Last fall, the eternal war between Kenny Thomas and Shareef Abdur-Rahim for the starting power forward job charted undiscovered territory: K-9 (woof!) was the favorite.
Why? He immediately sought out Eric Musselman, tried to show him how important he was to winning the rebounding battles and helping defend in the frontcourt. He had the coach's ear, hitting the gym before and after his wedding and honeymoon. And you know what? It worked: The Poodle started 53 of the 62 games he appeared in, including 28 of his first 29 games. Immense offensive suckitude and some nagging injuries put The Poodle away and let Shareef... shine, I guess. But the crux: K-9 had the coach's ear and still couldn't last as the starter.
So the news he's one of two Kings (what up, John Salmons?) not yet attending Reggie Theus' 'voluntary workouts' says something about how much Kenneth wants, or thinks he has a shot at, the starting role. If you think you're competing for a starting job and your new coach holds voluntary workouts and suggests to players "the Kings' practice facility was as good a place as any to work out individually," you show up. I don't think Kenny Thomas is stupid, so that makes me question whether he's already resigned himself to bench duty. (And if so, how desperate for playing time versus money is he come time to decide on his opt-out clause next summer? Just asking.)
Salmons' absence is equally conspicuous, given Ron Artest's 7-game suspension to open the season. The opening night starting job choice at small forward is every bit as intriguing as the power forward quandary -- he who starts the first seven games (assuming he performs decently) will likely be the first option off the bench behind Artest in Game 8 and beyond. Of course, there are plenty of minutes for both Salmons and Francisco Garcia. But by conceding this first round to younger, more beloved, more excited Garcia, Salmons does himself no favors going forward... especially if Quincy Douby steps up to earn a rotation spot behind Kevin Martin.
For all we know, Salmons and The Poodle could be de-worming orphans in Somalia for the entirety of the summer. But I'm guessing they've had some free time, and the fact they aren't
sucking up to trying to make a good impression on Reggie Theus is puzzling. I mean, noted summertime vacationers Mike Bibby and Brad Miller have both been at the practice facility for a month already.