Kings Blog and Q&A

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

February 20, 2009
Opening tip: The back end of the trade front

Kings (11-44) at Grizzlies (15-39)

Scoring: Kings 14th (99.1), Grizzlies 29th (93.2).
Shooting: Kings tied for 24th (44.5 percent), Grizzlies tied for 22nd (44.9).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.8), Grizzlies 14th (99.4).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.3 percent), Grizzlies 27th (47.4).
Rebound differential: Kings 30th (minus-5.2), Grizzlies 21st (minus-1).

The link: Grizzlies coverage in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
The almanac: On this date in 1972, Larry Brown of the Denver Rockets set ABA records for assists in a game (23), half (18) and quarter (10) in a 146-123 win over the Pittsburgh Condors. On this date in 1996, John Stockton of the Jazz passed Maurice Cheeks to become the NBA's career steals leader with 2,311. On this date in 2001, Mark Jackson of the Raptors moved into fourth place on the all-time assist list.


Sam Amick is slacking off, for some reason thinking it's OK to go five minutes without a post, so I'll jump in.

News and notes after speaking with teams in the middle of the trade-deadline mosh pit that finally dispersed Thursday:

*The Lakers never so much as flinched in the direction of Sacramento to make a move for Brad Miller. Didn't even float out a one-sided trade proposal to see if the Kings were ready to fire-sale Miller at a time the entire league knew he was very available. It's a double-surprise given that L.A. knows better than anyone how these things can go, having scored Pau Gasol for laughably little only a year earlier.

The rationale for the Lakers steering clear is obvious and understandable: they're deep into the luxury tax and Miller would be on the books for $12.25 million next season, which means that he would actually cost them $24.5 million with the dollar-for-dollar tax. Twenty-five mil for Brad Miller? No, probably not. But he also would have been in the last year of the deal and, therefore, a prime trade candidate, so L.A. could have used him this season and then had a good chance to flip him next.

All part of living in the real world where the economy impacted the trade deadline like never before. Not only did the Lakers pass on acquiring help at center, they traded the one true backup at the position, sending Chris Mihm to Memphis for a second-round pick to save the salary that would also be doubled by the luxury tax. The potential impact in the semi-real basketball world is that the team that lost to the Celtics in the '08 Finals at least in part, if not in large part, because it got out-toughed may head into the playoffs with converted power forward Gasol backed up by Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga. The Lakers are still hoping to have Andrew Bynum back by then, but it's far from certain.

*John Salmons took a beating, with several executives concerned about an increasingly negative impression that contradicts the image of a quiet, focused, grounded player in a productive season. Salmons and others close to him would undoubtedly counter the claims, but that doesn't change the fact that teams are hearing about personality issues and believing them.

Said one exec after the Salmons-Miller trade to the Bulls was announced: "I don't think they (the Kings) are going to throw a big going-away party" for him.

*The real impact of the Thunder calling off the Tyson Chandler trade because of a toe injury flagged by the Oklahoma City doctor may not be known for years, after Chandler plays on and everyone watches together to see if he plays another six productive seasons or the toe falls off in the next five minutes. Most team physicians and some trainers hate the scrutiny of their decisions becoming so public and bristle at the slightest suggestion of poor job performance when people at every other level of the organization understand it goes with the territory.

But there is the important short-term consideration that the Thunder may have missed out on other agreeable deals in the day and a half between supposedly acquiring Chandler and rescinding the deal after the mandatory physical, as is a team's right. Oklahoma City didn't have Joe Smith or Chris Wilcox, valued as expiring contracts, to deal as long as they were packed to the Hornets for Chandler.

Medical staffs have this kind of crucial input all the time, just usually without this kind of spotlight, and the OKC doc may become a hero who did his job well or the former team physician if Chandler starts stacking up seasons of double-digit rebounds. One of the most famous decisions: The Clippers used the No. 2 pick in 1989 on Danny Ferry after their doctor said Sean Elliott's surgically repaired knee would not last.


*Semi-related to the trade frenzy: Mikki Moore, cut by the Kings on Thursday, will not be out of work long and will likely even join a team to ride into the postseason. It may even be a championship team, with the above-mentioned Lakers in need of an insurance big man and the Celtics having been searching for inside help much of the season.

The cost to the next employer would be minimal, a prorated deal at the minimum as Moore continues to draw on the final months of his 2008-09 contract with the Kings at $5.78 million with the $2 million he was guaranteed for next season. He may also add playoff money.

*The Rockets were involved on many fronts and -- surprise! -- Ron Artest was in the middle. No one in Houston is calling his acquisition regrettable, but the tension in the locker room there is becoming obvious enough to draw knowing snickers from the Kings.

It's not all Artest, of course. Tracy McGrady told the press he was having season-ending knee surgery before he told the Rockets, prompting a strong public rebuke from Rick Adelman. But Ron-Ron is shooting 39.1 percent as a part-time starter and has taken the second-most three-pointers on the team, and meanwhile Houston is 33-21 and barely hanging on to one of the final playoff spots.

Said one executive, when asked if the Rockets had been trying to trade Artest: "Oh, (heck) yeah. I think when they would call and say, 'We've got expiring contracts,' he was at the top of the list."

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