It's Monday, and that means cleaning out the weekend Mail Sac. The first couple of questions revolve around small forward...yeah, like we need a small forward...
From mjalmighty: "I have a really wild reckoning that Danny Granger could be a good fit for our team, as he would be an instant upgrade in the SF position despite uncertainties on the level of play he could provide. Since the Pacers really found a gem in Paul George and have experienced playing without Granger but still made it deep in the Playoffs, and the fact that they really need some help in the Backcourt, could the Kings could grab this opportunity of trading some guards, not with the name of Thornton and Thomas, and have Granger? I mean, I am really a Granger fan, and it's sad to see him down like that. I would really love to see him play and revitalize himself in a Purple and Black uniform."
I just don't see it. Then again, I didn't see the Landry signing coming, so your guess is as good as mine.
If Granger is healthy (a big "if"), there is no reason that George and Granger cannot play together with along with George Hill. This would make Lance Stephenson their super wing off the bench, as well as provide injury insurance. Or the Pacers could decide to make Granger a super 6th man. George and Granger and Stephenson can play together in any combination, so the only thing that the Pacers really need is a capable backup point guard to Hill if Orlando Johnson isn't ready, as well as a little beef to potentially replace Tyler Hansbrough (the Pacers pulled their QO to Tyler) if Miles Plumlee is not ready for serious bench minutes. The Pacers should be able to add those minor pieces and stay under the tax threshold, and Granger comes off the books in time for George's extension.
But let's say that Indiana was looking to deal Granger. The Kings would have to send back roughly $9m in contract (once you factor in Landry, Vasquez, McLemore and McCallum's salaries) to make the deal work. What could potentially work? Well, Chuck Hayes and Jimmer Fredette for Granger would work (or at least come within a dollar or two of working). Hayes would be a nice replacement for Hansbrough, and Fredette could give them some bench scoring...and if he was in the game alongside George he would not have to overly handle the ball. Would I deal Hayes and Fredette for a year of Granger (if healthy)? I'd at least consider it, and I'd probably lean towards doing it. Would Indiana take that deal? Well, it would add some $9m to their 2014-15 salary base, and that would put them at near the (but still under) the tax level by the time they got done signing George to his new max contract and signed their draft picks. My guess is that Indy would prefer a healthy Granger to Hayes and Fredette.
In the end, Indiana would need something that would make them more competitive than a healthy Granger, and Sacramento would not want to give away anything for what could very well be a one-year rental for a non-playoff team.
And from Napa Jack: "Do you think the kings will go after a good SF this offseason, whether trade or by a free agent?"
Last week I would have answered with a resounding "Maybe, but probably." This week: "I dunno."
I can't explain how Dorell Wright signs a 2 year, $6m deal to backup Nicolas Batum in Portland when we could have offered him the starting gig here for the same money. I would have thought the market for Wright to be in the 3 year, $12m-$15m range, so I missed that by a mile. So "I dunno."
Since draft night, I have bandied about the Marcus Thornton for Trevor Ariza trade. Ariza is on the last year of his deal, the Wizards have Otto Porter and Martell Webster, and Washington could use a little bench punch (though the fact that Webster can come off the bench at the two or three minimizes that at least a bit). There is also the fact that Ben McLemore has not played one NBA minute yet, and that Marcus Thornton is arguably at the top of the shooting guard depth chart now that Tyreke Evans is gone, at least until McLemore takes the top spot from Marcus. So the Kings might not be as willing to part with Thornton just to get rid of his contract...yet. So "I dunno."
It's beginning to look like a patch job to me at small forward for 2013-14. As I coined it in one of the threads, it's part of Vivek's "NBAwedon'tneeda3.0." But on the other hand, we signed Carl Landry? So "I dunno."
And from MI80: "I know the new ownership group wants to make a splash in their first year. However, given the fact that next year's draft class is supposed to be the strongest in years (and the Kings lose the pick to Cavs if they don't keep a top 10 pick), they may actually be maneuvering to make a big splash next year? They are in a position to have a ton of cap space next year with a very strong FA group as well. Do you see the Kings now trying to put things in place for big moves next year rather this year?"
(Note - MI80 sent this question prior to the Landry signing. Also, I'm going to go off on a bit of a rant in my response, and it really is not in response to MI180's question. My Mail Sac, my rules.) I think that the front office was at one time looking to make a splash, but Iguodala came and went. Also, the Kings pick is top 12 protected next year. And the big cap space year right now is 2015, not 2014. The space for 2014 will likely be largely eaten by Cousins' new contract.
(Begin rant) After reviewing the madness of the past week, I'm going to say that the Kings have a "direction" at this point in time. And that direction is to build around DeMarcus Cousins. Additionally, they are absolutely giddy about drafting Ben McLemore, and he is going to be given every opportunity to win the starting shooting guard job and become this team's second leading shot taker in rapid fashion.
With that in mind, management determined not to overpay (by their valuation) for Tyreke Evans. As I've stated ad nauseum, I would have paid the 4/$44m. But if the current direction of this franchise is to value Cousins and McLemore most highly, then Evans was the odd man out. Additionally, a guy like Greivis Vasquez could better benefit Cousins and McLemore (Isaiah Thomas may become slightly more pass-happy as well if this is how the offense is ultimately constructed and run). Now, this is conjecture on my part, but if that is what the Kings are doing here, they have at least chosen a direction. Feel free to disagree with it (I have my doubts when it comes to building around the mercurial Cousins), but it is at least a direction, and we have not had one of those around here for a long, long time (a southward direction in the standings notwithstanding).
The byproduct of this direction is that the team may not substantially improve a lot this year in the win column. Vasquez for Evans is a reduction in talent, so the sum of the team's parts must perform better than the individuals that are involved. Buy-in for that is always a challenge, so it will be interesting to see how the players respond to a one-for-all, all-for-one mentality. But again, the mindset of this roster needed to change.
The other thing that needed to change was the roster itself. I defy anyone to describe last year's team as cohesive or well-fitting or intelligently constructed. We had square pegs in round holes and round pegs in square holes. Was there anyone here that didn't think that the roster needed an overhaul? For better or worse, new ownership and management has set to overhauling that roster.
The result is that 2013-14 is going to be a(nother) rebuilding year, though the first rebuilding year for new ownership and management. That's something that we have to remember. This is an inherited situation that new ownership and management is dealing with it, and they have a direction in mind and (hopefully) a map to get there.
There have certainly been some points of confusion that at best can be written off as missteps of a new regime, and at worst represent a new world order. When Michael Malone was hired, he preached defense. Since then, the Kings have not added one player that is even known as an average defender, while letting arguably their best defender last year walk. Now as we have seen in places like Chicago and Memphis and Golden State, players with less than exemplary defensive track records suddenly became a whole lot better under the directive of their coaching staffs. Perhaps Kings players will experience the same sort of renaissance. But based on Malone's comments, the moves have been a bit perplexing.
Also, Ranadive and D'Alessandro alluded to the notion that the team was going to try and get better this year. Hence the Iguodala interest. When that fell through and there was no real plan "B" (at least not one that has been revealed so far, Landry notwithstanding), it gave them the appearance of failure, be it real or perceived. In hindsight they probably should have kept mum about how their dealings went with Iguodala, and when he ultimately signed with Golden State they could have simply said that the timing wasn't right for him to come here.
The signing of Landry is a bit of a puzzler, unless they have a deal on the burner to obtain another piece for Patrick Patterson, Jason Thompson or Chuck Hayes. And at 4/$26m the front office is definitely seeing value that I am clearly missing. But it's part of this process and new direction, and if one thing is for sure it's that I have absolutely no idea what these guys are doing or what they will do next. But they know more than me (plankton knows more than me), and it's still very early in this process, so I'm all for benefit of the doubt right now.
I also want to emphasize that I see this as rebuilding and not tanking. To me, tanking would be sitting Cousins and McLemore down the stretch of the season because they are playing too well. Tanking would be signing Cole Aldrich to a one year, $2m deal to make the salary cap minimum instead of signing Landry to his multi-year deal. Tanking would have been retaining Keith Smart. No, this group has a plan and a direction, and they are going to implement it throughout the season. I don't see ownership or management dictating to Malone that he sits players or dial back the effort. It's the first year of a rebuild for this group, with all of the bumps and bruises that go along with it. (End rant)
So I think that we're past the point where big moves are made this year, and I'm not sure that I see a franchise-altering move for next year, other than the potential of scoring more talent in what could be the best draft in about seven years. I think the big year will be 2015, when Thornton and Hayes are off the books (along with Salmons coming off in 2014).
Pick & Droll: I'm in Vegas. What is your preferred method of gambling when you are in a Casino? I like Blackjack when I'm hanging with a bunch of friends. My buddy from Chicago is here participating in the World Series of Poker, and that's a whole different level of madness. I've got friends who are all about the Craps, while others will take up residence in the Sports Book. Mrs. Ex-tion214 liked the slots. So what do you like, and do you have any favorite places? Alternatives to gambling when you're in Vegas?
Please send your questions and topic ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. The thread is now open for your jacking.