We had a lot of questions submitted for last week’s podcast that we couldn’t get to on-air, so let’s get to them here, beginning with a quartet of questions from LaBradford:
"You won a contest- the Kings will fly you to any regular-season road game in the country. Airfare and accommodations are all taken care of. Which game will you choose to go to and why? Kings versus ____________________? (Because you like the city? Like the team? Like the arena? Have a mistress in that particular city? Like the local cuisine?)"
My first choice is Chicago. They are my second-favorite NBA team, and I have a lot of good friends and family in Chicago. Plus Chicago is my favorite city – great food, great entertainment, great people. Portland would be next on my list. I’d love to hang with the Blazers fan base for a couple of games, and Portland is my favorite Western Conference non-Kings team. New Orleans would be next on the list (French Quarter!).
"You have been asked by Pete D’Alessandro to GM the Kings in a charity baseball game versus the Warriors. Which position will you put each current player at?
1. Pitcher: ______________________
2. Catcher: ______________________
3. 1st Base: ______________________
4. 2nd Base: ______________________
5. 3rd Base: ______________________
6. Short Stop: ______________________
7. Left Fielder: ______________________
8. Center Fielder: ______________________
9. Right Fielder: ______________________
You can assign the leftovers as relief pitchers, pinch hitters, batboy or whatever."
Jimmer’s my pitcher, as I want a chucker on the mound. Chuck Hayes is my catcher, as he is already in the squat. DeMarcus Cousins and his incredible hands are at first base – he can pick anything that the infielders throw at him…and he can turkey tap the runners. Isaiah Thomas is the natural sparkplug that you see at second base. Carl Landry’s at third – Hot Carl at the hot corner. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is my shortstop, as he is my best defensive player. Patrick Patterson plays left field (it was either him or Salmons or Outlaw). Greivis Vasquez is my center fielder, and he can assist his fellow outfielders in either alley. I put Ben McLemore in right field and place him close to the line, so he doesn’t have to worry about going to his left. Jason Thompson is my setup man, and Marcus Thornton is my closer. Ray McCallum is my emergency reliever, and Salmons and Outlaw are pinch hitters.
"It is the year 2020 and the Sacramento Kings have won their first ever NBA Championship. How do you celebrate? Who you gonna call? Where do you go?"
Let’s see, I’ll be 61, so the first thing that I’ll have to do is manage an escape from the old folk’s home. But once that is accomplished, I head outside and overturn the neighbor kid’s pedal car and set it on fire. I call my friend Joe, who shared Kings tickets with me for a long time. And I make my way down to "K" street and party like it’s 2099.
"Vivek just bought a horse that he hopes will someday race in the Kentucky Derby. He is holding a naming contest, specifically stating that the name must be Sacramento Kings related. What will you name the horse?"
I’ve got nothing here, but I’m hoping that polotown delivers in the thread (no pressure). Bibbilicious? Maloof on my hoof? JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOE?
Next, the trifecta, presented by adamsite, which were noted as questions specifically for me (which really hurt Greg’s feelings, which may or may not be why these did not make the podcast):
"If you could be any female actress, who would you be and why?"
The late, great Anne Bancroft, because…duh…married to Mel Brooks! Runner up goes to Jessica Alba, because I would love to look at that each morning in the mirror.
"If you could be any Sacramento Kings player (past or present), who would you be and why?"
"What are the first 3 things that pop (or poop) into your head when thinking of the other main contributors to Sactown Royalty?"
If we’re talking about the staff, it would be diverse/creative/obsessed. If we’re talking about the members, it would be informative/conversational/obsessed.
From Nizzyo: "After San Antonio brought in T-Mac for the finals last year, I have been thinking that, well it’s just that, ok look! Am I crazy for thinking that we could benefit from giving Allen Iverson a shot off the bench as PG/SG? I think he would embrace the opportunity and we wouldn't have much to lose right? Just include no thunder valley or red hawk visits in his contract. Seriously though, what do you think?"
I think that Iverson announced his retirement after you submitted this. But my thought was that he has not been a good basketball player since the 2007-08 season. That’s six seasons ago. That was the year of the Mike Bibby trade, a year in which the Kings’ core rotation was John Salmons, Brad Miller, Mikki Moore, Kevin Martin, Ron Artest, Francisco Garcia and Beno Udrih. Iverson is now 38 years old. I just don’t see him helping anyone, including the Kings.
"And from dannyboy55: One of the things I hated about the GP era of the last 5 years or so, was to go out and sign the mid-level exemptions, via FA or from our own RFAs...the signing of Carl Landry totally baffles me as far as trying to rebuild this team (the Reke let go was an obvious sign of rebuilding). If we had a scratch front court, the Landry signing is ok and makes sense to me, but this team is crowded with mid-level players both in the front court and the backcourt...why take on another mid-level salary when we need to shed at least 2 from the roster? I've always felt that the Kings have diminished the value of their recent signings and draft picks (Hayes, Salmons, Jimmer, Outlaw) because they can't get enough burn and thus their play and stats go down. Bottom line, why don't we trim the fat and pick a few key young guys to build around?"
OK, I’m going to preface this with the reminder that I would have paid Evans the $44m for four years, and I probably would not have signed Landry to the $27m deal over four years. That said…
It appears to me that the new regime is attempting to change the culture, while at the same time committing to building around Cousins. That is no easy task. And if you are going to build around Cousins, you simply can’t treat this like a lost season. You must implement your philosophy and culture and system immediately. And I think that’s where guys like Landry and Greivis Vasquez and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute come in. So while I don’t know that I would have done it the same way (building around Cousins still makes me as nervous as a tick), I laud new ownership/management for at least taking a direction and moving forward with it. That by itself is a refreshing change from the rudderless franchise that we have seen for the past several years. So in that regard, I don’t see the exodus of Evans as being an obvious sign of rebuilding as much as I see it as a determination that Cousins/Evans were not the answer, and the decision was ultimately made that Cousins will be a better investment than Evans.
It’s important to remember that as of right now, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry are the only two players on the Kings roster contracted beyond next year. Everyone else is signed on for two years or less, though an extension for Cousins could be forthcoming. It’s also important to remember that the bulk of the roster has been inherited by new ownership/management and not created by them. They have been in place for only a couple of months, and we’ve already seen significant changes. It’s going to take a while for this roster to be made over, but that does not mean that new signings should be avoided. If management sees Carl Landry as being something that Cousins/Thompson/Patterson/Hayes is not, then I have no issue with them bringing him in. The team does not have long-term salary issues and had cap room, so why not bring him in?
As far as guys like Fredette and Salmons and others being devalued due to their uneven minutes, I’m not sure that I agree. Salmons was 6th on the team in minutes two years ago and 3rd last year, so his devaluing is a direct result of his actual on-court performance. Outlaw was an amnesty flier that didn’t pay off, but at $3m a year for the next two years, it’s not a big deal. Hayes’ first year was a washout due to his injuries and conditioning, and last year he did log the 3rd highest minutes among the bigs, behind Cousins and Thompson. To be fair, he would have also finished behind the combined minutes of Thomas Robinson and Patrick Patterson, but Hayes has never been a "stat guy" during his NBA career, so I’m not sure that his lack of playing time has had as an egregious impact on his value as has his actual play.
Bottom line, new ownership/management inherited a very messed up roster, and it’s not as easy as just saying "let’s trim the fat." Deals will need to be brokered, and other teams in the NBA will likely have to suffer an injury or two during their respective playoff runs to make guys like Salmons or Hayes look a little more appealing. It’s very early on in a process that may not see this franchise competing for the playoffs for at least another two years. A lot has to be undone before other things can be done.
And last but not least from Steve: "Breaking down Kings roster as it now stands who will take last shot of the game? We have not had ‘the man’ for several seasons. Some could say our last shot plays and attempted plays look chaotic. Do the Kings as structured have a ‘go to’ guy?"
I think that there are a couple of guys that could be "that guy." The first guy that comes to mind is Marcus Thornton. He has a scorer’s mentality, gets his shot off quick, and has had some of his best moments in 4th quarters and with the game on the line. Isaiah Thomas has also been a 4th quarter phenom. But my bet is that you’re going to see this team try to get the ball into the hands of DeMarcus Cousins when the game is on the line, with a spread floor that allows him to work it inside or dish to an open perimeter player (like Thornton and/or Thomas).
Frankly, the challenge for the Kings will be less about who is going to take the big shot and more about getting the game to the point where there actually is an opportunity to take the big shot.
Thanks to everyone that submitted questions last week, and thanks for your patience in awaiting a response. Send your questions and/or topic ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. The thread (and only this thread) is now open for your thread jacking pleasure.