Out of the Doghouse

I should preface the following commentary by noting that Kenny Thomas has been given a chance by every Kings coach he has played under. Rick Adelman let him start the bulk of his games in Sacramento in 2004-05 and '05-06. Eric Musselman had Thomas as the starter for a while. Reggie Theus gave him two games to open the 2007-08 season. And now Kenny Natt offers up 24 minutes of playing time, including the closing moments of a tight game.

In this sense, then, Thomas has never been long for the only doghouse that matters. Musselman's firing gave K-9 a fresh shot. Ditto Theus. The only two doghouses we have here: the franchise management (the Maloofs, Geoff Petrie, Wayne Cooper, Jerry Reynolds) and the fans. Reynolds, the past year or two, has refused to gild K-9's lily. This is a bit remarkable when you consider all the mediocre talents (Sacramentan and opposing) Reynolds has treated like hoops royalty. I mean, Eric Gordon is already Mitch Richmond, Kevin Martin is Kobe, Scot Pollard was Bill Russell and Vlade Divac is the reincarnated spirit of Jesus Almighty. Reynolds sees the brightest side of everyone -- but his compliments last night extended to "That's the one thing Kenny has always been able to do: rebound." A far cry from the typical bleating, and a bit jarring considering K-9 was about the third best King.

And ... yeah, K-9 is not likely to escape the fans' doghouse for long. Thomas was terrific last night, but there's too much history there to allow him to sneak back into our good graces on four steals and a block. Fans are typically too hard on the players. In Thomas' case, our feelings are deserved.

All that said, the doghouse doesn't matter. If K-9 is a live body, he's helping everyone. He helped un-Mikki the game with some decent rebounding (in an otherwise disastrous rebounding performance). If he can provide enough activity to actually get himself traded, it's better for the management. If he can do enough to keep playing, it's better for him. If he can provide a semblance of interior defense, it can help win games, and that helps our plight. The only thing that's wrong with playing K-9 is crushing Shelden Williams ... but we're at the point where Shelden doesn't even feel like a member of the Tomorrow Brigade any longer.

So I guess this is my way of saying it's not all water under the bridge, but all arms of the Kings can use Kenny Thomas for good, and Kenny Thomas can use the Kings for good. Let's not imagine it as anything other than a mutually beneficial, hopefully short-term relationship. No need to get our spirits wet with grimness or glee, no need to pillory or tribute any actor involved. Kenny Thomas isn't good, Kenny Thomas isn't bad. Kenny Thomas just is, and we'll have to live with that for now.

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