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The Royal Mailbag: Answers to Session Two

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Brilliant responses to brilliant questions

NBA: Washington Wizards at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the second edition of the Royal Mailbag! Greg finally got his breakfast, Will and I are by no means trapped inside a dark basement, and you’re waiting for answers, not for our pleas for help. Let’s jump right in!

From Klam via the comments: Just a question out of curiosity for BabyG and Will. Do you remember how you discovered Sactown Royalty, and did you ever have any ambition to be a writer/contributor for the site?

Tim: I discovered StR at the beginning stages of the relocation saga. I had remained a Kings fan after I moved to Arizona in 2004, but didn’t watch games religiously and only casually followed the team. As odd as it may sound, their possible sale to outside investors and potential move actually reignited my fandom. My brother told me about Sactown Royalty when I was looking for relocation updates, and I lurked for quite a while before joining.

As far as any aspirations to write for the site, I had none. I always enjoyed English classes in high school and college, but my major was criminal justice. Over time, I began to comment on the site more often, and realized that I might enjoy putting some articles together. They weren’t pretty for a long time, but eventually they started to make at least a modicum of sense. The responses in the comments could occasionally be unforgiving, but those critiques have always driven me to become a better analyst, stat finder, and composer. Keep ‘em coming.

If anyone out there is interested in becoming a writer for StR (or anywhere), the one thing you must do is write and write and write. And then post that content somewhere (the fan posts are a great opportunity). And then be ready for feedback, even if you don’t agree with it. I wrote in the fan posts for almost two years before I was picked up on staff. Others, like Richard Ivanowski, have been brought on much sooner. I wasn’t ready to publish quality content for some time, while others have shown a knack for this type of work almost immediately. It takes time and a ton of effort, but if this is really the sort of thing you want to get into, you’ll make it happen.

Will: I’ve mentioned this a few times before but I lived just outside of Redding for most of my formative years, and came across StR back in the very early days of Ziller grinding out every bit of Kings related info. We had dial up internet for way too long, so I used to copy and paste the article and comments into word documents so I could still read it after the line got interrupted by a phone call. I read it religiously and used every single comment and retort to really hone my daily arguments with the Lakers fans at school. The Kings were my life and many of the commenters here were far more than bit players in it. I mean, I fangirled over Akis and Rob when I met them on a whim in college, and called back to my family after the game and lead with “You’ll never guess who I saw tonight”.

As for writing for them, I had no hope at all for it. During the relocation drama I jokingly wrote a Kings themed version of Les Miserables’ “I Dreamed A Dream” and it got enough rec’s in the comments to make me feel like I made the one mark I’d ever need to make on the site. I didn’t comment much because you all are so much smart, so much more everything than I could be. You all said it better already, so why should I say it at all? It wasn’t until my very best friend at the time was trying to make the Sacramento Kings dance team that I felt motivated to get out of my lane and speak out to you all about a subject I knew and really cared about. What started as an opportunity to showcase her ended up working out for me as well, and Akis asked pretty much the same day if I wanted to write previews in a kinda back-up role slash trial capacity. And here I am, annoying you all 75+ ish games a year. I was, and remain, extremely lucky. It’s not often that one gets to write to a group of people far smarter than them on a regular basis, and I do.

From adamsite via the comments: A few years Rudy Gay was famously predicted by an StR member to be the Kings single game leading scorer long before he was even traded to the Kings! My question you geniuses is in a similar vein. Being that the Kings have the cap space to make a deal by the deadline (if they don’t, Vlade needs to have his head examined) what current NBA player(s), currently playing for another team, will be wearing a Kings uni by season’s end. I say give us your top 3, including percentages.

Tim: I think the Kings are actually pretty happy with their roster, but if they do make a move at the deadline it’ll likely be for an upgrade at small forward.

Otto Porter - 40%

Andrew Wiggins - 25%

Kent Bazemore - 20%

Porter seems like the most sensible fit, both due to Washington’s cap situation and the Kings previous pursuit of the 3-and-D wing, but I also strongly believe the Wizards will demand a much better trade return than most expect. At least half a dozen teams would be interested in Otto’s services, and while other GMs can’t offer the same immediate cap relief this season, most can provide expiring contracts to equal Porter’s salary. Washington doesn’t enter cap hell until next year, so our cap space isn’t as nearly as valuable as we like to pretend in a two-team deal. Any playoff contender that is willing to offer a non-lottery first rounder and expiring contracts will immediately trump Sacramento’s offer. The question becomes: how high of a cost will Vlade pay for a true small forward?

Will: Oh boy, I don’t want to be different for difference sake here. I really do think that Otto Porter is a great fit at the number one spot for all the reasons Tim mentioned. But I’m only giving that a 25% chance of happening. The Wizards will really, really have to keep imploding for Ernie Grunfeld to make a move. I doubt they’ve even taken him out of cryosleep for this drama. Other than that, I don’t see another window for them to grab somebody who fits the current makeup and direction of this roster. Teams that are tanking want to hold onto their young, fleet of foot SF’s and teams that are contending don’t really want anything the Kings are selling. I doubt Wiggins gets moved now that Jimmy Buckets is leading the third string in Philly to moral victories. Hawks... eh... maybe? I could see Sacramento grabbing a DeMarre Carroll or Danilo Galinari type off of the waiver wire. Otherwise, I think it’s Porter or the Kings carry the space into the off-season.

From gregsactly via the comments: should we pay Willie?

Tim: I think the Kings may end up having to pay Willie if the season continues on the same trajectory. Cauley-Stein’s gravity on the pick-and-roll opens up all sorts of driving lanes for De’Aaron Fox, while his post work is surprisingly some of the most efficient in the entire NBA. The only sensible reasons to let Willie walk is if he gets a ridiculous deal ($20+ million), regresses to his old form throughout the year, or Harry Giles takes off at some point during the season. Of all of those possibilities, fading to the Willie we’ve always known seems the most likely. If that doesn’t happen, using $15M - $20M of their $59M in cap space on an above-average young center seems like a wise move for this front office.

Will: Do I think we should offer Willie a contract at the end of this season? Sure. Is it going to be the backing up of the Brink’s truck that he might want? Absolutely not. Willie has taken it upon himself to improve before his contract season and it is absolutely commendable. I enjoy watching him play usually. But, I don’t think he’s the starting power forward or center of the future for this team. He shouldn’t be paid as such. Someone will pay him, I’m sure of it. He will get 75%-80% of what he thinks he’s worth this off-season and I’ll be glad that he got paid, but this is absolutely the perfect time to get max value out of Cauley-Stein and I think the trade deadline will bear those fruits. The Kings can say “look we made a leap this season, and now we’re trading Willie to make yet another leap.” It opens up time for Bagley and Giles, it (hopefully) balances the roster a bit and Willie gets his money.

From airmaxpg via the comments: 10 games in, have any of the writers changed their pre-season win total prediction yet?

Tim: I think I’ll upgrade mine from 25 to 30. Opposing teams are beginning to figure out that the Kings can’t score in the half-court very easily, so the offense will probably begin to fall off relatively soon. That being said, a 30 - 35 win season should be looked at as a massive success when compared with local and national expectations coming into the year. If Sacramento eclipses 35 wins, Dave Joerger should get some votes for Coach of the Year.

Will: Oh man. Well. I don’t think this is recorded anywhere on the website so I didn’t have to own up to this but, I very loudly predicted to friends and family that this is the year it all falls apart. I predicted 23 wins and was terrified of what happened next. Barring injuries, I’m an idiot. I own that. I’m still nervous about this start eventually collapsing and the organization panicking into firing a coach or a dumb trade before the team evens out again, but I’ll too boost it to 30. If the Kings win 40 games, I’ll get a Kings themed tattoo and will call for Joerger to be signed to the Maloof-special Forever Contract.

From NorCal KingsFan via the comments: Why has Yogi not played more? If not at PG, then he should be playing some SG when Buddy needs a rest.

Tim: Frank Mason has simply been better than Yogi Ferrell: something I predicted the exact opposite of during the summer. Both players are struggling to find their outside shot, but Frank is the more natural facilitator and the better defender. With Bogdanovic back in the rotation, Shumpert playing well, and Williams taking a chunk of minutes at small forward, there isn’t room in the rotation for both Ferrell and Mason. Another thing we aren’t privy to is practice. It’s clear that Frank has garnered more of Joerger’s trust than Yogi has early in the season. I’ll trust Coach’s assessment for now.

Will: Yeah I think Tim says this best. There just isn’t a lot of room for Ferrell and Mason to be playing a good deal of minutes and I think Mason is just is outperforming Yogi right now in practice. I wouldn’t worry about it too much and I think them being fairly interchangeable is going to end up giving the Kings flexibility if one becomes a piece in a trade somewhere down the way.