Obviously, not a title, or playoffs, or even a .500 record. So is this really about the "hope to see improvement, etc, etc?" Because I would agree, that would have been the only realistic goal going in to the season. We're now one-third of the way through, you have seen no improvement?
No, seriously. What did you expect?
I feel like Cousins' game has gotten markedly more refined, just in a couple of months. The stuff in practice, the choking gesture, all of that? Two months into his pro career? I honestly don't give a damn. He's a volatile kid, he's done nothing that he wasn't essentially accused of doing before, and if he's still doing it at the end of his rookie contract, then I'll think it's a real problem. If you feel like it was a mistake to have picked him, I respect that. Whom better should the Kings have chosen with the 5th selection?
The rest of the team? Been pretty blah, for the most part. I guess I'd be upset at Petrie for making Evans' feet hurt, if I thought he had anything to do with it. Evans game hasn't regressed, he's hurt. I'd rather see him miss games than play at half-speed, and at this point, what difference does it make if he sits now and then?
Beno was great last year. He's been great this year. He sucked before Westphal took over. Is Westphal that awesome, or did Beno just manage to get his act together? A little of the former, a lot of the latter. No one seems to feel like giving Westphal any credit for Beno's emergence as a reliable contributor. It's not necessary, and I'm sure it won't matter, anyway. Beno is just a stopgap.
Thompson's game has rounded into shape really nicely, I think, he's fouling less on defense, and has been delightfully aggressive around the basket. Westphal's influence? I think even the most argumentative among us would agree that Jeter & Jackson have been, frankly, better than we could have hoped.
So, Omri and Greene are inconsistent (and college-aged!), Garcia is a step slower than before, and is either really on or way off, Dalembert has been uncharacteristically inefficient (Was he injured for the first time in years? STOP MAKING EXCUSES), and Carl has been less efficient than he was when he was surrounded by veterans and guys that could shoot. How about that...
The team lacks talent in that it doesn't have what anyone actually thinks is NBA-starting caliber players, and the couple we do have are either very young, injured, or both. It lacks a leader, and/or a veteran presence, neither of which were signed by Petrie in the last off-season, or a previous one.
Given the cap situation, the peculiar hyper-inflation in contracts last summer, and the looming CBA expiration, should Petrie have begged the Maloofs to shell out to go after one of the available players? And if so, who might we have managed to get? Should we have backed up the armored car for Joe Johnson? He has similar numbers to Evans, and has only missed 10 games.
Petrie is, of course, not blameless. The team reflects the moves he's made, especially over the past few seasons. Is this team as bad as its record? I don't think it is. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a good team, but save for some lapses, a few more wins could have been achieved. The inability of this squad to finish is Petrie's fault, in that he's the one that signed all of them to play here. He knew how young all of them were, how much seasoning they would need, and yet, he signed them anyway. I guess he sees potential in them, and thought that as the plan continues to unfold, they could be part of a good team in a few years.
His real mistake was not writing a nice article here, advising us to keep expectations in check. He allowed us, sensible adults, to form our own opinions about what we thought would happen this season. And again, then allowed Evans feet to hurt, and for everyone else to forget how to make shots. There may be someone out there that could step in and do a better job on the rebuild, although I admit to having no idea who that would be. I also feel like making this move now reeks of desperation, and bad as the Kings are, I don't feel desperate about it. Youngest team in the NBA with no all-stars and injured ROY can't win games. Who is going to solve this?
Petrie's not blameless. He can't be; this is his team. My point now, as ever, is that the things that are most responsible for the pathetic state of the team at this moment, just aren't his fault.
Change is necessary, obviously, and change is coming. The issue is whether you expect change in the weather by patiently waiting for the inevitable arrival of Spring, or if you insist on spending money you don't have to hop on a plane to someplace warm.
South Beach, maybe.