Posted by: Kingsguru21 | June 20, 2009

Does it mean something bad if the Kings sell off a lower draft pick? (Also, why it’s going to be hard to move down in this draft)

I think the title says it all. But, if the Kings do sell off the 23rd and 31st overall picks, then, it will of course mean something bad. Something, among other things, like the Kings will be moving. Or for instance, the team is near bankruptcy. I’m not starting a rumor. But, if the team can afford to have 10-15 workouts at it’s own practice facility, and have Geoff Petrie fly all over the world, along with have somebody represent them at Treviso during Reebok Eurocamp, than, they must be getting some of this money from somewhere.

The question here is simple: Would the team benefit by selling off it’s pick? The answer is obviously no.

I don’t think that’s the issue. Let me explain it thought in complicated hand wringing terms. What probably could be explained in 300 words but will likely take me at least 6000. What can I say? I’m just that smart.

Here is the bottom line. The Kings only have 8 roster spots next season. The NBA requires you to have 13 spots on your roster. The only way the Kings sell more tickets next year for sure (and this would be done as the year moves on) is if they start out the season well and and end above what locals believe. Even then, it’s pretty dicey the Kings continue to sell out like they have in the past.

Selling off a draft pick has rarely worked for a team let alone worked for a team with only 8 roster spots. They’re going to have to sign players to a contract, so why not players at the 23rd and 31st overall spots too?

If they want the team to improve, or simply make the team as good as it can be regardless of where the team is located (it doesn’t benefit the team to sell off draft picks if they’re strongly considering moving anyway), selling off draft picks is one of the worst ways to do that.

Why?

Because there isn’t cheaper talent out there available than 2nd round picks to begin with, and you’re much more likely to yield a better player out of the 23rd pick long term than you are by selling it off for 3 million dollars.

Worse, if there is a team willing to buy it in such a weak draft, than you’re only hurting yourself (as Phoenix has most notably) by selling off that pick.

I think this only being done for one reason, and one reason only.

There is a perception that the Maloof’s will spend money, and sometimes unnecessarily, among NBA owner circles. The reality is not so. They’ve cut back a ton of the team’s resources, and will continue to do so if the drought keeps coming.

Frankly unless a team makes it really worth their while, and I can’t imagine they would, it makes little sense to say it publicly that you would sell off a draft pick.

Unless you’re trying to send a message.

Michael Heisley has made a huge stink about the revenue sharing in the NBA being unfair to markets like his. (If he was any good as an owner, it might not matter. But he isn’t so I won’t go there.) Any deal that the Kings will get will likely include a Kenny Thomas and Marko Jaric swap. Frankly, and I see the Maloof’s saying no to this for one reason: It costs us too much money.

It’s a simple cost/benefit analysis. Why move up when we don’t have to? If our basketball people consider Ricky Rubio part of the same group as Jonny Flynn, Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson among other PG’s in this class, than clearly the idea that Rubio is so much better than everyone else at the position is being media driven.

Which, coincidentally, it is.

The Kings weren’t going to commit to Rubio publicly this early in the process for one reason: Right now they have leverage, and OKC/Memphis doesn’t.

They have a pick in the top 4 which no other team except the Clippers, Grizzlies or Thunder have. Which means that another team is going to have to move up and give up something the Kings can’t, or won’t which is probably the same thing at this point, give up because they simply can’t afford to.

One thing, that I’ve completely disagreed with, is that their is a clear tier of this draft. This idea that Blake Griffin is ahead of everybody else is based on pure hype. But, like Griffin, it’s the same issue for Rubio with different reasons murking the waters.

Most teams need a player like Griffin at #1. But, OKC doesn’t for instance. Neither does Minnesota. Sacramento doesn’t really either. (But, if Tim Duncan Jr for instance, which Blake Griffin is not, if that completely irreplacable no doubt about it #1 talent comes out, you take him. If there wasn’t doubt, there wouldn’t be much of an argument. Yet plenty of media like Chad Ford and Jonathan Givony–the 2 biggest drivers of “Rubio is better than everyone else” bandwagon–believe that to be the case.)

Earl Hardaway of 3Shades of Blue said something that I found to be amusing the other day:

Rubio is arguably the top rated prospect in the entire draft. In fact, until Blake Griffin’s great albeit unchallenged college season, he was considered the #1 pick in whatever draft he entered by the same two draftniks. This draft is no different than the 2007 and 2008 two man drafts, the team at #2 takes the leftover player and says thank you and moves on. You do not take any other player at #2…NONE! And the only way you trade down is if you get a team to nuke their entire roster. Don’t you remember Pat Riley’s asking price for Micheal Beasley last season? It was Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and the #5 pick. That should be the price for the Grizzlies dealing the #2 pick: your best player, your last draft pick and this year’s draft pick. So unless Sacramento is offering Kevin Martin, Jason Thompson and the #4…hang up. Oh, I understand it is just as unlikely the Kings will make that deal as the Grizzlies making the deal for Beasley but that would be the cost. Why?

Uh, no, sorry Earl, but 2009 is not 2008 or 2007. Believe me, it would take much more than just a draft pick to get players that high in either draft. (Especially 2007.) You think the Sonics would have traded the opportunity to get Kevin Durant for a higher profile player? No, of course not.

So, why would the Grizzlies do that with Rubio?

Because he doesn’t, and probably never will, fit their team in terms of their needs. Also, and this can’t be overstated, Rubio isn’t better than Durant. He isn’t more valuable at nearly the same age, and teams don’t hold him to the same level of value.

That’s why either the Grizzlies will take Rubio at 2nd overall and swap down, or they won’t. They might get something, but hardly worth what Grizzly fans will expect in return. Rubio just isn’t worth it for most teams to give up what Memphis wants. At the end of the day, and this is equally true of the Thunder no matter how much they’re saying otherwise, it would take a ton of convincing, and probably 2 seasons, to believe that Rubio would work on either team.

The general belief is that Rubio is stuck because of his request for arbitration and his team, DKV Joventut, selling his buyout rights to the Spanish government.

But, Rubio’s request made him look bad, and Joventut’s response did the same. Both sides can agree that Rubio can stay for 2 years, and when his contract is over, then he can come over to the NBA. (It’s not like Rubio will be an old man by coming to the NBA at 21 years old. Also his shooting, and particularly his awful mechanics, might greatly improve.)

This is Memphis’ nightmare scenario. To take Rubio and try to get him to come over only to head back to Joventut to make it happen. Which, coincidentally, is why I think Rubio is headed back to Spain.

That’s the problem I think both Memphis and OKC have. There has to be the possibility of risk regardless of what public perception is. It may not work that way ultimately on draft day, but Rubio hasn’t done much to alleviate fears that he won’t report to Memphis.

Personally, I don’t even know why the Grizz are trying to push this anyway. I think they’re trying to milk sympathy, but that seems a pretty stupid tact for a “professional” organization. I think the general stance for any team in Memphis’ possition was going to be the same, and then wait until someone blinks. It wasn’t likely that any team would blink until Draft Day’s eve anyway. Everyone wants to conduct player workouts to see if staying pat is the option for them. Memphis too.

What does this have to do with the Kings selling off a 23rd/31st overall pick? The most likely scenario I could see with the Kings doing this is to muster up the extra cash they don’t have to acquire Rubio and acquiesce to some of the demands that the Grizzlies will make.

Which brings me to a conspiracy theory point. If David Stern was so obviously rigging this draft, why wouldn’t he try and help the Grizzlies to get Blake Griffin and the Kings Rubio? But, that would be too much for any “casual” fan to realize. Hell, it might use up all their brain cells.

The point here is that the Kings were sort of screwed by the lottery in that the best possible “potential” prospect was Ricky Rubio, and the fact that he does potentially fit in so well with what the Kings need already.

(Of course his visit was really about trying to get the Kings to convince the Grizz to make a deal. Rubio’s camp couldn’t do it because the Kings weren’t convinced that was intelligent regardless of the various motivation(s) behind it.)

But, as I’ve said multiple times here and Sactown Royalty, it’s not necessarily bad that the Kings wouldn’t take Rubio. There is no guarantee that he is the 2nd best prospect, let alone the 1st, in this draft. I’d be happy if the Grizzlies played the hard line and kept him. Then, of course, he fails in Memphis because he doesn’t fit in well there with the way he wants to play, and then heads back to Spain. That’s how these things work out sometimes.

But here’s the thing. It could work out that way if Rubio comes out to Sacramento.

(The flip side to this argument is that Jonny Flynn would probably not work out as well in Memphis either. Get it?)

This is a FIT AND NEED draft. Not necessarily take the BPA available so you can get a great deal in return. If Memphis hadn’t done that last year for OJ Mayo, I wonder how many Memphis fans would demand that. (I would bet it would be the same.)

The Grizzlies have no real leverage to get the Kings to give up something more than the 4th pick, and the Kings may not want to pay the 2nd overall pick 2nd overall money.

Which brings me to an overall point. The best way for the Kings to start winning is by committing to fully developing young players. One of the best ways is for a coaching staff committed to playing young players. Paul Westphal seems committed to that. The Kings have plenty of young talent that needs more time on the court with having 3 potential top 31 picks in the upcoming draft included.

There is room for improvement from every existing 25 or older player too. Kevin Martin’s health is essential here. The Kings very well could only win 30 games next year, but, after this past season, that would be a great improvement considering.

I applaud the Kings saying that, and letting it leak. Because, after all, doing the Mike Bibby deal included some financial relief for the Grizzlies (along with a test run of Jason Williams that Heisley rendered moot by signing him to that inexplicable retarded long term contract) by swapping Nick Anderson for Brent Price. I think that’s what the Grizzlies are really after here. And, thankfully, the Kings are saying no. Which they should.

But, if they in fact do sell off a pick because they’re in dire financial straits, I don’t think the matter of the Kings staying in Sacramento is no longer the pressing issue. It’s where they’re moving to is the salient issue by that point.

Wow. Can’t believe I just wrote it. But, I believe it’s true.

Is it likely? I don’t think it is. If the Kings were at 10 roster spots, than I very much think that would be an appealing option. Especially if the Kings were at the same salary level they’re currently at (around 45 million). But, with 8 guys under contract, they’re not going to find guys at a cheaper level for longer than through the draft.

It’s just like the Battle Royale and the camps the Kings are drawing over certain players, I’m sure some of it is the Kings trying to protect themselves if they can’t get Rubio on their terms. Fans will criticize the Kings if they weren’t able to get him regardless, and they will be mad if they don’t acquire Rubio on the terms they believed to have been available circumstances be damned.

Which is why I think the Kings will likely end up with Jonny Flynn. Unless Rubio drops. I think the only player’s that can be ruled out right now are Brandon Jennings and Jrue Holiday. Tyreke Evans has slight possibilities, although I doubt it. It’s very much looking like Flynn right now. Which, quite honestly, I can very much live with anyway. There’s no guarantee any one player will be that great all-star level talent anyway. Why not Jonny Flynn? Hell, why not Hasheem Thabeet? (Pretty unlikely, but with this draft, anything is possible.)

However, this doesn’t change (or part of it anyway) the title of the piece, or (part of) the point. If the Kings sell off the picks at the bottom of the draft, than they are plum dumb stupid or desperate. Either is bad for Kings fans in Sacramento, and either is bad for fans in another city that the Kings want them to move there.

Which means that the Kings are just as likely to keep the picks if they’re staying in Sacramento or moving to, say, Anaheim. I hate putting it like that, but the Kings could have moved at any time as is. There’s nothing legally keeping the (alot of money to be owed, but nothing legally holding them like a lease, and we saw how much worth that had in keeping the Sonics in Seattle) Kings in Sacramento.

I do think that the talk of selling the pick is posturing. I think Kings fans would love Rubio today, and wish 5 years from now they had Flynn. Or something like that. It’s also possible the Kings take Flynn and Kings fans wish 5 years from now they had Rubio. That’s the beauty of the draft. It’s also the danger.

What I do think is that with all the uncertainty and angst regarding the top 4 pick, maybe the franchise believes it could sell off the pick without the fanbase noticing. Well, the casual fans wouldn’t, but the hardcore fans who’ve never left will raise hell. Plus, as I said, there isn’t likely to be a cheaper version of acquiring players out there.

The only reason I see this team selling picks, as I’ve said much farther up top, is that the team is verge on bankruptcy. In which case, the Maloof’s money situation has been overly exaggerated from the beginning. But since I doubt the Kings are on verge of bankruptcy, and I highly doubt the Maloof’s net worth isn’t worth well north of a billion dollars, than you could consider that hot air.

It sounds nice if you’re telling other teams you won’t trade up to acquiesce to their demands, but the reality is much more difficult to advocate. I hope the masses realize that despite the fears that the team will move. And, in that particular case, the team will always have that threat unless a new arena is built. Given what happened with Cal Expo already, that scenario is certainly still in play. I wouldn’t sweat selling off a pick as the Kings moving. I would sweat the Kings moving a pick for cash because they’re so bad off that the team will be sold to get out from debt and then possibly fold at some point.

That’s how bad it usually is. That’s how bad it can get. And, quite honestly, I don’t think it’s that bad. So, relax. You can ask, how do I know that? Well, I don’t know anything for certain. What I do know, and believe, that if the Kings were that bad off financially they would have fired more than 1% of Maloof Sports and Entertainment. Geoff Petrie would have not flown halfway around the world to go see Rubio. They wouldn’t be conducting so many workout’s. There would be numerous other signs. None of those signs exist right now.

So, relax. For now.

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Responses

  1. I’ve been in the Rubio bandwagon for months, but last weeks have been quite inspiring. What I can see about King’s behaviour is that they really aren’t that high on Rubio to trade up.
    I think they would quite please to trade down, because most of the prospect they are interested in will be still available at#6 and maybe even at #8.

    I haven’t seen any game of Syracuse this year, so I can’t tell that much about Flynn, but if GP says he would be very fine, well, I trust him.
    We’re not going to be a contender this year, regardless of who we draft, so it’s all about picking a guy and let him develop this year, hoping he’ll be another piece for the team.

    About selling bottom choices, I don’t think that there are many teams craving to spend 3millions $ for #23, and still we could easily use that pick to add a god guy (Sam Young? Casspi? Terrence Williams? Austin Daye?) to the team, with a very cheap salary for the years to come

    • Leave it to an Italian to make the most sense. Ciao!

  2. ^^
    Sincerely, I’d trade easily #4 to Minny for #16 and #18 in order to take Evans or Flynn or Curry with our first pick, and try to land Earl Clark with the second one. Then you can go with a big man (Heytvelt?) at #23, and finally use #31 on Claver and leave him in Spain for a year.
    In this way you would have completed your roster with plenty of young, good and cheap guys ^^

    • I don’t know if the 4th overall pick will allow the Kings to nab the 6th & 18th overall picks, but if the Kings could do that, I’d be behind it.


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