CLEVELAND - On a drive to Arco Arena the other day, I was listening to KNBR's Bob Fitzgerald talk about the Warriors upcoming game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The discussion was focused on LeBron James, and how it's truly remarkable how he has managed to surpass expectations that were so high to begin with. Fitzgerald went on to opine about the world at large, and how expectations - and whether they are met or not - dictate most of the reaction to any particular situation. Which brings us to Geoff Petrie.
The Kings basketball president thought his team was better than this. He said it publicly. He said it privately. If the roster was healthy, he saw his team staying relevant for most of the season and maybe even pushing the .500 mark. So considering the Kings continue to struggle despite having been full strength for the entire month of January, it came as no surprise that Petrie was so disappointed when we spoke yesterday for this piece.
"In order to have lift off, you have to have ignition," he said of the team. "And we're still sort of waiting for that to show up in some form I think."
He's trying to do his part by improving the roster. The Kings remain very active on the trade front and may have something brewing with Portland, among other teams, but Petrie said there is nothing imminent. I asked him in general how the offers have been, and specifically if he was being routinely lowballed like he was last year in the Ron Artest negotiations.
"It's hard to say," he responded. "We're certainly starting to have more conversations with people. But you know how it is; it tends to build to some sort of crescendo (near the trade deadline). But there's nothing on the front burner right now."
There's plenty on the back burner, though. Speaking of which, I fell short in my Marcus Banks homework and incorrectly reported his salary in today's paper. The Miami point guard who the Heat want the Kings to take in a potential deal sending Brad Miller and Kenny Thomas to Florida has two years and approximately $9.1 million left on his contract. That, of course, is why the Kings are hesitant to take him on as it would eat into their precious salary cap space for the 2010-11 season (when he'll make $4.7 million).
NATT SIGNS FOR NEXT YEAR...SORT OF
The one-year contract recently signed by Kenny Natt isn't a vote of confidence as much as it is a safeguard.
If he coaches well enough and the team plays well enough that they want him back, they've already got him locked in for a relatively cheap (somewhere just shy of $2 million), one-year deal. If they want to go a different direction, they don't pick up the option by the May 1 deadline and go searching for another coach.
That being said, his contract situation wound up changing a story that was originally going to discuss his reunion in Cleveland today. Natt spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the Cavs and talked at length the other day about that experience.
Natt on his progression as a coach...
"I'm more relaxed and more assured in myself as to what I want to do out there on the floor. It's been a growth process, but I've been enduring a lot of downs. These losses are taking a toll on me as well as the team, but I'm still holding up fine.
"(As a head coach) I'm doing the things that I want to do all my career. Being an assistant coach, you have input. You have input out there to make decisions. (As a head coach) you say what you want, you do what you want, but you take all those years of experience as an assistant and apply that over to the head job. That's who I am.
I'm able to do the things I want to do out there on the floor. It's just a matter of continuing to have a chance to do that, and grow and get better and become better as a coach and better as a team.
On what his Cleveland days...
"They were really huge in the sense that after being in Utah with Jerry Sloan (for nine years) and those guys - they grew into the NBA, taught me how to coach and the right way to coach. When you're in family like that for so long, you learn their ways. But then you go somewhere else...and that was a different thing.
"I was with Paul Silas to start out. Paul had a different way of doing things, which was good....Then you move on to Mike Brown, and Mike Brown brings in the (Gregg) Popovich philosophy (from San Antonio). A lot of things from Mike, and the way he did and how structured he (was) the things Popovich is doing down in San Antonio. Those are things I've learned...As a matter of fact, I'm doing more of that (Cleveland stuff) than I'm doing of Utah, from the standpoint of the offensive system and those types of things. That's who you become is the experiences you have.
"Cleveland was a great experience. It was a winning situation, (so) obviously that was really enjoyable....We had a down year there, and then we were able to get to the Finals. Those are cherished moments." - Sam Amick