SEATTLE - An issue that has been talked for months came to a head on Sunday, when I spoke with Kings co-owner Joe Maloof about the season at large and he voiced a concern over not seeing the young players enough.
Joe was candid on that topic and many more, and readers should keep an eye out for Tuesday's paper as I'll have more material from the interview. He talked about Tuesday's game against Houston, specifically about the censoring of Rick Adelman that went on when the former Kings coach returned for the first time on Dec. 1. He talked about the future on many fronts, the job Kings coach Reggie Theus has done this season and even shared a few insights in terms of offseason priorities. But in the name of fairness on this topic of young guys developing, and since Joe clearly had his time to talk, here is Theus' response in full to his boss's concern about playing the youngsters.
“My professional opinion is that we know what Quincy can do. I know what Quincy can do. Whether it’s in short spurts or extended minutes, there’s no doubt in my mind who Quincy is as a player, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I just know who he is as a player.
“It’s a tough balance because I know the message from my bosses is ‘We want to win and be in every game, and we want to develop our young guys. Sometimes it’s difficult to have both cut and dry. You can’t be cut and dry.
"It’s got to be one or the other. But if you’re going to try to win every game and you want to develop these young guys, we’ve got to pick and choose our moments. And when we have a chance to win every game, and when we have a chance to make a run, we’ve got to go for it.
“I agree we have to play and develop our young guys, and I thought that’s what I was doing. Spencer’s (Hawes) minutes went up enormously. Let’s not forget that we’ve got other young guys too who have to continue to develop.
It can’t be about Quincy Douby. It can’t be about Shelden Williams. I can totally understand Spencer’s (minutes) going up immensely, which I’ve done. But it can’t be about those guys. I want those guys to play, but it’s very hard as a first-year coach…when I’m judged on a lot of different levels, it’s very hard to put guys in a game that’s going well and you put them in the game and the game goes south. What am I supposed to do?"
Clearly, the only way to make this complicated equation work is to slash into some of the veterans' minutes and go 11-deep with the rotation. It's a long ways from Adelman's old seven-man rotations, but this franchise is certainly in a whole different place that may require such strategies.
As a note of reference as the March games came to an end on Sunday, here is a list of how many players deep Theus' rotations went during the 15 games this month of which the Kings won seven...
11-man rotation: three times
10-man rotation: eight times
9-man rotation: four times
Joe Maloof focused on the playing time related to Douby and Williams so we'll look at those two players first strictly from a minutes standpoint and take a peek at Hawes because his recent growth and use should be noticed. The performance debate surrounding Douby and Williams is almost moot as it relates to Joe because his argument is that these players don't see enough time to even gauge how they're playing.
The second-year forward who was acquired from Atlanta in the Feb. 16 Mike Bibby trade remains a priority in Maloof's eyes. In the last four games, though, he's largely disappeared after a stretch of seeing some significant time.
Last four games: combined 10 minutes.
Previous nine games before that: average of 10.4 minutes per game.
First off, there is a context here that you can bet is on the mind of Kings management.
During Douby's rookie season, his confidence took a beating under Eric Musselman as he played in just 42 games and logged 362 minutes. This season under Theus, he has played in 64 games and logged 711 minutes.
Like Williams, Douby has seen less floor time recently as well.
Last four games: 25 combined minutes.
Previous nine games before that: average of 12.1 minutes per game.
His ankle injury, obviously, renders the last three games pointless. As such...
In the 19 games from Feb. 19 to March 24: average of 16.5 minutes per game.
Overall, the No. 10 pick in the draft ranks 22nd in minutes played among rookies (677). By comparison - and because tonight's affair was in Seattle - Hawes' good friend and Sonics' sensation Kevin Durant leads the league with 2,447 minutes. The No. 9 pick, Chicago's Joakim Noah, has played 1,250 minutes and is ranked 11th among rookies and the No. 11 pick, Atlanta's Acie Law, has played 813 minutes and is ranked 19th among rookies. - Sam Amick