Posted by: Kingsguru21 | September 15, 2009

Francisco Garcia: Turning the corner isn’t as easy as it appears

Before the 2008-09 season, I argued 2 things had to happen. Both eventually did. The first was the trade of Ron Artest. The second? The Francisco Garcia extension.

I liked it then, and believed it was necessary. (And I won’t back away from that.) But, at the same time, I was beginning to wonder by the end of the last season was it wise to do so?

Specifically, Garcia at times played poorly (and I don’t mean from a statistical perspective). I’ve said this many times, and will beat this drum to death: Garcia passing up an opportunity to feed Spencer Hawes in the post to jack up a 3 simply can’t happen again.

I understand why it happens. Garcia thought Hawes would lose his position, and he saw the best opportunity to take a 3. Also, it seemed encouraged that the Guard’s would generate most of the offense from Kenny Natt. (If you want to call whatever it is the Kings did an offense.)

This is where, though, I think I bring up one other point. Watch this youtube clip of Nocioni running towards Butler. (The interesting part is the clip I’ll never be able to find. It’s the breakdown that allowed Butler to hit a 3 earlier in the game–I think with less than a minute left–and Garcia ended up pointing at Nocioni. Unfortunately, though, I can’t find any evidence that Butler hit a 3 any time remotely close to the GW 3 he did hit. Oh well, I know it’s out there. If I remember right, it was between the Paul layup blocked by Garcia, then another 3 was taken–this was Garcia’s mis-step–and then the shot was missed and the rebound was grabbed in part due to the fact that 2 players were running at a guy shooting a 3. But, don’t quote me on it. The last play is neither really a mistake on Garcia or Nocioni, though. The mistake is Garcia pointing at Nocioni after the play is done )

Whatever that was, and it wasn’t leadership, it wasn’t good. The entire incident said something about Kenny Natt, Francisco Garcia and Andres Nocioni.

Nocioni might be traded at some point this season. Kenny Natt is already gone.

That leaves Francisco Garcia. A lot of the assumption if you read TZ’s piece is that because of time in the rotation for Sergio Rodriguez, Tyreke Evans and Beno Udrih, this is going to require a player like Francisco Garcia at the 3.

I disagree with that sentiment for a variety of reason’s, but we’ll see how it plays out. At the very least, for Garcia anyway, it suggests that the team believes he’s a major part of this team right now. I would agree because they signed him to that extension.

******

However, I’m not sold on Garcia anymore, and I’m not sold on him from anything remotely involved in a leadership perspective. Garcia is emotional yes; what I don’t think he understood is that shit happens in a NBA game. West set an effective screen that somewhat jarred Nocioni enough to create space for Butler to hit that 3. (Or, to launch a spaceship actually. But let’s not be picky here.)

What is not talked about in that game is the preceeding play where Butler hits a 3 (before the game winner) to draw the game within 2. That was the truly egregious play then; it is now. If Paul Westphal is smart (and from what I’ve seen he’s made no mis-steps so far), he will likely find a way to integrate Garcia and Nocioni wisely.

Simply put, either Garcia or Nocioni goes. And, given that Nocioni doesn’t have the ball handling Garcia does, plus factor in that some level of toughness has been brought in by the Kings over the summer, I think it says everything who the Kings are looking at long term.

TZ had a point, yesterday, on Fanhouse that the Kings now have the 2nd lowest payroll in the NBA.

Here’s the difference. The Kings and Thunder, unlike the Grizzlies, were not in good positions to spend money this summer. That is, unless, they wanted to use it on the Mid Level Exception type money player. In OKC’s case, that could be argued.

I could see OKC wanting to save some money down the road for the inevitable extensions to Jeff Greene, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. These guys are the major players for the Thunder, and that’s all it will take to increase payroll.

Unlike Sacramento, though, the Kings aren’t taking on major payroll this season for a variety of reason’s. The Kings are already paying their best player, Kevin Martin, on his extension, Garcia’s own extension has kicked in, and this impacts how the Kings would be paying free-agents. Simply put, the Kings valued Garcia a ton in the summer of ’08, and unlike Beno Udrih, I never believed it was a bad deal. (I still don’t, but Garcia’s finger pointing and in general poor play has me concerned.)

I believe if Garcia can’t rebound from a very poor season of 08-09, than I believe the Kings will have 2 major floating pieces of bad contract on the roster. Fortunately, though, both Garcia’s team option and Udrih’s last season are at the same time. Trading them will likely be pretty easy as a combo 3 years from now given that they have 11 million + in expiring contracts.)

But, all of this is moot. I think the idea of what Garcia brings this season will determine his long term fate here in Sacramento, and while I feel Nocioni will be out of Sacramento by the trade deadline in a salary dump, I feel Garcia has a whole season to get his act together.

I believe Francisco Garcia is a very effective player, and will remain so, for the next 3-5 years if he does it right. If he can avoid injuries (like the minor finger injury he suffered in the FIBA America’s tournament), and remain focused on what Paul Westphal asks him to do, I think he’ll be okay.

On the flip side, if Garcia continues to act very much in bitch-baby fashion (as he did last season), this team will just have one more pouter on a roster with too many already (Udrih, Hawes, Rodriguez). This isn’t good news long term for the Kings.

But, while Hawes does have fire to his game, as does Garcia, he’s also a far more important rotation player than Garcia ultimately is. Center’s don’t grow on tree’s and his moodiness would not be uncommon when you factor in the bitchiness of big men in general.

Garcia is not immune to change. He’s not completely a franchise asset. Of all the players on this roster, Garcia is the player I would hope to see a lot of steadiness and consistency from. I don’t care if he puts up monster numbers or anything, but I do care how he goes about his business.

I want no finger pointing, good solid fundamental basketball, and an interest in doing things that helps the team win. Garcia can do all these things; shit he can do those things better than anyone else on the roster. I’m convinced, and have said as much in the past, that Garcia’s value is far greater to a winning basketball team because he does all the little things that matter. (He can be a pest defensively, swat a few shots, handle the ball, shoot the 3, plays with energy and passion.) He is in many ways the perfect role player for the Kings.

But, if he doesn’t recognize it this all goes for naught. The 5 years and 29 million put into him will be a sunk investment. For a team with the 2nd lowest payroll, and of all the risks this season. Garcia is clearly the biggest that Geoff Petrie took. For Garcia’s sake, for the Kings sake, and for Petrie’s sake, I would love to see the Garcia that the Kings thought they were getting with that extension.

Get to it Franky.

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