As most of you know, I’ve been gone for nearly 3 months, and it’s not like the previous 3 months to that had been going all that swell either.
Here’s the deal: I’m living in a homeless shelter in Seattle, and while my interest in the Kings really hasn’t waned (although it had for awhile over the summer because of the limited amount of news–which was nice because I needed a break), I also have limited access to the internet. (Which, in a shelter is Shangri-La.) Worse, I won’t be watching many of the games and certainly not like I would if I had consistent internet/broadband. Such is life I suppose, and, thus, this blog will be put on hold until I get a consistent source to base what I’m saying off of. (That is unless there is something via the web and I can comment on that.) Today is an exception to that rule if only because there are some important things that I have failed to comment on adequately. Just one thing: Don’t comment on my homelessness because I won’t respond. Not because I don’t appreciate well wishing, but mostly because I don’t wish to comment on it any more than I have to. That includes emails, tweets and anything else. (Hopefully nobody has my phone number. If somebody out there does, I’m truly scared. Oh well.) At any rate, here goes.
Awhile ago, we heard that the Cal Expo board rejected the convergence plan for “monetary” reasons. I find this amusing for a lot of reasons, sadly, but that’s the way these deals go. Clearly those folks had a very misguided view of Cal Expo’s value in relation to Sacramento, and that’s the real issue here. If they think any sale of Cal Expo will net a better price for the state (which was clearly their criteria for rejection of the convergence), I got news for them: The price of commercial real estate is set in Downtown/Midtown Sacramento, and works it’s way to the outlying area’s. There is no way in hell Cal Expo, especially without Light Rail access, will ever gain the monetary value. In fact, if Sacramento’s economy continues to plummet, and the downtown real estate market continues to suffer, what chance is there of Cal Expo to net a higher price? If only because Downtown/Midtown real estate is more valuable?
In otherwords, those folks are stupid, and don’t understand Sacramento much at all. But I expect little from Cal Expo bureaucrats, and the longer they took to make the decision, they let out a lot of smoke signals that they would reject the proposal on financial grounds. And, well, they did. It’s stupid, yes, but that’s the way it is. Any person that thinks that Cal Expo is more attractive than Natomas is, unfortunately, stupid. I don’t get it. I never will. Suburbia is suburbia is suburbia. Most of Sacramento, with the old parts of the city that were built well before the city limits expanded in the 60’s, is suburbs or ugly country style homes. It’s not incredibly attractive. Of course, if you don’t have a board that lives locally it’s difficult to understand that. (I doubt the majority of the Expo board has lived anywhere but Southern California.)
Rather than stating what TZ stated about a month ago, I’ll just link to it instead: Will the Maloof’s file for relocation?
Answer: Probably not.
Better question: Why not?
Answer: Ah, there is the rub. And, Scott Howard-Cooper (when he isn’t filing the DeMarcus Cousins is an angry tattoo’d beast angle) pointed out several significant things a couple days ago in a rather important piece.
First important point from Scoop:
Stern sent the exact same message when the league said it would no longer have an active role in the negotiations going nowhere fast. That was about a month ago, and that was the moment the relationship between the team and the city went on life support, not Friday.
Why did some so wrongly portray this as a watershed moment? Maybe because Stern’s words sounded so ominous. Or maybe because there were Stern words attached to it at all. But it was more re-stating the obvious than sending a message to a city.
Yep, Stern knew the Cal Expo board was going to vote against this from almost the start. And, he isn’t happy about it. I don’t think he has anything against Sacramento personally as he was the commish when Gregg Lukenbill moved the Kings back to the dinky cowtown in good ole ’85. (And before you had the rows of houses that looked absolutely the same to one another.)
Yet, there was another point Scoop made in his piece:
The city had already gotten that message, no matter what some may think from afar. Brian Robinson, for one, wrote on SonicsCentral.com that “We’d been asleep at the wheel during the negotiation time,” apparently referring to fans in Seattle, and that the Stern comment signaled how Sacramento just lost its team even though “I doubt they know it yet.” Wrong. Among the many who may be saddened by developments, it’s impossible to imagine anyone shocked after what has been an exhaustive process there.
What I find sad is that many people think of the Kings existence as a negative and a blight on a city with little attractiveness to an outsider. One way you can make income is by having people come to where you are at. One way to attract business is to have reasons for those businesses to come there. Yet, some people don’t get that (and don’t care for whatever reason).
However I’m getting tired of people saying that an arena shouldn’t be paid with public funds when we have a school system falling apart. And, what proposals are on the table to keep the public from paying for these public schools? Nothing. So, you people shutup. (Besides, public education is worth letting go. It ain’t worth a damn. I have a diploma that says I graduated from high school. I’d be better off wiping my ass with it. But, whatever.)
At any rate, Scoop hits the most important point of the piece:
The greatest hope to re-igniting the former love affair of team and city, strangely, has nothing to do with how either side looks at the other. Leaving is one thing but ending up somewhere is something else, and the Kings simply do not have an option that guarantees a better future. Seattle and Las Vegas have major arena headaches of their own and there are doubts whether Kansas City, with a building in place, can sustain an NBA franchise.
One member of the Board of Governors was asked about the dilemma: Are there any sound options for relocation, for the Kings or anyone?
“I would say none,” came the answer.
That is the last best hope for the Kings to stay – that everywhere else has problems too. It’s not much, but it’s something. Actually, it’s all Sacramento has right now.
By the way, the NBA board of governors means owners. That means an NBA owner doesn’t have a problem with the Kings leaving Sacramento. The problem is where are they going to end up that’s better and that doesn’t land the Kings in more hot water? If you think the bad economy is hurting Sacramento, and it is, then if you’re a Kings fan there is better than an even chance that the Cal Expo board turns down the convergence plan in a better marketplace. And, the Kings are stuck with a better marketplace elsewhere and a city much more likely willing to take that jump politically.
Things often work both ways, and the arena situation with Sacramento is yet another example. The bad economy is taking it’s toll on the EC no doubt, but it’s taking it’s toll everywhere. There is a chance the Kings might stay on simple dumb luck. Which is something I thought the convergence plan was (a lot of money invested from outside sources without local tax dollars was pretty close to dumb luck in my view), and yet the Cal Expo board couldn’t see a good thing.
So more dumb luck has to happen. Go figure. So many things change and yet so many things stay the same.
Last but not least, my opinions on what will happen with the Kings this season (sort of).
If you haven’t been following the training camp updates from James Ham at the Purple Panjandrum (which I had to look up because I had no clue what it meant–I’m referring to Panjandrum), you’re missing out.
This is going bullet style:
* On Sammy Dalembert, I think he’ll anchor the defense when he’s healthy AND the other players learn how to play off him. If he’s able to pair with DeMarcus Cousins effectively as a 1-2 punch up front, so much the better. The less those 2 can play together means the less the Kings can A) get out and run and B) effectively guard the paint and score inside. It’s a bad sign if Daly can’t play with DMC because it probably means that Whiteside won’t be able to either, for one thing, and it means that Daly is gone by the end of the season.
* For all the bitching and moaning about Beno Udrih and Francisco Garcia, and their contracts mainly, I find it difficult to find 2 veteran players who will complement Tyreke Evans in more ways than either guy. Both can handle the ball, shoot the rock from either 3 or mid range, and both provide something of a veteran presence in their way. Obviously neither are perfect, and if you’re talking about the 2008-09 Kings, you’re talking about disaster. The reality is, however, that the necessity of both playing well all season will be a key to the Kings winning anything close to 10-15 games more than what the Kings did in the 09-10 season.
* Let’s say for a moment Tyreke averages 22 points a night this season. Let’s say he averages somewhere between 5 and 6 boards (they are more likely to go down than up because of the better boarding presence up front), and 6 and 7 assists. Let’s say that’s good for 10 more wins this season because of experience, more efficient scoring and better inside play. Let’s say that Beno and Cisco play to their career averages. Is Tyreke Evans a surefire All-Star? Because he should be at that point. If Tyreke Evans is going to make a leap to superstar (which he can do), then he’s going to have defend smaller G’s better than he has, defend off the ball better than he ever has in his life, utilize his weapons appropriately, and learn how to use all his energy appropriately. Most players never learn to do that, the great one’s take anywhere from 2-10 years to learn it, and Tyreke Evans absolutely is square in that group. I will be happy if his defense and reading teams defense improves. I’ll be happy if he’s considered a snub for the All-Star game (he was a borderline snub last year as it was), and if the Kings are contending for the playoffs into March. Anything beyond that is gravy. And, can the Kings get to the playoffs? Maybe, but I doubt it. I’ll expand on that in a bit.
* Can DeMarcus Cousins overcome his penchant for poor shot selection and lesser efficiency with patience, quality shot selection and experience? Maybe, but I doubt it happens this season. If anything for DMC, he will establish the baseline for his career and the better he does in all area’s will determine how good he get. Rather than comparing his season to Derrick Favors (a mistake for both players because of the situations both guys are in not to mention what both skillsets are), DMC just needs to play well. I’ll be shocked if he contends for Rookie of the Year, and unlike Tyreke Evans (I thought Reke had a strong chance after Griffin went down and I thought he had an outside shot when Griffin was healthy–even if I wasn’t talking about it), mainly because a healthy Griffin and a healthy John Wall would have beat out Tyreke Evans because of a more positive national reputation. (That’s the way awards go quite often.)
I’m hoping for 15 8 and 2 dimes a night from DMC. Anything beyond that (especially if he’s getting 30 MPG) and I’ll be straight giddy.
* I know folks are tweaking a bit about Omri coming off the bench but the reality is simple: Omri’s talents don’t fit well with Tyreke Evans as a starter. His need to score is not a necessity in the startling lineup. What he needs to learn is what DMC needs to learn: How to harness his fire and energy to be consistent and a reliable factor on a game in/game out basis. Once you get beyond your rookie year, you have to be able to put it all together. The beginning stages of that process for Omri starts now. If the finishing touches of this aren’t there by the end of the 3rd season, you should sigh.
* The last half of what I said about Omri goes for Donte Greene. OR triple really. However, there is a wrinkle to Donte vs Omri. That is essentially the Kings decided to pick up the option for Donte Greene which means that Donte’s 4th season is guaranteed. (It was a virtual guarantee that Omri, Tyreke and JT’s 3rd/4th season options were picked up already.) What this means is that the Kings will look to dangle Donte (I think anyway) as a possible piece to get a veteran who could make the Kings better in a potential playoff run.
One such player is Tayshaun Prince. I don’t know if Detroit does a straight swap, but Prince isn’t going to snag them a star and the only way I think the Pistons deal Prince is if it’s clear they are out of the playoff race or he makes it very clear to Joe Dumars and Pistons management that he wants out of Detroit for whatever reason. Either way, I expect Donte Greene to be dealt by the deadline because it’s clear he’s better at the 4 than the 3 and the Kings really are not in need of Donte’s skillset at the 4 as they are at the 3. Despite what Jerry Reynolds saying that Donte isn’t that athletic, I don’t think he was really saying that Donte wasn’t athletic at all. He just was saying he wasn’t a freak of nature athlete like an Amare Stoudemire or Rudy Gay. Rest assured, almost everyone in the NBA, sans LeBron James, doesn’t possess that athleticism.
By the way, I think an acquisition of Prince would likely be the best the Kings could do with Donte Greene. I’m also quite sure the Pistons would look much harder around the NBA before settling on Greene. So a trade may not happen before the deadline because the Pistons may demand (and expect they will get it) more for Prince than what the Kings will give them.
* As far as Whiteside, I’m not sure what to expect. I don’t expect a lot of PT unless Dalembert is literally hurt most of the year, and the Kings figure it’s better to get the young PF (and he is almost certainly that at the NBA level) some PT he might not get otherwise. He could spend quite a bit of time in Reno, and if he’s not getting time initially than he should. Some PT at the NBDL is better than no PT at the NBA level when it’s a guy like Whiteside.
* I really don’t expect a great deal from Pooh Jeter, Darnell Jackson, Luther Head or Antoine Wright. If any of those guys simply plays well when asked, and gives the Kings anything on a consistent basis, the talent pool is grown. However, the likelihood of any of those guys succeeding is slim and I expect that none of them will do anything remotely special. It is worth trying out guys for roster spots, like any of the 4, but they are all marginal NBA players at their very best. Marginal NBA players are fine for the bottom of your roster, and thankfully that’s the position the Kings are in.
* I just hope Carl Landry comes off the bench this year. Ditto for Jason Thompson. That is a tremendous set of backup’s, but a very mediocre starting unit. (Which harkens back to the Daly & DMC question of whether they can play together.)
* There are a lot of people complaining about Paul Westphal’s rotations already (which isn’t surprising because there were a lot of people who wanted better rotations last season too) which I consider just something that happens with fans and the reality of being human. You can’t make everyone happy, and that includes NBA players and fans. When PW gets a consistent starter at a spot, he’ll play that guy. If he doesn’t, he won’t. Pretty simple, yeah? Tyreke Evans is a starter, and who else is? Dalembert? If he’s healthy, he should be. What about DeMarcus Cousins? Beno Udrih? (I think the 3 will be a revolving door because of the players involved. That happens with developing teams quite often.)
I think the coaching staff will be important as always, and it’s important to remember who they are as well as what roles they play on the staff.
– Jim Eyen is a lead assistant (Mario Elie is the other) and he focuses more on the offensive side of the court.
– Mario Elie is said lead assistant plus he focuses on the defensive side of the court.
– Truck Robinson and Otis Hughley both focus on player development among other things. They also help teach the offensive and defensive concepts that Eyen, Elie and Westphal are trying to get the players to buy into.
(Note: Pete Carril is a lengthy piece onto his own, but he’s a legend who gives “advice” to young players. That’s really what he has always done.)
– Remember it’s the head coach who has to incorporate all this stuff into the gameplan and that’s PW’s job. He’s the head coach. He gets to be part of the good and the bad.
Anyway, that’s a very basic overview of the coaching staff. I bring it up because Ham had an excellent interview with Jim Eyen earlier in the pre-season and it’s worth noting how much value assistants like Eyen and Elie have when a decision to play a certain player (or not) factor here.
You’ll read a lot of nonsense about Hughley being brought in to calm Cousins down, but anyone with knowledge of the team will point out Hughley works with a lot of players. That’s why they brought him in. Yes, he was brought in to help Cousins, but whose to say that Hughley can’t help Tyreke Evans too? Or Jason Thompson, Donte Greene or Omri Casspi for that matter. Why limit Hughley to one guy?
* Last but not least, the Kings are currently at 42,098,199 in committed salary (before we find out the complete total on Head or Jackson). That means at least Head or Jackson is guaranteed to make the Kings (in all likelihood) and both will make it because of the minimum salary cap issue. (Most likely.) However, the Kings don’t have to be over the minimum cap until the trade deadline in February and these things are only counted on the last day of the regular season. Remember that before you go all crazy. I still think Jackson and Head are nice insurance policies for the team and are cheap as insurance policies go. Both are probably better than any player you can get from the NBDL.
* Can the Kings make the playoffs? Well let’s see. We can assume the Lakers, Thunder, Spurs, Mavericks, Blazers and Jazz are locks. When healthy, those teams have more talent than everyone else.
Beyond them, you have the Rockets, Nuggets, Hornets and Suns with veterans/stars who know how to get a team into the playoffs.
If you aren’t counting, that’s 10 teams. You have the Kings, Wolves, Clippers, Warriors, and Grizzlies other than the 4 bubble “been there before” teams.
I just don’t see the Kings having enough savvy to pull it off. Contending anywhere near a spot is more than good enough IMO. From there, it should be interesting to see what happens.
So that’s pretty much it.
If you haven’t already found out, there is a new arena group called “Here We Stand”. TZ @ StR has as good a post with information related to this as anything you’ll find. (I didn’t know about it, but it doesn’t surprise me such a group is getting out there.)
Anyway, you can click on the link for all the important details if you haven’t already. If you want the Kings to stay in Sacramento, I suggest you support this group however you can.
Since it’s gameday in a few hours, GO KINGS!