Two of the three most important people in the Kings organization just put the youth movement on hold.
Geoff Petrie sort of did, at least. It's tough to tell -- as is often the case when he talks in code -- without a Petrie-to-English dictionary handy. But there were words to that effect.
Gavin Maloof definitely did.
"We're here to win games," he said a few hours ago at media day. "If you have to play the veterans more to win games, so be it."
To review: After months of transactions to acquire prospects and draft picks in a move to build for the future and nearly six months to the day Joe Maloof vented to Sam Amick that it might be in the best interest of coach Reggie Theus' continued employment to invest serious minutes in the young players, brother/co-owner Gavin Maloof said it's all about the here and now.
Petrie's comments could be a president setting the tone that his team is expected to play to win every night. That gets into semantics. It also gets into words as one thing and actions as quite another, and Petrie has traded Mike Bibby and Ron Artest since the All-Star break for cap space, picks and young players. He knows it's not about the here and now.
But when Gavin, without being told of Petrie's intimations, repeats them in stronger, certain terms, that sounds like a consensus.
"If you have to play the veterans more to win games, so be it."
Six months after: "They've got to get their minutes; they've got to play. If you don't develop your young guys when you have an opportunity to do it, it's going to come back and bite you in the future. Because now, you don't know whether or not they can play. That's what Reggie needs to find out. He needs to find a way to get these young guys in there. This isn't criticizing. It's just my opinion."
The Petrie transcript:
Question: What specifically are your expectations of Reggie this season?
Answer: To see him grow as a coach, grow in his understanding of how to utilize his roster, try and address some of the issues where we need to improve from a year ago. He has a chance to really mold a different kind of team.
Q: Have you talked to him about playing the young players as opposed to playing to win, meaning playing some of the veterans?
A: We've talked. Our goal is to compete for a playoff spot.
Q: This year?
Q: How realistic is that?
A: Depends on how we play.
Q: Obviously. Does that mean that you're willing to sacrifice some minutes for the young players to play some guys like Brad Miller over Spencer Hawes or Bobby Jackson over some of the younger guys, if the veterans are playing well?
A: I'm not willing to sacrifice anything. We want to go in trying to compete for a playoff spot. We certainly want to try and integrate in as many talented players as we can, based on the productivity and the opportunity that's there. But it has to be in the focus of still trying to win games.
Q: So you've told him (Theus) to play the guys that are going to give him the best chance to win that night?
A: I haven't told him to do anything. We've had discussions about the team as a whole and a general approach to the opening of the season. A lot of things can change along the way, right?
Q: Are you able to do both: develop young players and play games to win that night?
A: Depends how they play. It depends how much they play and how they play when they're in there.
Q: Is that a tough tightrope, generally speaking, to walk?
A: I don't know. I don't believe necessarily in pre-destination, so we'll have to see how it plays out.
Q: How close do you think you guys are to a playoff spot?
A: It depends how many games we win and how the other teams play. It'll be different than what you think, though.
Q: It always is.
A: That's why I don't believe in pre-destination.
Q: Or estimating? Or realistic predictions?
A: Or, you know, that's why when the mouse teases the cat, there's usually a hole nearby.
Q: We'll have to leave it at that.
Petrie laughed, and so we left it at that. Theus can figure it out for himself.