Brandon Jennings are just one year removed from graduating high school.
Mills played two seasons at St. Mary's College in Moraga before declaring for the draft without hiring an agent.
But he sounds like a player that has no intention of withdrawing his name from the draft.
"In my head I'm one hundred percent in," Mills said. "There's an opportunity there and I want to make sure I grab it by both horns and go for it. There's always that backup plan but in my head, certainly, there's not that backup plan."
Should the Kings pass on a point guard with the fourth overall pick, Mills could be an ideal fit at No. 23 or No. 31.
Mills hasn't spoken with the Kings, but the team is familiar with the speedy point guard.
Mills is from Australia and played on his country's Olympic team last summer. "Patty" didn't start for Australia but led the team with 14.2 points per game.
He played some of his best basketball against NBA players. He scored 20 points with three assists, two steals and no turnovers against the United States in a quarterfinals loss. Mills had 22 points against Argentina, which had five NBA players.
Mills calls the Olympics the "highlight" of his young career and said the experience made putting his name into the draft an easy one.
And the scar on Mills' right hand is another reason not to risk a return to college.
Mills missed time with a broken hand last season. While he was out, he had the opportunity to speak with Kobe Bryant at a Warriors game. Mills received more affirmation that he could play in the NBA from that conversation.
"I still act like a small kind, you know?" Mills said of speaking with Bryant. "I get that excited. ... Him saying I have the ability to play at the next level gives me that much more confidence."
As Sam Amick pointed in Sunday's Bee, Mills does come with some questions about his shooting and turnovers.
But Mills (6-0, 185) has shown he has the kind of speed to push the temp offensively. And in a conference with players such as Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Aaron Brooks leading teams, speed at point guard is at a premium.
Mills averaged 18.4 points and 3.8 assists as a sophomore. He shot only 40.2 percent from the field and made 33.8 percent of his threes.
Mills is confident enough in his ability that he's not seeking the first-round guarantee many prospects without agents want to stay in the draft.
He's looking for positive feedback and said he'd go back to St. Mary's if NBA teams told him he wasn't ready to contribute.
Mills believes he's mature enough already based on his play in the Olympics.
"Summer campaign I was only 19 at the time, running a team that was in their mid 30s," Mills said. "I see myself in a similar position if I get in the league this year. Something I'm familiar with."
Mills has workouts scheduled with Detroit, Milwaukee and Atlanta. And he'll head fly to Italy Wednesday for a European camp for draft prospects.
Check back tomorrow with more on prospects working out in Oakland.
June 1, 2009
The Kings announced their workout schedule through June 9. Here it is, with schools and positions to come when I'm not writing for tomorrow's paper. Google away...
Jeff Adrien, Omri Casspi, Darren Collison, Robert Dozier, Tyrese Rice, Greivis Vasquez
Earl Clark, James Johnson, Levance Fields, Marcus Landry, Leo Lyons, Player TBD
DeJuan Blair, Josh Heytvelt, Jerel McNeal, Tyler Smith, Marcus Thornton, Player TBD
Nick Calathes, DeMarre Carroll, Wayne Ellington, Damion James, AJ Price, Terrence Williams
June 1, 2009
BLOG UPDATE: Regarding the interview, I've been told Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof will be on hand and Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie - who is back East dealing with a personal matter - may join in by conference call.
Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis is being interviewed in Los Angeles today for the Kings head coaching position, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
Rambis will be the fourth candidate to be interviewed for the position, joining Eddie Jordan (who has been hired by Philadelphia), former Phoenix and Seattle head coach Paul Westphal and Boston associate head coach Tom Thibodeau. - Sam Amick
More to come...
I wanted to post a quick blog here regarding two topics: draft workouts this week and the Sacramento Professional Basketball League that starts tonight.
We'll start in reverse order. The best summertime hoops action in Sacramento officially starts tonight at Capital Christian High School (7 pm tip). As we've chronicled in years past , this event typically has some big name players involved who can be seen for a cheap price ($7).
I'm still waiting to hear who will be taking part tonight (in the game between Buggy's All-Star and Showtime Basketball), but it's usually a mixture of "local" pros (from Matt Barnes to Bobby Jackson to Kevin Martin), local high-level college players who have gone on to play overseas and the area's best high school players. I highly recommend it if you're looking for something to do on a slow evening, and it runs from tonight until June 25 (schedule info can be found here).
Now on the draft front, the Oakland workouts take place today and tomorrow, but the Kings are expected to resume their individual workout schedule in Sacramento on Wednesday. While I was in Chicago for Predraft Combine, a handful of prospects mentioned their workout times with the Kings. Here they are...
(Quick reminder: the Kings have the No. 4 and No. 23 picks in the first round, and the first pick in the second round at No. 31)
* Marquette senior shooting guard Jerel McNeal, who is seen as a second-round pick, said he has a workout in Sacramento "in the second week of June." He interviewed in Chicago with the Kings.
* Omri Casspi, a 20-year-old small forward who is attempting to become the first Israeli to play in the NBA and is seen as a late first-round or early second-round pick, said he will work out in Sacramento on Thursday. The Kings interviewed Casspi in Chicago. I caught up with him as well, and will have more on him in tomorrow's paper (tentatively).
* Gani Lawal, a Georgia Tech big man who did it all for the Yellowjackets, said he will get his chance to prove himself to the Kings in a workout on Wednesday in Sacramento. He interviewed with the Kings in Chicago. He would be a candidate for the No. 23 pick.
* Wake Forest small forward/power forward James Johnson, who is seen as a mid first-round pick, said he will workout in Sacramento on "June 5 or June 6." He also interviewed with the Kings in Chicago.
The Kings have been far more open about their workouts this year than in the past, so this stuff won't likely stay a secret for much longer. - Sam Amick