MINNEAPOLIS - Brad Miller is expected to return to action on Wednesday night, which likely means one thing for Shareef Abdur-Rahim: more time mentoring youngsters on the bench and even less time playing on the floor.
A day after Abdur-Rahim's agent, Aaron Goodwin, vented publicly about his client's lack of playing time, Abdur-Rahim played seven minutes at Utah on Monday night. The upside: He drew double teams that opened things up down low in a way no other Kings player has been able to do, then made the most of his impact by finding cutters who took advantage of the defense. The downside: He missed all three shots. The real question: How long will this be Abdur-Rahim's reality?
John Denton of Florida Today pontificates today about the Magic possibly looking to trade for Abdur-Rahim, and his logic all jives. It doesn't stop with Orlando, either, as you can be assured that Goodwin is scouring the league looking for a way out for his 12-year veteran. It's a tough situation on both sides, with the Kings needing to focus on developing youngsters like Spencer Hawes and even Darryl Watkins and Abdur-Rahim desperate to find a setting in which he can work himself back into form and revive the post-game that remains.
While anyone with two eyes can see Abdur-Rahim doesn't move like he used to, his skills down low still give him value. Even Kings coach Reggie Theus has talked about Shareef's "presence" on the block. The key is finding a team that needs that sort of specialty skill and has the right pieces to satisfy Kings prez Geoff Petrie. Abdur-Rahim is in the third season of his five-year, $29 million deal.
But Theus - who needs rebounding badly and is already behind the eight-ball from an athletic standpoint with his roster - is clearly going to continue opting for Kenny Thomas and Mikki Moore. What's more, there are plenty who believe Justin Williams will be back in the mix soon, only worsening Abdur-Rahim's situation. The X-factor on the court is that Abdur-Rahim needs consistent and abundant playing time to combat the months of lost time while he recovered from June knee surgery. The Kings, clearly, aren't likely to be the team with which he'll get that time. So which one will?
* Cisco v. McCants II - Truthfully, I hadn't even thought about the fact that these best buddies would be seeing each other for a second time in four days.
* Kevin Martin finally wore the Nike shoes that have been sitting in his locker while shoe contract negotiations continue.
For the background, here's the relative excerpt from my recent piece on him...
"Martin spent his first three seasons under contract with Nike, but is currently being courted for a new deal in which only he and New Jersey point guard Jason Kidd would wear an as-yet-unveiled Steve Nash shoe in honor of the Phoenix point guard. The shoes are currently sitting in Martin's locker, though he has not worn them because there are negotiations with other shoe companies as well."
Anyway, he waffled as to whether to wear them or not but still produced a 20-plus outing to continue his sensational scoring season (FYI - wearing the shoes means nothing other than, well, he had new shoes on. The negotiations continue). Yet for the first time since last season, the question of whether Martin needed more shots was wholly relevant once again. He hit 7 of 12 shots and - more importantly - only took four trips to the line. While he had been averaging approximately 17 shots per game, any talk after the first six games that he needed more was a bit uninformed since his league-leading trips to the line hide so many of his attempts.
But against Utah, point guard Beno Udrih had as many shots as Martin. Enough said. And as if his efficiency hasn't become well-known enough, the most impressive statistic so far this season is the fact that Martin is third in the league in scoring (27 points per game) and 34th in the league in usage rate. Usage rate, in essence, determines how many possesions per 40 minutes that a player uses. In layman's terms, he's not coming even close to dominating the action like the players who need to do so to reach the same scoring numbers. Not surprisingly, his usage rate dropped from 25th to 34th in that one game against Utah. And not to keep picking on McCants, but his name just doesn't fit on that list of usage rate leaders, does it? He's the anti-Martin, you could say.
- Sam Amick