In an interview on Sunday afternoon, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof opened up about a variety of Kings topics. And while his thoughts have already been shared regarding the playing time for the team's youngest players , tonight's second return of Rick Adelman, the future of Ron Artest, and even the team's plan to hold training camp in Maui next season, there was much more on his mind. In the interest of full disclosure, this is not a normal Q&A in terms of style. The questions are no longer in chronological order, since some of Joe's comments have already been published. And in some cases, it was more logical to simply provide the reader with the topic at hand instead of the actual question.
Question: There’s been some buzz from fans on the Internet about you guys possibly having new jerseys next season. Is that true?
Answer: "I don’t know if it’s for next year. It could be. Either next year or the year after, we get a different design on the away jersey. I think they are coming up this next year. I believe so. It's just some subtle changes, but they’re really nice.
"It takes two to three years (to petition the league and plan the change). First they have to get the design. You tell them you want to change and the NBA takes back different ideas. They design different jerseys and bring them back to you and you choose the one you like. It’s a two to four year process.
We want to continually update them and keep them fresh and get some new ideas. Geoff (Petrie) and the players usually discuss what kind of cut they want – a V-neck or a rounded neck, and all those different cuts with the jersey themselves."
On the importance of playing all of the young players and the role first-year Kings coach Reggie Theus plays...
"He’s got to evaluate his players now. He’s done a good job. He’s a rookie coach. He’s had his ups and down. He’s got to continue to work hard like he does, and try to develop this team for the future. That’s how I look at it....
"Look how Spence (Hawes) has developed. In my mind, we may have had the steal of the draft. He plays above the rim. He’s always the first guy down the court. He’s not slow. He’s very fast. He has a lot of speed. He’s been terrific."
On the desire to bring in a big man's coach this summer to develop the young big men...
"What Gavin (Maloof) and I want to do and Geoff is to try to bring a big man’s coach to help (Hawes) and Shelden (Williams). We’ve got to see what Shelden can do too. We’ve got a lot of hope for Shelden as well. But it’s hard for a first-year coach to get a grasp of what he needs to do as far as playing the vets and the young guys. It’s a tough situation for any coach.
"We need some help in the coaching area as far as our big men. We really need that to strengthen that part of our coaching staff. That’s what I think will be our first priority (in the offseason). When you have a 19-year-old kid who's seven foot and still growing, and you’ve got great vets like Brad (Miller) and Mikki (Moore) and a young kid like Shelden. There’s some talent there, but I think a big man’s coach who can really develop those two young players could really help."
On how he views Quincy Douby and the question of what role he could play...
"The way the league is going, a one (point guard) can be a two (shooting guard), a two can be a one. They kind of blend into each other. Not everything is so defined anymore in the NBA. He’s a point guard, he’s a two. Look at Ron (Artest) – he can play the two, three (small forward), and four (power forward). Kevin (Martin) can play the three or the two. Quincy can play the two or the one.
"You have to be flexible. Your coaching staff has to be flexible. They’ve got to know that if you don’t necessariliy have a point guard, you’ve got to work different scenarios to get the young guys in there that you need to look at.
At the end of the season, we'll have to sit back and we have to say to ourselves, ‘What was accomplished this year?’ And go from there…"
Question: I know the season isn't over just yet, but what - in your eyes - has been accomplished this year?
Answer: "I feel that we can compete with the elite teams because we’ve proven that. We can beat the elite teams. I see a lot of promise in that, but I see a lot of disappointment in losing to the bottom 10 teams the way we have. That doesn’t make sense to me.
"That’s the nature of the league, and that’s been the nature of our season is we’ve played really well against the great teams – and in fact beaten almost all of the elite teams, which I’m very proud of. And then I think the development of Spence Hawes has been a very big bright spot. He’s got a long ways to go. We know that.
"But the promise and the skill. And if he works hard, if he dedicates himself, he’s really going to be a terrific player. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but I just think that if he gets the right big man’s coach and they work with him, that he will really develop into something that in the future that is really going to be good for our franchise."
Question: On another note, there was some buzz among Kings fans about an appearance you’d made recently on the Jim Rome show in which you expressed some desire to extend Ron this summer. Was that the case?
Answer: "I think this. I think that of course it’s going to be up to Ron whatever he wants to do this summer, whether he opts out or stays with us. But if he continues to play as terrific as he’s played this year, it’s all up to him. If he plays great this year and decides not to opt out and has another terrific year, then sure we’re going to look at signing him. Sure, absolutely.
"It’s up to him, though, really. It’s up to him. The ball’s in his court. If he just continues to do what he’s doing now – all the guys like him in the locker room, he brings such an intensity to the game. It’s up to him."
Question: How much concern, if any, have you had regarding some of the other situations regarding Ron this season? He’s a little notorious for not letting the coaching staff know until late on game days if he can play or not, and is always keeping it interesting in some way.
Answer: "Well we want him to play every game because that’s how good he is. And when he doesn’t play, it hurts because he is so good and we do need his leadership. At the end of the games, he’s made some plays this year that are astounding. So, yes, we do want him to play, but if he has something (physically) that’s bothering him and he doesn’t feel comfortable, then we understand. We understand that. It’s a long, long season. You get beat up. It’s a tough season and there are going to be players who at times have got some nicks. It’s OK. It doesn’t bother us."
Question: Is re-signing Beno Udrih a priority this summer?
Answer: "We’ve got to try to sign Beno. We’ve been good for him and he’s definitely been good for our franchise, so that’s a priority. Hopefully Ron will be around and doesn’t opt out. Then you’re starting to really get a group of guys that have now been together a little while.
"The good thing about the Mike Bibby trade is that it opened the way for Beno. Mike’s doing terrific in Atlanta, so it’s been good for him and it’s been good for us because now we’ve had an opportunity to look at one of our young players, and he’s really come in and stepped up and done the job. We’ve got to try to keep Beno if we can."
Question: As far as Ron goes, would you agree that his situation is almost the same as it was before if he doesn't opt out. As you guys always say, you’ll listen to any trade proposal that is out there (next season) that might improve your squad and so I’ve got to assume you’ll look at that regarding Ron.
Answer: "Well, you have to look at everything in the NBA. It’s a business. He understands that. All the players understand it. That’s the toughest part of owning a team. It’s hard to get involved in those things but that’s the way it is. But the guy (who they might get for Artest) has really got to be a good player. He has to be a really great player to trade Artest." - Sam Amick