"Ask me to be excused, I won't go die politely"
-- Fugazi, "Dear Justice Letter"
If Donté Greene flared out like Quincy Douby, it would have been disappointing. Greene was basically one half of the Ron Artest trade, and while getting "something" for Artest wasn't exactly required to justify trading Artest, given the circumstances, getting "something" was important for the mental health of both the Sacramento front office and the fans of the team. With no offense to Kenny Thomas, Shelden Williams or Andres Nocioni, the trades of most aging Kings starters haven't resulted in a ton of promise. The Chris Webber trade brought established, lesser players. The Mike Bibby trade brought Williams (who didn't pan out here, but will apparently stick in the league) and cap space. The Brad Miller/John Salmons trade brought cap space and Nocioni, who happens to be a really solid roleplayer, but one which is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and one who will never be consider above-average in his current position as a starting small forward.
Greene is something, and that's not a small thing, especially considering his positioning both last season (as one of the league's worst players statistically, and a player who didn't exactly lay waste to the D-League during his five-game stint in Reno) and through this year's training camp, during which coach Paul Westphal was publicly dismissive and privately aggravated by Greene's game. Particularly, it's what Greene is that is a bit amazing.
Greene hasn't become an NBA player by scoring 30 points a couple of times. He hasn't turned into the tall edition of J.R. Smith, or even Casey Jacobson. He has, instead, focused his attention of offensive control and defensive energy. Turnovers aside, the Wednesday night game against Indiana is an apt example: Donté's two best plays were an alley oop finish and the game-sealing steal of a Pacers inbounds pass. Greene attacked on both ends, and he earned two highlights for his effort. Even beyond that, the fact that Westphal inserted Greene for defensive purposes ... and it wasn't a Douby-takes-the-potential-gamewinner concession. Westphal felt that Donté needed to be on the court on key defensive possessions in order for the Kings to have their best chance at winning. That's a huge leap forward, on December 2, of a season in which opening night expectations for the player could not have been lower.
Everyone with the team is quick to credit both Greene and assistant coach Mario Elie. There's time for that in the future. I'm just glad there's something here, with Donté, and I can't wait to see how it unfolds.