Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee breaks the news that Spencer Hawes will not, in fact, play in Summer League, despite the Kings putting his name on the roster. Geoff Petrie actually seems fairly pissed off by Geoff Petrie standards.
"We have, for the most part, five roster players here, and we're going to be a young team and having a new coach and a new staff. Certainly a good part of what we were trying to accomplish is to prepare those (players) better for the start of training camp and let the coaching staff get their first feel of them as players, and they can start to put in things that they're going to do in fall camp. I think it's valuable and completely productive."
This is disappointing -- from all angles, the communication should be better. Hawes should have made sure the team knew he wouldn't be available (he claims a "family commitment," though he'll be in Vegas on Monday, just five days after training camp began), and the team should have made sure Hawes, a third-year player, would be ready to go.
But the bigger disappointment comes from Hawes' apparent lack of love for the game.
Kevin Martin played Summer League in his third season, despite basically owning the starting two-guard job at that point. (That was the summer following the epic buzzer beater against the Spurs.) Martin was 23 years old. The following season, Martin was at Summer League. He didn't play -- no 20-point NBA scorers play Summer League -- but Martin was there, shooting the ball, playing pick-up, being around the game.
Hawes, the third face of our franchise (behind Martin and Tyreke Evans), isn't like that. Remember when begged off a conditioning test because of his knee history? This reeks of that. Basketball is a job for Spencer. A lucrative job, but a job. I don't go to work during my vacation, and Spencer isn't going to work during his. He cares as much about basketball as I do about pushing papers, which is a bit disheartening.
This isn't to say Spencer isn't working every day to get in shape. But tell me, who do you think is working hardest on his game, Kevin or Spencer? Who do you think is up at 7 AM taking shots, working on his conditioning, working on his game, Kevin or Spencer? Who do you think is doing everything he can to better stronger faster, Kevin or Spencer?
Basketball is life for Kevin Durant. Basketball is a job for Greg Oden. Basketball is life for Kobe. Basketball is a job for Shaq. Maybe there's something between guards and big men, where top-flight guards breathe desperation because their job isn't guaranteed, while guys like Greg Ostertag have careers based entirely on a height measurement. But it's discouraging that it's present in Hawes. Last year, Spencer overcame the conditioning test criticism by blowing the doors off the team for a few weeks to open the season -- remember the block party? He'll probably do the same this year, make us feel ashamed for doubting his dedication.
But no matter how good Hawes gets, I'll always get the feeling he could be better if he just cared about the game more. That feeling ain't ever going away.