As Gavin Maloof himself noted, this is only summer league.
But two days into the Las Vegas affair, the Kings co-owner and family are ecstatic with their first impressions of new coach Eric Musselman and his six assistants.
There has been an early and heavy emphasis on defense, and the way the Kings played it in Friday night's win over New Orleans nearly had Gavin jumping out of his seat at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion. Seated next to his mother, Colleen, he raved about the full-court pressure, how players were taking charges and diving for balls.
The real litmus test, obviously, will be carrying this summertime vibe into the regular season. What’s more, that will be the only comparison to the old regime that matters. While Musselman has allowed the media to watch practice (where defense has certainly been emphasized), former Kings coach Rick Adelman always dropped the curtain come practice time, leaving many to wonder and some to speculate about his style. Adelman always took, err, offense to those who said he didn’t work much on defense, though many former Kings substantiated that claim. Nonetheless, his approach resulted in a winning stretch of historic proportions for the organization. And until the new regime makes its own history - or at least produces relative success - all the defense chatter is just hype. This is, as Gavin said, just summer league.
Extra, extra: Louis Amundson just might be a perfect fit for the Kings. The former UNLV forward who signed with the team Saturday is a classic role player – strong with his 6-foot-8, 225-pound frame, but quick as well. During Saturday’s practice, strength and conditioning coach Daniel Shapiro put the players through a quick-step drill in which they tapped through a ladder-shaped prop on the ground. Amundson was flying, his feet tapping the floor with the beat of an over-caffeinated drummer. Third-year shooting guard Kevin Martin was, like always, the speediest of the bunch, but I was impressed by Amundson. And if hoops doesn’t work out for him, he has the perfect look (solid frame and rugged face) to be headlining heavyweight bouts over at the MGM Grand.
There was some news out of practice, none of it good for Kings fans. Second-year swingman Francisco Garcia left the court with a sore left foot, and was sent back to Sacramento for an X-ray. The foot had been bothering him during the past few days.
Also, small forward Ron Artest won't play in Sunday's summer league game, as he previously committed to a basketball event in Los Angeles.
– Sam Amick