Kings (7-21) at Spurs (16-10)
Scoring: Kings 17th (97.4), Spurs 19th (96.5).
Shooting: Kings 13th (45.5 percent), Spurs seventh (46.2).
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (105.9), Spurs fourth (93.8).
Shooting defense: Kings 26th (47.4 percent), Spurs tied for 18th (45.5).
The link: Spurs coverage in the San Antonio Express-News.
The almanac: On this date in 1956, Bill Russell made his professional debut with six points and 16 rebounds to help the Celtics beat the St. Louis Hawks in Boston.
This is exactly the perfect time.
Kenny Natt could experiment, against the Hornets and tonight against the Spurs, without pecking at Udrih's confidence -- have to bring you back slow, Beno, want to make sure this hamstring heals once and for all, get limited minutes in San Antonio followed by three days off before the next game.
As it turned out, Udrih did not play Saturday but is listed as probable for tonight and a likely starter. This does not appear to be anything close to a dramatic moment. Plus, no way Geoff Petrie allows a guy to get buried a little more than five months after signing him to a six-year extension, and a benching could definitely bury Udrih and his, um, intestinal fortitude that had been mockingly questioned by teammates in his previous stop, the Spurs.
But about one-third into the season, three of the five starting positions have had at least some sign of forward movement, and you'd like the chances of that number being at four if Kevin Martin was healthy. Through that prism, a worthwhile one and not just spin, the view is better: center and Spencer Hawes, power forward and the encouraging early days of Jason Thompson, small forward and John Salmons.
That leaves point guard.
Not much forward movement.
There have been so many unforced turnovers and defensive lapses that it's hard to believe a change has not been considered at some level of the coaching staff / front office hierarchy. I'm not surprised it has not happened. No panic moves here. I would be surprised if they're not approaching the stage of at least considering it.
The Kings do have options. Not natural, easy-calls options, but Plan Bs that could be worth a look in taking advantage of the standings to evaluate the roster from every possible angle.
*Bobby Brown. Hardly the prototype point guard either, but the Kings don't need that when they have unselfish players around the court and big men who pass like Brad Miller and Hawes.
*Bobby Jackson. He started in New Orleans, Udrih's first miss of 2008-09. Makes the most sense if the Kings were within telescopic view of the playoffs and the least sense in a season that has to be about an investment in the future.
*John Salmons. Very unlikely. Having the kind of season that turns him into one of the more underrated players in the league, and has experience as a ballhandler, but moving the ball around isn't a strength.
*Francisco Garcia. Now we're talking intriguing. The Kings liked what they saw of Garcia at the point the second half of last season, and Theus had him on the list of fallback plans if Udrih had signed elsewhere. So while PG might not be a natural fit, it's not a crazy thought either. The healthy lineup would be 6-7 Garcia and 6-7 Martin in the backcourt. And it's another avenue to keep Garcia's energy on the court rather than a potential minutes squeeze with Martin and Salmons at small forward and shooting guard.
Possibilities. Maybe not ideal possibilities, but the Kings are long past waiting for ideal at the position. At some point, they have to be considering options.