Posted by: natehughart | February 2, 2012

Game 22: Portland Trail Blazers at Kings

Only so much is going to be had with this preview. Adjust accordingly.


Blazers Edge, Portland Roundball Society and Rip City Project are all sites that I suggest reading for Blazers opinion.

As Matt Kawahara of the Bee notes in his 5 keys for tonight’s game, who defends Gerald Wallace and effectively? If Salmons cannot, and Salmons is a terrible matchup for G-Dub, than I might suggest putting Tyler Honeycutt on Wallace, green NBA status not withstanding, to see how Honeycutt could fare. I doubt Donte Greene will keep Gerald from getting where he wants to go, and I’m definitely not convinced that Tyreke Evans can slow G-Dub down.

Jason Jones has an important piece on Tyreke Evans/DeMarcus Cousins being leaders for the Kings long term in today’s Bee paper edition.

“The game has to speak for itself, first because I don’t believe in all that talking,” the coach said.

This is what stuck out to me. Everything else in the piece is what you’d expect for a puff piece about the two young players that matter more than anyone or anything else to the franchise (including cash poor assclown ownership and a mostly interested in self preservation head of basketball operations). But this quote stuck by Smarty out to me about exactly what Marcus Thornton does that is valuable:

“He’s young, but he’s a veteran,” Smart said of Thornton. “Even having only a couple years under his belt, he still has the savvy of an NBA-aggressive player. And you’ve missed that on the floor because you need it in some crunch-time situations. He can make a play out of a dead play.”

This is something Thornton does ridiculously well. Evans and Cousins routinely go 1 on 1, but do not get the quality of shots that Thornton does when possessions break down. Not every broken down possession results in quality shots (it is why they are broken down possessions) but when you can get a good shot in those situations and make something work is a sign of someone who understands what’s going on. Sure Marcus Thornton is a gunner in the Vinnie Johnson mold no doubt, but that doesn’t mean Thornton isn’t valuable in what he provides.

Stathead Final Thoughts

There are 3 players on the roster with an ORtg of higher than 102.8 which is the current league average. One is Tyler Honeycutt who has played all of 8 minutes so far on the season.

One is Isaiah Thomas who is at 105 ORtg individually. The other is Jason Thompson at 113 ORtg (his DRtg is 110–which is the only positive ORtg to DRtg differential on the Kings right now–of players getting consistent minutes that is) and this says a lot. Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans are both near the 102.8 mark at 101 ORtg each, and DeMarcus Cousins is at 99. Francisco Garcia and Chuck Hayes are at 98 ORtg, and Jimmer Fredette has a 96 ORtg right now. All these numbers, not to mention the defensive numbers, have the possibility in moving the appropriate direction for each metric respectively. Right now the Kings have a margin of victory at -11.3 points per game.

Sacramento’s eFG% offensively is still dead last at 43.5% (which is .8% points behind Charlotte who is 29th), but that gap is actually narrowing as the Kings are having significantly better shot attempts recently from a variety of sources. The league avg for eFG% is 48.2% this season so it gives you an idea of how bad the Kings are doing in this department. But it gets worse.

Defensively the Kings are giving up 50.3% eFG% (good for 26th) right now which is 2.1% higher than the league avg of, you guessed it, 48.2%. It’s not stunning the Kings are actually worse off offensively with so little offense coming from offensive sources. What is amazing is that the Kings actually may end up 20th in eFG% defensively by the middle of the season, and could improve from there by the end of the year. The problem, as you may realize, is that the Kings are also dead last in DRB% right now.

You can check all this out on the NBA page at Basketball-Reference.com. The good news is that this team has been fouling less than they did a year ago. The bad news, is that is reflected in the high eFG% given up on a nightly basis. If the Kings can continue to foul less while decreasing their eFG% given up, this has the potential for a league average defensive unit THIS SEASON.

Final Thoughts.

Oh I don’t have any. Other than to say I hate the NBA system of NBATV/blacking out games that I should be able to see on Broadband. When you make it more attractive to go out and find an illegal stream, you know you got problems. NBATV is a difficult channel to get because A) it’s a premium channel and B) it’s treated by the NBA as a widespread channel such as ESPN or TNT. I get why the NBA blacks ESPN/TNT games out; it makes a lot of sense. But blacking out NBATV games (and games like Portland for someone in the Seattle market like myself) is what hurts the NBA’s staying power with casual fans. You make it this difficult on a basketball junkie with limited resources, what’s going to happen for fans in other locales?

The NBA has tried long and hard to push NBATV as a national TV alternative. I doubt the NBATV channel has seen an uptick in viewership over the long haul. (I could be wrong.) The same people that had it 3 years ago have it now. The same people that do not have it do not have it. The NBA needs to stop pretending that long term emphasis will be on a premium channel that is ridiculously expensive to purchase from Comcast and/or DirecTV. The NBA definitely needs to stop screwing over fans who buy broadband (like me) from watching NBATV and/or Portland games (in my case) when it’s unnecessary and not available in the broader overall cable package. I wouldn’t mind being blacked out from Portland if it was available on basic cable. I get that. But being blacked out of a game that I literally have to go to a sports bar to watch or find an illegal stream is especially irritating, and seems like an unnecessary way to do business.

Then again, I’ve never presided over a business that has made near 4 billion dollars in a season either.

Game is at 7pm on Comcast California. As if you didn’t know that already.

Posted by: natehughart | January 31, 2012

Kings lose to Warriors on road with atrocious 4th qtr; Lose 93-90

Am I upset about the loss? No. Not really. At least there were some good moments. Actual live real tangible touchable NBA offense was actually executed by our spoiled brats tonight. Behold Kings fans! What if they did this for 48 minutes every night?

Oh, we aren’t living in fantasy land today. My bad.

Just a few thoughts because I really don’t feel the need to go on & on and on & on and and on & and on and.

* Tyreke Evans illustrated he can run an offense. He also illustrated he can be exceptionally limited in his decision making. The trend? It’s a bad one until Tyreke consistently moves past this.

* DeMarcus Cousins started fast and wasn’t heard of much after the 1st qtr when Keith Smart took him out for a blow. (That’s a rest; not an automatic trip to the breathalyzer after you’ve gone to the bar.) Playing 36 minutes though? I like what Keith Smart is aiming at here. Since Smart has taken over, Cousins has averaged over 30 MPG (30.5 MPG if you include tonight’s contest). If that gets anywhere near 32-33 MPG (and it’s been over 30 MPG the last 5 Kings games) on a consistent basis for the Kings, this will be a major launching point for Cousins to hopefully find that consistency that has alluded him his entire career.

* Jason Thompson didn’t make much of an impact as the game wore on, but early on JT was brilliant. It’s been satisfying JT develoop into the player he is now.

* Isiah Thomas will most likely be talked about for hitting some late 3’s, but the one play that actually sticks out to me was the pick and roll LSG ran with JJ Hickson in the 3rd qtr. As James Ham noted in a tweet, part of the issue with that is JJ Hickson actually moving towards the basket with the roll part.

* John Salmons had all of his 8 points in the 3rd qtr as Salmons actually showed some of what has at times made him a very good NBA scorer in his career. But, I also thought the defense of Salmons on Monta Ellis for long stretches made Monta change where he wanted to go, and typically in the past that has not been the case when the Kings have matched up with the Warriors. #silverlinings

The Kings killed the Warriors on the glass by 15, turned the ball over 21 times and managed to perfect the art of “stand around, pound the dribble and do absolutely jack shit” for 20 seconds on a shot clock. Against the Warriors reserves of Epke Udoh, Dominic McGuire, Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush and Nate Robinson. Yes, that’s right, the Kings couldn’t figure out a way to keep the game in any sort of competitive fashion against the Warrior reserves.

The Kings immaturity, and how far they have to go, had it’s stop in Oakland. Next stop? Against Rip City in the artist formerly known as the arena that caused a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Posted by: natehughart | January 31, 2012

Is Tyreke Evans salvageable?

A number of people tend to disagree with me that Evans is struggling due to a lack of commitment. A number of people tend to think that it’s more adjusting from a bad role that Westphal assigned Tyreke (which is understandable) and a new role that is entirely different from Keith Smart.

I tend to think that’s it not entirely different from one coach to another when the reality of Tyreke’s success or failure as a Sacramento Kings player would depend on the very balance that Keith Smart talks about in Jason Jones’ piece for the Bee yesterday:

“You’ve got to be selfless to do it because, one, I didn’t say this is how you score; this is how you get somebody else the ball,” Smart said. “So I’m telling a guy who averages 20 and can have a huge night any night when his driving game is good to step back and give up that portion to get somebody else involved.”

In otherwords? Read the game kid. Pay more attention. This shit ain’t just about you.

Earlier in the piece:

“My vision was I would look to score first, and then I’d kick out,” Evans said. “Sometimes he tells me I get in the habit of thinking pass first and I’m not aggressive. I’ve just got to be aggressive.”

His vision? Tyreke’s vision? I’d make a joke about what vision, but the idea that Tyreke Evans knew how to be more successful at the NBA level than any head coach, including Paul Westphal, is problematic. That’s a problem when you don’t understand that portion of the game, and don’t understand why a head coach, regardless of whether you get along from a personal standpoint, would want you to shed that kind of mindset.

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. Depending on how you feel about John Salmons (not happy with the performance but I don’t despise him the way some Kings fans clearly do), this definitely won’t make you happy. Here’s a newsflash: Part of NBA stardom is creating mismatches, and when you move Tyreke to the SF spot you take those mismatches away. It’s that simple.

From Jones’ blog piece:

“He can’t play the three,” Smart said after Sunday’s practice. “That guy was born with a basketball in his hand – got to keep that thing in his hand. I’ve tried that one time and that doesn’t work so I’m not going to go back to that one because he’s not a small forward.”

There are other reasons why Evans wouldn’t make the best small forward on a regular basis.

Listed at 6-foot-6, Evans would struggle defending a lot of small forwards that are stronger than him. That would potentially keep Evans in foul trouble.

I’ve said it here so many times that I’m getting nauseous saying it again, but hey that’s the life of a poor NBA blogger.

Tyreke Evans path in the NBA will depend on how he is able to balance the difference between faciliation as a lead G and the scoring that comes natural to Reke. Without that balance, without mastering that balance, Tyreke’s value drops down. Whether it’s at SF, whether it’s off the ball, or whether it’s simply a toned down version, it’s all going to have the same impact. Tyreke Evans is the best talent on the Kings roster, and has to play like that for the Kings to be successful.

The sooner you figure that out, the sooner you will understand why I’m absolutely ridiculously hardcore about the little mental mistakes Tyreke makes routinely that absolutely destroy any semblance of an opportunity at consistent winning basketball. That is, after all, the goal yes?

******

Just as an FYI, I’m not writing a game thread (what is the point if if there is only a once in a blue moon comment, and if I do not have the time or willingness?) because I have too much other things to do right now. If you have not read why Keith Smart likes Oakland, I suggest you do. Otherwise, more Tyreke Evans hatred starting at 7:30pm tonight. One little snippet before moving on from Jones piece about Smart:

“(Nelson) said you run it and do it how you would do it if you were the head coach,” Smart said. “By the time I got a chance to be a head coach, I had already had so much NBA experience.”

Oh, and I’ve been pretty impressed with Jones’ coverage of what is rapidly becoming a top to bottom dysfuncational franchise. If you have not read (one of the very few most likely), this is what I said about a potential Geoff Petrie departure in the Sactown Royalty thread:

I don’t care if Geoff Petrie gets fired but without the Maloofs leaving as owners it makes no difference as far as whether you replace GM’s. In part because it would just mean the Maloofs would hold on for as long and as hard as possible as owners regardless of whether the Kings stay in Sacramento or not.

Whatever the case may be, Geoff Petrie is not infallible. He no longer can survive all his mistakes as a GM/Prez of BBall Ops (whatever) and deserves to be fired. But if this whole firing bit is a way to justify moving the franchise (without knowing the upcoming terms of an arena), or just a way to pacify an understandably angry fanbase it makes no sense.

I think the Maloofs will find that few people in Sacramento believe in them anymore Geoff Petrie or no. Which, again, comes back to the arena issue any way you slice it. And, I suspect, how much juice and will the NBA has in A) coughing up any money for a new arena and B) how much pull the Maloofs have in not coughing up any said dough for a new arena along with the NBA’s share.

Money, money, money. The Maloofs don’t got it, and they desperately want to retain ownership. This is the only play they have left, and in that respect given Petrie’s recent performance (hands tied or not) is not good enough to merit a real reason to keep Petrie. In some ways this might be the best thing that ever happens in the effort to keep the Kings in Sacramento. With no reason to keep the Kings in Sacramento, the pretense is over for the Maloofs. The jig will drop, and their ownership reign/terror on Sacramento will be over one way or another. Some finality to this whole clusterfuck of a situation is one pleasing bi-product that hopefully will come out of all this. Because if we don’t get a resolution soon, I’m thinking with all the negative energy from all comers the franchise may just implode in one of those ball of fires only John Carpenter could concoct.

I’ll keep it simple why I won’t write about that extensively. I’ve already mentioned what I think of Geoff Petrie, and is it any secret I don’t care for the Maloofs and would jettison them for a bad of Doritos quicker than you could say fat boy in a convenience store.

At this point, and I’ll keep maintaining this about Tyreke Evans, is that a dysfunctional culture is only part of the franchise issue. Yet, many other franchises have had successful on court products because of players while dysfunctional from ownership on down in the management side of things.

I don’t expect Tyreke Evans to rise above all the problems of this franchise, but not progressing as a player (which he has not done regardless of what Keith Smart says) is not acceptable. Jogging back in transition, getting lost on screens, not helping others defensively, not recognizing where to move the ball to get an effective shot, not having a diverse enough offensive arsenal to handle all the different looks NBA defenses use on players like Tyreke, and simply the energy and effort level vacillitates like a trignometric sin graph. That’s not acceptable. Go hard. Go hard all the time. Anything less is simply never okay. And I won’t give in to that regardless of numbers (the Utah game had as much to do with the matchup than anything) or what is being said publicly. Tyreke needs to grow up if this franchise, regardless of dysfunctional culture or no, is to move forward with even what modest NBA success looks like. That’s all this is really about at the end of the day.

Posted by: natehughart | January 29, 2012

Can Keith Smart save the Kings?

I tend to listen to things, and let things percolate. Am I still frustrated by Tyreke Evans and his, or what I see it as anyway, limiting and clownball level of play? Yes. But that’s a lot of what last night’s tweets and post was about.

That doesn’t mean I think Keith Smart is an idiot, or what he’s saying is necessarily right in his post-game interviews. I get Smart is in an impossible position, that if Smart is lucky, will end up with Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins backing him enough to the point where Smart can continue to push at them to grow as players.

If you haven’t seen the presser of Smart’s last night, I thought it was interesting (also entertaining but that’s only the political side of it) from a number of vantages. Smart contradicted himself, IMO, when he said that the guys were running plays that we want run, and then noted Tyreke Evans took a couple of quick shots that weren’t advised. Maybe I’m not understanding the distinction though on that one.

I did find the “we need to study the scouting reports” bit by Hayes and Smart from today’s Bee by Jason Jones frustrating. This quote I found particularly interesting:

“As we went through our personnel (Saturday) morning, Chuck’s sitting on the side and really helping communicate what certain players can do, and that’s what you need from a veteran on a young ballclub,” Smart said.

Also, this is what Hayes is quoted as in Jones’ story:

As Hayes put it, good teams “prepare well,” and that is something he wants his teammates to learn.

“I had some great vets,” Hayes said. “And I had some superstars like Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. I’ve been with stars in their prime and I’ve been with stars past their primes and just being professionals, so I get it.”

Finally, there is a tremendous piece by James Ham at Cowbell Kingdom that illustrates the questions around Tyreke really remain.

Here is a good portion of the piece:

Something is still wrong. Coach Westphal was the first to pay the price for the Kings struggles. Certainly Westphal had faults. For one, Westphal did not believe that all players should be handled with the same approach. While DeMarcus Cousins constantly received what can only be deemed tough love, Evans was instead nurtured, maybe even coddled. Neither approach seemed to have the desired effect.

Two things have to be said. Not every individual can be handled differently so therefore it’s difficult for me to disagree with Westphal’s approach on this matter. But it is very illustrative of how insecure both Evans and Cousins are that handling of two different personalities has caused as many problems as it is. This is nothing new to the NBA, but it is a problem any way you slice it.

The second part of this is that Tyreke Evans was coddled, and hopefully the good part of that is that Tyreke realizes you can’t simply act that way and be an effective NBA player. But the bad part is that transition from someone who realizes that reality and someone who doesn’t is often an ugly painful process that Keith Smart is doing everything in his power to overturn and move forward with.

As far as Cousins goes, Cousins is a loud and noisy personality which leads to the unfortunate bi-product that there is no easy way to deal with our growing basketball player. The good news is that I think Cousins will transition from the rougher spots than Evans will simply because Cousins hasn’t been coddled as often and seems eager to shed some of the more detrimental parts to his personality in part due to some of the criticism.

Here is probably the most important part of Jimmer Ham’s piece:

So while we talk about what position he plays or what style of game he should play or why he is struggling, the only thing we should be talking about is whether or not Evans is the player that can lead his team to victory. Scoring or passing, defending or rebounding, Evans is the guy who needs to find a way each and every night to make his team better than their opponent. If he can do this, the sky is the limit. Until then, the Kings will continue to struggle and Evans will be just a player on a bad team.

These are my sentiments exactly.

******

The emotional tug of war that is going on between Tyreke Evans and the franchise, Keith Smart, teammates like Cousins, and other teammates is obvious. It’s killing this team’s chemistry because what this Kings team need is for Evans and Cousins to take this team where it needs to really go. While the pieces around Evans/Cousins, Salmons and Thornton especially, doesn’t really fit with Evans from a conceptual standpoint, Evans is more than talented to make up some of the gaps, the real gaps, that exist on this team right now. But Evans lacks the commitment, IN MY OPINION, to do so right now. You have the right to disagree, but unless you can refute my opinion with hard fact (which would be impossible) then you’re going to have accept we won’t agree.

Kevin Love is part of a franchise with a stinker of an owner in Glen Taylor (the real worm in the Wolves apple–as any real Wolves fan will tell you), and a mumbling bumbling moron in the press in David Kahn. Yet, at the same time, the commitment from Love to improve himself even if the team around him wasn’t was always there for him. That commitment had nothing to do with the Wolves. It said a lot about Kevin Love, and still does, how willing he was to do what it took to win games in Minnesota. Given that a major story line of the current NBA season with Dwight Howard revolves around just that, I don’t see how you can overlook any of this as being churlish or out of order. Which makes my point here rather simple if not convoluted: Good culture starts with players who demand such a culture. Who will do that on the Kings as the roster is currently constituted? Especially if it’s not your two best “players”?

Can Keith Smart save the Kings? Can he convince Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins that the natural tendencies both display are not conducive to winning NBA basketball? Can Smart get the other guys on the team to buy in? (I think he has already honestly.) Can Keith Smart take advantage of the fact that he is not a hot coaching prospect (right or wrong) to reach two thorny prospects (which is putting it kindly) who have the potential of making the Kings significantly better?

From my vantage, which is admittedly limited given that I do not live in Sacramento, it’s that Keith Smart has ridiculously terrible waters to navigate as a head coach with a rotten ownership, a basketball operations headed by someone more interested in preserving his own legacy than doing the appropriate thigns to right the ship, and two young players who are as interested in their fame as they are interested in being great basketball players.

Can Keith Smart save this franchise from itself? I don’t know and the odds are against him. But there is a point that should be reminded by a longtime Sactown Royalty feller named Otis that should be rehashed:

At what point has Geoff Petrie built a winning team for a coach that was not Rick Adelman? Right now, Geoff Petrie, the Maloofs are to blame. And too many people would give them credit (unfortunately that includes yours truly) for allowing time to work it’s course if the season ended up differently right now.

Guess what? A strong culture starts with players willing to be accountable, and coaching staff/basketball management working together to make it happen. How can anyone claim that the good ship Kings is working in appropriate order? Keith Smart has done everything he can to hold players accountable, starting with Evans and Cousins, and has done everything in his power, it seems to me, to put as many players as he can in positions to succeed. This roster still has real holes, starting with the SF spot where Salmons is clearly miscast, and it has no real ability long term to fix those holes without competent and deft strokes from Petrie to help this franchise recover to even what should be a playoff team.

The bottom line, at the end of the day, is that this franchise needs centerpieces and/or building blocks. The Kings need those players to be Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. Neither of whom happen to be ready for such a thing at this point for a variety of reasons. We could talk about Salmons falling off a cliff and falling face first onto the rocks at the bottom of a cliff then getting up and playing as if said incident really happened. We could talk about Thornton being a gunner and not the right fit with Evans or how Jimmer is not benefitting from this environment. We could talk about JJ Hickson and what a stinkpot of a first month plus he has had in a Kings uniform. We could talk about the progress of Jason Thompson, what kind of real potential does Isaiah Thomas and Tyler Honeycutt hold for the Kings long term. None of that adds up to anything as important as whether or not the Maloofs are competent owners, whether Petrie should remain as head of basketball operations, can Keith Smart do the job as a head coach, and whether Tyreke Evans/DeMarcus Cousins are up to the tasks as franchise saviors.

Of all the important things I just listed, the Maloofs/Petrie/Smart factors all add up to a COMBINED less importance than whether or not Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins grow up. History of the NBA says that players like Evans and Cousins will grow up. On their 2nd or 3rd teams when reality finally sinks in about what it takes to succeed at the NBA level. That’s the bottom line. That’s why I continue to focus so heavily on those issue’s because, in reality, whether the Maloofs are still owners is based a lot on what location they are allowed to remain ownership in. (Also the potential terms of a new arena in Sacramento if the NBA deems that is the location they wish to be a part of.) Other than whether the Kings will be in Sacramento, no other issue remains as critical or necessary to discuss on a daily basis as to if Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins can grow up while in a Kings uniform. That question very much remains up in the air regardless of your opinion or how you feel about my opinion.

I personally think the Kings should give Keith Smart a 5 year contract just for being willing to take this stinkpot of a job. It’s no longer a question of whether Smart deserves the Kings at this point; it’s simply whether the Kings deserve Keith Smart and his passion/intelligence/willingness for the job. Because right now, if there is anything that is made clear about the performance of this franchise on/off the court, it’s that there is very little to write home about. For what certainly would be a surprising change of pace, it would be nice to see if Keith Smart could be one of those bright spots.

Posted by: natehughart | January 29, 2012

Kings lose to Utah Jazz 96-93

There are only so many ways I can crap on Tyreke Evans for being a lackluster clownball Washington Generals like player. This has, among other things, gotten old. The problem is that like most things is that this history keeps repeating itself. What drives me absolutely crazy about Tyreke is the simple fact that he can run plays, doesn’t at critical stretches, and makes rudimentary errors that HS’ers get scolded for.

What galls me more than anything is the missed layup Tyreke had with about 2:45 remaining in the 4th qtr. That was a perfect opportunity for a left hand, and a perfect opportunity wasted. The goaltending call on Paul Millsap with 30 seconds remaining was another lucky incident. What gets me, and what is driving my anger, is that Tyreke shows he can run an offense and actually get the team into plays. What he doesn’t show is the commitment to do it for 48 minutes. That’s unacceptable, and as long as that continues I will continue to be absolutely one sided unfair. I will kill him for ridiculous lazy lapses like the CJ Miles layup wit 1:49 remaining. There was no call for that whatsoever. The Kings were down 3 points at the time, and Miles walks into the paint nearly uncontested for a layup. You can’t point fingers at someone like Jimmer Fredette and then play porous defense on critical possessions against the Jazz’s 6th or 7th best player. That’s Tyreke Evans in a nutshell. Did I mention the guy had 31 points (12-20 floor, 7-7 line), 9 assists, 6 rebounds (4 offensive though), 2 steals and a block tonight?. Also 4 turnovers including a ridiculous offensive turnover down the stretch of the 4th qtr. That’s Tyreke Evans in a nutshell. Excellent numbers wrapped with enough moments to make even the most vigorous and/or aggressive of mental midgets jealous.

I liked the zone that Keith Smart went to not because of what the Jazz did or didn’t do, but because it actually somewhat enforces the concept of actual responsibility by individual players. With players like Isaiah Thomas, it also makes a lot of sense to use his speed and length in a reasonable way.

Cousins played 36 minutes tonight. That’s something. (I’m being nice.) It’s more than I realized before looking at the box score.

Donte Greene is still mostly worth very little to this team. Nothing has happened under Keith Smart to make me consider otherwise, and right now I’m hoping Tyler Honeycutt can work his way into the rotation. Because, honestly, it’s hard to imagine how Honeycutt could be worse than Greene has been. Which is unfortunate because A) Donte Greene has NBA talent, B) is a quality teammate and C) needs a fresh start elsewhere to his career. Whatever it will be though, you can bet that Donte Greene will have to make his living in the NBA as a stretch 4 because it won’t be as a primary 3 man.

I’m wondering if Power Balance Pavilion is built on an Indian Grave Yard or something. Because whatever it is, Chuck Hayes didn’t deserve a separated shoulder yet again. Hopefully Hayes can return sooner than later, but at some point the injury has to heal before Hayes can realistically see court time. My favorite play of the game (which didn’t count officially) was seeing Tyreke Evans actually run a NBA play (it shocked me too) by running around a pick who then passed to the Chuckwagon. The Chuckwagon fires a great crosscourt pass to Francisco Garcia who hits a 3. Unfortunately, the end of the qtr clock had expired and it didn’t count. But, if it had? Yessir.

Lefty Speedy Gonzalez was the sole bench scorer. Of a bench that had 5 guys play 9 or more minutes, Isaiah Thomas hit the only points for the bench all night. More proof of just how pisspoor this Kings team is.

Jason Jones talked about this during the pre-game, but after spending quite a bit of emphasis on speeding up, Keith Smart wanted this Kings team to slow down. I personally don’t think it makes a difference because, fast or slow, shitty decision making is shitty decision making. When you have an inconsequential mental midget in a NBA franchise player body doing his Washington Generals clownball act, it doesn’t matter what kind of pace you ask your team to play at.

To finish this nonsense off, that atmosphere at Energy Solutions Arena was the strangest environment I can ever remember when watching a NBA game. A number of Jazz fans noticed as typically ESA is usually louder and more engaged. Even more so during a close game. This game? It was very blase unless Jesus– I mean Jimmer– came into the game. Then it was loud and “emotional”. There were boo’s when Jimmer came out, cheers when he came in, and raucous applause when Jimmer hit a shot. (He hit a few.)

Speaking of shots, and the last 3 that Jimmer took, there are 2 things on that play. One, Jimmer was not fouled. Two, Jimmer tried to be the hero and deliver a needed win for the Kings on the road. I don’t think it was the Utah crowd as much as Jimmer saw an opportunity to try and win the game right then and there. He took it. You can look at it as a guy trying to be a hero in his college backyard where the crowd was clearly on his side (and little else) all night. Or, you can look at it as a guy who wanted to win, saw an open shot he was clearly comfortable taking, and pulled the trigger. The result is just not what we wanted. Of these 2 scenario’s, I think it’s a bit of both. Jimmer wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger in part due to the crowd response, but I also think Jimmer saw an open look that he felt he could hit no questions asked. Jimmer simply rushed the shot a bit when he saw Earl Watson running hard at him which does happen. Rookie moments yanno?

Either way, stressing out about that shot is unnecessary. If Jimmer made it, it might have encouraged clownball to continue the course. Whatever seals the death of clownball permanently is fine by me. If that’s a Jimmer airball, so be it.

Rather than drone on about Tyreke Evans, why I hate him so, and why shooting grenades at his head is not enough of a punishment, it was nice to see a few things. The biggest is that the Kings hit 46.2% of their shots. The only other time all season where the Kings hit 46% or better of their shots was against the Lakers opening night. Additionally, Utah shot 44.3% from the field which is a huge head start to the Kings actually not playing clownball. Hopefully this is the start of a trend, and not just an outlier. Because the only trends this season have been supremely and ridiculously one sided negative. It would be nice to talk about positive trends instead for awhile.

******

This franchise has major problems. The owners are cash poor and for all intents and purposes completely worthless in any real fashion. The President of Basketball operations has enabled this ridiculous clownball culture to emerge, and is now hiding to protect his image and legacy from all who assail him. But that’s not what is ailing this team. You fire the Maloofs and Geoff Petrie tomorrow and these same problems exist. Accountability is not about how many dollars you spend or whether or not the man in charge of basketball operations has suddenly decided to become Keyser Soze. You need players who demand accountability. Of themselves, of their teammates, and of the organization. Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins do not do that because it would require examining their own failures. Neither is willing to accept their responsibilities and as long as that is the case this franchise is doomed any way you slice it. 3 point losses are not acceptable anymore. 2 years ago, I would have been okay with that. Now? Not even close.

I would love to say something different, I would love to say that I think Keith Smart is making incremental real progress, and that this is salvageable. The truth is, I think Keith Smart will end up taking the hit for this (unfairly) so that more self preservation by the Maloofs and Petrie can continue. Evans and Cousins will continue to act like primmadonna’s, the culture will remain toxic and young players or veterans (Evans and Cousins are not choosy this way–they are equal opportunity screwers in this department) will continue to have their flaws routinely exposed because Evans and Cousins are far more interested in looking good than being part of a winning franchise. Numbers don’t mean anything if they come at the cost of success, and that’s all Evans/Cousins numbers represent right now. Evans is a lesser hops stronger version of Vince Carter. DeMarcus Cousins is the mouth of Rasheed Wallace without the talent or reasonable amount of production. Anyway you slice this, it’s all bad with these two. As these two dolt’s go, so goes this Kings franchise. Hence my negativity.

I guess I could ignore the two scumbags who make a professional basketball team seem embarrassing when comparing them to a team like Oak Hill academy. But such is life in the realm of Sacramento Kings basketball these days, and that’s just the way it goes sometimes in the NBA. Sometimes you get complete craptastic assclowns for “potential” young franchise players, and sometimes you get 2 scumbags who think they are superstars.

For me, I guess the only reason to follow this team anymore is to follow the development of Jason Thompson, pray for Chuck Hayes body to hold up, watch Isaiah Thomas inevitable ups & downs, and pray that Tyler Honeycutt can carve out a niche for himself sooner than later. Because right now, as far as I can tell anyway, there isn’t anything else worth watching with this team that doesn’t require a puke bucket next to the TV and/or computer monitor.

Onto the flip side I go.

Posted by: natehughart | January 28, 2012

Game 20: Kings at Utah Jazz

Another day, another potential blowout (30+ baby!!! Gotta go for the gusto…), and well, more crap play from the 2 franchise cornerstones. Not only that, but we’ll get to hear (if you are not in the Sacramento region) all about how DeMarcus Cousins got Paul Westphal fired and how the Kings might not move if Kevin Johnson doesn’t pull off the miracle on 7th street. Blah blah blah. I don’t blame you if you are tired of these storylines, but that’s the way it is.

As far as the 2 teams, Utah played last night in Dallas while the Kings were sitting in Salt Lake City waiting for them in their 5 star luxury hotel. So that’s something. Utah hung with Dallas for about 3 1/2 quarters and imploded down the stretch. (We’ve heard this story before.) Will they be upset or ready? Nobody played more than 33 minutes with only the venerable Paul Millsap playing over 30 minutes.

The Kings ORtg is 96.8 points (27th of 30) per 100 possessions and the DRtg is 109.8 points(29th of 30) per 100 possessions.

The Jazz ORtg is 104.6 points (10th of 30) per 100 possessions and the DRtg is 103.6 points (21st of 30) per 100 possessions.

An interesting point that should be taken into consideration: The Kings have had the toughest schedule so far of any team in the season. Playing Utah tonight won’t make that quest of improvement any easier.

My hope for tonight is to see a whole quarter of solid professional play from Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. I don’t think it will happen, but I’m hoping to be surprised. Or some such.

Required Reading

According to Jason Jones of the Bee and Jonathan Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom, Chuck Hayes will likely be a gametime decision.

Jones had an important blog post about not reading scouting reports. (Guess who was at fault?)

Jimmermania hits Utah from the Kings side via Jones. Santiago at CK also has a piece regarding this issue.

Speaking of Jimmer, Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland had a wonderful piece about Jimmer and why he struggles quite a bit. It’s a well informed thought out piece. (Unlike what Jimmer dick suckers would tell you. A Jimmer Dick Sucker is not referring to BYU fans or even BYU/King fans. It’s the irrationality around Jimmer I struggle with. Yall…need to go. All I’m gonna say.) I suggest reading it if you are one of the rare few who have not.

Brian T Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune discussed why the Jazz struggled win Dallas last night. If you don’t follow Smith’s Twitter account, you really should. (It’s incredibly informative stuff about the Jazz and the rare NBA note.) Here are quotes from Jazz players as well after last night’s loss. One quote by Millsap really sticks out to me:

(You’ve had some tough losses lately; what’s you’re read on where you guys
are at?) – “We’re still learn; we’re still young. It’s going to take a
little time for us to get better with our situational stuff, but we’ll
figure it out.”

Devin Harris, the struggles Harris is having, and what Harris is doing to alleviate these issue’s. (From Friday’s SLT paper.)

Jimmermania piece from the main Trib paper and notes from the paper containing quotes from Jimmer.

One side note about Jimmer: The way he handles media with ease is not something he picked up after 4 years at BYU. Jimmer is just tremendous at understanding how the media game works. Most guys don’t get it at all. (This is crediting Jimmer in case you don’t understand.)

SLC Dunk has plenty of stuff routinely, but the Downbeat is probably my favorite feature they routinely do.

Salt City Hoops has a piece up about the effect the condensed season is having on the Jazz.

Clint Peterson (@Clintonite33) has a ridiculously wonderful piece about Paul Millsap over at the Utah Jazz blog. Read it. Immediately. Kyle Kirkham also names Millsap his Player of the Week over at the UJB.

And the Forbes info just came out….

In case you hadn’t noticed, Forbes came out with it’s annual rankings of Franchise valuations. The Sacramento franchise came out at 23rd with an even 300 million, about 6.2 million in operating income (that’s code for profit–but that’s not all there is to it as Forbes warns), and the main point is that the franchise dropped the payroll and expenses by over 20 million dollars to regain the potential of actual profitability. Here is the entire list in case you’re interested in poring over those numbers.

Stathead Final Thoughts

After the run of the previous few games, Jimmer’s TS% for the season stands at 48.3%. Jimmer is leading the Kings with a 3 Pt% of 36.5% averaging nearly 4 a game. (Thornton leads the Kings with nearly 6 attempts at 5.9 3PTFG. If Jimmer can get that number up to 6 attempts at 40% hit, I’ll be a happy man. Jimmer was way too off early in the season, and hopefully the rhythm he’s found recently continues in Utah tonight.

Real Final Thoughts

Professional players vs non-professional players. Utah has a strong culture with professional attitudes and players (that doesn’t mean you are perfect in every phase of the game 100% of the time) which means the approach is appropriate to the setting. I’m hoping Utah whoops the Kings tonight so that the glimpses of “why are we losing this way” finally sets in on the terrible two. (But I’m not hoping for miracles or anything.)

Game is at 6pm PST on Comcast if you are in the Sac region, NBATV if you are not in the Sac region (this means the Utah broadcast).

Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC…
Didn’t get to bed last night…
All the way the paper bag was on my knee…
Man I had a dreadful flight…

I’m back in the USSR
You don’t know how lucky you are boy…
Back in the USSR…

Been away so long I hardly knew the place…
Gee it’s good to be back home…
Leave it ’till tomorrow to unpack my case…
Honey disconnect the phone…

I’m back in the USSR…
You don’t know how lucky you are boy…
Back in the US..Back in the US…Back in the USSR…

I’ll be on Twitter (@Kingsguru21) in case you wish to read tweets about launching barely legal projectiles at either Tyreke Evans or DeMarcus Cousins.

I’ve been trying to avoid this all day as I have other more pressing things to do (study for 2 tests in calculus and chemistry mainly). Yet, here I am writing this anyway. Some things are just what they are, and one of the unfortunate doomed fates I seem to hold as a human being is a Kings fan.

What pisses me off more than anything is that this team can’t get consistent production from either Evans or Cousins. Cousins may be a great rebounder numbers wise, but the Kings are the worst rebounding team by DRB%. Exactly how much effect can one board man have? Well, it’d be one thing if the Kings were a middle of the pack Defensive Rebounding team with Cousins grabbing so many boards. But being in the very bottom? What does that say with so many plus rebounders on the roster? It’s not like DRB% is based on total numbers of caroms you get; it’s simply the percentage of caroms you take off the rim that are available.

Evans is just as bad. Evans leads the Kings with total Assists at 86 (which more than double the next guy–Isaiah Thomas–at 41), yet, how many times do the Kings really have quality ball movement with Evans as the primary playmaker? How many NBA level plays are being run?

Defense? Oh my, I don’t even know where to go there. Evans jogs back in transition, and to hear him point fingers at Jimmer Fredette let alone else during today’s practice sessions was one of the funnier things I’ve heard in awhile.

Cousins? The only player worse in transition than Cousins is Tyreke Evans, and that’s no mean feat. There might not be a bigger unprofessional duo in the entire NBA if you consider that Andray Blatche,JaVale “Pierre” McGee and Nick Young are not really considered centerpieces.

Speaking of duo’s, when is the last time you saw Cousins and Evans run a play together as a tandem. Then, again, again, and again? Oh, you haven’t. Me either. Of course, I haven’t watched a Kings game since the train wreck hit Memphis. (Sorry O’Jays. No Love Train around here.) I didn’t have the opportunity to watch the Portland game after my class Monday night, and I refuse to watch the Denver Nuggets layup line in the “Artist formerly known as Arco Arena” last night because I have a night class twice a week. (Guess which days?)

Are the Kings that bad? Are they victims of injuries, bad scheduling, a turned over roster that is mostly young and trying to figure it’s own role out while trying to figure out how to play with each other? Sure, but not to the tune of 94 points in the paint it’s not.

But this is what actually inspired me to write this piece. From, the guru of angry journalists, Ken Berger about those famed Madison Square Garden Knuckleheads:

In some corners of the Knick locker room, there was fear after a listless loss to the rebuilding Cavaliers on Wednesday night that D’Antoni could be gone soon if progress isn’t achieved, according to a person familiar with the players’ thinking. That would be a shame, because D’Antoni never asked to coach the ill-fitting roster he has, and his reservations about giving up so much for Carmelo Anthony are proving to be dead on.

“I hope you’re wrong,” one person connected to the team said, hoping D’Antoni can hang on.

“It’s not the coach,” said another person invested in the Knicks turning things around. “I wish it were that simple.”

It isn’t, of course. A mess of this magnitude rarely can be blamed on one person or factor. To anyone who thinks so, I ask this: If the best offensive coach in the game has a team that is struggling to break 70 points and 40 percent shooting on a regular basis, what does that tell you about the players he is coaching?

This is the New York Knicks. The team that amnesty’d Chauncey Billups to free up cash to sign Tyson Chandler (who is missing Dallas) rather than hoping to lure Chris Paul (who wanted to play in MSG) without the money to do so. In fairness, it’s not like the Knicks had the actual cap room (or assets) to get Paul to New York to begin with. So Tyson Chandler was a reasonable play. But, the Knicks are still a train wreck.

And one quote from the always noted builder of team chemistry Amare Stoudemire himself:

“It’s got to be a willing thing from everybody,” Amar’e Stoudemire told reporters in Cleveland after the Knicks lost to the Cavs 91-81. “We all have to be willing to space the court, willing to move the ball. It has to be something that we all have to buy into. It works, and it’s been proven that it works.”

What a shock. Buying into a system. Of course, and even Stoudemire isn’t stupid enough to push these kind of boundries anymore, that means you actually buy into a system and run actual NBA plays. It’s not like NBA plays are that different from NCAA plays or European plays in this regard. A pick and roll is a pick and roll assuming that the play that is actually being run is a pick and roll.

Donte Greene sounds like a player who may be understanding that the AAU style may not work anymore:

Of course, that’s typically window dressing when a player says what Greene did. Unless it produces actual changes on the court, it means little what you say in post game interviews.

I loved what Keith Smart said at the very end of this:

“You don’t have to coach effort or energy.” — Keith Smart

That’s a telling quote. It was tucked away at the very end of the clip there , and after Smart explaining coaching X&O’s, trying to balance time off with practice time that this team obviously needs, and how difficult it is to get a young inexperienced roster to fill holes for a guy like Chuck Hayes.

I get all that. I really do.

But none of that speaks to what really ails the Kings. Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins lack the commitment to push a team to improve. Do they back Keith Smart with how they play? One could say they do, but one could also say neither guy could back any coach with the consistency each illustrates on a night in night out basis.

Interesting point made by Matt Moore–of the CBS Sports variety–today that should be relayed:

The Kings are playing better under Smart. You can’t tell after games like Wednesday night. But there is more competitiveness, more cohesion. The Kings were missing their arguably second-best player, after all. But they are wildly inconsistent, as bad, young teams are. Smart making it clear that they are held to their actions is considerably huge. He can give them a pat on the butt and punish them through that debacle at the same time. Smart’s not absolved here. And Smart took responsibility for it.

No Mr Moore, Smart is very much not to blame. But Keith Smart can’t salvage the wreckage that is Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins without acting like he is part of the problem. If Smart can gain Evans/Cousins trust, perhaps their effort and commitment would rise as part of trust. It is sometimes an issue with young players after all. (That would be the biggest reason to fire Paul Westphal in case you’re wondering.)

Again, the lack of commitment from both Evans and Cousins is astounding. The biggest issue to me is that both tend to point fingers (I love what Evans said about Jimmer’s defense last night after today’s practice; those who live in ivory towers should shut the fuck up son) and blame others for their weaknesses.

One of the issue’s I’ve had with Cousins claiming that Westphal tended to blame him more is because Cousins would often force Westphal’s hand throughout his short time. When you are a loudmouth and aggressive (which Cousins is), you are going to get into fights with people. You then can’t claim that you are being treated differently as such when other people aren’t as aggressive or loud with management and/or the coaching staff.

Again, this is the problem with firing Paul Westphal the way the Kings did: It shows how little importance the Maloofs have as owners, and, more importantly for a lot of people, how rapidly useless Geoff Petrie is becoming. The Kings are the NBA’s version of a Keystone Cops situation.

Can it improve? Who knows. Denver is the kind of team that gives the Kings problems (talented/athletic/professional) and the kind of team that struggled with that attitude of a particular Anthony before trading him. Denver feels better without Carmelo Anthony which not only says a lot about the Nuggets and their talent level, but also how much talent Anthony consistently left on the table during Carmelo Anthony’s stint as a Denver Nugget.

Guess what? The Kings are headed down that path with 2 young players who, in their minds, are elite, and are not anywhere near close that. Elite teams don’t allow 90+ points in the paint. Elite teams are not at the bottom of Defensive Rebounding %. Tyreke Evans is decent among G’s (5th), but should be near where Kyle Lowry is at (near 7 boards) and not well below 5 boards a game. It’s a pure and complete lack of commitment on Tyreke Evans’ part to not grab more boards. Elite teams don’t rank at the bottom of many statistical categories. Elite teams don’t have players that allow teams to be at the bottom of many, if any, categories. (Big Man FT’s are an interesting exception.)

Right now, Cousins is actually fouling at a higher rate than he was a year ago. Cousins is leading the league in Total Offensive Rebounds which would be impressive if Cousins didn’t shoot the ball at a such a horrendous clip. The fact that Cousins FG% is now 44.8% and improving says a lot if nothing else.

******

Blame the Maloofs for being cheap or Ed Hardy wearing clowns. (I personally dislike their Southern Californian thing of “let’s be here when it’s cool and when it’s hard slink away and act like we had important shit to do elsewhere” act.) Blame Geoff Petrie for being an impersonal turtleneck wearing rich kid asshole. You can fire the Maloofs and Petrie all you wish, and I’d be fine with that on both counts. I’m beginning to believe this team can only move forward is with real fresh blood. (That is something Keith Smart represents no matter how dilapidated or disorganized it may seem.) How good Geoff Petrie really is is a question that is starting to circulate. A year ago I would have given Geoff Petrie a lot of gap given how instrumental Petrie was into making moves.

Now? Take your straw and flip a coin for what the real problem is.

I’m not Chicken Little. I’m not upset over one game or one play or one thing. This is a trend that has been happening for several years with this team. If Paul Westphal was the issue over the summer, and he was supposedly behind the John Salmons trade (yeah right–that’s protect Petrie’s legacy spin if I ever saw it), then fire Paul Westphal. I would be lying if I would have understood it because I don’t feel it’s ever fair to bring in a head coach to be a “caretaker”. (I’m convinced the Clippers could win the equivalent of 50 games with Westphal this season if he were their head coach.) If you took a normal 50 win season out of 82 games, that would mean you win 40 games in this lockout season. As is, the Clippers are 9-6 for a cool 60% Winning Percentage right now. With players like Paul and Griffin, Westphal might be the right kind of coach for that team. (Right or wrong. I’m not saying it will or won’t happen. I’m just saying that Westphal is not necessarily the god-awful head coach he is made out to be.)

John Salmons is not killing this team anymore than anyone else is. Jimmer Fredette’s problems are real, but they are not franchise killing. (Or Franchise savioring for that matter. Jimmer is what he is: A talented shooter/scorer with real potential to run a NBA team at some point in the future. That’s not superstar stuff IMO.) JJ Hickson has issue’s on defense especially, but this isn’t news. Jason Thompson has shown professionalism and pride at every juncture this season as far as I can tell. Isaiah Thomas is a rookie and that counts for only so much in this league. Chuck Hayes is missed. Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans were never going to be a perfect match. Tyler Honeycutt is the project on this roster that intrigues me. I like Francisco Garcia as a person (and when he plays well as a player; but only then), but from a franchise standpoint I’m glad Garcia’s contract is expiring after next season.

Keith Smart is a terrific coach in my opinion. Or, I think he has every ability to coach a real basketball team that acted in a professional manner. Or, more accurately than that, had 2 real cornerstones he could rely on for quality production on a night in night out basis.

I think the problem with this team is that they need a veteran like Paul Pierce (I like Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, but I think Allen/Jimmer are redundant and Garnett/Hayes are a bit redundant too regardless of talent differences for each–and I’m not claiming that 1st ballot Hall of Famers aren’t better) who can tell Evans and Cousins the ways of the world. Smack both Cousins/Evans over the head when each fucks up (Pierce’s hand is bound to get especially sore).

The truth is that the ugly dynamic of the Kings is that they have a 1st banana talent/2nd banana attitude in Tyreke Evans and a 2nd banana talent/1st banana attitude in DeMarcus Cousins. The trick, for Keith Smart, and Evans/Cousins, is to figure out how to utilize all these talents in the most effective of manners.

OF COURSE YOU HAVE TO ACT LIKE A PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER FIRST. ALSO, WORK WITH YOUR HEAD COACH WHO IS ASKING YOU TO DO REAL THINGS THAN ACT LIKE A PETULANT ASSHOLE EVERY OTHER MINUTE YOU ARE ON THE COURT. BUT WHAT ARE DETAILS? KEITH SMART IS JUST ANOTHER GUY WHO IS ASKING YOU TO BE A GROWN-UP PROFESSIONAL (BECAUSE AFTER ALL ISN’T THAT WHAT THE NBA IS ABOUT?) AND THAT’S JUST TOO HARD FOR BOTH OF YOU ISN’T IT.

Caps annoyances over, that’s the deal. You can have shitty ownership and stupid management and have a quality team if your 2 best young players are accountable and want to get better. But do Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins want to get better? You can make a legitimate case Evans is only interested in his numbers. I would agree with at that this point until I see a better batch of evidence that tells me otherwise.

Cousins? I might be willing to believe (also having said this awhile ago) that if Cousins starts approaching playing the game as a profesional than a petulant dickhead kid with a condom head to match. Cousins has the type of personality that I think the losing is bothering him (it bothers Evans but not enough) so something may snap inside of him. When that happens, actual growth of the “I’m not an asshole teenager kid but an adult now” type happens and Cousins drags the Kings with him. In turn, it may entice Evans to grow up as well and start tapping his talents (which are considerably more).

I personally enjoy Keith Smart’s pressers a heck of a lot more (it doesn’t accompany unprofessional clownball that Evans/Cousins so much enjoy) than the games at the moment because I learn something about the man. Keith Smart really does understand the problem. So did Paul Westphal. So would Vinny Del Negro, and how many people do you know would want VDN to be the head coach of their team?

The good news is that Keith Smart is a competant professional basketball man who does things in a seemingly understandable and transparent fashion. Telling Cousins and Evans (it was not a shot at Fredette, Salmons or Thompson–all 3 act in a professional manner) that they have to live with their bad decisions and be on the court during blowouts says a lot. Smart says things about players without naming names which is, umm, pardon the pun, intelligent.

This team is in dire straits because of cash poor frontrunning bandwagon douche ownership, a Pres of Basketball Ops who is more interested in preserving his cult status of greatness (that ship has sailed with these series of episodes), 2 asshole petulant brats who masquerade as NBA stars, and a head coach desperately looking to carve a niche for himself where the book on him has been written due to a long relationship with Don Nelson. (Not a good thing unfortunately for Keith Smart.)

The truth is that I think the culture is capable of changing if Evans/Cousins wanted it changed. Oklahoma City’s culture is considered good, but it wasn’t always considered a winning strong culture. (Funny how winning and strong cultures go hand in hand doesn’t it?) Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were there for a bad losing season together (their first) that started poorly off under a head coach who had nowhere the amount of league success than Paul Westphal had in Seattle let alone in Phoenix.

Yet, now, Scott Brooks is considered a quality coach (for those who aren’t sniping and salivating at the idea of getting that job) and the culture of that franchise changed.

New Orleans had a strong culture that didn’t revolve around the ownership and/or front office (although Jeff Bowers was certainly a competent GM), but mostly around Chris Paul. Byron Scott is a terrific head coach in a lot of ways, but Scott couldn’t make that Hornets team work without Paul. Who could? Chris Paul instituted a system of accountability that included himself.

These things aren’t accidents. When players demand accountability that includes checks on their own behaviors, things improve.

Let’s read Cousins statement about Westphal again:

Has your approach changed with Smart as your coach?

“It has. Everything has been positive right now. Coach isn’t scared to speak his mind. He’s going to tell the truth. He’s going to tell you how it should be and how it’s not going to be. He sets his guidelines and we all go by them. That’s something that we needed from the beginning. Coach is going to be real. If you mess up he’s going to tell you, ‘You messed up.’ That’s all we needed from the beginning.”

So you didn’t have that structure under Westphal?

“We didn’t, honestly. And it showed.”

Oh, you mean Westphal didn’t tell you to take crappy shots at inopportune times and then compound that with stupid turnovers and/or stupid fouls that take you off the court for at least 10-20 minutes of in game time for consistent periods? Stupid Paul Westphal.

If there is anything I’ve agreed with Tom Ziller on any one point, it was that part of Westphal’s odd statement (I never did like it–on the other hand Westphal looked like a guy after the New Orleans game who knew he was on his way out and it was only a matter of time) did seem to get a lot of people to not notice what Tyreke Evans said after the New York game.

I’m not criticizing to criticize here. I realize that the situation has been brutal in any adjusted or readl context and that an easier schedule could help ease some of the real problems the Kings have. (I liked this post at Sactown Royalty by Savage Beast, one of the long time readers over there. It makes a lot of sense if you are of the patient sort.)

But, Evans and Cousins have made this stretch beyond pointless to contemplate. There is a reason I didn’t talk about the Cousins’ lockeroom incident. The 2 heaviest hit Kings websites (Sactown Royalty and SacBee Kings Blog), and Jason Jones had a blogpost on the Sacbee Blog regarding all of this. Really, who cares? That’s not the problem then, or now with this team. That’s an incident with an emotional young firebrand who understandably didn’t want some asshole with a camera fishing for a story while he was dressing. I’d tell the guy to get the fuck away too. I simply didn’t add my 2 cents of: This is a stupid ass story because why?

But, Jones summed up it well:

I know Cousins has been sick for a few days and really had no intention of interviewing him. I also have a rule (that not all members of the media agree with) that I allow a player to get dressed before I start interviewing him.

Jones nailed this: This was an issue of decency. Cousins was right, but the only reason Cousins was even egged on was due to his reputation. There is money in getting players like Cousins to blow their top, and it gets coverage. The guy who gets that coverage gets something for it. You think incidents like this with Cousins won’t be overblown? If the Kings start winning, Cousins had better get used to it. Because that’s what will happen to him after any loss.

Are we really going to talk about unimportant things for that long? No, we aren’t.

The issue, and the main issue, and will still be the main issue no matter how many words are typed in this idiots WordPress formatter, will be whether or not Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins will act like professional, responsible, accountable and effective NBA players.

Oh, and be that idiot that says “You didn’t watch the game so you don’t know what you are talking about.” No, really, be that idiot. I’m wanting to crap on someone for stupidity since I can’t take a dump on Evans/Cousins’ head instead. (That’s my preference, but my options are limited in this department understandably.) I kinda figure I owe them a return on the favor they both have so willingly gifted us Kings fans this season.

One last thing. Until Evans and Cousins both accept that as stars they will get more share of the success, and blame as an opposite result, they can’t complain if they don’t get more credit for wins and get little blame for losses. When you are the two best players on a team, you are responsible for the WINS AND LOSSES. Every time I hear those two, I hear two kids who want to believe that they aren’t doing anything wrong and it’s everyone else’s fault but theirs. Hopefully Matt Moore, Savage Beast, Keith Smart are all right. It’s not like I’m sitting around hoping I win this battle. I’m not. I’ve just seen this story play out, and it usually has an ugly ending for the team that drafts these kind of players. Excuse me if I feel that reality is slowly playing out no matter how quickly or slowly we accept such a reality unfolding before us.

See ya Saturday.

Posted by: natehughart | January 24, 2012

Does selling parking spaces justify a new arena?

Read the title, and, I can already see the thought going through your mind with “uh oh” to which I can reply,” Hakuna Matuta brotha!” (Or sista. But I’m not sure there were sista’s in Lion King…. At any rate…) The question about the parking in Sacramento is: How valuable is the parking now, how valuable is the parking likely to be in the future as the current setup (without an arena), and how valuable would those parking spaces be if a new arena was placed using different funding mechanisms?

Let’s deal with the 3rd part first. On January 21st, Evan Weiner of Examiner.com wrote a pretty predictable piece that pretty much sums up the anti-arena sentiment to a tee.

The real question: Is how much money over the 50 year period (or whatever time frame Sacramento would be leasing these parking spots for) would the city of Sacramento be giving up by taking an up front payment instead of waiting out the long term and collecting these payments for themselves.

Here’s the best question that a lot of anti-arena people haven’t considered: How does payment of the debt on those parking spaces/garages cut into the annual profit of these parking spaces? If it does cut into the revenue, how many services would this diminish because the debt first and foremost would have to be serviced? Additionally, because this is how debt works, how much interest would you accrue doing it this way?

In otherwords, does the long term debt and interest pay off the real difference in having these parking spaces 50 years? What if the revenue (Weiner says it’s 24 million annually) diminishes over time due to decreasing population 1), due to lack of employment because most private employers find Sacramento an uninviting business environment full of bedroom community ninny’s 2), or simply due to nature of the beast3)?

Those are the 2 important questions that anti-arena people simply cannot answer because it leads them down the uncertain path of “Why are you against a new arena in the 1st place?”

Well, that brings me to the 2nd part part of this equation.

There is alot of sentiment against selling parking because, rightfully so, the anticipation that parking will become more valuable with a new arena bothers a lot of people. You can’t have it both ways, but, as per usual, most expect you can have it coming and going. Guess what? You can’t. To get something you have to give up something. Resources at the City of Sacramento’s disposal are not abundant, the ability to replace an arena at the Railyards is not exactly teeming with numerous amounts of real possibilities that will generate the type of numbers needed to justify an expensive project that those railyards will be no matter who benefits.

Do you really care if some asshole billionaire gets rich as opposed to another asshole billionaire? Because that’s what we were are talking about here. The little guy isn’t getting ahead no matter what is proposed. Yet, if you listen to anti-arena proponents, that’s what we were are talking about “supposedly”.

Most vocal opponents of the arena are A) community activists who are concerned (understood) B) people who want to use the Railyards for the won’t cost you as much as that ghastly arena did. (This is always horseshit: It’s code for,”We won’t ask you for money unless it’s on the back end and our business is in ‘peril’.”)

Last but not least, there is always the tried and true favorite of anti-arena’ists by mentioning how other metropolises got screwed. Here’s a reality: What Chicago did was stupid. Sacramento is not in Chicago’s position so how exactly is the situation in Sacramento a carbon copy of what happened in the Windy City? (Answer: It’s not.)

How does building a facility in Chester PA (near Philly) and Harrison NJ (near New York City) compare to a city that is the largest in the region? Or, more accurately, how does it compare to said city chafing that it’s seen as the centerpiece when a heavy number of the older residents wish to bury their head in the sand and flip the bird to everyone who wants to see an actual modernish cityish type of environment in Sacramento?

Here’s a reality check anti-arena folks: Build a project in those railyards because it is one of the largest urban in-fill and replace the higher possibility (not a guarantee–but what is?) of significantly larger crowds for Kings games AND events.

Here’s the other truth that a lot of people have conveniently ignored: The Maloofs have repeatedly said recently they don’t wish to operate an arena.

Back to Weiner and the damning part of all this:

What Sacramento officials are trying to do is satisfy the Maloofs and NBA Commissioner David Stern’s demands which are give us an arena where we get the federal limit of 92 percent of every dollar generated within the building, how you pay off the arena is your problem not ours. The 92 percent is not limited to 41 regular season games annually, along with a couple of pre-season games and the possibility of up to 16 playoff games or maybe 60 dates. The Maloofs would get a substantial percentage of the revenue generated by every other event in the building including concerts, ice shows, minor league hockey and the circus.

There is a lot wrong here. There is no way the city of Sacramento will 92% of the building first off. Second, the Maloofs have said quite a bit recently they are NO LONGER interested in being an operate of an arena. (Probably because they can’t afford it.) Which means who can? AEG, who if part of the financing mechanism, will pay part of the up front construction cost in return for the right to operate and profit wildly off a new arena. (Kind of a pay to play scheme yes?) Third, the percentage the Maloofs get as part of a new arena is not based on what has happened in the past. I can guarantee that the Maloofs will almost certainly get signage rights (which is how they would pay their portion of a new arena) and little else 100% from a new arena.

In otherwords, if you put the cart before the horse, you get articles what Evan Weiner just wrote. It’s too bad too: If you like rhetoric this is the piece for you. If you live in reality land where complicated things are complicated, where progress is not as simple as selling/not selling parking spaces or building arena’s, then perhaps it’s not the time for silly rhetoric.

This is a decision about what kind of place Sacramento wants to be. An arena, which is mostly about land value (tha’ts important yes?), is only a small part of that in actuality. Given the lack of valuable land around Sacramento, that means vultures who are waiting for the right time to sell off property when land becomes valuable. (It may be a matter of time, but is it?) Which is probably where much of the vocal opposition is actually coming from. (These vultures stand to lose quite a bit if land around them is forced to sell at less than what a developed right now property costs.)

This entire argument is about which group profits. It’s not about whether Sacramento profits. Personally, I’d like Sacramento to get the profit end of the deal AND keep something that does engender some amount of civic pride. I don’t think it’s reasonable to tear down community theatres (even though I have no interest in them) or not pay for those types of art because they cost money. I think investing in your community includes an investment in arts, an investment in civic pride, an investment in land, an investment in the future, and an investment in pride that says this is about us. These things cost money, but do they truly become a heavy cost compared to the benefit? (This is a rhetorical question: Every person will answer that differently.)

No matter what any anti-arena opponent says, this is a complicated decision. Anti-arena’ists would do themselves, and those of us who do support a new arena, a lot of good by simply acknowledging that the Maloofs, and the NBA, are really at best supplementary parts to this discussion. But, that cuts out the angry rhetoric so what good is that?

Posted by: natehughart | January 22, 2012

Kings lose to Grizzlies by 33 points and I’m glad

Instead of spending the 4 or so hours writing a massive hit piece (which is what I just spent 4 hours doing) on why I hate Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins so thoroughly and completely. I need a weeks break from those 2 shitheads. Both have destroyed my love for the Kings for the time being, and hopefully a week of school/watching real NBA teams compete and perform will recharge my batteries and accept those two. (Yes, I just used the “recharging my batteries” in describing my feelings towards watching my favorite team since I was a teenager. I feel I need to be locked away in a room with a straitjacket for about 10 years after watching those 2 go out and “play” NBA basketball.) I’m assuming I’ll just go back to hating them both for eternity. Actually what I’m kind of hoping for is they both spontaneously combust and I’ll never have to look at them again. The odds of this happening? Slim and none. Such is life.

Which then means there will be a lot posts that would explore the scintillating whirling dirvish option of: Would it be better of if we shot 6 grenades at Tyreke every time he starts a possession after 16 seconds on the shot clock? Or would it be better if we shot him with 2 grenades to teach him an object lesson? Maybe Tyreke can pound the ball with only 1 functional leg. Now I’m fascinated. Maybe even morbidly excited?

Would it be wise to shoot 6 rockets at DeMarcus Cousins every time he catches a ball at the elbow (which he should either shoot, or pass without taking a single dribble) and then proceeds to take 6 dribbles into the lane and try and score over 4 defenders so he can make himself look good. Or would only 1 rocket work for said object lesson? If DeMarcus loses his arm from said rocket, does that mean he’s more likely to shoot one arm shots from the elbow or 4 defenders? NOW I’M FASCINATED. JUST RIVETED.

As you can see, these are the critical and important things that I feel Kings basketball is about these days. Because it’s not like there is a professional basketball being played these days from the two players who matter more than everyone else in the entire franchise combined.

See ya next Saturday.

Posted by: natehughart | January 20, 2012

Kings escape San Antonio with a victory; Win 88-86

I wish I could say I enjoyed this game (I didn’t), but a victory is a victory nonetheless. I’m so sick and tired of this team 16 games into a shortened season where the deck was so one-sided in terms of being stacked against this group that it almost feels pointless to complain.

But I’m going to go right ahead and do it anyway.

This team is a terrible group of players collectively. As individuals, if they were in AAU, they’d be spectacular and dominant. The only problem with AAU ball is that it’s not real basketball by most NBA teams estimation. It’s just simply glorified streetball with slightly more organization. Do the Kings know that? Not really. They are too young. That isn’t an excuse though. That’s not all of the explanation.

Part of it is the Kings, starting with the pounding dribble maestro Tyreke Evans, dribbles and then makes the most obvious of moves towards the basket. Whether it’s one of the patented ridiculously retarded spin moves by Tyreke (I really hate that), or the pump fake and drive into the lane by DeMarcus Cousins. This team simply displays it’s ignorance in the most arrogant of ways. Sometimes, it’s simply youth. But really, they can get away with it against some teams like the Spurs who are not chock full of athletes and if the Spurs have a night off like they experienced.

Let’s be honest here. San Antonio was terrible tonight. Absolutely resoundly terrible. San Antonio should have lost by at least 15 points. They were that bad tonight. Hey, those nights happen and Sacramento certainly had a small part of that. The physical nightmare in matchup’s will always pose a team like the San Antonio Spurs problems given that the Spurs focus so heavily on skills, attitude and precision.

This team is literally impossible for me to enjoy given the lackadaiscal attitude, the poor ball movement, and the amount of youthful petulance exhibited all over the place (and it’s not just Cousins). This team needs to act in a professional manner, and, frankly, starting with Evans and Cousins,
those two simply doesn’t seem interested in playing the part.

I was going to write what I liked about this game (there are things), but fuck this team. This team can go fuck themselves until they learn how to make an extra pass, give extra effort on every possession, and play as if there is a gameplan (there certainly is but it’s not like they care).

Is it going to be pretty every night? Hell no. I’m not expecting that. Is it going to be perfect and run with absolute precision? Absolutely not. There comes a point where you either A) enjoy watching the team you’ve chosen to follow or B) you don’t enjoy that team. And I’m well beyond the point where I hate this team. That came probably from the time Westphal got fired (and nothing has happened since that tells me that Westphal should have been fired because Evans and Cousins were under performing; Neither Evans or Cousins need Westphal’s help for that), and truthfully it has absolutely nothing to do with Westphal. I absolutely 100% mean that I feel sorry for Keith Smart that he inherited two entitled spoiled brats who don’t understand what it means to run a NBA play. Or who don’t seem interested in running plays on a consistent basis.

The Kings need Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins to act like mature adults. Neither are ready, and tonight’s victory against the Spurs provides the stark reality of how immature both Evans and Cousins really are. A stark reality where Evans nearly picked up a Triple-Double (you know if he actually passed beyond the 1st half), Cousins picked up another double-double with 13 rebounds that reminds of why he went 5th in the 2010 draft in the 1st place. Neither guy won the game for the Kings, neither guy really did much to seal the victory (Cousins rebounding excepted), and both Evans and Cousins were not the real reason the Kings won. It says a lot about the Kings, and the 2 “franchise” players, that when they win it’s more about what the other team does not do than what the Kings are doing.

I’m at the point where I’d rather see this team lose by 40 so I could tune them out than have to pay attention to a close game and watch glorified AAU basketball. Until Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins learn that going 1 on 1 does not really work at the NBA level on a consistent basis (especially with the way Evans/Cousins insists on doing so), this crap will continue.

That’s all I got. Debbie Downer out.

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