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Taking a Step Back

Sending Skal Labissiere to the G-League may be the right move.

Sacramento Kings v New York Knicks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Over the past, well, forever, the Kings have been plagued by bad decision after bad decision after dumb mistake after dumb mistake after embarrassment after embarrassment. There’s no need to rehash all of the stupidity or dredge up painful memories. We’re all fans. We know what happened and who did what, so let’s not go there for the sake of everyone’s sanity.

But, because of that sad history, it’s incredibly easy to treat each decision made by Vlade Divac as another hopeless blunder, or to sarcastically label every outside-the-box idea from the Kings as ‘NBA 3.0’, but that’s simply a half-assed, lazy version of analysis better left unsaid and unaddressed.

Today, the Front Office made the unexpected announcement that they are sending Skal Labissiere to the G-League. In a vacuum, without context, it’s easy to label it as ‘LOL KANGZ’ and walk away feeling vindicated and clever, rather than digging into the decision to see if there’s a legitimate purpose behind it.

One of the knocks on Skal coming out of college was his struggle to stay confident on the court, and that weaknesss has displayed itself several times throughout the course of his young career. Recently, as his fouls and poor decisions have piled up, and his minutes have dropped, we’ve seen that issue rear its ugly head again.

There’s a strong possibility that our management team and coaching staff have seen that dip in demeanor and want to address it before it becomes a larger issue. It’s not a matter of Dave Joerger refusing to develop youth, or Vlade Divac cluelessly meandering his way through the decision-making process, but rather it’s a franchise making a sensible decision based on past results.

Last season, Labissiere had success in Reno, and it’s quite possible that he was able to use those accomplishments as a springboard for his moderately productive play in the latter part of the year. Recently, his contributions have diminished, and his slot in the rotation has tanked, so it isn’t all that far fetched to try to give him an injection of confidence by playing against lesser opponents in a lower pressure environment.

Maybe this move isn’t about punishment or demotion or freeing up minutes for veterans, but rather it’s a new version of true player development. Instead of just benching a kid for struggling, or keeping him on the court to try to work through the issues, or throwing him on the trading block as soon as his numbers drop, the organization is trying to use a remedy that has seemingly worked in the past.

Tailoring a solution to a dip in production for a particular player doesn’t appear to be the typical ‘Kangz’ decisions that everyone is used to, but instead comes across as a thoughtful and educated answer to a unique problem. A team that has utilized the G-League as a development ground for their young players more than any other franchise is using the Bighorns in the same way as before, for the same player, and are hoping to garner to same results.

That doesn’t sound so crazy, does it?