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Wednesday Mail Sac: Drafting #1 in 2009, Gru releases the entire team, & arena rant

Warning: Rant area ahead!


The Mail Sac for Wednesday kicks off with Bloody Nate: "Have you ever taken a moment and thought about how it would have been had the ping pong balls fallen our way in 2009? Let's just say we get Blake Griffin (and he doesn't get the freak injury that puts him back a season) and still end the year with the 5th pick in the draft and take Cousins. Can you imagine that frontline? I think having another big guy to compete with for the spotlight would make Cousins work harder. Not only that, but Cousins would also likely be in great shape, because he and Griffin may well have been working out together.

I know you're not supposed to dwell in the past and blah blah, but I think that that was the biggest basketball-related misfortune for the Kings since Webber's injury, if not since The Series We Do Not Speak Of."

The challenge with this kind of exercise is taking the time and effort to continue Doc Brown's space-time continuum. If Griffin doesn't wind up on the Clippers, does that change the Baron Davis to Cleveland trade, in which the Cavs ultimately landed Kyrie Irving? Does it change the flight path of Chris Paul III to Los Angeles, and are CP3, Kobe and Howard currently sitting atop of at least the Western Conference if not the entire NBA?

But for grins, let's say that the Kings land Griffin. For starters, Kevin Martin probably doesn't have the rift with Griffin on the roster that he felt with Evans. But that may not make any difference, as the Maloofs were in full fire sale mode at that point. And there's the rub. The one constant would have been old ownership, and they would not have invested in player talent. They simply did not have the desire or the financial means.

But for more grins, let's say that the Kings still wind up with the #5 pick. Would the franchise have taken a chance on the red flag special? Or would they have passed on Cousins for a better fit with Martin and Griffin? Would Greg Monroe have made more sense? Al Farouq Aminu? Paul George?

I'm also not convinced that a Griffin/Cousins front line would be compatible. Griffin certainly does not fit the mold that Cousins is requesting: a long, defensive front line partner.

Bottom line, the biggest basketball-related misfortune over the past several years was the continued presence of the Maloofs. I can't envision any scenario where the Kings would have been successful with them and their empty wallets in the mix during that period.

From (not) Pete D'Alessandro: "They call me a salary cap gru for a reason. Late last night, I located a loophole in the collective bargaining agreement which I exploited to nullify the contracts of the entire roster in hope of getting a true fresh start. All Kings players are now restricted free agents, and this is both bad (Isaiah and Demarcus are going to cost a pretty penny) and good (See: Outlaw, Travis). While you may be upset with my decision to blow things up for our beloved team, I hope it will not cloud your judgment, as your help is desperately needed.

As you know, Vivek likes to fill the room with people smarter than him. Times are tough and I'm willing to make an exception. Here's what we need answered from both you and other STR members: Who should we resign and who should we let walk? Also, keeping in mind the fair market value and the current makeup of the team, what is a fair contract (dollar amount & years) for us to offer each player?

Oh, and one more thing - try to keep us under the salary cap. I didn't exploit that loophole to lose money."

This is another one that potentially calls for a lot of outside-of-the-box analysis, as you really have to look at supply and demand. Currently there are only a few teams that are more than a few million under the salary cap, and only three that have at least $10m in cap space, and only Philadelphia has gobs of cap room...they still have to spend about $9m to get to the salary floor. However, I suppose that any of these guys could go international for a year, so it's not like you can re-sign any of them for pennies on the dollar.

First things first. I disagree that it will be expensive to sign Isaiah Thomas. Nate Robinson just signed a two year, $4.1m (total) deal. It is what it is for those that are bereft of height in the NBA. I would be shocked if Thomas garnered more than a three year $10m deal right now, and that might a bit rich.

Cousins, on the other hand, would fetch max money on the open market...even Philly might consider taking that plunge. A front line of Cousins and Noel? Could work. Given my options, I pay Cousins the max and pray for the best.

OK, so we've signed Cousins. The one thing we can't do is tank it and hope that Cousins goes along for the ride. We need to start building immediately to keep the big fella happy and headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, the sexiest free agents at the moment (not including our own recently mass-released roster) are guys like Rip Hamilton and Roddy Beaubois. The best available big is Cole Aldrich. In other words, there is no solution on the free agent market right now.

Looking up front, I thank Chuck Hayes for time served. I'd sign Thompson to 3 yr./$15-18m as I know that I can deal out of that contract if/when the time comes. I hope to sign Patrick Patterson to a reasonable rate/term deal (3yr./$10-12m?) and I land Landry at the 4yr./$27m deal that he just signed (though I'd like to spend a couple of dollars less). I sign Aldrich to a cheap 1+1yr. deal at about $2m per. This will create some flexibility for that long, defensive big that I'm looking for while still putting a reasonable rotation on the floor this year. All told, I would have about $31m invested up front this year.

I try to land Vasquez for 3yr./$12m, but I'd add the fourth year if I had to. I offer Thomas 2yr.$6m. I have McLemore and McCallum on their rookie deals. I'd be comfortable offering Thornton 3yr./$18m, knowing that I can always deal out of that contract if/when McLemore is ready to take the reins. So that's about $16m invested at the guard positions. Fredette's the odd man out here, as I need Thornton's proven scoring in the starting lineup to begin the season.

I offer Mbah a Moute the three-year mid-level, and between Salmons and Outlaw, the first one that takes a one year deal at $2-3m gets the gig. That adds up to another $8-9m.

That's about $56m for 11 players. I visit the Bighorns to complete the roster.

All I've really done here is jettison Hayes and either Salmons or Outlaw, while trying to sign the other guys to reasonable deals that will allow me flexibility to make future deals. And thanks to all of these guys suddenly being free agents, I have to pay Cousins a year earlier.

Now, one could argue the merits of not signing Thompson and Thornton, for example. But all you've done is create another scenario where your team is flirting with the minimum salary cap and dropping games in bulk and in blowout fashion. The roster now lacks even the minimal talent required for coach Malone to begin to install his system, and you're going to lose Cousins in this mess, almost guaranteed.

And there is the truth for this Kings team right now. It is so effed up due to the past several years of negligence that there is no fast fix or silver bullet. No matter how you slice it, it is going to take time to right this ship.

One of my favorite adages is that it is at least possible to conceive ways to make more money, but you cannot make more time. The Kings now have money. What they need now is time.


Pick & Droll: Mini-rant on the arena.

I touched on this in the podcast, but the discussion in yesterday's arena thread got me going again. Just a few (hopefully) quick points -

Now, I am certainly no economist. I think in simple terms, and I resist the urge to overcook these things. So, I'm sure that there are very complex reasons both for and against my following statements. But simple works for me in this case, so if I overlook the impact that this project is going to have on the North American Titmouse or I don't worry that someone might get rich off of this deal, it's only because I really couldn't care less about those things. I care about the future of Sacramento, and I think that the city has been presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

To those that think that the $258m parking subsidy should be spent on schools or police or whatever, get over it. The missing link here is that there are no investors or developers or team owners that are willing to pony up a combined three quarter of a billion dollars to go towards those needs. So when it comes down to return on investment, there is no conversation to be had here. This is not a case where the city is putting up every dollar to make this happen, or even close to it. This deal will never come around for Sacramento again. A new arena and revitalized downtown area for about 25 cents on the invested dollar. Simple.

The arena is much more than about the Sacramento Kings, but without the Kings there is probably no arena. And no Kings would make us the largest city in the country without a major league sports franchise. And that would be absolutely ridiculous.

I was born here in 1959. In 1960 my family moved out to the Madison/Manzanita area, as my dad worked at McClellan Air Force Base. I-5 didn't go through at the time (it dead-ended in the Florin area and you had to skip over to Hwy.99 until you got down to Stockton if memory serves), and we used to get our eggs and fruit and vegetables from farms that sat where Sunrise Mall now (sort of) exists. Without looking it up, I'm going to guess that the region has about ten times the people that it had back in 1960. Sacramento has become a big city, which is no surprise for California's State Capitol.

As the years have passed, I have progressed from young sh*t-disturber to cranky old coot. As a 54 year resident of Sacramento, there are fewer people that can boast that they have lived here longer than me than there are young whippersnappers that have not. I am the demographic that should be resisting change and investment and progress.

But-the-arena-is-the-right-thing-for-Sacramento. It's the major leagues, and Sacramento should be a major league city. Look, I get that the River City will never be San Francisco. But why do some Sacramento residents continue to desire to live in the dark ages? How about a facility that could house a Broadway-sized version of "The Lion King?" Or Bruce Springsteen or Dr. Dre in a venue deserving of their talents? Or the NCAA basketball tourney? How about a facility and surrounding area that you would be eager to take out of town guests to?

Will the new arena be profitable? Who knows? Who cares? Is city street paving profitable? Is the jail profitable? Are the city pools profitable? No, but paved streets and a secure jail and city pools all add to the quality of life in Sacramento. And that's what the arena will do. It will add an immense amount of quality to the lives of those that live in the Sacramento region (probably not as much as paved streets, but more than pools). And it will all but certainly add jobs and spur the economy along the way.

The beauty about the Sacramento region is that if this growth is not for you, you don't have to live in it. You can live in Woodland or Davis or Galt or El Dorado Hills or Loomis (look, I just picked a small town in every direction!) and still work in the Sacramento area. But to think that growth in Sacramento can be squashed is fool's gold. It's going to happen sooner or later. And given the money that is being brought to Sacramento by the various investors, now is the time. Sacramento is no longer a small town, though there certainly remain some small town thinkers.

Dammit! That took way too long. Sorry about that. In closing, let me just say that anyone can certainly come along and pick the fly sh*t out of my peppered comments. But what no one can explain to me is how Sacramento is going to be better off without the arena than with it.

Yeah, I probably should have led with the last sentence and left it at that. My bad.


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