A Yogi (Stewart) once said that when preparation meets opportunity, you experience what may commonly be referred to as ‘luck’. A variation of this saying is that good things happen when a person is both prepared and opportunistic.
December 9th is shaping up as a day that Geoff Petrie can get lucky.
I cringe somewhat when I hear that the Kings should frontload Marcus Thornton’s new contract just to get closer to the 85% spending floor. And postpone spending upon a new key acquisition for later day.
That would be to squander preparation and neglect opportunity.
Geoff knows better.
Of course, a signing bonus to MT23 does not effect the Kings cap space. But the Maloofs are barely in financial position to offer the parking lot attendant a gift card to Jamba Juice, let alone front-load a contract that does not add value to the product on the floor.
They need to spend. And I think they are willing, especially in light of new revenue sharing plan. But they should spend with intent to win, generate enthusiasm, ticket sales and new arena support, not to satisfy minimum cap threshold through an escape clause.
For two years, the Kings have been slashing payroll to put themselves in this position (Partly strategic and partly mandated, the Kings are about $25 million dollar under the cap, and will spend $16 to $17 million to get to the 85% floor by season end). And for 5 months since July 1st, the GMs with whom Geoff will look to exploit have been twiddling their thumbs. Their phones were effectively disconnected, their email accounts suspended, and their ability to maneuver handcuffed.
The handcuffs come off in 7 days.
GMs around the league knew a contentious owner vs. player dispute was coming in June. But they did not know the length of the stalemate that would test their professional patience. Nor had they experienced the waiting and anxiety past Thanksgiving, and the threat of a canceled season. Nor had they become privy to the new CBA agreement now taking final form that will guide future decision-making.
Inordinately idle and now-eager GMs are forming their interpretation of the altered landscape, and plotting their (flawed) strategy accordingly. This combination of excessive downtime and a new play book creates opportunity heretofore unavailable. A shrewd GM can capitalize, not unlike a shrewd GM who swaps an UFA (Top Hat) for a young, dynamic scorer (MT23) at the trade deadline last year.
It is time to get lucky again.
But don’t take my word for it, although isn’t that all you really need? ;) OK fine. Have it your way, Cowboy Ron and his outlaw gang of cowbell ringers. Here’s a direct quote from Geoff Petrie at the media gathering yesterday:
There may be other opportunities now (post-lockout) that you didn’t think would happen or were unaware of, or arise out of other situations that were unpredictable…
OK, so that’s typical Petrie vagueness that can be interpreted in as many ways as Jerry Reynolds has Jerryisms, so let’s cut to the nitty-gritty:
The Kings want Tyson Chandler.
Tyson C. is the perfect veteran addition and defensive presence to a young offensive-minded roster. He’s Sammy D. with leadership ability, a championship ring, and without the delusions of scoring grandeur. I think the Kings would be willing to give Tyson C. a 4 year max contract. But it takes two parties to consummate a deal, and the Kings need an alternate plan(s) if the interest is not mutual.
Chandler feels he will not return to the Mavs, but this may just be posturing for negotiating leverage.
Before exploring other possible acquisitions, let’s address another question in the scintillating saga that is my 2011-12 Kings Season Preview.
Question: Can Coach Paul Westphal get this team ready in two weeks?
Let me expand on this answer:
OK, allow me to elaborate further:
Nyet. Non. Nay.
That was easy. Next question.
OK, let’s give Coach Westphal the benefit of the doubt. It is the season of giving, after all.
Lets forgive last years squandered preseason, with PW seemingly disinterested in building cohesion or momentum, seemingly smug his young and inexperienced team would just ‘turn it on’ once games began for real. Let’s overlook the fact that Donte and Top Hat came into camp in terrible shape, and that Coach Westphal placed little to no urgency or consequence upon their professional negligence. (Donte should have been deactivated. Instead he was given starting role on opening night: 1 for 7 in 27 minutes; then played total of 8 minutes the next three games.)
Lets bypass the fact Coach Westphal made little to no effort to play his two most talented players, Tyreke and DeMarcus together, on strong side of the floor, or in two-man pick and roll. Their lack of chemistry and familiarity lasted most of the season. And lets disregard the fact that Westphal did nothing to nurture the growth of a bright prospect named Omri, declined to grant him one preseason starting role as vote of confidence, favoring free agent forwards like Antoine Wright, later placed on waivers.
Despite a soft schedule the first month, the Kings sputtered. Coach Westphal had no answer, save an endless combination of lineups, substitution patterns, catatonic countenances, and self-righteous post game interviews. Not only were the Kings bad, they were dreadfully boring! A Kings game became the cinematic equivalent of ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’
After winning 3 of 4 against terrible teams (Cavs, Raptors, Wolves), the Kings lost 22 of the next 24 games. If Tyreke does not make the miracle half-court heave to end the calendar year in 2010, we likely are discussing a new Kings head coach today.
Whatever, right? Let's move on. Reliving the past is a waste of time and energy once lessons have been extracted. Thankfully, it is a new season. Its new and improved roster. It is the same head coach, of course, but opportunity to learn from previous choices.
There’s new assistant coaches, too, which can be viewed as a positive, or raise further issue as to the competency of Coach Westphal. Three assistant coaches are gone (Otis Hughley, Truck Robinson, and Mario Elie), replaced by professional bad-ass Bobby Jackson and former Warrior head coach Keith Smart.
Jim Eyen returns triumphantly. Start printing the playoff tickets.
Schoolin' suckas and sportin' crisp polos since 1943.
A fair amount of turnover should be expected within the assistant ranks, but losing three assistants in short order, concluding them dispensable, yet capable of valuable contribution and hire-worthy a year earlier, makes me wonder if Westphal has the professional acumen to surround himself with the right people.
In recent interview with Peaches Napear, Coach Westphal says he plans to keep things simple due to the shortened training camp. He will add complexity as the season goes along, and players gain comfort.
Makes sense, huh? No disagreement here. Hey, maybe we are getting somewhere. Uh-oh, wait…
Coach Westphal says it could take up to and into the regular season to determine if his players are in adequate game shape. Really? I have a feeling if you asked Pat Riley how long it would take to determine the physical readiness of his players, his answer would be ‘45 minutes into the first day of practice.’
But let’s not nit-pick, nor squander the budding team optimism with belabored head coach pessimism, nor imply that the shortcomings of a head coach take precedence over talent.
And besides, we have Jimmer!
In the lockout shortened ’98-99 season, the Kings team gelled quickly with minimal time together. The talent was so abundant, teamwork so infectious, Donald Duck could have coached them to a .500 record.
Quack, quack, 1-4 flat, quack, quack!
Rolling out the ball may be enough this time too, pending one more home run acquisition by Geoff (in addition to MT23), and if this team can come together remotely as well as ’98-99 squad.
There’s always hope before the first ball is tossed crookedly into the air, and for glory days to be recaptured with a collection of hungry, new faces.
Hope springs eternal when your record is 0-0. Maybe our head coach will surprise us as well.
COMING SOON: The final chapter in the epic trilogy that is the Blob 2011-12 Preseason Preview!!! I take inspiration from the Godfather films, so my final submission will be in SMS. Shout out to the ‘tweeners.
Mysteries solved include:
Can Hassan Whiteside become a rotational player?
Can the Kings add an impact player with their cap space?
Will Jerry and Grant cry at the home opener?