ELK GROVE - So I'm not actually on the scene anymore, having flown home from Vegas with most of the Kings' support staff last night.
The Southwest flight included basketball president Geoff Petrie, assistant hoops prez Wayne Cooper, coach Reggie Theus and a group of some 15 other Kings folks from there. There were even super fans on board, three gents who make an annual trip out to summer league and seemed to have a phenomenal time.
All in all, the front office folks seemed very pleased with the overall play of the youngsters. As Petrie had said going in, there were "potentially six roster players" at the session. Aside from the thigh injury to Patrick Ewing Jr. that kept him out of two games and hobbling throughout, every player in that bunch drew mostly-positive reviews. And in the case of Jason Thompson, he showed much more than that.
Near the end of the fifth and final Kings game on Sunday night, my colleague Ailene Voisin asked longtime media man David Aldridge what he thought of the Kings' first round draft pick. Like so many others during the week, Aldridge said he was very impressed.
* For those keeping track, I'm told Thompson was given the full 120 percent of his rookie scale deal by the Kings.
That means he's on the books for $1,893,840 in the first of his two guaranteed seasons. And he's making his money already.
The media trade buzz regarding Ron Artest quieted down later in the week, and with good reason.
Numerous sources close to the team tell me there have been no Kings-Lakers discussions in the last week. The Lakers, for the time being, appear to be looking for trade options that don't include taking on Kenny Thomas' contract. While a third team could help fix that problem, there hasn't been one yet that fits the equation. Meanwhile, the Lakers are looking long and hard at their point guard spot as well. They have reportedly made an offer to Jorge Garbojosa.
As for other teams, here's what I'm hearing regarding a few (and, no, this is not a comprehensive list - just hitting on a few of the lesser talked-about potential Artest destinations)...
Dallas: They've already revealed their interest, but the only deal that gets done on the Kings' end here is Artest for Josh Howard. For now, the Mavs won't do it. For now, that is...
Cleveland: There has been some speculation that the Cavs would make a play here, but a source close to the Cavs says it's not likely. Not impossible - especially if January brings a subpar record and King James is getting restless again - but not likely.
Detroit: Could this be why Artest was so interested in interviewing brawl instigator John Green a while back? It would be a brilliant PR move if the Pistons were looking to put a package together for Artest.
And from what I was told from one source close to the Pistons, they are. I've yet to get this info from more than one person, so stay tuned. But much like the Mavs' situation, this could be one of those where the player the Kings want (perhaps Tayshaun Prince) would be different than the one offered (Jason Maxiell, anyone?). Pure speculation on my part in terms of the potential pieces.
Phoenix: I've been hearing this as a possibility from the beginning but heard nothing in the way of actual talks.
The player always first discussed is Leandro Barbosa (four years, $27 million left with player option in fourth year), the Roadrunner who could add quite some punch to the Kings' backcourt. As for the next logical question of why the Kings wouldn't leave that role to the likes of John Salmons and Francisco Garcia, consider this: Salmons (three years, $16 million remaining) was believed to be available around draft time if it meant the Kings could trade their pick and move up; Garcia is coming off a breakout year, but the Kings must decide by Oct. 31 whether they want to ante up for an extension. - Sam Amick