So Las Vegas being what it is - the adult Disneyland of the world and ultimate sensory overload experience for many - there is more to this summer league experience than basketball.
There is, for those in the basketball world, the Palms Casino Resort, that ever-expanding tower off the strip that is owned by the Maloofs. Not every NBA player, coach, executive, or agent is staying there. One who is not is Bonzi Wells’ agent, William Phillips, citing a conflict of interest if he did rest his head at the Palms, considering the ongoing negotiations of his former King free agent.
But the Palms certainly has the largest contingent. Just last night, a colleague of mine (San Francisco Chronicle writer Janny Hu) ran into Toronto general manager Bryan Colangelo. Literally. He tried to pass on the right, got crossed up at the legs and apologized while flying by and licking his ice cream. It was a Palms moment.
The same could’ve been said for an evening at the Ghost Bar, that infamous party spot atop the casino with the breathtaking view of the city’s landscape. As it turns out, they won’t let you in with shorts, even if you’re willing to pay the $25 cover charge, meaning yours truly shared the killjoy award for the evening with Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Speaking of fine viewings, the Maloofs can’t watch Louis Amundson enough. For those coming late, he’s the former UNLV forward who went undrafted, despite numerous reports that he was the most impressive player at pre-draft camp in Orlando in June. Amundson - who has been signed by the Kings and will be at training camp in October - only had five points and three rebounds in the Kings’ win over Toronto on Sunday, but the fans went home remembering his thunderous putback dunk. Amundson has shown on numerous occasions now that he comes packed with power, and the putback came after he sprung from some five feet away, reached back to catch the ball and throw it down. Joe Maloof, the Kings co-owner who doesn’t decide playing time, said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Amundson make the team and play a vital role this season. No one will be viewing Francisco Garcia for at least a month, as he discovered on Sunday that he has a bone spur in his left foot.
Otherwise, it was another solid day for Kings shooting guard Kevin Martin, who had 27 points despite getting drilled over and over by the Raptors’ Joey Graham. It was all the Oklahoma State product could do, because he certainly couldn’t stay in front of Martin. Top pick Andrea Bargnani (Italian who went No. 1 to Toronto in June 28 draft) continues to look worthy of the selection. He was 5-for-8 for 12 points, hitting both of his three-pointers and even ripping a reverse dunk between two Kings players. He’s something else, and something tells me he could get into the Ghost Bar with shorts on.
- Sam Amick