We probably haven’t talked about Arron Afflalo enough this season, and prior to last night, I gave Dave Joerger a lot of credit for that. Before we dig into the latest round of Kings drama, a quick recap:
The Kings signed Arron Afflalo to 2-year, $25 million contract this summer, with the second year of that two year deal being partially guaranteed for just $1.5 million. For all intents and purposes, it was a crafty one year deal with the option to keep him if the Kings’ latest reclamation project worked out. To this point, it clearly hasn’t.
Afflalo has had a rough year, and Garrett Temple’s career year at a fraction of Afflalo’s price hasn’t done him any favors. Combine Temple’s excellent season with Joerger’s comfortability playing Darren Collison and Ty Lawson together, and his need to get all of Rudy Gay, Matt Barnes, and Omri Casspi in the lineup has left nothing behind for Afflalo. He’s barely played in December.
I applauded Joerger for this. It’s not easy to completely exile a veteran you just signed for $12.5 million a couple of months prior. We’ve seen coaches assign playing time based on salary before, and I love that Joerger doesn’t, or at the very least, didn’t with Afflalo. Joerger knows how poorly that reflects on the franchise. It’s an obvious admission that they made a mistake, but he’s comfortable enough with his job security to change course this early instead of trying to prove they were right. That is, of course, assuming Joerger was on board with Vlade Divac for that signing. I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole right now.
Fast forward to last night - KHTK Sports 1140’s Carmichael Dave reported that Afflalo has basically refused to play. My words, not Dave’s.
Worth following: according to league sources, Aaron Afflalo was slow to enter the game in Utah, declined to enter in Houston. Stay tuned.— Carmichael Dave (@CarmichaelDave) December 18, 2016
Got a lot of questions about Afflalo lately,seems to be a situation that's been brewing on the downlow.Can't imagine Coach wasn't perturbed.— Carmichael Dave (@CarmichaelDave) December 18, 2016
Aflallo was on the bench tonight and in Memphis, but recorded two DNP-CDs.— Carmichael Dave (@CarmichaelDave) December 18, 2016
My guess: there will be a few more to follow.
So, yeah. That’s happening.
It’d be easy to hammer Afflalo for his actions here. I can’t remember a player warming up and sitting on the bench in his basketball gear and then refusing to check in. Usually the idea that you won’t be checking in, or are protesting something, is known well before the coach actually tries to put you into the game. You’d think Joerger would know Afflalo was feeling that way before that moment. The entire thing is bizarre.
Because the Kings never cease to amaze in terms of how they mishandle situations like this, I’ll hold my judgment until a more detailed report surfaces. Afflalo is an NBA veteran. This sort of move doesn’t necessarily fit his reputation, so I’m interested to hear his side of the story.