Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

February 21, 2008
The deadline nears

(12:04 p.m.)
Nothing. Nothing big. Nothing small. The trade deadline has come and gone, and Kings PA announcer Scott Moak will not have to learn any new names other than the ones who came to Sacramento in the Saturday deal with Atlanta. But hey, I've got the next best thing! There are some former Kings on the move. I'm taking a breather, but I'll be back later to offer some final thoughts.

(11:46 a.m.)
No call from Denver. Might still be a small deal for a Tyronn Lue type or maybe one of the other new guys from Atlanta. Ron Artest will be on this team tomorrow.

(11:10 a.m.)
Phoenix is not in play for Artest, which I said before but not in such certain terms. That's just not taking place. And the Nuggets still haven't called either.

(11:02 a.m.)
One hour to go, and a source close to the Kings tells me Denver hasn't come back the Kings' way yet.
There have been other offers for Artest (not sure who) but nothing of real substance. As for the Phoenix chatter, ESPN's Chad Ford claims the Suns have interest, although I'm told they haven't expressed it to the Kings. And even if they were willing to give up the trade exception (read below), they may be reluctant to give up the first round pick from Atlanta that may very well end up in the lottery with the way the Hawks have played after the Mike Bibby trade.

(10:05 a.m.)
As a quick addition to the prior post, there are indications that - at the very least - the power struggle within Denver's front office continues. And with the vast majority now saying owner Stan Kroenke will have the deciding vote, consider this passage from the story from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!
"Kleiza isn't just a player for Denver, but part of the ownership's family. Stan Kroenke has known Kleiza since his days at Missouri, when he was a teammate and close friend of Kroenke's son, Josh. The Nuggets traded for Kleiza, a 6-foot-8 Lithuanian, on draft day in 2005 and watched him develop into a terrific young player.
'There's a feeling from ownership that, ‘Hey, we've helped turn this kid into a player, so how can we let him go'" an Eastern Conference executive said."

(9:50 a.m.)
Chirp, chirp, chirp...
It really is quiet on both ends, I'm told. And for what it's worth, the Kings folks left a pretty clear message on their way out last night that they really didn't think Artest would be moved today. ESPN's Ric Bucher just said on TV that he is hearing that Denver may have softened on giving up Linas Kleiza, to which my Denver source quickly retorts, "Don't count on it."
While the waiting continues, let's hit on a few conversation topics for a moment.

* Artest to the Suns? Let us speculate - As a reader noted below, Phoenix has an $8 million trade exception and Atlanta's first-round pick that they could offer for Artest. And while I'm not aware of any current conversations between the two clubs, that would make some sense on both ends.
Phoenix lost most of its perimeter defense when they sent Shawn Marion to Miami, and Artest would not only add to the Suns' mix but he'd be a nice insurance policy of sorts talent-wise just in case Shaq gets hurt. The reason I'm told it likely wouldn't happen, at least in part, is because the trade that sent Kurt Thomas from Phoenix to Seattle in the summer and brought back the trade exception meant Thomas' salary came off the Suns' books. By acquiring Artest, they would be taking a serious luxury tax hit.
If the Kings did this deal, it would break down like this: they would get Artest's salary off the books (only because they're already over the salary cap) and have a chance to add a young piece with the draft pick. Then this summer, they could use the exception to make a move for someone in Artest's salary range, at which point that salary would be added on. Teams have one year to use an exception, which - according to NBA salary cap expert Larry Coon - is also referred to as a non-simultaneous trade.
From poking around a bit on the Kings-Suns front, however, there's no reason to believe it's taking place.

* Artest certainly not to the Spurs - The buzz about Artest going to San Antonio was something to behold yesterday, as the word was coming from within the Spurs organization and - in hindsight - was either leaked with some sort of motive or came from overzealous folks within the reigning champs' house who were hoping to spark a move for him. Who knows?
A similar version of the same package that was allegedly offered to the Kings (although that didn't happen) was sent to Seattle for Kurt Thomas. The Kings were quick to shoot the Spurs rumor down, which pokes holes in the theory that they were hoping to raise the stakes on those dealings by leaking this story. That most definitely was not the case.

(7:38 a.m.)
Poker face? This was more like walking away from the table, then hinting on your way out the door that maybe, just maybe, you'll return.
And when you do that, you never know if your hand will still be there when come back.
The Kings and Denver never spoke on Thursday, with the Nuggets clearly not concerned about losing Ron Artest to any other suitors and deciding to push this situation until trade deadline day. With the cutoff time at noon, there remains a possibility that the Nuggets relent on including Linas Kleiza and land Artest. If not, then they're bounced from the table altogether. Even if that leaves the Kings with no one to play with.
The Kings aren't trading Artest without Kleiza. It's just not happening. And especially not with the way Artest is playing. In nine games this month, Artest has averaged 24.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.3 steals per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 48 percent from three-point range (12 of 25).
On a lesser note, it seems likely the Kings may do a smaller deal today. It will most likely involve new point guard Tyronn Lue, who is an attractive backup option for a handful of teams and may give them a trade exception or maybe a second-round draft pick in return. The Kings, to review, have three point guards in contract years between Lue, Anthony Johnson, and Beno Udrih, so that would shock no one. I'll provide updates until the noon trade deadline, so don't go anywhere... - Sam Amick

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