News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.
May 16, 2013
DALLAS - Where to begin? While the NBA owners were expected to endorse the relocation committee's recommendation and keep the Kings in Sacramento, the scene at the Hilton Anatole these past two days was filled with tension, drama, anger, and perhaps surprisingly, more than an occasional display of humor and humility.
As I pack up for the flight to Oakland for Game Six of the Western Conference semifinal between the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, here are a few final thoughts, observations and tidbits:
May 15, 2013
Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie and the rest of the front office staff and coach Keith Smart met with the following draft prospects today at the NBA Draft Scouting Combine in Chicago.
Alex Len (Maryland), Richard Howell (North Carolina State), Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan), Tony Snell (New Mexico), Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State) and Reggie Bullock (North Carolina).
The Kings will have 12 more interviews this week.
I did ask Petrie about his future and if he had a plan:
"Oh yeah, but I can't talk about it," he said.
There's still much to be decided for the Kings (such as who will own them when the season starts) but the front office is preparing for the draft as if they will be running the show next month.
No one has told them not to work, so they continue to work.
Petrie, Wayne Cooper, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mike Petrie and coach Keith Smart are all in Chicago.
Also, the Kings have until June 30 to make Tyreke Evans a restricted free agent (after the playoffs are over).
May 15, 2013
OAKLAND - In the last couple of weeks during the Kings saga, I've spent a lot of time around the Golden State Warriors.
Prior to this season, the Kings and Warriors often battled to see which team wouldn't finish last in the Pacific Division. That, of course, has changed. The Warriors host the San Antonio Spurs tonight in the Western Conference Semifinals, a series the Warriors should be leading 2-0 if not for their epic collapse in Game 1.
The change in culture coach Keith Smart talked about creating with the Kings has actually happened with his old team in Oakland.
Coach Mark Jackson said on Thursday part of the changing of the culture began last season when popular guard Monta Ellis to Milwaukee in the deal and brought Andrew Bogut to Oakland.
"It helped change the culture," Jackson said. "Obviously it was easier to pull the trigger because we knew what we had in Klay (Thompson) and it was time for him to be a starting two-guard. And he does everything right."
Jackson asked how the deal changed the culture. He was careful with his answer.
"It helped change the culture," Jackson said after pausing briefly.
"You know," was the answer.
Oddly enough the Warriors have changed the culture in part with players the Kings passed on in the draft and the key player the Kings acquired for Kevin Martin (Carl Landry).
The Kings passed on Stephen Curry in the 2009 draft after Tyreke Evans dominated him in a 3-on-3 predraft workout.
The franchise could lose Evans to free agency while Curry has become one of the NBA's emerging stars.
The Kings could have had Klay Thompson in 2011, but passed on him and opted for Jimmer Fredette. Fredette has languished on the bench for long stretches while Thompson is becoming one of the NBA's best shooters.
In last year's draft the Kings selected Thomas Robinson with the fifth overall pick while small forward Harrison Barnes slid to seventh (after Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard was picked sixth) and became a starter.
Robinson was traded during the season and was buried on the bench in Houston.
Meanwhile the Kings are still searching for a long-term answer at small forward.
And that culture of selfishness and bad basketball the Kings have talked about changing still exists.
The Warriors are fun to watch, but it's hard to watch them and not wonder what might have been if some of the Warriors ended up in Sacramento and how the culture might be different.
To be perfectly honest, my first trip to Indianapolis wasn't all that memorable. It was during the 1981-82 NBA season, and after a game between two dreadful teams - Clippers and Pacers - the late, great Indianapolis Star beat writer Dave Overpeck took me out for something to eat and drink. At the time, the late-night choices were limited. We had a choice between a place called The Slippery Noodle and a place called the The Slippery Noodle.
Use your imagination, folks. I don't even want to know if the place still exists.
I write about the Pacers' history and their resilient fan base in Friday's Bee, but it's hard to summarize this franchise and the transformation of this city in 25 or so inches. Forget about the fact Indianapolis has become one of the world's sports destination cities - a place for NCAA Tournaments, All-Star Games, Super Bowls, World Basketball Championships, etc.
Indy comes highly recommended (by me) for two specific reasons: First, there is no basketball facility that remotely compares with the authenticity of the Hoosiers-themed Bankers Life Fieldhouse that seats just over 18,000 and actually feels like a place built for basketball. And secondly, the compact, vibrant downtown that now features dozens of hotels and restaurants, is one of the great walking cities in America. (Who can ever forget the sight of a devastated George Karl walking toward the Marriott Hotel after Team USA's historic epic loss in the 2002 World Basketball Championships?)
Plus, what's not to embrace about the Pacer People? Ah, yes, the Pacer People. Before earplugs were required at Arco Arena and everyone started gushing about decibel levels at the Warriors' Oracle Arena, the noise at Market Square Arena was comparable to the best of the best - the old Boston Garden, the old Chicago Stadium, the Salt Palace and even the new palace in Salt Lake City. My ears are still ringing from the sounds of the engines roaring - and, yes, they pumped in the faux noise back in the day - but mostly from the enthusiasm of the crowds.
Small markets don't necessarily do it better, and in fact, they have to work harder. Maybe that's why they tend to be louder.
May 2, 2013
OAKLAND - While walking toward a back staircase that leads to the press section, I happened upon prospective Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and his son, Andre. Ranadive, the Warriors vice-chairman who will sell his shares in the GSW if his group's offer to buy the Kings goes through, was friendly, but didn't want to say much while the process is ongoing.
Andre Ranadive, however, quickly volunteered that he was a huge fan of the Kings' teams that featured Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, and Peja Stojakovic, among others.
The NBA's relocation committee voted unanimously last Monday to block the Kings move to Seattle. An investment group that is headed by Ranadive and included the Jacobs family, Chris Kelly, Mark Mastrov and Mark Friedman submitted a backup offer of $341 million for the Maloofs majority interest in the Kings. The parties are expected to negotiate these next two weeks, with the full Board of Governors expected to meet on May 15. Historically, the league's owners rubber stamp the sales and relocation recommendations provided by their committees.
May 2, 2013
OAKLAND - Warriors President and CEO Rick Welts, who commutes to Sacramento where he lives with his partner, Todd Gage, and Gage's two children, said he was "thrilled" by the relocation committee's unanimous vote rejecting the Kings' move to Seattle. Welts suggested, however, that Santiago, 8, and Amanda, 12, were even more excited by the 7-0 outcome. "I'm not sure they're ready to dump their Warriors gear for Kings gear," Welts added laughing, before Game Six of the Golden State-Denver series, "but they probably do that when I'm not around anyway."
A few minutes prior to tipoff, Nuggets coach George Karl, though a former coach and longtime fan of the city of Seattle, pulled me aside in the hallway. "I was really happy for the fans back in Sac," he said. "They deserve to keep their team."