The Kings can't beat a good team, seemingly. Tonight's home test against Orlando and tomorrow night in Phoenix are two more chances, but even if those are swept, we would all agree this roster isn't a championship contender right now.
During the season, there are few ways you can improve:
- You can fire the coach, but that's not going to happen. Eric Musselman hasn't been perfect, and he absolutely needs to take control of his offense. But this team wouldn't get immediately better by handing the reins off to someone else, and we all know that.
- You can alter the rotation. I think Francisco Garcia should be getting a lot more run. He has played well in his chances, he's the team's second-best defender, his shot is coming around, and he has really good chemistry with Kevin Martin. Also, Brad Miller needs to be back in the starting lineup as soon as possible. It's for the sake of Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Mike Bibby, really. Reef is much better off playing the four, even if it means less minutes. And Bibby needs Miller like The Birdman needs a lava lamp.
- You can make a trade. This option is also known as "The Geoff Petrie Option." You realize he's traded Chris Webber, Doug Christie, Bobby Jackson, and Peja Stojakovic - traded them all! - in the last two years? Name another team that traded away four of the six biggest pieces of its glory team. This wasn't a case of letting newly expensive players walk away. This was actively finding a buyer and taking mostly scraps back in return. You think Petrie will let this team sit around .500 in February without finding a partner to take an Artest, Miller, Bibby, Kenny Thomas, or Shareef? I don't.
Ron Artest might be the first name that comes to mind for some. The Kings have certainly rehabbed his image, which was Priority #1 when he came to town. No matter how well he played, Sacramento needed him to prove he could be reasonably sane on the court in order to get his trade value back up towards normal. I think this has been a success. His defensive prowess has not been deflated in his shift westward either, and that makes him valuable for almost any contender. His offense is still below-average for all his talents, which is what keeps him from pure superstar status. And teams won't soon forget the big ordeal last January, where Artest seemingly picked what team he'd be traded to. Because of those faults, and his obvious history, you won't get 100 cents on the dollar for him. But you might get 80-90 cents for him, and that'd be fantastic considering what you gave up.
Mike Bibby is a flummoxing choice. He might be untradeable simply due to his contract situation. He's signed for two more seasons past this one, but he has on opt-out clause he can execute this summer. If he does, he's a free agent. If not, he gets paid $28 million over the next two seasons, then he becomes a free agent. Teams won't give up anything more than equal value for a half-season Bibby rental without knowing he's not going to stick with the contract. And the only way to know he's going to stick with the contract is for him to continue sucking out loud. And if he continues to suck out loud, how many contenders are going to say, "Hey, sign me up!" And what would the Kings be able to get? The earliest the Kings would be able to trade Bibby would be this offseason, after he makes a binding decision on the contract.
Brad Miller is another marquee type player Petrie might think about moving for smaller pieces. Yao, Andrew Bynum, and Greg Oden might conspire to bring the center back, so who wouldn't want a top-drawer five for the next three seasons? Well, there are those who believe Miller is on the downside of his career, losing athleticism everyday and lacking any real defensive ability. And those that believe this might constitute most of the league. Nonetheless, anyone wishing to execute the Rick Adelman needs a strong passing, strong shooting center like Brad Miller, and I guarantee Rick Adelman will have a job this time next season. Will it be in Boston, or Toronto, or Charlotte, or Seattle, or Minnesota, or Milwaukee? Of those teams, only Seattle and Milwaukee would likely be disinterested in a Brad Miller type. I predict that whereever Adelman lands, Miller is discussed heavily as being on the next plane.