Thursday Mail Sac: Preseason, rivalries, Monta, playoffs(?), guards, & favorite athletes

Ezra Shaw

Say Hey Thursday!

The first letter out of the Mail Sac is from rubenho: "What is the timetable up until the season starts? I take it the main roster will not be present during LV Summer league, at least they don't have to. So when do the guys come in, when does training camp start (and how long does it take), aka when can we expect a youtube video of Coach Malone thoroughly kicking DMC's ass at the practice facility?"

The only roster players on the Summer League team are Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum, but there is always the possibility that various Kings players might be in Vegas while the VSL is in session. Michael Malone will be present, but Chris Jent will run the Kings VSL squad while Malone looks on from the stands. It is likely that much of the Kings brass will be present as well.

The preseason schedule has not been announced yet, but camp will likely open at or near the very beginning of October, with approximately eight yet-to-be-announced preseason games to be played.

From Hypothetical Self: "Since leaving Sacramento in 2002, I have lived in a number of different cities. Along the way, I have adopted non-Kings teams and players for whom I actively root (when they are not playing the Kings, natch). During my three years in Philadelphia, I grew to adore Andre Iguodala and root for his 76ers/Nuggets. I was very excited when the Kings made an offer to him and then crushed when the Kings rescinded that offer. I am now conflicted about rooting for him and the Warriors. The intense Warriors fans loved their team through years of misery just like we have loved our Kings, their roster is fantastic and the current Kings management has close ties to the organization. How do you think Kings fans should and will view the Warriors? Are they more of a geographic rival or kindred NorCal team? Based on history, would the Lakers team or a hypothetical Hansen-owned Seattle expansion team merit more dislike? What makes a Kings rival?"

Excellent question. Many long-time Kings fans were actually Warriors fans before the Kings came to Sacramento. Other Kings fans loathe the Warriors for the douchiness of the portion of their fan base that visits Sleep Train Arena from time to time (they are a blinged out poor-man's version of Lakers fans). Others (and I would fit into this category) enjoy the makeup of their current team and how quickly new ownership got things turned around...it gives us hope.

I think that rivalries are made from a combination of good games and bad blood. The Kings had a lot more rivals in the first part of this century (the Lakers, the Mavs, the Timberwolves) than they have today. The Kings/Warriors rivalry has never really taken off because both teams have not been good at the same time. If the Kings and Warriors are ever both competitive at the same time and thus bring real importance to their games against each other, it should make for an engaging rivalry. And if both teams could simultaneously sustain a level of success for an extended period of time, that rivalry will grow even stronger.

I have my doubts that Seattle will ever be a top notch rival. Once they get a team, Sacramento will be like most other cities to them. And as the years go by, most negative feelings that were prevalent during the relocation saga will fade. Don't get me wrong - there will still be a lot of Sacramento fans that would take joy in a Seattle team losing, and vice versa. But unless Seattle lands a team fairly quickly, I don't see them as a top-flight rival candidate. Others will certainly disagree with me on this one.

Here's one from Adam: "Can we start a petition on StR to NOT sign Monta? Then once we get enough signatures we can send it to the Kings FO.

Seriously though, there's a chance they're pushing for Monta hard because Vivek told them to make a splash in free agency to get the fans excited. And if they know that it would NOT please the fans, then maybe they'll back off...

This is probably an over-reaction and ultimately futile, but I want to be able to do something to prevent this so badly. I'd be okay with the Kings being mediocre next season and missing out on the top 5 picks of the loaded draft IF it was a team full of likeable players who are fun to watch. Monta is NOT such a player. So we'd basically a) miss the playoffs, b) miss the most (potentially) loaded draft in a decade, c) be absolutely miserable to watch, and d) strangle our future with another overpaid guard.

The only bright spot here is that I'd get to use a lot more "Monta have it all" jokes over the next few seasons. At the very least, can you post the "Monta Ellis have it all" video so that other StR member can enjoy the joke as well? It almost never gets old."

It's pretty well chronicled that I'm not an Ellis fan. But I would hope that if the fans did send in a petition that the front office would ignore it. The last thing that I want to see is the fan base running the front office. That's a recipe for disaster.

I don't think that the front office's interest in Ellis is for any reason other than they think that he will make the team better. I don't think that they are trying to make a splash or sell tickets - they are doing a good enough job of that by simply being new ownership. There is nothing nefarious about their interest in Ellis, in my opinion. I'm betting that more than a few people will disagree with me on this one, too.

Let's head down I-80 to David from Fairfield: "The Kings were run into the ground by the Maloofs, but lately, Vivek has been attempting a revival project on the team. If the players buy into the system, how possible is it that the Kings could make big noise and potentially get the 7th or 8th seed of the playoffs? Again, I know that it's wishful thinking, but could the Kings be the NBAs Oakland A's?"

I don't see it for this year. If the team caught every break (good health, a 1st team all-rookie performance from Ben McLemore, a quantum leap from DeMarcus Cousins, a complete buy-in defensively, and great team cohesion), I could see this team winning into the mid to upper thirties. That would have placed them 11th in last year's Western Conference, 6-10 games out of the 8th seed.

Let's break down the Western Conference, understanding that there still may some roster adjustments for some of these teams before the season begins. OKC, San Antonio, the Clippers, Golden State, Houston and Memphis all seem well out of reach. That's six teams. The Lakers are out of reach if Kobe is healthy for most of the season, and he is the ultimate competitor. The Lakers are old and thin, but Kobe/Gasol/Nash are still a good distance ahead of the current Kings roster.

That leaves the 8th spot. Dallas still has Dirk, Portland has Aldridge/Batum/Lillard (unless the rumblings about Aldridge demanding a trade turn out to be true), and Minnesota has Kevin Love back, and it looks like they are re-signing Nikola Pekovic to go along with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin, among others.

That lumps the Kings in with Denver, New Orleans, and Utah, with Phoenix bringing up the rear.

I could see the Kings overtaking a couple of the top ten teams that I listed if everything went Sacramento's way, but I don't think that it will be enough to get them to the playoffs. However, meaningful games after the all-star break would be a huge step in the right direction for this team, as well as the fan base.

Let's continue down I-80 to Derek from Australia (I didn't say how far down I-80): "I have been a long time Kings fan (since late 80's) and this off-season has been exhilarating for me. With 8 guards on the roster (assuming McCallum is signed) what further moves do you see the Kings attempting to make? "

My count is at seven - McLemore, Thornton, Fredette, Salmons, Thomas, Vasquez and McCallum. Thomas and Vasquez can fight it out for point guard minutes, and McCallum seems appropriately destined for Reno or injury minutes. I'm not discounting McCallum here, but right now he is the 36th pick in a so-so draft. I don't envision a big impact from him this year unless 29 other teams took a big swing and a miss on him (which is always possible, though not highly probable).

The logjam is at the two guard position. If McLemore and Thornton got the bulk of the minutes there, there would be nothing left for Fredette and Salmons. Salmons would probably pick up some minutes at small forward, which leaves Fredette as the odd man out. This would be unfortunate, as I think that he could be very productive getting some minutes next to Vasquez.

It would seem that the only hope in moving Thornton would be if one of the teams that fails to land Monta Ellis has an interest, or if Milwaukee strikes out on Jeff Teague and needs to obtain someone to make the cap minimum (though I think that it would be more likely that they go out and sign a free agent like Nate Robinson to a one year deal). On the other hand, Fredette and his much smaller contract would be very easy to move. However, Fredette has never given any inclination that he is the type of guy to demand a trade, so I don't think that the Kings are under the gun to deal him, unless they determine that he won't be in a position to contribute and they opt to pick up a future asset for him (even if that asset is just a future 2nd round pick).

My perfect world would have Thornton dealt (this is a contract thing for me, as Thornton is certainly a better player than Fredette), and roll out Vasquez, Thomas, McLemore, Fredette and McCallum as the five guards on the roster, with Salmons as the emergency fill-in at two guard.

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Pick & Droll: Who are your all-time favorite sports stars from each sport (as many or as few sports as you would like to choose)?

Willie Mays is my all-time favorite if I had to pick one player to cover all sports. I think that the connection with my dad is a big part of it. In 1965 pops took me to my first game, and there was Willie in center field. My dad taught me to keep score at our 2nd game together. The 3rd game, my dad bought tickets behind the opposing team's dugout so that we could see into the Giants dugout. My dad told me to watch Willie for the entire game. No matter what was going on, my job was to follow Willie. I learned a ton about baseball that day, and at least a little about being a stalker.

For football I have to go with Walter Payton. He was just phenomenal in every aspect. Lew Alcindor / Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is my favorite basketball player of all time, and I think that I will throw in Lee Trevino for golf. And I'll give Bo Jackson special consideration for being the most unbelievable athlete that I've ever seen. How special he was, and how much more special he could have been. Stupid Bengals.

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Send your questions and topic ideas to asksactownroyalty@gmail.com. This thread (and only this thread) is ready to be jacked.

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