Ah, the start of a new week, and that means a fresh Mail Sac -
MarcusZ28 asks: "I wanted to know your overall opinion on the supposed "clean slate" situation for DMC. I do listen to the Jason Ross/ Deuce Mason show on CBS sports radio (not so much as a fan of them, just to soak up any new Kings news out there) and it seems like their opinion is that Demarcus Cousins is getting a fresh start and they are actually optimistic that he will change. (!) I don't know how he will play this next season (I am hoping as good or better), but I feel like his on court/off court antics will not change, thus he will continue to drive the kings community up a wall. Your thoughts?"
I should note that Marcus asked this question of TZ. But since I'm the one with the keys to the mailbox, and since TZ is currently being tended to by "Geek Squad" personnel, I'm going to field this one.
Last week, I asked if the change in ownership/management/coaching counted as a "trade" for Cousins. In other words, is the situation here in Sacramento indeed a fresh start, and does it come with a "clean slate?" In many ways, I think that it does. I'm betting that Vivek Ranadivé, Pete D'Alessandro, and Michael Malone are willing to give DeMarcus Cousins a free pass. However, I think that this pass comes with near-zero tolerance. A clean slate is one thing, but I think that these men are all too smart to simply turn a blind eye. So while Cousins does get the kind of fresh start that would come with being traded, it also comes with very little (if any) room for his continued shenanigans. Also, Cousins did wear on some of his teammates down the stretch last year, and most of that team remains intact. I don't think that anyone is holding a grudge, but I'm sure that Cuz's teammates also hold little sympathy or empathy for him right now.
The question is, will DeMarcus Cousins, who was displaying actions of jackassitude as recently as April of this year, suddenly mature into a reliable professional NBA player? Hope springs eternal. The last time that I was more hopeful than optimistic, the Kings wound up staying in Sacramento. So it is certainly possible.
This is some weird, wacky, wild stuff. The Nets could have pursued Lionel Hollins or George Karl or Nate MacMillan or one of the Van Gundy brothers if they wanted to go with a name with past success, and they could have selected Brian Shaw or David Fizdale (Miami) or David Joerger (Memphis) if they wanted to go with an assistant coach with a pedigree. Instead they selected Kidd, a fine floor general as a player but without a shred of coaching experience. Word is that Lawrence Frank will become Kidd's right hand man, and the two have a history together when the Nets were in Brooklyn.
This seems like either a case of ownership wanting to make a publicity splash, or an admission that their current core of players cannot be properly motivated by a conventional coach. Can Kidd take Deron Williams to the next level after facing off against him for the past eight seasons? We'll find out soon enough.
This has been an astonishing off season for coaching in the NBA. Even if you don't count P.J. Carlesimo, who was basically an interim coach for the Nets, George Karl (Nuggets), Vinnie Del Negro (Clippers), and Lionel Hollins (Grizzlies) are all out after compiling a combined 169-77 record last season. The Nugs, Griz, Clips and Nets, finished 4th, t-5th, t-5th, and 9th in the overall league standings, and they all went out and changed their coaches. Wow.
And from Christina_J: "Greetings, StRer's(???). I recently got my first real life grown up job and it's in the Sac area. I'm a native of Chico and will be looking to live in the Natomas area, probably. I only have a vague idea of what I'm looking for but if anyone has suggestions on good areas to live, cool restaurants and bars, and so forth, I'd really appreciate it!"
OK, first off, welcome to Sacramento! I'm going to defer this to the StR members that are actually of your generation, as well as those members that live in and around the Natomas area. I know that if I could turn back the clock, and given the rebirth on the horizon for the downtown area, I'd be zeroing in on that area. But Natomas is just "down the street" from the downtown area, so that might work, too. What an exciting time to be a Sacramento resident!
Pick & Droll: Timelines and blown minds.
Three and a half months. That is how long (short) it has been since Mayor Kevin Johnson's State of the City Address. You remember, the one with the whales? Mastrov and Burkle, right? It's only been about three months since Vivek Ranadivé's name surfaced. It's only been about a month since the NBA voted down the relocation of the Kings to Seattle and the sale to the Hansen/Ballmer group. It's only been about two weeks(!) since the ink dried on the purchase agreement and the sale to the Ranadivé group was stamped as officially approved. And in that time, the Kings have hired a new head coach in Michael Malone, and Malone has hired two assistants (his father Brendan and Chris Jent). The Kings have worked out lottery prospects Trey Burke, C.J. McCollum, Michael Carter-Williams, Cody Zeller, Shabazz Muhammad and Rudy Gobert. And over the weekend the organization hired Pete D'Alessandro to be the General Manager.
Let's think back to our wish list of less than four months ago:
1. GET NEW OWNERS...Owners that will keep the team here and actually invest in it. Well, that looks like a "check." I mean, when you have an ownership that is committed to spending nearly a billion dollars on the purchase of the team and the building of the new arena, I would say that wishes have been more than fulfilled, and expectations are more than being met. As recently as four months ago, we were wondering if we would be talking Rivercats baseball and Phoenix Coyotes hockey here at StR. Yeah, I'd call this one a win.
2. BRING THE FRONT OFFICE INTO THE 21st CENTURY. This one is a work in progress, but I'll give this a "check." New ownership went out and hired Pete D'Alessandro, a front office executive that is new to the lead chair, but very experienced from his time at Golden State (director of basketball operations and assistant GM) and Denver (executive vice president of basketball operations). This also provided the bonus of pairing the GM and coach for us synergy freaks, as D'Alessandro and Michael Malone did work together in Golden State. D'Alessandro is supposed to be a bit of a cap guru, with at least a bit of an interest in statistical analytics. And the hiring of D'Alessandro looks to be just the beginning of the building of a new front office.
3. GET A NEW HEAD COACH. Check! And I think that the hiring of Michael Malone met with almost unanimous approval around here. Tom Ziller had an excellent post on SBNation in regards to head coach hires that stress defense. Just this past season, both Chicago (sans Derrick Rose) and Memphis achieved beyond the sum of their parts due primarily to their commitment to defense. And even as Miami and San Antonio are certainly capable offensive teams, you can certainly see their passion for defense game-in and game-out. The single most exciting prospect of the Malone hire for me is his desire for defensive effort from his players. What a refreshing thing to have around these parts!
4. CHANGE THE ROSTER. Virtually impossible to have done anything about the roster at this point, but the fact that a half dozen highly ranked draft prospects have already been through here at least gives us confidence that the appearance of the franchise is beginning to change in the eyes of players and agents, and that cannot be underestimated.
5. NEW ARENA. Check, and hopefully open for the 2016-17 season. And in a bit of a plot twist, the arena will be at downtown plaza, which is really a superior location to even that of the rail yards. Since the mid-2000's locations including Natomas, the rail yards, Cal Expo and even Thunder Valley have been bandied about, and we're going to wind up with a state-of-the-art entertainment venue in the heart of our downtown. Makes me a little emotional just thinking about it.
Mind-boggling. Unbelievable. Almost impossible to fathom. Gregg Lukenbill brought the Kings to Sacramento, and the Maloofs brought them to prominence (and later, infamy). And now, in the matter of a couple of weeks, we are seeing what the Kings under Ranadivé promises to deliver. Sacramento Kings, 3.0. Don't blink or you'll miss something, and something good.
It's been about seven years since we could say this, but right now, it feels pretty damn good to be a Kings fan.
Remember to send your questions or topic ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, the thread is all yours to do with as you see fit.