Jay Humphries, the head coach of Reno's NBDL's expansion team, attended the home opener last night and met briefly with Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie. The Kings and Knicks are affiliates of the Reno franchise, which will enable Petrie to send rookies or second-year players down to the minor league setting for experience and closely monitor their progress. (Donte Greene, anyone?). The NBDL is also the developmental league for future NBA head coaches, similar to the defunct CBA that once featured head coaches Phil Jackson, George Karl and Flip Saunders, among others. It's hard to imagine Our Friend Phil hooping it up with the Albany Patroons, but he won titles there, too.
Anyway, Humphries, accompanied by his new assistant and current Monarchs assistant Tom Abatemarco, said he was eager to establish a relationship with Petrie.
"I wanted Geoff to know where I was coming from," said Humphries, who played 11 years in the NBA and coached for six seasons in Asia. "I plan to run a lot of the Phoenix Suns sets, and play aggressive defense. That's the philosophy I've always believed. I told Geoff I'm looking forward to doing whatever I can to help out."
Finally casting a vote
Though the family is heavily involved in Democratic politics, Joe and Gavin Maloof refused to publicly align themselves with Heather Fargo or Kevin Johnson during the recently concluded mayoral race. But let's just say, it wasn't a coincidence that KJ was seated courtside next to Gavin Maloof during Wednesday's season opener in Arco Arena. Sacramento's mayor-elect, who arrived shortly before tipoff, walked up to the owner's suite and chatted with Joe Maloof, still hobbled after undergoing double knee replacement surgery. Johnson then went back downstairs and joined Gavin, front and center.
The Maloofs - who revered the late Sacramento mayor Joe Serna - never believed Fargo was emotionally invested in their attempts toward securing a public/private financing agreement for any of the discussed arena ventures. Right, wrong, whatever. They never moved beyond their initial impressions of the outgoing mayor. Interestingly, KJ, who kept his distance from the arena discussions while he was pursuing a charter school for Sac High - surprising given his obvious connection to the NBA - has emerged as a forceful advocate for an arena deal. The former Phoenix Suns point guard repeatedly has said that securing the Kings' presence in Sacramento is among his priorities, often citing the club's economic and psychic value to the community. That will require construction of a modern facility, at some point in the near future, or whenever the economy allows.
As an aside: My Bee colleague, Sam Amick, turned to me during the game and suggested that you can't appreciate how outdated Arco is - in terms of the acoustics, big screen capabilities, concourse, and all-around amenities and comfort level - until you travel to the other venues around the league.
I don't disagree. Arco has sprouted too many hairs - and too many leaks. But a $10 seat at Arco offers a much better value than what you get at the newer, bigger arenas. At Staples Center, they ought to dispense oxygen tanks to those in the nosebleed seats. Or at least binoculars.
Final thoughts about the opener ...
* I have commented often about John Salmons' tendency to pound the ball, but against the Grizzlies, he was the best player on the court. He demonstrated once again that he is much too skilled to become one-dimensional. This was one of the best games he's played since joining the Kings. He keyed the defense up top (often with double-team help from rookie Jason Thompson), made his moves quickly or gave the ball up, pursued rebounds and loose balls, and in general, provided the sense of leadership have been so sorely lacking.
* Beno Udrih continues to struggle, which leads me to relate tidbits from a conversation I had recently wiith an NBA scout. The scout - who shall remain nameless, for obvious reasons - asked if the Kings' point guard was hurt. He thought something was wrong. My take on Beno is this: he missed most of training camp with a strained hip and is playing his way into shape. He seems a half-step slow. His timing is off. And his confidence appears to be shaken. He had two excellent drives in the second half, though, so maybe that will give him a boost.
* I'm looking forward to Friday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, mostly, to see Wolves rookie Kevin Love and his probable matchup against Kings rookie Jason Thompson. I think we're going to be hearing a lot about these two power forwards during the next decade.
* While Bobby Jackson remains one of my favorite people, I agree with Reggie Theus' decision to use Bobby Brown as the backup point guard. Bobby Jax doesn't seem to have much left, except, perhaps, the unwavering affection of the fans. He received a standing ovation when he entered the game.
* What WAS the name of that rock band that played during introductions? Never mind. Don't want to know. Don't ever want to hear them again. I always hated hard rock ...
* My favorite stat of the night: the Kings' 24 assists
* No surprise at the non-sellout numbers. A Wednesday night opener. Against the Memphis Grizzlies. The night after the election. One thing I found interesting, though, was that the upper bowl was almost full. Most of the empty pockets of seats were in the corner sections of the lower bowl, which suggests two things: (1) Fans are responding to reduced ticket prices for upper bowl seats, and (2) The corner sections in the lower bowl offer the least advantageous sight lines, and apparently, are overpriced.
* Theus and Humphries have been friends since their teen years in Southern California
* One last observation about Thompson, the rookie from Rider: He has exceptional hands.