Leading Off

When hookah smoke clears in Denver, Kings’ draft mistake will be apparent

Ty Lawson knows when he’s not wanted. And, apparently, he knows where he is wanted.

Video of Lawson watching Thursday’s NBA draft went viral when the Denver Nuggets point guard was taped saying – in a cloud of hookah smoke – “I told you. I’m going to Sacramento, bro.”

The Nuggets had just drafted point guard Emmanuel Mudiay with the seventh pick, and they didn’t pick the 19-year-old to be Lawson’s backup. The team drafted him to be its point guard this season and for many more.

Perhaps nobody in Sacramento was happier than Kings coach George Karl to see Mudiay go to Denver, where Karl coached Lawson. In the 2012-13 season, the Nuggets won 57 games with Lawson dishing out the assists.

Several reports have indicated that Karl wants Lawson as his point guard. Sorry, Darren Collison, it’s business, not personal. If Karl had his way, he probably would swap the Kings’ entire roster for the Nuggets’ roster.

Absurd, of course, but remember Karl took Denver to the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons (2006-13) before the Nuggets fired him.

▪ When the hookah smoke clears in a few seasons, we’ll see that the Kings should have taken Mudiay with the sixth pick.

Nothing against Willie Cauley-Stein, who appears to have tremendous raw skill and seems as if he loves to have fun on the court – something the Kings haven’t had much of since 2006 – but he’s projected as a backup as a rookie.

Mudiay, on the other hand, could make an impact this season. Even though he’s 19, he played a year of professional basketball – with older players – in China.

And what he told Denver media Friday said a lot about himself.

“Losing makes me sick,” Mudiay said. “I can’t stand it. If I’m not winning, I’m not happy.”

There aren’t many happy Kings in Sacramento these days.

Victor Contreras, (916) 326-5527, @sacbeevictor


  • WHAT TO WATCH: Golf, U.S. Senior Open, Ch. 40, 11 a.m.: Will Tom Watson still be among the leaders after the third round?
  • TWITTER CHATTER: “Don’t be surprised to see Willie Cauley-Stein in the Hall of Fame or working at a Burger King.” – @sportspickle
  • ON THIS DATE: On June 27, 2013, the Kings selected Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore with the seventh pick in the NBA draft.