Posted by: Kingsguru21 | July 21, 2009

Are the Kings a better franchise because of the Maloof’s meddling?

I think the title should say it all, but in case it doesn’t for the less encumbered among you, are the Kings a better franchise with the Maloof’s meddling? If not, why not? If so, why yes then? These are serious questions, and many of us (myself certainly included) have waxed sentimental on these questions for the last several years (in my case) and others in a shorter time period (in the sense that any Kings fan could see it).

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Lyrics if you wish to read along.

Personally, I’m sort of glad the Maloof’s meddled. Why? I’ll take you back to something I wrote in 2007 about the E-Muss firing (one of the greatest reliefs as a fan I ever had):

If this season proves to teach the maloofs a lesson on their evaluation of coaches & nets the kings an excellent lottery pick, I can live with that.

We know what eventually happened. The Kings tried to get SVG, and ultimately lost out on him (can’t say they failed to get him when he’s looking at houses only to find Billy Donovan squashes his deal and the Magic, understandably, have a much better roster to dangle to SVG).

Then, the Maloof’s made a 2nd error, although with better reasoning, but not much, in Reggie Theus. Ultimately, Theus’ undoing might have been his insistence to do it his own way, and that was his biggest problem.

However, it’s a bit like this Duran Duran version of Perfect Day:

It may be good and fine & dandy, but what works once is usually things that work consistently. Trying new things works, and I’m not saying thinking out of the box doesn’t work because it can, and has. What I am saying is that if you’re GM doesn’t agree with you, and it’s probably unlikely that Theus was Petrie’s first choice for a variety of reason’s, than that probably should give you pause.

It didn’t.

We all lived through the last 2 years, for what they were & weren’t, and we saw the legacy of that.

But, still, did the Maloof’s meddling cause a way to re-build this franchise?

That is the question.

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One of the dirty secret’s about the NBA, that is at best an open secret amongst the more die-hard NBA fans, is that the NBA is cyclical. Some fans don’t actually believe it, and think David Stern is a Jewish Douchebag Supreme Deluxe for even bringing up the idea.

However, if you look at history, and look at patterns of players drafted, and how that usually works, it’s cyclical.

Luck doesn’t hurt in this area, either.

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In 2005, the Kings traded Doug Christie and Chris Webber. After doing these trades they were just under 62 million in salary by the end of the season.

So you ask? Is that the correct figure? No, it’s not. Ms. Bender only compiled those salaries as of Dec 20th, 2004. Which meant that in 2005, the salary cap figure changed for the Kings. Here is Larry Coon’s FAQ for the 1999-2005 Salary Cap if you wish to read it. It doesn’t exactly shed light on who payed the luxury tax, and the tax was calculatedly differently then. If you know anything about the salary cap, than you might recognize what has changed since. (It is interesting to see how different luxury tax is calculated now for instance.)

Now, after looking at the roster, we know that Brian Skinner, Kenny Thomas and Corliss Williamson came in exchange for Chris Webber, Michael Bradley and Matt Barnes. The Cuttino Mobley that brought Cat to the Kings for that half-season, along with Michael Bradley, was done in exchange for Doug Christie.

Either way, when you recalculate the salary, it was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 58,635,938. Whether that was enough to take the team out of luxury tax range, I do not know. I do know that the next season, 2005-06, they did not pay the luxury tax, and haven’t since. (Note: The closest the team actually came to paying the tax was by the end of the season in 2007-08 when they had a little over 63 million committed in salary. If you’re wondering about last year, with Shareef Abdur-Rahim’s medical retirement combining with the trades that actually saved them money, they didn’t actually pay that much in salary, and then with the buyout’s/waiving the team executed (Cassell, Douby, Moore, Gooden and Solomon) saved them a few bucks here & there. (Most of the actual savings came on waiving Moore causing him to only get 2 million in guaranteed salary for this upcoming season in 2009-10.)

This is where the story really begins.

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We know the Maloof’s pushed the Artest deal through. We know the Maloof’s chose to not give Rick Adelman a new contract, and with some level of support from Geoff Petrie, loved Musselman at the interview stemming from his being prepared.

We know how this turned out.

Then, came the next coaching search, and we know how that turned out. It did culminate with Reggie Theus and this moment of stupidity though:

This was what I said when originally faced with the decision:

It really sucks for me cuz I feel the Kings MUST move artest. I feel theus convinced the Maloof’s they can win with him. That’s what I think happened. The gut tells me Theus said you can do this with minor adjustments blah blah blah. Theus knows he’ll only get so many shots. The question: Does Theus believe it or not who knows?

The Maloof’s have too much control in this. That scares me. Im thinking about quitting on this group again. I’m tired of ownership thinking they know more about their basketball people. Geoff Petrie has proven he knows personnel. Has anybody on the Maloofs?

I later changed my mind, and accepted it. (Reminds me of Tyreke Evans, but drafting players is different. With Reggie Theus, there was more of a likelihood that he would fail not having ever coached in the NBA AT ANY LEVEL.)

I even wrote this earlier last season trying to defend him. (Read at your peril.)

We know Reggie Theus got fired on Dec 15th, Kenny Natt replaced him, Aykis ended up being the Greek Douche and the father of the “Natt this” movement, and all hell broke loose. Sort of.

Brad Miller. John Salmons. Drew Gooden. Sam Cassell. Mikki Moore. Quincy Douby. Michael Ruffin. Ike Diogu. Bobby Brown. Shelden Williams. Will Solomon.

They were all gone by the end of the season. Name me a single of those fellows you’d really think would help the Kings this season.

Yuh, me too. Bye bye guys. Hope the door didn’t smack you on the ass so hard that you have a red mark on it. (Then again, I don’t care.)

Oh, and as mentioned earlier, Shareef ended up becoming medically retired by the end of the season removing his ENTIRE salary off the salary cap.

The Maloof’s might have been slated to lose 25 million at the rate the franchise was headed come mid-season, but after you factor 2 similar trades that likely ended up with similar amounts of cash being given along with the players acquired from the Celtics (Cassell, Solomon), you could probably guestimate that at least 700K was saved just on those 2 transactions alone.

Drew Gooden was waived, and they probably saved somewhere near 25K or so after Gooden’s pro-rated contract with the Spurs kicked in.

Of the players the Kings acquired (Calvin Booth, Ike Diogu, Rashad McCants, Will Solomon, Cedric Simmons, Drew Gooden, Andres Nocioni and Sam Cassell), only Nocioni is still on the roster, and only Diogu had anything more than a fighting chance to stick on the roster after Gooden was waived March 1st.

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Which brings me to Paul Westphal, Reggie Theus, Kenny Natt, and of course, Eric Musselman.

Part of what made Westphal’s hiring so interesting was that money drove part of his hiring. I wonder, especially now, would Westphal have been hired had the Maloof’s not been in a financial bind and could only afford a million and half dollars.

Sometimes not having money is a good thing. I wonder if they feel the same way.

Let’s keep something else in mind. Without Natt or Theus being paid (unlike last season), and the chance that Musselman would get hired in Russia (forfeiting the money the Maloof’s owe him), means not only do they save money potentially on a high quality coach in Paul Westphal, they also save money in not paying Eric Musselman.

The one thing that these guys can’t complain about is not getting ANY breaks. Because as they proved last season, little money is not something they’re overlooking these days. They’ll take cash in bits & pieces because when you’re losing, it’s a hell of a lot better to get a bacon scrap than not having any bacon whatsoever with your current roster.

Also, the Kings made another trade with the Blazers that included cash on Draft Day with Sergio Rodriguez. Now, I’ve heard people mention that the Kings got only a million & half dollars, but quite honestly, if the Kings don’t get 3 million in that deal, what’s in it for them?

Think about it for a moment. 3 million includes paying Rodriguez’s salary, Casspi’s salary, Brockman’s salary, and/or the buyout for Casspi. That’s a lot of cash to take back when you can take a year salary for Rodriguez against minimal room under the salary cap to begin with.

That’s why I don’t think the Kings sacrificed a million & half of dollars of cap room to help the Blazers out by taking only a mil & half back in cash in the trade. (They also swapped the 31st and 38th picks which is the other reason I think the 3 million was included. I’m not sure they do that knowing DeJuan Blair is available at 31. Then again, maybe they do.)

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So, now that I’ve delved away from the main topic some, have the Maloof’s meddling cost this franchise dearly? If so, at what cost, and why?

In terms of a championship, obviously not. The Kings haven’t been a championship contender since Chris Webber’s knee required micro-fracture surgery. (Even if that wasn’t as clear in 2004 as it should have been.)

Well, while not re-upping Adelman cost the Maloof’s some money when they fired Musselman a year later, they did structure it in such a way that the money would be paid over 4 seasons. (The fact he’s getting OFFERED a job in Russia 2 years later might indicate how bad of a hire he was for this team at the time. I’m not saying he didn’t have coaching chops, but he never pushed the right buttons on that team.) The Kings also, when Adelman was still around, signed Rahim to a long term deal that will expire this next off-season. The Kings, at the time, still had Kenny Thomas on the roster as well signed through the same year that Rahim was signed to expire in 2010.

In the sense that the Maloof’s have done anything, it’s to the fans who root for this team to win, even though it was somewhat doomed to fail anyway, and have cost themselves some money.

Really, other than money, what have the Maloof’s really cost themselves? It’s their money! They are ultimately the one’s losing money when their meddling goes awry. The Family doesn’t seem to be interested in firing Geoff Petrie, and even let him push for the hiring of Jason Levien, so in a sense it doesn’t make sense that they would fire Adelman, and not Petrie. (Well it did to them, and a lot of other people, but not me.)

Many owners think they can run the NBA like they do with their other businesses elsewhere. I think, or it should be, that’s pretty obvious that is not the case. The NBA is different because you have factors, at the very least, of which you have little control over.

We know the Maloof’s say they want to win because they say if often. (It’s also somewhat demonstrable that they, they being the Brothers Joe & Gavin, haven’t been around the team, as often, during it’s glory time in the dumpster the last few season’s.)

We know the Maloof’s have spent less money this season than they have in year’s past simply because they haven’t made a big money Free Agent acquisition. (That’s really hard to do without cap room, and they haven’t had that since 1999. In retrospect, the 2003 Sign & Trade that netted the Kings Brad Miller didn’t bring a huge financial boon either.)

The Maloof’s do have a problem, and I think it’s the difference between a winning and losing team. They like being part of something, anything really it seems to me, that’s being talked about and bantered about as if it matters more than life itself. At times, to some anyway, the Kings in the glory years of 00-04 definitely generated that excitement.

The Maloof’s, namely Joe & Gavin, love to be part of that. For whatever reason, they love that aspect of the spotlight. It’s a meaningful thing to them, right or wrong, and whether we agree, or don’t, they still need it.

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So what about the draft picks? It could be worse actually. The Kings, in the 90’s, from 1990-96, drafted Lionel Simmons, Travis Mays, Duane Cuaswell, Anthony Bonner, Billy Owens (whom was subsequently traded for Mitch Richmond), Walt Williams, Pete Chilcutt, Bobby Hurley, Brian Grant, Corliss Willamson and Peja Stojakovic in the 1st round.

I don’t have to tell you which picks were the best. You already know (or should). If you don’t, figure it out.

The point here is simple. The core of this franchise, the lifeblood of this franchise, was through draft picks in either using that player on the court directly, or in a trade at some point. The more asset’s you have that other team’s want, the better chance you have at make quality trades. It’s not a coincidence that the Kings have gotten more in trades since Geoff Petrie became GM/Prez of B-Ball ops because he was a better GM than Jerry Reynolds. And, Jerry Reynolds was a better GM than Joe Axelson and Bill Russell all things considered. (I don’t think Jerry is still with the Kings if things work out differently because the Kings keep the core of the team as it was constituted in June of ’89, Jerry as coach for awhile, and then fire him when he doesn’t do as well. Happens all the time. Just ask Sam Mitchell.)

Since the Maloof’s meddled with the franchise and made it their own? These are the draft picks the Kings have had: Quincy Douby, Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, Sean Singletary (2nd round), Patrick Ewing Jr (2nd round), Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi and Jon Brockman (2nd round).

Now, Douby is gone, and Singletary and Ewing Jr were part of the Rocket’s trade that sent Artest there. But, has the meddling really hurt this team from a talent perspective?

Not really, no. Hawes and Thompson are productive players, and unless a real franchise superstar comes along after them, there is little you can do to control your draft position. You don’t want to purposely lose because your fans will turn on you. (Fans turn on you when it isn’t on purpose.) Here’s the point: Even if the Kings are picking 6th overall in 2007, and it was rumored the Kings would absolutely take Yi Jianlian, having the 6th overall pick in 2007 is very different from the 6th overall pick in 2009. Not all picks are created equal, and sometimes in a strong draft, besides the top 2 or 3 picks, and as such, having higher picks is nice, but it doesn’t always mean that you will keep on getting those players at the top of the draft.

Why? You win more! It decreases the odds that you will win more games if you get a young impact player. (Shocking, I know.)

In a way, and I hate saying it, but the Kings had to bottom out and get a couple of players at the top of the draft for a couple of years (2009 and hopefully 2010) which are far more likely to completely alter your team and give you a great possibility at being a strong contender.

Yes, meddling never usually works, but really, I can’t tell that it’s made much of a difference in terms of the talent of this team. If anything, it may give this team a better chance to compete because the team bottomed out at a team where they never actually purposely wanted it to.

Sometimes karma means something, and sometimes being a bitch is being a bitch. All I do know is that the Kings are probably, on any uncertain terms, not any worse off for the Maloof’s meddling beyond the idea that they are losing money, and thus making Sacramento unattractive.

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I’m not going to pretend to know all the answers here. I don’t. Other than money, and that’s always a factor, I don’t think there is really all that much to say. (Other than the 3000 words I’ve put up already.) I think the basketball team will run more smoothly without them interfering. I think the draft process will work better because a better coaching staff will integrate younger players with the existing talent with more ease and skill.

That’s important to any franchise, let alone a team like the Kings with enough odds stacked against them already.

More than any of that, amazing as that is, it’s easier to say the Maloof’s aren’t doing something, and I know this will be a novel concept to many of you, when they aren’t doing something!

I don’t think the net effect of the draft picks had much to do with the Maloof’s because they weren’t trying to put a team in position to lose.

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I’m going to answer the original question with a question: “If the Maloof’s have learned anything, will they ever interfere the way they have again?”

I don’t know that answer, honestly. If I did I’d tell you, but if I had that kind of psychic ability, I wouldn’t be writing this right now because I wouldn’t bother my time writing a blog because I’d be making too much money doing other things.

Yeah, money does make the world go ’round, right?

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Here’s what I do think, and hopefully have gotten across.

I think the franchise is in a better position to succeed because the coaching search went forth with far more clarity and purpose than the search in 2007 did. Or, the search in 2006 for that matter.

Paul Westphal was hired on money terms, yes. But, Geoff Petrie got his guy. (If that’s important to you.) He got a fellow basketball lifer, like him, who understands the game in ways that he does. Westphal isn’t adverse to young players, but is adverse to new coaches (on the whole). His coaching staff (Jim Eyen, Mario Elie, Truck Robinson, Brian Gates) is one that gives me great reason to believe Westphal will succeed with the Kings.

Is it obvious to hardly anyone else? No, probably not. And my response? Fuck ’em.

If the Maloof’s meddle with the Kings again, I say hire a veteran coach, pick up several young players with promise, sign a fat piece of shit like Sean May, and go from there.

It can only go downhill from here, right? Ha, probably not. You are excused from the history lesson now minions. Go find a swimming pool and give your AC a break too. (That’s an order, and not a request fucktards.)

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