Still Waiting for a New Era

I deserve a few kidney punches for quoting myself twice today, but I wanted to revisit something I wrote upon Reggie Theus winning the Kings job some 18 months ago.

I refuse to say this is the dawn of a new era, as I'm sure The Family and Coach Fuller and Geoff will say on TV today. The dawn of the new era started last summer, when the franchise cut Rick Adelman loose and blew goodbye kisses to the Era of Glory and Awesomeness. The story of this team, this post-glory era has not been told. Musselman's team was the first part, Theus' team could be another blip or it could stretch for years. But don't get it twisted -- we're still in a deep mess. Hiring Reggie does nothing to change that, unless he can rebound and score in the post.

In the end, Theus became a plank of the bridge to the Next Great Kings team. Few of us predicted otherwise, so this can't be shocking when taken with the whole.

This team was in a superbly awful way when Theus got the job. The Kings sit in a better place today. Why is that? Mike Bibby turned into Beno Udrih and cap space. Ron Artest turned into Donté Greene and a draft pick. Spencer Hawes came to town. Jason Thompson came to town. Kevin Martin continued his ascent. John Salmons embraced the spotlight, and Francisco Garcia did everything he's supposed to.

If you'd like to credit Theus with Hawes, you're probably mistaken. If you'd like to credit Theus with Thompson ... well, he's had the kid for 2-1/2 months, and Shock is doing the things he did in college. Martin's development? Garcia's development? Udrih's development? Can any of those be credited to Reggie Theus? It doesn't seem like it.

Arguably, the one thing we've heard most the past few days as an indicator of Theus' plight has been Brad Miller's lack of effort. To me, the one thing you can clearly credit Theus with is Miller's resurgence last season. Musselman had no freaking clue what to do with a weapon like Miller. Theus figured it out quickly, utilizing the high post/corner action sets often. On a style continuum, Theus clearly lived closer to Adelman than Musselman did. If Miller's '07-08 looked anything like Miller's '06-07, there is no chance in Hades we're discussing a Marion move today. No chance. Miller'd be in K-9's "Tradable Only in Video Games" territory.

Theus definitely deserves credit for understanding his talent.

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The other thing that stands out in contrast between Musselman and Theus: Reggie never once embarrassed the team. I'm not solely focusing on Musselman's DUI here, though that's part of it. Today, right now, it's questionable whether Theus had "lost the team." Four months into Musselman's stint, there was absolutely no question that every player openly disdained, mistrusted or ignored the coach. The lead assistant hated him! Things aren't even in the same solar system right now.

That's a potential reason as to why we've all argued that Theus should have kept his job until April: we've seen catastrophic, and despite the bad bad losses this isn't catastrophic. Perhaps Petrie felt differently after Saturday night. (I know I walked around like Theus and Miller took turns kicking my dog for a while Sunday morning.) Maybe this is catastrophic by normal NBA standards. But for the Kings under the Maloofs/Petrie, this feels a little too mundane to require a midseason dismissal. If Musselman could survive a season so awful, you'd think a man like Theus could.

All that said, this team cannot be worse. The three-point defense would be comical if Charlie Brown played for us. This franchise has never lost 60 games in season, and it ain't about to start now. Twenty-three wins or bust, suckers.

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