What a six days of clarity. The hoped-for solution at power forward addressed in the draft on Thursday, the known solution at small forward locked in Monday, the semi-known solution at point guard basically finalized today, needing only the league-wide moratorium on signings to be lifted July 9 before the signing becomes official.
Boom, boom, boom. That's taking care of business. The actual choices are debatable, and Jason Thompson as the power forward of the future with the 12th pick in the draft and Beno Udrih re-signed at that kind of money to be the point guard are the definition of debatable. But the Kings had a plan, moved forward with certainty and finished the pressing roster business of the offseason in less than a week.
Not necessarily all the roster business of the offseason, of course. Ron Artest could still be traded. They may fish around for another point guard, since Sean Singletary is the backup at the moment and picks from the middle of the second round don't often step in and have an immediate impact, or swingman Francisco Garcia. They need to sort out the clutter at power forward -- no roster has room for Thompson, Mikki Moore, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Shelden Williams and Kenny Thomas.
But consider the needs a week ago and consider what has happened since.
Power forward. Addressed with a major investment, a first-round pick spent on Thompson.
Small forward. Did not so much address the issue as inherit the decision by Artest. The Kings had no role in his call to play the final season of his contract rather than become a free agent on the spot. But now they know they don't have to plug the spot.
Point guard. Addressed with a major financial commitment, the entire mid-level exception for Udrih.
The message is that they were hugely committed to Udrih in ways beyond money. The Kings could have negotiated this along, trying to go slow with him to see if they could strike a bargain deal while also pushing forward in talks with fallback plan Chris Duhon. What we don't know is if Udrih and agent Marc Cornstein had a now-or-never talk with Geoff Petrie, making it clear that Udrih was set to sign elsewhere if the Kings did not step up right then. Either way, the front office was aggressive and decisive.
Compare that to the summer of 2006: a poor coaching search in which interviews went to John Whisenant, Mario Elie and eventual hire Eric Musselman, and the primary free-agent signing, John Salmons, coming on July 24.
Compare it to the summer of 2007: a lengthy coaching search before Reggie Theus was hired, and the primary free-agent signing, Moore, coming on July 21.
The summer of 2008?
It's July 1 and the heavy lifting may all be done, depending on what develops with Artest trade possibilities.
What a difference.