When the Kings drafted Spencer Hawes in 2007, it was a pick that was widely panned by many fans who had hoped their next big man of the future would be a dominant interior presence or intimidating around the rim. Instead, they seemingly got a Brad Miller clone at a time when Brad Miller's popularity was beginning to slip with Kings fans.
Hawes came to Sacramento a skinny 19 year old who didn't play much his rookie year. He grew on a lot of us, what with awesome moments like this slam dunk down the lane against the Lakers and of course, this. He also had quite a gift for passing and was just overall very skilled.
Spencer was essentially handed the reins as starting Center in his second year when Brad Miller was traded to Chicago. The Kings were hoping that their new frontcourt of "Shock and Hawes" comprised of the 20 year old Hawes and rookie Jason Thompson could grow together and lead the Kings for years to come. For that first year, the results were not pretty, unsurprisingly. With the Kings so young and inexperienced, it would have been foolish to expect otherwise, as young Spencer and JT were routinely dominated inside by bigger, more experienced players.
Spencer suffered from the Kings coaching carousel like a lot of the young Kings of the past five years, and never really got a good feel for his role. When Paul Westphal came on, the two had very different ideas on how to go about doing things. Westphal clashed with Hawes, culminating in an infamous DNP-CD, and at the end of the year, the Kings were quick to send Hawes to Philadelphia for Samuel Dalembert's expiring contract.
Spencer didn't do so hot in Philly to start either. In fact, his fourth year was probably worse than his two previous. At the end of the year, he didn't do enough to even merit a new contract, only receiving a Qualifying Offer. But he came back better than ever, and despite an injury riddled season, Spencer had the kind of year Kings fans had hoped he would one day be able to have. It helped that Doug Collins, his new coach, worked with Spencer rather than fighting him, realizing that hey, this is a 23 year old trying to play one of the toughest positions in the NBA.
Now Spencer Hawes is coming off of back-to-back playoff games of 20+ points, 8+ rebound games (both wins) as Philadelphia has taken a commanding 3-1 lead in their series against the Chicago Bulls. He's looking at a nice new contract this summer, and I wish him all the best. The Kings however, now have nothing to show for their lottery selection in 2007, losing Samuel Dalembert after his only year and using the extra cap space on Chuck Hayes and Travis Outlaw.
Who knows if Spencer Hawes would have developed had he stayed here, or even if this season in Philadelphia was simply a fluke and he continues to disappoint. The point of this post is not about "should we have kept Spencer Hawes". The point is that it pays to be patient with young players, particularly on a team building around youth. So when a call comes in this summer to the Kings front office asking about the availability of one Tyreke Evans, that phone call better end in a "no thanks".