7 degrees of Ron Artest (Stench of Ron Artest redux)

For those who remember the original, don't bother. For those that feel like reading 7000 pointless words, carry on. There are "more" paragraphs, some cleaned up language (and hopefully most error's), and what not. Plus, if you like CCR, this is the post for you. Again, carry on.

Left a good job in the city, Workin for the man every night and day, And I never lost one minute of sleepin, Worryin bout the way things might have been. Big wheel keep on turnin, Proud mary keep on burnin, Rollin, rollin, rollin on the river.......

Left a good job in the city, Workin for the man evry night and day, And I never lost one minute of sleepin, Worryin bout the way things might have been. Big wheel keep on turnin, Proud mary keep on burnin, Rollin, rollin, rollin on  the river.......

I think it's fairly clear that pretty much everyone who thought Houston was a trade partner at this stage of the game to be zero. I know I thought Houston had given up on their acquisitions end because they were limited in what they could do. Maybe, I just simply took Daryl Morey at face value. My mistake. I always knew the Rockets had the best possible potential outcome for the Kings to be successful in a trade, but I just had given up on them after Morey's statement in regardst to taking limited and measured steps. Apparently, and the price the Rockets paid suggests this, what is apparent is that acquiring Artest is in fact a measured step for the Rox. So without further ado, and if you thought this was a long opening paragraph, you clearly haven't read anything I've written before. I suggest grabbing 3 or so beers.

4 months and 9 days ago I called Geoff Petrie Don Quixote. I meant it then, and I stand by it now. The only difference between Eddie Najera, JR Smith and Denver's 1st round pick (20th overall as it turned out), was that Donte Greene seems to be a true sleeper/potential stud. But that could be argued about JR Smith too. I don't really mind that Petrie passed up Denver, but I do mind that Artest stayed on the team after the deadline. It was a mistake, and now the team had to deal with the consequences. And to quote myself if I may:

I leave with this. If Petrie thinks his options improve over the summer in sign & trades he's obviously mis-reading the market. That's entirely inept to believe Artest's value will raise over the last 30 games because he will play well or whatever. It's also equally faulty logic to assume that Petrie's vision of losing Artest for anything less than premium value is a sound strategy, unless he's absolutely mandated by the Brothers/family, to shed salary in avoiding luxury tax. If you consider re-signing Beno Udrih, a priority for me, then why would you put it at risk by not allowing the team to have certain distance from luxury tax next season by not trading Ron Artest?

The only thing I've flip flopped was on the signing of Beno Udrih, and I flip flopped several times in days leading up to it. I'm satisfied with the signing, but I also was concerned about the money total at the time. I still am actually, but I'm hoping, like Kevin Martin, Beno will play into his contract. That's the only hope any of us have that the contract is worth it after years of so many bloated and unmovable contracts on the roster. And, 4 months and 9 days later, Petrie basically got what he was offered by Denver with a slight edge in the draft pick (that he had the same advantages with in 2008 that he will have in 2009), and JR Smith for Donte Greene. He got nothing better, and his patience didn't bring about anything. I'm curious why the change? Was it Artest? Was it Martin? On to the next point.

We (StR) spent days, and days, and days, arguing what type of value and which teams it would come. Hell, just yesterday even, I got into as close as I could get, in a bitter argument with Savage Beast over some fairly minor details. For example: What kind of value Artest should fetch in return; and the like. You know what? I was right, but just not at the scale any of us (fans) were hoping. It was actually lesser value than what we were arguing. I was hoping that the Kings would be able to dump Kenny Thomas (who doesn't around here?), along with Artest and get some cap room for 2009 along with a draft pick. It didn't happen, and as the JA Adande link says above, the Kings are apparently going after the 2010 Free Agent class. Whoopee.

I still think Cleveland, unlike LA, had the best options to aquire Artest. I do think, though, there are only 3 ways they don't acquire him.

  1. Mike Brown was unsure how to use Artest offensively
  2. Danny Ferry wasn't able to keep a dialogue with Geoff Petrie, or didn't want to, dating back to not being able to acquire Mike Bibby
  3. Dan Gilbert overruled the aforementioned 2 because he didn't think spending the extra money would put the Cavaliers over the top
  4. LeBron overruled everybody and told the organization that he thought Ron-Ron was a better rapper than him and it offended him

Okay, everything but 4 is (totally) serious, but even then, when you consider that everything Gilbert has done was to "satisfy" LeBron, then it's an important point to remember. No matter what Gilbert does, LeBron will always matter more to that Cleveland franchise because there is one of him. There are other owners who would be willing to spend what Gilbert is. Maybe not alot, but there are some.

As far as LA was concerned I think that was fueled by 3 things:

  1. The Lakers desire to be a bigger part of the news than the Clippers
  2. Management, primarily owner Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak, wanted to send a message to Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol that soft play when it counts won't be tolerated
  3. Because Jerry Buss is very conscious about paying luxury tax, he didn't want to take the risk of dealing with Artest under that situation

I don't know whether Cleveland or LA ever came into play, but clearly Morey and Adelman took their shot. If I may I'm going to suggest a couple reasons why they feel Artest is all reward and little risk. One is fairly simple. If Greene isn't ready to contribute right away and get minutes on a title contending team when healthy, then it's going to be hard for Adelman to be willing to play him. After all that organization is in "winning a ring mode." Playing Greene is not the most likely avenue to winning that ring. Plus, there is also the added bonus of the "Gerald Wallace problem" at some point coming into play. And by that I mean you have him for 3-4 years, and you're no longer a championship team, and he isn't a superstar, but he wants that type of money, and hasn't really proven much, and has given the team a problem or two about PT and various other small things not known to virtually anyone but the franchise, and it blows right into "100% hassle." These types of things happen in the NBA. That's why Gerald Wallace is in Charlotte right now. (That and they coughed up too much dough to keep him. Kevin Martin or Gerald Wallace is always how I look at. Who would you choose today?)

Last night listening to Jim Kozimor's show he had the Radio Voice of the Rockets on, Craig Ackerman (I think that's his name), and he said the Rockets gave up nothing to get a top tier player. Well, in a sense I agree with him. The Rockets didn't have to give up any of their more prized veteran talent to get Artest. After all, how was Shane Battier going to help the Kings next season? The Kings, after all, did okay with the return for what they get. In the end, if nothing else, the franchise didn't take a uni-lateral step back just to deal Artest away. In a sense when Indiana delt Artest in 2006, Indiana experienced these uni-lateral moves in the following summer after jumping through many hoops to return Al Harrington to the franchise. I think the Kings got the better end of the deal, and Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird aren't "el stupido if" you get the drift. (In hindsight, on Dec 26th 2009, maybe they aren't so hot.) The Pacers were screwed far worse in the wake of Artest's antic's withd the brawl in Detroit still fresh in many minds by the summer of 2007. (And, in hindsight, still to this day. That will follow Artest throughout not only his career, but his remaining years on Earth. Seems to me it's a lot of legacy for a loon like Ron-Ron to carry around.)

Seems like a very long time since Ron got arrested about 17 months ago. (Note: this was actually a post before Ron got arrested that day. That crapola thread existed later at some point. It's in the archives on March 5 2007 if you wanna chase it down. I don't. But here is a great post, and a great comment by Louis MG--hope you're still lurking dude--about how Artest's arrest over-shadowed Kevin Martin's winning Player of the Week.) It's been even longer since I first posted on TZ's old blog: Sac Kings Blog. (I shudder at the memory of how poorly written that stuff was. And I'm talking about my comments not Tz's writing.) StR has been on SBN for so long now it's hard to remember SKB ever existed. I was bored the other day, so I tried to look it up, and now it's even disappeared. It's okay, but I wish I had archived some of my comments about Bibby, Peja, Adelman and other things. Oh well. The long and the short of this is that after 3 years, and then some, the Kings are at the same place they were after the Webber trade. The franchise has treaded water since, not a total surprise, and now they've started the blow it up phase now that Artest is no longer on the roster. So where do they go?

That is the ultimate question isn't it? Where do the Kings go now that Artest is gone? Who do they trade? What kind of value are they looking for? I suppose that's a matter of opinion, but here's mine.

First, whatever you do, you don't take on longer contracts unless it's a superior player, and a fairly superior one at that, in the next several years. You do your best to keep your cap flexibility for 2010. Whether that culminates in the signing of a Free Agent (a very overrated action IMO), or a Marcus Camby type deal where a trade exception is created for the team giving up the player, or the Kings simply creating more cap room for the amount of mass talent they've decided to stand pat with. Cap Room is not about signing the LeBron's of the world. Let's not kid ourselves. LeBron is not coming to play in Sacramento. So let's not worry about it.

Second, and this is a fairly important second, you don't get over-eager because Tracy McGrady becomes available. Or an older player such as that, and you don't let your Vegas boy, 6 thou wine drinkers at that, make decisions. It's not decisions they make well. Joe and Gavin are not George. Joe and Gavin are figureheads. George is running the biggest part of their operation in Las Vegas. There is a far greater difference. It's one reason the family makes decisions. Joe and Gavin aren't trusted to make them. Families don't make decisions because they want to get together and play dominoes while getting shit faced. They do it to protect themselves against poor decisions by inner-factions against their knowledge. Have you ever listened to Joe Maloof after Rick Adelman got fired? (There are mp3 files that an older poster Pyro posted while she still posted here. She has since stopped posting too. If you want some of the mp3 files they are halfway down the comments to scroll down. Big up's again to her for posting them and recording them. They are a goldmine and a ton of insight to the Maloof's, Rick Adelman, Grant Napear and Mike Lamb to an extent, and even Elston Turner. It's worth hearing if you never have. But, to be fair, at this point it's mostly for historical content.) The bottom line is that ownership is there to ask questions of their basketball employee's, and create fiscal discipline. They're not there to create trades, and if they do they better have basketball background similar to Al Davis when he became owner of the Raiders, and now Al has lost his touch so it doesn't make a difference, or sit in the background and cheer like fan's. Otherwise, they're not much good in this whole rigmarole. But, after all, they cut the checks and it's hard to tell someone paying you to go fuck themselves. Hence the single most difficult conondrum of pro sports. Ownership that let's their people do what they need to, and have an open and honest relationship, which I think Geoff and the Maloof family have, tends to increase the likelihood, not to mention stability, of a franchise.

Geoff Petrie is an enigma wrapped in a mystery in a tomb in ancient Egypt. Nobody really knows what the guy is thinking, and when he says things like "we've had talks with them yes", especially when a trade is finished on "principle", then his "crypticness" tends to be a tell. After all GP's not saying anything about the Lakers gave way to a strong indication nothing was brewing there. The reason I know? Because he doesn't respond to rumors. This is years of watchng the guy work from afar. No other teams were bandied about except Detroit, and I'm sure those talks died quickly because they didn't have the package Houston did. Petrie's strength's are rather obvious. He's patient, and he drafts well. He's killed a ton of teams in this league on trades, although Geoff has given up talent, and the mix of players he put together was the actual success of the players he traded for, and that's not necessarily anything another team can do about. But team's also like to spin PR as positive as they can to get fans to buy tickets, jersey's and the like. If fans believe, accurately or not, that Geoff Petrie raped your team, it might make ownership or your management reluctant to deal with him. That's what I've seen written about Billy Beane. (This is bullshit but that's just something I know to be true--want an example? The A's trade Nick Swisher to the White Sox for some of their better prospects. Okay that's a good deal, except the A's have done a terrible job drafting. So when you trade your major league players to re-stock your farm system, you're doing one thing to cover another where you've failed. In Geoff's case it's not that simple, but you get the idea.) Actually I'm fairly thrilled most A's fans believe Billy is still the GM because I'm not sure how many of them would be stoked on the news that Forst is the actual GM, and has been since 2006. Oh well, not the place here for that. I'm just making an analogy. And the point about Petrie is simple: He makes excellent trades for the most part, Bibby is the best example, and Artest to a lesser extent, but GP has his criticism's too. Ignoring these criticism's is something akin to heeding bad advice. (I think.)

Anyone who has ever witnessed an argument between Otis and I goes something like this:

Me: The Maloof's have done more damage with their negotiating skills. Otis: How can you blame the Maloof's for that? Not everything is their fault you know. Petrie's job is to negotiate contract's and if they're poor contracts, that's on Petrie.

Meh, Otis has a point and a point that shouldn't be ignored. Petrie does the bulk of the negotiating, as he should, but ultimately GP is the guy who signed the players to the bulk of the contracts. Unfortunately though, and I'm not alone as Ron-Ron's email hysteria on the eve of Baron Davis arriving back home to Anaheim North suggests, Ron-Ron really believed that the Maloof's would negotiate a fair contract extension if he didn't opt out. I wasn't, sadly, the only one who noticed this, but when Joe Maloof goes on the air and insinuates, your millionaire's club pays attention. You don't have to own a PhD to understand that if you don't terminate your contract early, the team MUST negotiate a contract extension with you. And Ron honestly believed that. What Ron didn't get, and I'm not exactly sure why, is that wasn't Joe's call to make. That was Geoff Petrie's. He made the call, and Ron got mad because he knew was screwed. (Artest shouldn't be that mad. He's making more money that he could have gotten via either a sign or trade or an open market deal. Josh Smith couldn't get paid, and it took Luol Deng and Emeka Okafor to get their deals after several weeks of tough negotiating to get deals Deng and Okafor were at least interested in, or felt worth with, to sign. What's the odds in that environment that Artest gets a deal he thinks he's worth? Then again, that's another problem with Artest. I think we've gone over that enough.) Now that Artest is in Houston, and making 1.5 million more than any MLE deal he would have most likely had to accept, then one can say his moving to Houston is a positive career move. Petrie isn't taking his lumps for this deal either.

Ron has worn his welcome out, and has for roughly a year and half. Nobody was gonna cry the day he was traded, and the day is come, and guess what, nobody is crying. Geoff Petrie had nowhere to go but up with a deal like this because there was no way he was going to win a Ron Artest sweepstakes. GP knew it, and every NBA GM knew it. So Geoff did what he does best. He assesses damage and works quickly as possible to alleviate the pain. That's really what he is. He's the battlefield medic of NBA GM's. When he came to the Kings they had Mitch Richmond, Spud Webb, Walt "the Wizard" Williams--he of the one left to right crossover my now 89 year old grandmother could have guarded-- and the 8th pick in the draft that ended up being Brian Grant. (It was either Grant, Vin Baker or Eddie Jones. Had BG stayed healthy I take him in a heartbeat. But it's really a flip of a coin and Eddie Jones had the longer career. I'm just making a point.) There are more options today. For one thing Kevin Martin doesn't have the time Mitch Richmond did. For another Kevin is better paid with better representation. (One of the most underrated things in Sacramento era history is how Mitch's contract status over the 6 years spent in the EC ended up hurting and helping the team in the short and long run.) For another Petrie's acquired all the players on the current Kings team. He isn't dealing with the messy leftovers that Jerry Reynolds left him that he inheritated from Dick "I've got a championship ring how many do you got?" Motta. ("Coach, I've got two. Maybe they should listen to me."-- God Bless that smartass Danny Ainge.) And that is the point. Yesterday effects today which effects tomorrow which effects 2 days from now. It's always inter-connected, and no matter how many arguments ensue, it's always important to remember the past to be able to gauge the future with a better feel.

Are the Kings better off than they were in 1994? Yeah, for alot of reasons. Jim Thomas isn't the owner anymore is probably the 2nd biggest reason. There's a stronger salary cap preventing the Kings from losing any young stud in free agency provided they aren't the dum dumb's aka Atlanta Hawks, and negotiate properly with their young talent. You have Geoff Petrie who has a firm handle on where he wants to take this franchise. If it's let the young talent grow with the older "young" talent like Garcia, Martin, Salmons and Udrih, than I say so be it. That's a better plan than Minnesota has, and they've got a pretty good starting point in Al Jefferson and Kevin Love potentially. In the salary cap age, foresight is the most incredible thing to have. (Or in any age. But who counts? Hindsight is nice, yes?) But, and this is a rather big butt, it's also important to get luck. Every championship team has had it. Every single one. The Celtic's of the 50's and 60's. Anybody here know how the C's got Bob Cousy? They got the short end (or so they thought at the time) of a dispersal draft because they thought he was some New York swingin dick showboat who couldn't lead a team after watching him play 4 years at Holy Cross. Guess Red Auerbach ain't perfect huh? The point is that when the Celtic's got him their franchise's fortunes changed, and having made that type of mistake, it taught Auerbach to think out of the box. (Something did.) 17 championship's later, and one motherfucking famous parque, it's safe to say the Boston Celtic's have done as much as anything basketball "team" to shape the history of basketball in the world. That's important to remember. It's almost important to remember that Auerbach worked at it too. Petrie still has touch to run this team. Sure, people like Carl were frustrated. Shit, so was I. I stopped watching the Kings after the trade deadline because I got tired of Ron Artest on the floor. I wanted him gone, and it was practically impossible to stomach watching him game in & game out as the Kings wound down the season towards a high lottery pick that was slated to not make the impact that a top 5 or 7 pick probably would have. But, and this is a rather big but, one way would define luck is to have a player who drafted at 12th overall ends up being a superstar and the best player drafted in several years. That would be one definition of luck, yes? Am I saying Jason Thompson will be Karl Malone? Hell no minions don't be Corky from "Life goes On." At the same time it's always possible. With young players you just don't know. And who knows about Greene? He showed some promise in Summer League too. (Or Bobby Brown. Didn't he show that at least when you combine his feats in Berlin?) It may be that Reggie Theus turns out to be a better coach of young players than he is of bitchy, enigmatic, mercurial veterans. Luck, intelligence, foresight, keeping in touch with history, and paying attention are how teams win rings. It's quite possible the Kings could be back at some point. It's sure as hell better to contemplate the future now that Neutral has left the building isn't it?

If you move Reef (or have his salary taken off with a medical retirement), then you've lost his salary starting next season. That's a good thing. If you can trade away Kenny Thomas with either John Salmons or Bobby Jackson that's a good thing. Especially if you cut that salary in half with a quality player coming in return. With options Geoff Petrie can make things happen. He can decide to negotiate an extension with Francisco Garcia rather than letting Garcia decide he wants to go the Josh Childress route. (This should be a concern for the Kings. Cisco speaks Spanish. He goes to the Spanish League and makes big bucks, that's a problem for the KIngs if they want to get tough with negotiations with him. That's not a road I'm interested in seeing the Kings take.) I have said that the 2 biggest priorities are trading Ron Artest and signing Cisco to an extension. Well, the first priority happened, and it's time to work on the Second. Trades with GP happen in a 24 hour span, but negotiations for contracts can take weeks. So why not start the process now? Or at least in mid-August. It's safe to say, though, that if Cisco isn't extended by training camp, unless he wants to be in Restricted-Free Agency (RFA) next off-season, it's a failure on the Kings part to keep their young core together. A trade with Artest that certainly helps move the team in that direction when trading Artest was one purpose of reaching that goal. It's one thing to want a guy gone; it's quite another to do so with a purpose, and I believe it's very possible the Kings have done that. Sure it's not perfect or anything, but that's the real world. The NBA can be tough to trade certain types of players, and if you're trading Dwight Howard, is there a big equal of his talent? If he's the best big man in the world who is going to match him? (How many big man do you think it would take to combine Dwight Howard? Mental exercise to keep you sharp. So keep up people.) Hence, why trading Artest was so difficult. Not only was he difficult to trade from a personality standpoint, he was also so underpaid that it made a limited select market on who was going to acquire him. Either you acquire Artest and receive an overpaid crap-pile like Kenny Thomas, or you trade a mid levelish player like Bobby Jackson with a young player and draft picks. Petrie didn't have a lot of options with Artest unless he was making more money. And unfortunately, that's what made Artest so appealing to begin with. He is underpaid.

214 nailed it last night: "Kevin Martin, line 1 holding for you. Your destiny is calling". Absolutely nailed it. (Repeating yourself consistently is one surefire way to attract people. Just look at FOX News. Heh, couldn't help it.) TZ, nailed the whole full circle thing too. Actually he pretty much nailed all of it, right down with the picture and Shakespeare-esque (if not him some classic writer I'm sure I've never read) writing. Now the Kings can dump a Mikki Moore for cap room. (Or not as it were. One of the things we learned last Feb was that Mikki had an actual trade kicker in his contract. I'm not sure what's more offensive now: The fact that Mikki got signed to that contract or the fact that the Kings gave Mikki Moore a trade kicker! Discuss....) Now moving Bobby Jackson and trying to attach Kenny Thomas to any deal may be easier particularly at the deadline or sometime during the season. There are alot of things that are possible when teams are openly and actively seeking deals. The closer it gets to 2009 is the closer Kenny Thomas has some (as much as a crap-pile can have) to trade value. I'm game for that. In fact who isn't? (I would venture to say there isn't many community enforced rules, but disliking Kenny Thomas is definitely near or top of the list.) Finding out about Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson would be nice. Do they have all-star talent? Are they consistent contributors to a title team? Do we have these answers on July 30th. No, of course not. Why would we expect to? But I know one thing if I know nothing else. There is no way the Kings can find out answers about their young talent and future spending every day catering to the whims of a Queensbridge madman on the loose in the Evil Cowtown. You can't do it. Reggie Theus had to spend time, and massaging his own ego simultaneously, defending Ron Artest publicly. He did such a poor job that it ended up turning the whole franchise's head. What Reggie ended up doing was waking up the ownership to just how difficult a PR cover up job Ron Artest really is for a team in transistion mode like the Kings are. Frankly, and I don't think TZ has gotten enough credit for this, but in SpringTime 07 he did an interview with Bill Bradley, then an editor, and still may be today, about the type of web coverage the Bee did. Ever since TZ leveled fair and honest criticism's it has gotten better.

For those who don't think members of the Kings organization read this blog you're wrong. They most certainly and definitely do. It's one forum, a fairly unusually intelligent forum, and compendium of opinions that pretty much hit every Kings issue under the sun. When a community accomlishes this, and doesn't enforce specifically and spectacularly one sided idea's that only partially reach the point that the enforcment is looking to seek, than the point of having an opinion is lost. Did StR force Artest to be traded? No, again, of course not. Did StR help the Bee re-think it's web coverage? It almost certainly did. Newspapers are struggling with income from every angle, and they're losing readership by the day because the Internet has been such a broad and complete source of everything from anorexia to xylophones. (Maybe I should have said Zebra's instead. Whoops. Or, spelled Xylophone right.) It's kinda hard to top that if you print a headline "Bush read's a newspaper without making a fart joke while sniffing Cocaine." People get tired of that crap, and the Bee has found a way to make coverage of a tired one horse media town somewhat worthwhile. And it didn't start exactly with TZ's criticism, but it helped get the ball rolling. Sam Amick is a terrific beat writer whom the Bee and KIngs fans are equally lucky to have. He doesn't take anybody's crap, and he's the best source of Kings information I've seen fans have since Mark Kreidler. (For whatever reason I'm into political analogies today. I saw a political caption over a column from a Seattle Times editorialist with a caption of T-Rex representing the US debt with W as the master of T-Rex pulling him around on a chain while McCain and Obama watched. I'd link to it, but I doubt the Seattle Times website has it. If it was in the Bee I hope you saw it. For whatever it's worth I enjoy reading the Editorial's more than I enjoy reading anything else. Like the 20 cent plastic bag tax that's taking effect in 2009. It's stupid, and will end up hurting the environment more in the long run with more plastic being expended. But that's unfortunately the society we live in today. We don't quite seem to get cause and effect the way we should. And it's not just politics. It's sports too.)

I'm from Sacramento. Graduated from Sac High until it sunk into the depths of KJ's hands. And it's sunk further. (Shocking! Kevin Johnson fucked something up? Shocking.) The school had sucked for years. The problem with Sac is that it's a company town. Always has been when I lived there, and probably always will be. People aren't going against the grain much. (And this is not just Sacramento either to be fair. But in a city that's unusual, too many people don't seem to think outside the box like they should. It's a shame. Great city, nice people, fairly good climate, and a kickass place to go anywhere when the local watering hole gets old.) Talk radio is contrived for chrissake. (Peaches? Contrived? No!) Talk Radio is about opponent's and anger screaming at each other. And even that's boring because it's so predictable. Sacramento is, unfortunately, a low corporate town due to the huge presence the bureaucracy the State of California takes up. (By unfortunately I mean that it hurts the Kings in terms of long term presence in the Sacramento region. My usual response to Fortune 500 companies is to flip them the bird.) Everywhere between 3rd and Alhambra do you find State buildings that do this, that, or the other. What isn't there tends to be city oriented type stuff, and the County of Sacramento has quite a bit of office's too. In otherwords Sac is a company town. As a favorite book character of mine said," Bureaucracy clogs the imagination." Actually I don't think bureaucracy is all that useful, but I definitely think the power to think critically of the Kings is almost generally absent in most area's of Kings talk. Actually, and I don't think is a total critcism of just Kings fans, but sports talk in general. (Or Americans if you want to take a broader scope.) It comes down to this, or it comes down to that. It's one reason I'm not a "Scoop" fan. He's covered the Lakers, and all that junk, but for every piece of good information he provides, he provides his opinion. Some of that is necessary, I mean shit, he does report on the NBA, but some of that is overboard. (He is also a Lakers fan, even though he won't publicly admit it.)

We don't live in an era where information is publicly and willing shared, but in an era where information is withheld over a grudge by TV, Radio and some Newspaper sources. That's why, among other things, StR and other blogs like it provide such a recourse. So in one sense the interest of 1140 to make certain types of news on the Kings sound better than it is, and on the other hand you have the Bee which doesn't have a full leg to stand on. The Bee has to report news straight on, and not hold forth against opinions because the exist. The full disclosure of informatino that most cities just doesn't happen in Sacramento. That isn't an accident. It works well, but not like it did. With blogs such as this, or even to an extent, Kings fans now have a recourse to say what they want, or up to a point, for the most part how they want. You can't do that on 1140. I can't criticize the Maloof's for poor posturing in negotiating on SportsLine 1140. I can here. There is no guarantee anyone anywhere will agree, but that opinion can be heard. Ron Artest is the greatest proof of this.

Coming as completely full circle, you have why Artest was traded, and the reason's other teams may not have gotten involved. You have the timing and the difficult of trading a player and low monetary value such as Artest. You have some glimpse at the future and what it may bring. You have the value of free information in a fairly tightly clustered media information area like the Evil Cowtown. What hasn't been discussed, and needs to, is how this team will miss Artest. And make no mistake, and I say this knowing full well I wanted the guy gone, and knowing the team will be better eventually, this team will suffer a bit without Ron Artest. So the question is how?

We all hated watching Ron dribble for 10 seconds and jack up an off balance slightly to the left from 20 feet away from the hoop. We all screamed about why he wasn't on the block, or how was it he so naturally and effortessly killed ball movement on contact. But that was also, in a sense, sort of like Chris Webber before him with his superstar complex, a benefit too. You want a guy on your team willing to take bad shots and trying to take the game over. Most NBA teams, outside of maybe Detroit, seem to want that. Reggie Theus certainly played that angle up even if Theus' plea was far more subtle than what most probably remember from the "throwing the ball to Ron" incident. Kevin Martin was spared this. His efficiency is one of his greatest attributes, but the greater question is that without Ron Artest will he be willing to take those bad shots, or that subtle criticism of how he gets shots off, to help the KIngs? Ron Artest took that within stride. He wanted to be the "Man", so he did those off balance bad shot clock shots. Did he contribute to the poor convolution of those possessions? Absolutely, and that's what most of us reacted to I suspect. But, and this is rather strong but, Kevin Martin has relied heavily on Brad Miller's passing skills to get 10-20 points a night off easy layup's and FT attempts. If Kevin work around the inevitable double teams, this will become the true measure of Kevin's next step. Only time will tell. A greater problem perhaps, or maybe this is my imagination going with a monster fanpost that keeps taking off and then some, is how will Kevin deals with the media and his time being more of demand?

After all, when Ron went into a city he was generally the first player interviewed. More teams were interested in his thoughts on just about everything from gardening to whether organic chicken is the ticket. Martin will now get those questions. (Or not as it were. One of the things that makes Artest an interesting figure is his mouth. People seem to care that he was drinking alcohol at Bulls games and the like. Artest's mouth is Hall of Fame. Too bad his playing abilities aren't.) SpeedRacer won't be ignored. Speed will have his face on gameday programs, and on the Kings season guide. All those massive responsibilities, that Webber and Artest did, are now on Martin. Do I think this is a great problem? As I've already mentioned about how little footprints the media in the EC make, it's not going to create many problems for K-Mart. He already has Sam Amick's ear, and as April's little tussle proved, he's getting his way. His comment about wanting more leadership in Ailene Voisin's column had as much subtlety as "Ron go the fuck away" would. He was saying, as plainly as he could, that the team was his to take over. It was his time,"It's our time...It's our tyyyyymmmmmeeee!" (Warning: Complimentary Goonies quote now over.) And it is now: It's SpeedRacer's time. But the day it goes bad for him, the day he misses the Jump shot when it was all on the line and the Kings are hung in the process, how does he handle that? Does he have that ultimate alpha male ego that Artest has on the court? We don't know any of these answers for certain, but that's the beauty of trading Artest now. Martin asked for it, and he got it. It's put up or shutup time kid. You may think your game, but only April holds that answer.

In the end the Kings are kinda like that top tier college team. People debate the worthiness of just about everything from the mascot to the Head Coach playing enough guys. We obsess about the team to the point where it makes us seem crazy. (Portland and Utah has similar fan bases to this extent. I believe this is in part due to the fact that both Utah and Portland have college programs making strong impacts in tough conferences.) What is Sacramento's excuse? Sac State, the next dynasty? I'm going to stay silent, and snicker at the "Go Hornets" chant. It's a commuter school. Unless you get an all-world talent that every single school recruiter missed, the Hornets will never be an upper echelon team with the resources they have. It's the way the cookie crumbles. So if there isn't this mass hysteria over a local college (And I don't consider Pacific a local college because it's in Stockton), and I don't remember ever listening to 1140 with tons of college calls about Cal and Stanford, then what is it? It's a bit hard to describe, but it's like the terrible parent being angry at their kid being taken away. I may not love it, but you ain't taking it away from me either. And that's the closest analogy I can come to how a team in the middle of cow country to the south, wine country and the bay area to the west, casino's to the east, and so much agriculture around it that it make's your teeth hurt come farmer market's time. Why does this have anything to do with Ron Artest? Because he's a media whore. Because no-one else on the Kings is nearly as well known to the national media as Artest is. Because the Kings are a team with fans worldwide from Korea and China to Florida, New York City and everywhere in between. In a place where no college team diverts any attention, where the nearest big college and pro teams are 80 miles down the road, including teams many of us root for, where many consider it such a 2nd rate town because of the low tourism it attracts, and partly because it's too close to San Francisco to considered to be a major metropolis, and because the amount of jealousy that other fans in pro sports have of Sacramento because the fans go there to scream their asses's off, it matters because Kevin Martin in Sacramento matters like Kobe Bryant in LA. And that's why, no matter what anyone says, kinda like knowing an open secret more people should get in the internet age, the Artest trade, despite the downside it brings in the exposure it will bring of players like Martin, Garcia, and Salmons, is the best thing that has happened to this franchise since signing Vlade Divac. Because, and only because, this type of thing matters more here, it will end up being something that surprises everyone. People will care more, and not less, because now the team doesn't have a guy who jumped into the stands, had fights with his wife, forgot to feed his dog, asked time off for a rap album with his prior team, sent multiple email's in disappointment because the team he was on wouldn't negotiate an extension he thought he was due, and because his ego forced every aspect of the organization to revolve around Ron-Ron's loony vision, this forces a new direction, a welcome direction, in the new era of the Kings. It's about time, and even better, it's fun again.

There must be some kind of way out of here Said the joker to the thief Theres too much confusion I cant get no relief Businessman they drink my wine Plow men dig my earth None will level on the line Nobody of it is worth Hey hey No reason to get excited The thief he kindly spoke There are many here among us Who feel that life is but a joke but uh But you and I weve been through that And this is not our fate So let us not talk falsely now The hours getting late Hey

All along the watchtower Princes kept the view While all the women came and went Bare-foot servants to, but huh Outside in the cold distance A wild cat did growl Two riders were approachin And the wind began to howl Hey Oh All along the watchtower Hear you sing around the watch Gotta beware gotta beware I will Yeah Ooh baby All along the watchtower

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)

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