LAS VEGAS - After covering the league for so long, I've been able to watch the transition from fathers to sons, and I have to admit, it can be pretty entertaining. For example: Patrick Ewing slipped into the Cox Pavilion during the first quarter of the Kings' victory over the Warriors Friday night, and he was a pretty, um, involved parent. Seated directly behind the bench, he chatted on his cell phone during timeouts and dead ball situations, but he watched the game closely whenever his son, Patrick, Jr., was on the court.
At one point, when the Kings' second-round draft choice committed one of his five fouls, the elder Ewing moaned, "Come on, son!"
The younger Ewing - who has struggled throughout the NBA Summer League - has been hobbled since being kicked in the thigh. The Hall of Fame center, of course, was quick to point this out.
Not the best of odds
Former Sheldon High star DeMarcus Nelson, who is trying to earn an invitation to the Warriors' training camp, is impressing with his defense and intensity, but his shaky outside shooting isn't enhancing his prospects. He converted 5-of-8 field goals against the Kings, but he missed badly on two of his three free throw attempts, the ball angling well to the left side of the rim.
If nothing else, the undersized shooting guard can take comfort in the fact that supposed slick-shooter Marco Belinelli was a miserable 1-for-10.
Which Northern California rookie earns top billing?
While the Kings entertained the idea of drafting 19-year-old Anthony Randolph, a gangly, 6-foot-10 small forward, before selecting power forward Jason Thompson, theirs could be an interesting rivalry. Randolph is a spectacular athlete, as he demonstrated with one particularly impressive follow dunk Friday night, and with his slinky build, is almost a clone of second-year forward Brandon Wright.
But Thompson appears to be the more polished player, and at least for a night, he came up a winner. He scored the deciding field goal with 17 seconds remaining, to go with his 20 points, 10 rebounds and blocked shot.
Getting out there
Though obviously embarrassed by his recently-announced suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, Brad Miller isn't hiding out. Accompanied by his longtime companion Abby Robinson and the couple's 18-month-old daughter, Anniston, the Kings center sat in the stands for the Kings-Warriors' game. Anniston, by the way, loves the mascots ...
This is what happens when a game breaks out
There is not much to recommend Cox Pavilion, the facility separated from the Thomas & Mack Center by some concrete and a couple of yards. The wiring and technical issues that drove journalists (and the NBA) crazy during the 2007 All-Star Game persist. The internet connections in the press room and in the building are, frankly, barely beyond primitive. But along with the fact that some of the games aren't at all bad - featuring the likes of Kevin Love, Jerryd Bayless, Spencer Hawes, D.J. Augustin, Thompson and Randolph to name a few - fans can actually watch and HEAR what's going on. The sound of sneakers on the hardwood. Players screeching after missing shots. Coaches barking out plays ...
It took me a few minutes to figure out what was so different. In so many arenas today - the San Antonio Spurs are among the worst, the Lakers surprisingly among the more subtle - the fan prompts are so loud, obnoxious and incessant that the game is an afterthought. Entertainment does not necessitate the damaging of eardrums. Duh! The cowbells were one thing. Raw emotion is one thing. This other stuff ... should be outlawed.
Fortunately, the Kings made a change in their game operations department before last season, and the decibel level and frequency of said nonsense have decreased. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!). Additionally, NBA Commissioner David Stern continues to apply pressure on his owners to cool it with the noise pollution.
Welcome back, Beno
A high-ranking Clippers executive told me that while the club offered Beno Udrih the full five-year, mid-level exception at 12:01 on July 1, the Kings point guard asked for an opt-out clause in the final year. Clips coach Mike Dunleavy said he would get back to Beno on that one. But before they could respond - and while Elton Brand reportedly was still promising to return AND deliver Baron Davis - Udrih contacted Geoff Petrie and said he was accepting the Kings' five-year deal.
Just a thought
In light of Miller's suspension for smoking pot, I can't imagine Petrie actually re-signing Jason Williams, recent conversations notwithstanding. By the time Williams was traded to the Grizzlies for Mike Bibby, Kings officials and coaches had so tired of JWill's antics (including his own suspension for smoking dope and his racist rantings in Oakland), they couldn't wait to get rid of him.