Question: I'm a huge Kings fan. I think we went dead wrong by picking up Brad Miller. He's got no lateral movement and no defense whatsoever. Couple that with a bad attitude (always whining) and no wonder our defense gives up so many points in the paint. What's your take on this? - Coloradan King, Denver
Answer: Can't say I agree entirely. The thing about Brad is that you can't dispute the role he played when this team was phenomenal, playing the high-post game so well with Vlade Divac during the 2003-04 campaign in which they 55 games and keeping up after Divac was gone and the Kings won 50 games the following season.
The problem now is that the Kings don't play that style anymore, and Miller is at his best when there are two realities about his hoops existence: 1) He's in shape and healthy, which wasn't the case last year, and 2) he's a complimentary piece. Miller isn't built to be a conventional enforcer, so now his weaknesses are revealed more than ever.
His best asset - his passing - requires a coach knowing how to utilize the skill best, and Kings coach Reggie Theus is still learning that fact. And based on Theus' more conventional style, he needs a big man to block shots, rebound and score now. I will say this, though: I think it's a good thing they can't sign seven-year contracts like Miller's anymore. Too much can change with an organization and a player in that time span for that sort of long-term commitment to be even close to sane.
Question: Dear Sam,
Love the blog. I was wondering if you could expand on the Kenny Thomas-Mikki Moore-Shareef (Abdur-Rahim) situation, insofar as they relate to the coaching staff and whether or not they realize that their poor play (excepting perhaps a recuperating Shareef) is a large part of the Kings' lack of success. Thanks. - Zack, Rome, Italy
Answer: There's no way they don't know Zack, although the question is how much of the blame they place on themselves and how much they put on circumstances outside of their control. For one, I guarantee they don't see the current environment as conducive to good play. By that I mean the fact that there's a quick hook from the bench and not nearly enough minutes to make any of those guys happy. Shareef's situation is absolutely different because of his knee, but Mikki and Kenny were incredibly frustrated during and even after the last game.
While Mikki has been candid about how he needs to pick up his game, he's also discussed the guards' style of play and said it makes it tough to do what Kings coach Reggie Theus wants. Specifically, jumpers early in the clock don't allow the bigs to get set and either contribute in the post or be in position to hit the boards. There is definite truth in what he said, but it's obviously only part of the problem.
Question: Sorry if I missed it, but how do you pronounce Beno Udrih? Thanks. - Tom Harding, Sacramento
Answer: That's BAY-NO, not to be confused with BEE-NO. Although if his play stinks like flatulence, then maybe calling him Beano would help.
Question: What is Orien Greene's problem? Artest raved about him. Former teammates in Florida compared his game to Dwayne Wade's. Yet, he obviously is not panning out in real action. What is he having problems with in your opinion? Thanks. - Peter Lozancich, Salt Lake City, Utah
Answer: Only Orien knows, but I think a few things led to the rough start. For one, Theus didn't give him much time to get in a flow in the first two games in which he started. In the first game, especially, Greene wasn't spectacular in the first six minutes but the points-for/points-against margin was almost even and took a quick dive after he was replaced by Quincy Douby. But Greene went to the bench for long stretches, and may be having trouble knowing exactly what his role is. Theus wants him to play like a mad dog, diving for loose balls and hounding defenders. Greene, though, may have been taking the edge off his game because he's thinking big picture - i.e. don't get in foul trouble and take less chances.
Either way, I could still see Greene playing a key role as the games go on Udrih takes over the point guard reins. After all, Greene impressed in training camp mostly by defending three spots and bringing major energy. He could be a huge asset in that role, and maybe get more comfortable with the coaching staff and what they want out of him when he occasionally takes over the point guard spot. He's too versatile and talented not to help.
Question: Sam, I caught a glimpse of Darryl Watkins' feet during a timeout and was shocked at the size of those dogs! Looks like he could share kicks with Shaq. What size shoe does he wear anyway? They gotta be the biggest on the team. - Anthony, Sacramento
Answer: I'll put on my hard-hitting reporting cap and get an answer for you. My early guess (although I haven't focused on them like you, Anthony)? Size 17.
Question: I notice some new tattoos on Kings players - especially Brad Miller (with one on this left forearm). Do you know what they are of/look like? Thanks. - Chelsea, Davis, CA
Answer: I don't typically log the new artwork (who can keep up?!) but I do know the tattoo you speak of. Miller's left forearm reads "Anniston," with a rose vine wrapped around the lettering. It's in honor of his baby daughter, Anniston Rose, who I believe is a few months away from turning 1.
Question: Are the Maloofs purposely making the Kings a pathetic team? The lack of talent can't be a mistake. Is this their way of preparing Sacramento for losing their team to Las Vegas? - Eric Wells, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Answer: Put the conspiracy theories away, Eric. Vegas isn't the hot topic or desirable NBA locale it used to be after the All-Star weekend didn't go so well. And the Kings' roster is a simple product of a franchise in flux.
Question: Can you give your insight on where you see (Kings basketball president Geoff) Petrie taking this team? Is he still trying to create a defensive team, an offensive team, young team, athletic team, etc.? I look at the parts and I have no idea what type of team he is trying to create. I'm thoroughly disappointed in the product we have. I look at Portland and like what they've done. Phoenix just four years ago was awful. Why can't we get involved in trades that bring back young talent rather than bringing old parts and bad contracts? - Gary, Rocklin
Answer: In terms of philosophy, I think the defensive talk is just a phase so long as Petrie's running the ship. He wants scorers, and lots of them, with a roster includes skilled players both big and small with the hopes of playing a unique brand of basketball like they did a few years back.
As for how he does that, it's obvious that he has recently become fully committed to going young and sincerely entering the rebuilding phase. He's passed up on trades because they didn't include either draft picks or the other team's best young guys, and he'll continue to be stubborn in moving his guys until he gets that sort of compensation.
The moves that don't jive with that philosophy may have been made in the interim, and mostly as it pertains to the power forward spot. They haven't been able to move Kenny Thomas, but they signed veteran Shareef Abdur-Rahim to a five-year deal nonetheless. When Abdur-Rahim was hobbled, they went out and added then-31-year-old Mikki Moore. What's interesting is that Moore's contract shows that the direction of the mentality. He got the full midlevel exception just like Abdur-Rahim and John Salmons did, but was only given a three-year deal in which only $2 million was guaranteed in the third year.
Translation: Right about that time is when the Kings hope to have their younger, more athletic, more talented new core in place and be back on their feet. It's never fast enough for the fans, but hang in there.
Question: Sam, going small with Bibby, Salmons, Martin, Artest and Miller, followed by Udrih, Douby, Garcia, Shareef/Moore, Hawes/ Watkins?
The up side of no Bibby and Artest is that we get to see Garcia, Salmons, and Watkins. I hope Hawes can play with his back to the basket as well as I've heard! The bigs are killing us. I think Miller was more effective when Chris Webber was injured and he played the (power forward spot) and maybe if Hawes is as good a round the basket as they say then Miller can play the (power forward) and Hawes the (center spot)? We need Hawes, Bibby, Artest to be in games. - Bob Snyder, Rancho Cordova
Answer: A few too many cups of coffee this morning, Bob? You were all over the map there. Some good comments, though. In particular, keep an eye out for a variation of the small starting lineup you suggested once Bibby gets back. Safe to say the poor play of the bigs will most definitely lead the Kings to going small.