This question comes from John Hollinger's ESPN Insider preview of the Kings. Hollinger, who -- standard disclaimer -- I like a great deal, wrote:
Fitting their rep as the league's most calcified front office, the Kings enjoyed one of the NBA's quietest offseasons.
... and ...
... and ...
Sacramento's front office also continues to take the path of least resistance[.]
... and (the capper) ...
As noted above, there doesn't seem to be any real overarching plan in Sacramento; they just throw stuff at the wall and enthusiastically pat themselves on the back when it works (at least, when they're not taking a nap).
Hollinger is a Kings skeptic. That's fine. It's fine to be skeptical, and Lord knows Hollinger has more data at hand than I do. If he says the Kings win 28 games, he says the Kings win 28 games.
But Hollinger attends few (if any) Kings games, and I suspect watches fewer than those of us who catch all 82. He is less plugged in to the Kings culture, I imagine. It's there where I depart, where I disagree with the tickets Hollinger's selling. Tickets to the wolf show.
There will be no disagreement from me that the Kings front office is not at optimum performance right now. I think the loss of Jason Levien hurt the versatility of the staff, I think the team is negligent in its dismissal of the D-League as a tool, and -- as I've argued at length -- I'm concerned young players aren't provided with enough guidance off the court. I can list at least a half-dozen front offices I find to be run better.
But the gulf between that sort of measured skepticism and the all-out war Hollinger presents in his preview is wiiiiide.
Why does Hollinger consider the Kings lazy and/or passive?
Hollinger opens with the snark that the Kings F.O. is calcified, and as such, of course it'd be lazy and have a quiet offseason. As nbrans clearly laid out in the previous thread on this preview, Hollinger doesn't think all quiet offseasons are created equally. When the Thunder are quiet, they are waiting for a key opportunity and making allowances for extensions about to kick in. When the Kings are quiet, it is a bad, lazy thing.
The difference in the assessments of the two similar offseasons are directly tied to ... surprise!, Hollinger's narratives on the teams. Hollinger thinks the Thunder are going places, so a quiet summer was brilliant. Hollinger thinks the Kings are going nowhere, so a quiet summer was a sign of the pending snooze-pocalypse.
If Hollinger measured "front office activity," he wouldn't be able to get away with this. Only in keeping it purely subjective, pure opinion, can he justify his assessment, and by extension bolster his narrative. It's not science. It's Insincere Sports Punditry 101. Ironically, Hollinger and analytical-styled writers became the vogue in recent years precisely because readers are sick and tired of Insincere Sports Punditry. Reverse evolution is not a net gain for sports fans.
Are the Kings lazy and/or passive?
section214 has noted all the substantive trades the Kings have made over the past two years.
The longest tenured current King (Garcia) was drafted in 2005. That means one player who will suit up on Opening Night will have been on the team five years ago. The other 15 players on that 2005-06 Kings team left in the following ways:
Three were waived
Three left as free agents
Seven -- including all the best players -- were traded
Two opening day starters from one year ago (Evans and Thompson) remain on the team. Six players on last year's opening day roster (Evans, Thompson, Garcia, Udrih, Casspi, Greene) remain on the team. The team has turned over more than half its roster in the last year.
On the surface, calling the Kings lazy and/or passive does not pass the smell test.
Let's take up Hollinger's specific complaints of passivity:
The first occurred in the summer of 2009 when the Kings caved and gave Brockman, their '09 second-round pick, a one-year deal rather than pushing for team options on the second and third -- something nearly every other team negotiates.
Something Hollinger neglects to mention is that those second- and third-year team options are more typically third- and fourth-year team options, after two guaranteed seasons. Hassan Whiteside signed such a contract. So did DeJuan Blair. Boston signed Luke Harangody and Semih Erden to two-year guaranteed contracts. Chicago signed Omer Asik to a two-year guaranteed contract. And so on and so on ... It's fairly normal these days for second-round picks to get the second year at least partially guaranteed. The Kings did something different with Brockman, in order to ...
... maximize flexibility for 2010.
Signed and traded Jon Brockman to Milwaukee for Darnell Jackson and a second-round pick. The Kings nabbed a decent player with the 31st pick in the 2009 draft and somehow converted it into about the 50th pick in 2011. Smooth move.
Once the team traded Hawes for Dalembert and drafted Cousins and Whiteside, there was A) no need to keep Brockman, at that point the sixth big on the team, and B) no intention of keeping Brockman. So, when capped out Milwaukee came knocking with the non-guaranteed contract of Jackson and a pick, Sacramento bit. They turned a player they would have let go in free agency into a low second-round pick and zero additional salary.
Quel horreur! Call a Congressional committee!
Later in the year, the Kings' passivity showed again in the trade of Martin to Houston. Sacramento either never realized or never pursued an opportunity to make it a three-way deal with New York and get a treasure trove of assets from the Knicks; instead they cut a deal with the Rockets, who then turned and set up their own three-way deal with New York afterward and walked away with most of the spoils.
Actually, John, the deal was between the Knicks and Rockets. New York stalled on giving up the treasure trove. Houston asked Sacramento to play ball, and in the process swap the value-sagging stud shooting guard named Kevin Martin for the value-rising, cheaper, stud power forward Carl Landry. The Knicks never had a deal with the Kings. The Knicks wanted T-Mac, not just for his expiring contract but also because he was T-Mac. Let's not forget he sold a few tickets before the truth showed its ugly self. Somehow, I don't think Kenny Thomas-for-Jared Jeffries would have turned itself into Jordan Hill and two barely protected lottery picks. Just a hunch.
Sacramento was involved in that deal to swap Martin for Landry, and that's a trade we'll know more about next summer, when we see what Martin's done, what Landry's done, and how much Landry gets on the open market. The Knicks were looking to clear as much cap space as possible, and the Rockets had the single most attractive expiring contract in NBA trade history. This is pretty simple, really.
Are Geoff Petrie, Wayne Cooper and Mike Petrie taking a nap right now? Should we wake them up?
I am under the impression Mr. Petrie does not nap regularly. Perhaps Mr. Petrie does not talk on the phone as frequently as, say, Kevin Pritchard, or is not as technically savvy as Daryl Morey. Maybe he does not talk to the press in very much depth. Maybe he has made a few enemies, and maybe those enemies have a direct link to ESPN writers (considering ESPN writers have been by far the most critical NBA writers with regards to Petrie over the last 2-3 years). Petrie is certainly not perfect as a GM or a man.
But Geoff Petrie has two Executive of the Year awards, a couple Conference Finals berths, more winning seasons than any current NBA GM and a reputation as one of the smartest men in the league.
I'll take it, even if it means the guy needs to take a nap every once in a while.
As I said, I like Hollinger. Every personal interaction with him has been positive, even after I've ripped him. I've heard nothing but good things. I value his work. I own his books. We can disagree, and we do disagree on the topic presented above.
This, however, is not something I can abide:
The Whiteside pick was also puzzling, simply because it tempts fate. Having already drafted one character question mark, the Kings shouldn't have selected another a round later. The conventional wisdom is that having multiple players like this can be a real problem, because then they start hanging out together.
"The conventional wisdom is ..." It is when you wrote those words, John, that you ought to have stopped, re-read and reconsidered what you were saying.
Me, to Hassan, the other day:
What have you been doing in Sacramento since Summer League?
Hassan, in response, and slightly paraphrased:
Working out a lot. DeMarcus comes to my house and we play Madden.
Once again: quel freaking horreur.