SAN ANTONIO - Ah, the memories.
Remember when the Kings came to this part of the country for the playoffs instead of quasi-meaningless regular season affairs? It seems like yesterday that it was April 2006, and the Ron Artest-led Kings were as hot as any team in the league and in a quite a little battle with the hometown Spurs.
I was having flashbacks on my way into town, remembering the time I saw Ron-Ron walking the streets near the downtown Riverwalk on the night he couldn't play against the Spurs because he had been suspended for a game. I was on my way to the arena, and sure enough Ron was going to take in the sights and find a place to watch the action other than his hotel if he couldn't actually take part. The classic memory, though, was walking through the San Antonio airport recalling a chat I'd had with the agent for Bonzi Wells, William Phillips, during the series in which his client looked well on his way to a huge payday.
Oh, how life can take us on twists and turns. Like Q&As, for example, which I'd promised on Tuesdays but didn't get around to until today. As Geoff Petrie told me one time when I was late to meet him for lunch, better late than never.
Question: Do you think (Quincy) Douby is feeling a little left out since it seems (Kings coach Reggie) Theus has no problem playing Spencer Hawes, his new rookie, but Douby really doesn't get to see that much floor time.
And how come Anthony Johnson has not received more playing time? Do you think with this recent win we will see more of him? Also do you think the Kings will keep Shareef Abdur-Rahim during the off season or will they try to trade him? – Julie, Lodi, Calif.
Answer: Douby continues to say all the right things, that all he can do is be patient and professional. But I’d bet my mortgage that he’s pretty disappointed, and he wouldn’t be a competitor if he wasn’t. The problem, though, isn’t easily fixed. In practices and limited game time, Douby hasn’t shown Theus that he is a point guard, meaning he’s fighting for minutes at the off-guard spot. Then it’s just a matter of Theus getting him in right after Kevin Martin, Francisco Garcia, and John Salmons.
As for Johnson, some of his minutes were coming when Douby was actually used at the point guard spot. In general, he’s been the casualty in terms of the organization’s priorities of the moment. They want to see the young guys, not an 11-year veteran who is expected to be gone soon as he is a free agent this summer. Lastly, Abdur-Rahim could be traded if they find a suitor. I’ll have more in the paper soon on his status, but he is no longer looking to come back this season after having two arthroscopic surgeries on his left knee. He had said a few months ago that he would try to get back this year.
Question: I'm wondering why Artest's comments after the Warriors game are not getting more attention. In the post-game interview, when asked about (Johnson), Artest said that he always knew AJ could play and if the coaches played him more, like they should have, the Kings would have made the playoffs. He went on to say that maybe by next year the coaches could figure things out and the team could focus on trying to win. – Derek, Sacramento, Calif.
Answer: The thing about Ron is he says something just about every day that could be considered a big deal. As the beat writer, the upside is you never run out of material. The downside is you run the risk of lopsided coverage if every headline relates to the latest Artest comment.
That’s almost the way it is anyway, but there has to be discretion at some point. Artest has been questioning Theus’ moves for much of the season. And if he had said this while Johnson was still sitting and the Kings were still even remotely close in the playoff race, then it would’ve been big news. Now? It’s old news.
Question: Can Francisco dunk? If so, why doesn’t he dunk some of those near-open shots instead of laying them up and, all too often, not in? – Cindy, Stockton, Calif.
Answer: Cindy, you must have contacted the Kings coaching staff along with e-mailing me about ‘Cisco, because someone appears to have mentioned that to him. Right after your query (which was sent a few days back), Garcia became a dunking machine. Forget ‘El Flaco,’ as he is known in the locker room, let’s start calling him ‘Senor Slam!’ OK, so maybe that’s a little strong, but he had dunks on the break at Phoenix and against Golden State and can obviously put it down when he wants to.
Question: When the Kings players are fined by Coach Reggie Theus, where does the money go? – Tina Paoli, Sacramento, Calif.
Answer: I went digging for an answer for you Tina, as I actually wasn’t sure. According to Theus, the money sometimes goes to various charities or is sometimes put in an in-house account for various things the team needs. It sounds like it’s a case-by-case basis.
Theus said the ballplayers in the old days would sometimes have a bit more fun with the money, throwing parties funded by the fine.
“Is the player who was fined invited?” I asked.
“Oh, heck yeah,” he said with a laugh.
Question: Did the Kings have to pay Tyronn Lue any money when they waived him? Did Dallas has to pay the Kings any money when they picked him up? I am not sure how that works. Would the Kings have traded a pick or something instead of just letting him walk away w/ their money?
Thanks. – Kathy Nelson, Browns Valley, Calif.
Answer: There was some sort of buyout, although I never heard the specific amount. In terms of the process, though, the Kings came to an agreement with Lue’s agent, Andy Miller, regarding a discount of some sort on the remaining portion of his $3.5 million salary for this season. Miller would want to cut a deal, of course, because it gave Lue a chance to go from a dead-end situation to playing a role on a contender. In this type of case, the agent would be well aware of what kind of interest his client had around the league and would have a short list of teams he was fairly confident his guy could land with. And, yes, Dallas is paying Lue as well, but under a new contract.
As for trading Lue for a draft pick (which I think is what you meant to say), the Kings were open to doing that before the Feb. 21 trade deadline and it would have been preferred. Obviously, however, that didn’t take place.
Question: Sam, Any chance the Kings waive Lorenzen Wright and take a look at Gerald Green - a player with alleged "upside" who has never gotten the minutes? What's the risk? – Frank, Sacramento, Calif.
Answer: I haven’t heard that, but you can bet Theus would be all for it. It’s no secret the Kings aren’t exactly a who’s-who of the league’s top athletes, and Green has always been one of those guys whose raw skills are enticing.
Question: Dear Mr. Amick, Could you please lead me to a good photographer that takes pictures of the Kings? I am looking for some good clear shots of Kevin Martin to purchase. Thank You in advance. - Patricia Weber, Galt, Calif.
Answer: And who wouldn’t want a few top-notch Kings shots to hang around the house? For you and anyone else looking to have some of the Bee’s fine photog work sent your way for a small fee, call (916) 321-5286 and just do as the automated message says.
Question: Hello Sam, Now and then, I read a comment suggesting that the Kings buy out the contracts of some players (for example Kenny Thomas and Shareef Abdur-Rahim). What I wanted to know is how does a contract buyout affect an NBA team's salary cap. Thanks. – Arnel, Marysville, Calif.
Answer: It’s not the quick fix everybody assumes. First, the team and the player’s agent have to agree on a dollar figure for the buyout. That amount is then split evenly based on how many years that player had left on his deal and applied to the cap. For example, a $21 million buyout for a guy with three seasons left is a $7 million cap presence each of those three seasons. Assuming the player is in a position to land a new deal with another team, the reward is far greater on his end than it is for the team unless the agreed-on buyout is a serious discount. - Sam Amick