STOCKTON - Mike Duncan, the Kings' vice-president of arena operations, is counting down his final days with the organization. The personable and respected executive has taken over arena operations at the University of Oregon, which recently broke ground on a state-of-the-art basketball facility. The opening is scheduled for November 2010.
A Sacramento native, Duncan said the decision to leave was difficult, but eased by a sense of familiarity: He graduated from the Eugene campus and spent many an evening enjoying basketball at the outdated McArthur Court, which is known as "The Pit" and one of the least hospitable venues for visitors in the country.
Here's wishing him the best of luck. He is one of few Kings officials who had been with the organization since its inaugural season.
The burden of wearing two hats
Before Wednesday's game at the Spanos Center, I spent time talking with Clips coach/general manager Mike Dunleavy about his expanded role. Though Dunleavy had been responsible for most personnel moves during the past few years anyway, Elgin Baylor's ugly/untimely departure leaves little doubt about who is in charge. It also makes Dunleavy one of the league's few head coaches who oversees player personnel. More often than not, these situations do not end particularly well. The obvious exception is San Antonio's Gregg Popovich, who relies heavily on R.C. Buford, especially for salary cap issues, but still makes the final decisions on trades, drafts and free-agent signings.
Dunleavy, though, who previously served in both capacities with the Milwaukee Bucks, doesn't anticipate a difference in his workload. "Nothing will change much," he said. "We do things by committee. And two other factors have made it (scouting) a lot different today: the addition of DirecTV and the Internet. The availability of information is (extensive) ... everything is out there."
Thinking about life after hoops
Monarchs forward DeMya Walker, who missed most of the WNBA season following knee surgery, after missing much of the previous few seasons with knee injuries, isn't kidding about preparing for the future. Her goal is to play a few more years, then attend law school. Or maybe she'll pursue something in broadcasting before suffering through torts and civil procedure. With that possibility in mind, Walker has been working with the Kings' game operations people, doing some of the little things like ... walking onto the court during timeouts and screaming into the microphone, "Who wants some T-shirts? Who wants some T-shirts? Who wants some T-shirts?"
Guess you have to start somewhere, especially in this economy.