Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

February 9, 2009
And One: Vlade, Amare Stoudemire, the China issue, the Lakers and more

*If that's the ovation Vlade Divac got on Chris Webber's night, somebody better make sure the roof is bolted tight March 31 when Divac has his turn. Webber going to the rafters last week was an acknowledgment of the greatest player in Sacramento Kings history and an appreciation of helping to push the franchise and the city into a national spotlight. Divac having his jersey retired is going to be straight lovefest for the person.

*A year after the league said there was no reason to consider changing the voting process that allows China, the world's most populous nation, the potential to determine the All-Star starting lineups via Internet balloting, Yi Jianlian of the Nets finished third among Eastern Conference forwards despite underwhelming numbers. Yi was 253,000 votes behind Kevin Garnett for a spot in the opening lineup and received about 575,000 more than Paul Pierce and 713,000 more than Chris Bosh. Only nine players in the entire league topped Yi's total of 1,813,829. Recalling the words last season of Wang Meng, who covers Yao Ming and the Rockets for the Beijing-based Titan Sports: "The fans in China, they know they have the power. ... I do think people talk about this. They say, 'We can make Yi an All-Star starter.' I see a lot of that on the Internet."

*Talk about eventful trips. The Lakers' 6-0 swing merely included the potential season-ending and season-changing knee injury to Andrew Bynum, the trade of part-time starter Vladimir Radmanovic, Kobe Bryant scoring 61 points at Madison Square Garden, beating the Celtics, and, in the capper Sunday, becoming the first visitor to win at Cleveland all season. The Lakers are 41-9 and now get the next seven games against six opponents with a combined winning percentage of .446.

*And then there's life with the Cavaliers. Within that same stretch, LeBron James had a triple-double rescinded upon statistical review, the entire team going into convulsions when Mo Williams was bypassed as the All-Star replacement for the injured Jameer Nelson, and the home streak ending. Ending to a very good club, but also a club at the end of a long trip and with Bryant managing 19 points while dragged down by the flu. Giving up 62 points in the paint to the Lakers minus Bynum and sort of minus Bryant -- shivering with chills, needing intravenous fluids during halftime -- will only advance the debate that the Cavs need to add a big man by the trade deadline.

*The complaint over the roster for the rookie team at All-Star weekend belongs to the Timberwolves, not the Kings for Jason Thompson being left off. Kevin Love wasn't picked despite leading all first-year players in rebounding at 8.7 per game while also averaging 9.3 points in just 23.5 minutes. If he starts getting more time, Love could challenge for the top 10 in the league in boards. So much for the predraft claims by some teams that a 6-9 power forward with no athleticism will get crushed inside. If these are the rebounding numbers Love is producing as a 20-year-old in what would be his sophomore season at UCLA, he's looking at eight or 10 years in double figures. And that doesn't even begin to weigh in his great passing skills for a big man, court sense and shooting.

*If the playoffs started today, the Jazz would be watching. Most everyone had the Suns and/or Mavericks as the big-name bubble teams. But who had Denver comfortably in the week of the All-Star break and Utah sweating? The encouraging news in Salt Lake City is that injuries heal and that Paul Millsap has gone from unexpected fill-in for All-Star Carlos Boozer (knee surgery) to the breakout season of 14.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and an earlier streak of 19 consecutive double-doubles, the longest in the league since 2006. Boozer and Millsap are both free agents in the summer. Watch the Jazz keep the relative unknown at much less money and let Boozer walk in a huge financial saving, perhaps in a sign-and-trade.

*One more possible Amare Stoudemire destination not considered in the Sunday post, and this is the craziest notion of all: Stoudemire to the Heat for Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley. As much as it would scream out how much Phoenix is rowing in circles, it also makes sense on several levels. The Suns want expiring contracts and at least one major prospect, and that's Marion and Beasley, respectively. Miami would be choosing the certainty of Stoudemire at power forward over the possibilities of Beasley. The No. 2 selection in the draft -- after the Heat reportedly shopped the pick, it's worth remembering in an indication Pat Riley had doubts about Beasley in the first place -- has started just 15 of his 49 games and is averaging 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. Israel Gutierrez of the Miami Herald addresses the strange idea of a possible Marion return to Phoenix.

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