We've been working on this rebuild thing for the better part of three years, ever since Mike Bibby was traded to the Hawks for a box of baseball cards. But we've never truly embraced a youth movement, and maybe it's time to finally do that.
It seems like Geoff Petrie has continually been unable to decide between a full rebuild and a mixed bag of young players and veterans. He probably got it close to right with the Bibby and Miller-Salmons deals as we traded bloated contracts for expiring deals in which the players coming back didn't really see the floor.
The Artest trade brought us youth, but Petrie was still in denial and thought we'd be able to weather his loss much better than we ultimately did. That led to dispatching Miller and Salmons. The Martin deal was another steps towards a true rebuild and brought back a fairly young player on the rise and saved us a ton of bucks.
But the Nocioni deal represented a twist in which the Kings seemed to say, "We've got the youth core, now let's add a vet in Dalembert." Not only that, but they got rid of Hawes.
So now we have three players who are not a part of our future with less than savory contracts: Dalembert, Beno and Garcia. I think it's time to cut the chord with those players and fully embrace a rebuild mode. Every minute we give those players from this time forward is a wasted opportunity to develop a younger player.
Which brings us to two categories: players who are or may be part of a core to build around, and players who are basically roster filler and will probably be here today, gone tomorrow: Antoine Wright, Darnell Jackson and Luther Head.
That leaves the rest of the players as potential core members:
* Cousins, Landry, JT and Whiteside in the frontcourt.
* Omri and Donte at small forward.
* Tyreke and Jeter at the guard positions.
I think those eight are the guys you need to give the bulk of the minutes to and live with the results. Jackson and Head and Wright to a lesser degree can also get some bench minutes.
But giving minutes to Beno, Garcia and Dalembert, while possibly looking better on paper, isn't going to lead to many more wins than going with a true youth movement will. We need to cut ties with those three as soon as possible, just like we did with Bibby and Miller and the others. Either that, or let them languish on the bench for now like we did with Nocioni in the second half of last season.
We also need to solve the Tyreke question. He's a great athlete, but as a point guard, he's mid-pack at best and isn't the solution. He simply doesn't know how to effectively run the team. He's a scorer and will probably be better off at the wing, or on another team.
I'm not saying Jeter is the answer at point guard. Far from it. Going forward, we will need to acquire a young point guard or draft one. But let's at least give the kid a test drive. Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised and find a future backup.
I'm not saying Cousins, JT, Landry, Whiteside, Omri and Donte are definitely part of our future, either. But there's only one way to find out.
While we are at it, let's can Westphal now, rather than later. Maybe it will be a "marketing" disaster and an admission of failure, but it's time for Petrie and the Maloofs to swallow their pride and really rebuild. And I think Mario Elie is the coach we need to go forward with.
Last season, with Martin and Garcia both injured, it was largely the youthful core members above who provided the early-season highlights. Tyreke. JT. Omri. Donte. Those were exciting times, and it would be nice to have fun watching a Kings team again. We actually got worse when Martin came back and killed the buzz with his sense of veteran entitlement.
It sent mixed messages then, and playing Dalembert, Beno and Garcia now does the same thing. We have some new toys to play with. It's time to embrace the future.