Monday Mail Sac: Post-Podcast Potpourri

USA TODAY Sports

A little mailbox clean-up following last week's podcast...

Potpourri from blake.ewen:

1. Bring Tom Ziller back

2. The only Kings retained from last year are IT JT CUZ (Outlaw if that counts). I was wondering how many players you think will be retained for next year (That are on this team now).

3. What teams are going to be throwing fat stacks at IT this summer and can you tell Pete to match, please? I'll take out a loan for my college tuition and just give it to Pete.

4. Currently, who are you liking in the draft for us?

5. Will you please explain to me why Anthony Davis was selected to be an All-Star over DMC. I am admittedly super bias, and I have heard all of the experts reasons (I hate Jeff Van Gundy) but I would like to hear yours now that it has passed and is over with, and now the pelicans suck.

1. No. We all hated Tom. He lorded over the daily creative meetings, and his idea of fun was to leave open "Gogurt" packs on everyone's chairs. Also, he drew a handlebar mustache on my autographed photo of Mike Bratz. We're all glad that he is gone.

2. Unless something drastic occurs, DeMarcus Cousins is on the roster next year. And unless there is a big trade that calls for a little value/filler, both Reggie Evans ($1.8m) and Quincy Acy ($900k) stick around as fair to good values to contract. Same goes for Ben McLemore ($3m) and Ray McCallum ($800k). I think that Rudy Gay returns. I'm not in the camp that the Kings signed Carl Landry to ultimately trade him, and now that he has missed the season with a pair of injuries I don't see him going anywhere soon. Derrick Williams would be a bit of a challenge to move at $6.3m next year, but he could be moved. It all comes down to the market as it pertains to Isaiah Thomas, and where the Kings value him - I think he's a 50/50 proposition. The two guys that I see as most likely traded at some point next season are Travis Outlaw and his expiring $3m contract, and Jason Thompson, who will be down to two guaranteed years at $6m and $6.4m (with a 3rd year at $6.8m that can be bought out for $2.7m). Thompson has ratcheted up his defense lately, but he's really the last big contract of the old regime, and I would not be surprised to see new management try to deal him out.

3. Well, you're not going how I start this one out. The Lakers will have cash and cap room. A lot of what the Lakers do may come down to other influences, such as Carmelo Anthony opting out and entering the free agent fray. But the Lakers could use Thomas as a starter or a super 6th man. Orlando could be a potential player, especially if they buy out Jameer Nelson's last year ($2m to buyout $8m). Phoenix could be a sleeper if some throws an outsized offer at their restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe. Toronto could have some interest if they lose unrestricted free agent Kyle Lowry. And there are a lot of good teams that could throw a full MLE at him (starting range $5.3m and climbing). This is important to note, as it basically prevents the Kings from keeping Thomas on the cheap. My blind guess is that his contract will ultimately come in somewhere around $7-9m for 3-4 seasons. I have no idea whether or not the Kings would match that. Remember, short of Gay opting out and leaving, the Kings will not be able to afford to go out and make an offer to Bledsoe or Lowry without exceeding the cap. If they don't re-sign Thomas, they will be taking a step backward at the point guard position, at least for next season.

4. If the draft were held today and ping pong balls dropped in exact odds order, the Kings would be drafting 5th, 6th or 7th. That would mean that Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins would almost assuredly be gone, and Jabari Parker and perhaps Julius Randle could be off the board as well (again, this is if the draft were held today - things could change by June 26). This would place the Kings in guard central, with the likes of Dante Exum, Marcus Smart and Tyler Ennis being in the mix. Add Noah Vonleh and Aaron Gordon to the conversation, as well as Dario Saric. If the Kings pick 7th, is that too far of a reach for Willie Cauley-Stein? Could P.J. Hairston's time in the D-League give him a leg up at the combine and vault him up the board? Will someone reach for Zach Lavine?

The Kings are again in a position where talent rules the day. The Kings still need so much that anyone can help this team. Embiid, Wiggins, Parker or Randle could make immediate contributions. Guys like Smart and Exum could be immediate rotation players even if the Kings retain Thomas, as they could both play behind and alongside of him. Beyond that, I see guys that could become good players, but it may take them longer to become core rotation guys. Honestly, if the Kings don't vault into the top three (I still see the Kings drafting somewhere in the 7-9 range), I'd like to see them trade the pick for someone that could help them right away (the pick and Jason Thompson for Arron Afflalo would be one of my dream scenarios).

5. You're asking the wrong guy, as I would trade Cousins for Davis in a heartbeat. I just think that within five years Davis will be the better player. But the simple answer is that both guys were equally deserving of all-star selection. Unfortunately for Cousins, eight of the top ten bigs reside in the West (my top 9 bigs would be (in no particular order) Love, Griffin, Howard, Davis, Cousins, Nowitzki, Duncan, Aldridge and Noah...you can argue Hibbert, Bosh or Lee (among others) at #10).

C-riCh is next: If we happened to land the top pick in this year's draft and then traded it, who would you like to see the Kings get in return?

OK, first things first. We're going to pretend that whatever we come up with here, there would be the right mix of teams to make a deal work. Because if the Kings got the #1 pick and traded it for a stud veteran, there would be payroll issues. So let's dispense with that and say that Gay opts out or Cousins is part of another trade or whatever it takes so that we can get to the meat. Also, let's suspend the disbelief that any of the players that I'm going to list would actually be available, because they would likely not be.

If I'm going to pass on Embiid or Wiggins (my two personal favorites), I'm going to have to get a surefire mega-stud in return. So...LeBron (with assurance of new contract), Durant, Paul, Westbrook, Rose (with a clean bill of health), Love (with assurance of new contract), Griffin, Davis, Harden, Howard, and George. Noah, Curry and Drummond just miss the cut for me.

And not that you asked, but I would seriously entertain trading Cousins for the #1 pick if another team lands it and comes calling.

NewYorkKingsFan has a few questions:

One: The New Collective Bargaining Agreement is slowly being implemented, and we are already seeing the effects of that this season, with teams dumping players and contracts that in year's past they probably would have hung onto, etc. My question is, do you, in your infinite wisdom, see any other bigger impacts coming in the years ahead that will impact the team? Do you think that we will see teams only rebuilding through the draft?

Two: We are a long way off from draft day drama, but my question to King's fans and supporters is this: Will the management of this team take big risks in their draft pick selections? Geoff Petrie was famous for drafting players like Peja or Hedo or Casspi, and even Jason Thompson, who were way, way off the radar for most other NBA teams, leading to people wondering what the heck he was doing, and he often proved right (Quincy Douby excluded).... Is there an international draft prospect in our future for the Kings?

Three: Can I ask a third Question? Feel free to ignore any question that you don't like, or don't know the answers to! Anyway, on the topic of rebuilding the team, is Michael Malone giving the team (which has had a revolving door with its personnel this season) a strong identity? Is Pete D'Alessandro going to stop adding and subtracting players at some point so we can get a little chemistry going with the players we do have?

Four: How do you think the season would have played out if we had kept Lopez in the Tyreke Evans trade last summer? I was kind of bummed out when I found out that they traded him over to Portland, and sad we didn't get a chance to see what he could have done on the team. I didn't understand this move.

I mean, I really didn't understand why the Kings didn't just draft Klay Thompson rather than move DOWN in the draft to get Jimmer. That was just plain stupid, but then, with the Maloofs in the house at the time, it was probably all about the amount of salary they would have had to pay him if they drafted him at 7 rather than 10, right? I still think it was a horrible deal, every which way you slice it, and it was the dagger in the heart of Petrie's career. Will he ever offer us a chance at the real story behind how much the Maloofs ruined the team and his career, or is he just too damn loyal to those scumbags??????

One: I really see the new CBA as a one-time shift for each team. It will take a couple of years to wring out some bad contracts, and then everyone will be operating under the new ceiling. I think that teams will continue to rebuild in all manners (draft, trades, and free agents). The rich will get richer, and the draftees will still get drafted. It is the NBA's middle class that will feel the pinch (though the Carl Landry signing would be a direct refute to that). It just stands to reason that the salaries will continue to be paid out for the elite players, and the draft scale is set. It will be the roster fillers (even some of those that start) that will see their salaries plateau and flat line.

Two: I think that the international waters have been fished out. That is, there are fewer and fewer surprised to be had anymore. And while a team like Milwaukee can score a kid like Giannis Antetokounmpo with a 15th pick, a team like Charlotte overreaches for Bismack Biyombo (7th pick). The international aspect of the draft has become very similar to the collegiate aspect, as both are heartily scouted, but both provide hits and misses.

The two guys that are most mentioned internationally are Dante Exum and Dario Saric, and maybe Vasilije Micic. I could see the Kings going after one of these guys, but they won't be getting the drop on the rest of the NBA if they select them.

Three: I think that Malone has done a very nice job as a rookie head coach. The team has played hard throughout the season, and he has handled vast turnover in the roster fairly well. I can't fault Peter D'Alessandro for the volume of moves that he has made. In fact, I credit him for his ability to purge much of the roster this quickly. I have not agreed with every one of his moves, but I feel that the roster possessed more talent than it did at the beginning of the season, and he has not forfeited long-term flexibility.

The upcoming off season will be the first off season that front office and coaching get to spend together. It will be the first time that they prep for the draft together and deal with free agency together. It will be interesting to see what kind of synergy emerges.

Four: I would have liked to have seen Lopez next to Cousins.

The Udrih/7 for Salmons/10 trade was horrific. That said, I would have taken Kawhi Leonard at #10 (he was #5 on my board), but I did have Fredette (and Alec Burks and Donatas Motiejunas) ahead of Klay Thompson on my board.

And from Crowned Potential:

1. Have you heard the comparison to Tony Parker as it relates to Isiah Thomas? Early in Parker's career he dealt with the same red flags Isiah has been receiving in his first three years in the league; he's too small, he's not a pass first point guard, he can't run a team, he's better suited as a backup, etc. What does Isiah have to do (or get better at doing) to be attain the all star status of Finals MVP Tony Parker?

2. Way back in time in June 2013, Michael Malone was hired to coach the Kings. In his presser he said that this upcoming season "can't be quantified in wins and losses. What I will judge myself on" he said, "is changing the culture in the locker room, creating a defensive personality and developing (our) players." With only 21 games remaining in the season has Malone and the new Kings regime a) Changed the culture in the locker room b) Created a defensive personality & c) Developed their players?

1. Offensively, Thomas has to continue to learn to make better decisions and play just a bit more. Defensively, he needs to become a member of a cohesive defensive unit. Parker never became an elite defender, but he became quite adept at understanding the Spurs defensive scheme and at the very least turning his player into the teeth of the defense.

2. I'm not privy to the Kings locker room, but this team is playing a lot harder (in my eyes) than the teams of the past couple of years, especially at this stage of the season. It appears to me that there is some accountability among the players, and there also seems to be at least a bit more camaraderie (this is all pretty subjective on my part.

The team is better defensively (it really would have been difficult to get worse). I think that it's harder to maintain defense than offense when your roster is constantly turning over, so I do credit Malone for the slight defensive improvements that we have seen.

Cousins (23) is playing the best ball of his life. So is Thomas (25) who has done it as both a reserve and a starter. Ray McCallum (22) has recently shown great growth in his game. On the other hand, Ben McLemore (21) has a long, long way to go, and Derrick Williams (22) lacks consistency in his game. So it's kind of a mixed bag. I will credit Malone for not parking his youngsters for older and perhaps safer alternatives (he could have benched McLemore in favor of Thornton, for example).

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And a Pick & Droll contribution via Adama f2: As a person that loves a "top 10 or 20 list" articles, I have a suggestion for an article. I would love to see a definitive "top plays in Kings History" list, complete with accompanying videos. There's a few out there on YouTube, but none that really capture those random little plays that happened, for example, maybe on a Thursday night in January of 2003 or something random like that. It's always just game winners and the like. I'm talking about those little forgotten plays where the universe was aligned just right. Example- game 4 of the first round in 2000. During the 4th quarter against the Lakers (Kings up by a large margin), Webber steals the ball then throws a behind the back pass (while running no less) to Peja, who immediately tap passes back to Webber, who throws down a ferocious dunk and the crowd explodes. Such a great moment and one of my favorite memories (especially with grant's call).

So here's a call out to all StR members to fill the thread with your favorite memories and videos. My two personal favorites are Bibby's shot in game 5 of the 2001 Western Conference Finals, and the fans going batsh*t crazy for a solid twenty minutes prior to tip off of game 3 vs. Seattle in 1996 - the first playoff game in Sacramento in ten years. The crowd was visibly tired by the beginning of the 4th quarter.

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