It usually doesn't take me much to get interested about the Kings. I doubt anyone who eventually reads this will be shocked to note that Mike Bibby's injury (which initially until I started to think about it--while reading other reaction) made me realize how glad I am (for me anyway) that he did get hurt. Bibby will be back as this is only a thumb injury. There are other important questions to answer and ponder however down the long term aren't there?
Q: Do you bring in another Point Guard to run the team?
A: Absolutely not. The available options don't make this team better, and of course saddle this team with more ridiculous contracts (like Rafer Alston). For everyone complaining about K9 you want another overpaid jerk? Didn't think so.
Q: What will Mike Bibby's absence actually impact the team in doing?
A: In the running game. When Mike's committed (which is always a question with him--it's not a physical but a mental committment that he hasn't shared with the exception of his first season--which coincidentally was his first and best one here in the evil Cowtown) he runs the break well. I don't think it was an accident Reggie Theus wanted to run so early and often. After all it takes mostly conditioning to do (and helps if you have 2 high jumping studs in the front court) but it also takes some level of understanding on how to move the ball on the run. While Mike is not a very good passer in general, his ability to run a 2 on 1 is right up there with Steve Nash. Like Nash he can hit the 15 footer on the run and dish to the open teammate for the easy bucket. That is the name of the game of fast break basketball. I also think it definitely hurts the trade value for Mike because his stats (shooting% if he became more selective) and particularily assists would go up because of this style. It would make it easier to trade him ,and whether Reggie knew it or not, it's the single biggest way to showcase a player. Play him in a system that is uniquely suited to his best abilities. That, and unless Bibby returns with a vengeance which I doubt, is pretty much done now. Oh well.
Q: Will this improve the team defensively?
A: Next Question.
Q: Who should replace Bibby?
A: It depends on what you want. If you want to develop and look towards the future you play Douby and Greene. If you don't want to do that the veterans available are highly shaky at this point. There's no real relief (particularly as Bibby isn't out the whole season) and that's the real trouble. If there was a quality backup PG to run the team while Bibby was out that would be one thing. There just isn't and therein lies the rub.
It might offer an honest glimpse in what direction the front office wants to take, and who exactly is controlling that direction, and why it wants to head that way. Bibby is the Last of the Mohicans, as Scoop (Scott Howard-Cooper) loves to point out way too much, but he also is fan favorite. A lot of Kings fans (particularly of the newer generation)identify with Bibby making him a far more emotional decision than a basketball one at this point for both Petrie and the Maloofs. The interesting question really, at this point and beyond, is can the front office (and whoever makes the decision)cut the emotional cord and make a deal that makes the team better long term on the court and in the pocketbook. Time will only tell.
I also think Mustafa Shakur won't factor into this either. It's clear Shakur needs time in the NBDL ,or overseas, and the team would probably be better off signing Mike Wilks if for only a short time if they're convinced they need a 'third' PG.
Q: Did this team just have it's playoff chances killed?
A: Probably. It's hard to say though. Depending on whether you're high on the Hornets (I'm not--Paul and Stojakovic are both injury prone and the Hornets badly need both to score to win a good portion of games), the Grizzlies, and teams of that ilk, there was a real opportunity to win games. On the other hand did this Kings team really need that opportunity? Did they really want to make the playoffs to try and justify over priced tickets yet again? Probably, because in the end it is a business. On the other hand fans are forgiving too. Fans understand when it's time to move on. This was a team that was pretty much at best a playoff bubble team. If they overachieved (which is always possible I suppose) then they would probably have been dumped in the 1st round anyway. The NBA playoffs is a rugged landscape without a game changing player or great overall talent.
Q: What is the worst collateral damage for the team with Bibby's injury?
A: It depends on how you look at this. I think the worst collateral damage may be Kenny Thomas. As he is moody, and in general not liked by anybody in the grand scheme of things, then it's likely he may not take to Bibby being out as he would if Bibby was there. After all one of the things you need to get out in the open court, and say what you want about Thomas,is rebounding, which coincidentally is Thomas' best strength. If Thomas started rebounding at a 10+ clip ,and defending better than he had in the previous season, teams would have taken notice. Depending on Petrie's insistence on what to get back he might have been able to unload K9 on someone else for a reasonable price in return. On the other hand I could be smoking crack and trying to go to sleep. Shit is relative.
Q: What about Ron Artest now? After all didn't he and Bibby struggle with leadership over the team last season?
A: I suspect that only Artest, Bibby, and perhaps Theus even know that at this point. If you're of the opinion that Artest should only play in the low post offensively because it will take away from both what Ron does best, as well as his other teammates incidentially, it makes it a bigger challenge I think for Reggie Theus to convince Ron he doesn't have to make up for Bibby's contribution on the perimeter. I say God Speed and Good Salutations to Reggie on that job. As far as Ron nobody really knows. Good Ron and Bad Ron come and goes like ABC sitcoms, and we all know what that means right? It means ,basically, that flipping the coin is about the best way to figure out which Ron will show up. I suggest they make a coin with each side of Ron just for this purpose. Beats wasting a quarter doesn't it?
Q: Who will benefit the most from this?
A: I think there is a collective group of wise Kings fans who are automatically saying Orien Greene at this point. It's easy to say Greene as he has had a better pre-season than Douby and Shakur plus his skills seem to fit well with Martin and Artest as well. However as much as I'd like to say Orien Greene I don't think it will be him. I think the person who will benefit most, and be hurt by it if he doesn't expand his game, is Kevin Martin.
I think this is Kevin's chance to expand his game and take it to new level's in a variety of ways. Defensively, including pressuring the ball, and offensively by creating more for himself and teammates on/off the dribble. I think his intangibles with leadership and how he responds to being considered the "man" by opponents will come into play as well. I think Martin's rise as a player will dictate what future this team has, and to an extent whether management can guage if this team can move on from a selling standpoint with Bibby to Martin (let's face it nobody is buying a Kings jersey at this point and K-Mart represents the best new chance to do that from a marketing angle) as the face of the franchise. A single thumb injury often can change an entire landscape of an entire franchise just like that.
The next 6 weeks as I view it is like playing with house money. Douby, and particularly Greene, have nothing to lose. What are they going to do if they play poorly? Sit on the bench? They're already backup's if Bibby comes back anyway. I think the level of maturity, along with the level of Douby's on court improvement, will be shown in increasing levels over the next 6 weeks. I also think the level to which Ron Artest can control himself, and hopefully see Kevin Martin assert himself, will be shown also. If all those factors come into play (and cross your fingers) then this team has a serious future down the road. If not there's always Plan B.