Kings Blog and Q&A

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

February 21, 2009
Opening tip: The 2006 draft class bottoms out in 2009

Kings (12-44) at Mavericks (32-22)

Scoring: Kings tied for 13th (99.4), Mavericks 12th (100.8).
Shooting: Kings tied for 24th (44.6 percent), Mavericks ninth (45.9).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.8), Mavericks 14th (99.5).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.1), Mavericks tied for 10th (45.2).
Rebound differential: Kings 30th (minus-5.4), Mavericks 13th (plus-0.6).

The link: Mavericks coverage in the Dallas Morning News.
The almanac: On this date in 1952, the Celtics and Fort Wayne Pistons tipped off at midnight in a "Milkman's Special" with an announced attendance of 2,368 following an ice show at Boston Garden. On this date in 1960, Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors tied his own rookie record by scoring 58 points. On this date in 1993, John Stockton and Karl Malone of the Jazz became the first players from the same team to share the All-Star game MVP.


But first: Sad time in the NBA with the passing Friday of Larry Miller, the one-of-a-kind Jazz owner. Miller was unpretentious and caring and passionate, sometimes to a fault. He argued -- literally argued, finger pointing and all -- with opposing players from his courtside seat, rebounded during pre-game warm-ups, had a stall in the locker room, and lashed out at his own stars over contracts and poor production.

Karl Malone drove him mad with requests to renegotiate, but the two were close and knew part of the problem was being too alike in stubbornness and leading with their emotions. They had a deep affection, and by the end the Mailman was a partner in some Miller auto dealerships and had talked about buying a portion of the Jazz, which Miller would have welcomed. For all their jousting, Malone is undoubtedly brokenhearted today.

Miller probably saved the Jazz from leaving Salt Lake City in the late-1980s and turned the team into one of the model franchises of the NBA on stability and fan support. And though it never received the attention of his impact with the Jazz, he awarded college scholarships to the child of any full-time employee at his many other businesses.

This involves the Kings as much as anyone. They just traded one disappointing first-round pick from 2006 (Shelden Williams), acquired one (Cedric Simmons) and waived another (Quincy Douby) within about a day, though Douby was the 19th selection and therefore a longshot all along to have any real impact. Few places have had to cover their eyes regarding the '06 draft more than Sacramento.

We're talking historically bad. There's still time for a recovery, but the better part of three seasons is enough time to render judgment, punctuated by the news that four of the top 13 selections from that fateful night were either dumped in trade or cut within the last two weeks and a fifth was dealt for value. A lot of GMs trying to cover their tracks.

Sixty picks, one star: Portland's Brandon Roy. A few others are successful and may climb that next step: Rajon Rondo in Boston (already has a foot up there), Paul Millsap in Utah, Rudy Gay in Memphis, LaMarcus Aldridge in Portland. Some contributors who will have careers: Ronnie Brewer, Jordan Farmar, Daniel Gibson, maybe Kyle Lowry and Sergio Rodriguez.

The lottery in review:

  1. Andrea Bargnani, Raptors -- Still nothing more than an inconsistent part-time starter.
  2. Aldridge, Trail Blazers -- Needs to get much better as a rebounder to become an impact power forward, but should be starting for years.
  3. Adam Morrison, Bobcats -- Bust. Traded to the Lakers on Feb. 7.
  4. Tyrus Thomas, Bulls -- Has at least become an important part of the rotation, but hasn't come close to reaching heights a lot of clubs projected. Major athlete, so everyone will always be intrigued, especially if he grows up.
  5. Williams, Hawks -- Bust. Sent from Atlanta to Sacramento last season in the Mike Bibby trade, sent from the Kings to the Timberwolves on Thursday.
  6. Roy, Trail Blazers -- Minnesota made the pick, but forwarded him to Portland in a draft-night trade for Randy Foye and cash. The Timberwolves will only spend the last 20 years hearing about that one.
  7. Foye, Timberwolves -- Well, he's no Brandon Roy.
  8. Gay, Grizzlies -- Drafted by Houston on behalf of Memphis as part of the Shane Battier trade, Gay could average 20 points a game.
  9. Patrick O'Bryant, Warriors - Bust. Golden State didn't even pick up his option, allowing him to walk as a free agent. Check that. Encouraging him to walk as a free agent. Hoping he'd walk as a free agent. O'Bryant signed with the Celtics, never played and was traded to the Raptors on Thursday.
  10. Saer Sene, SuperSonics/Thunder -- Bust. Cut Thursday.
  11. J.J. Redick, Magic -- Role player.
  12. Hilton Armstrong, Hornets -- Hanging on somewhere near the end of the rotation.
  13. Thabo Sefolosha, Bulls -- The one guy traded in recent days for actual value. The Thunder gave up a first-round pick, though probably late in the first round, to get him.
  14. Brewer, Jazz -- He'll be around a while.
Additionally: Simmons went 15th, Douby 19th, Rondo 21st, Farmar 26th, Gibson 42nd and Millsap 47th as the obvious steal of the draft. Douby made zero contribution in Sacramento, but the same could be said of a lot of No. 19s through the years. It just looks especially bad for Geoff Petrie because Rondo, Farmar, Rodriguez and Lowry were still on the board and the Kings can use a point guard. You may have heard something about it.

The 2006 draft in 2009 rankings, based on player performance and not the needs of the team that may have been picking in that spot:

  1. Roy.
  2. Rondo.
  3. Gay.
  4. Aldridge. Could probably go as a group entry as 3A with Gay.
  5. Millsap. Having a great season that will push him up the charts if it carries into next season, but for now, Aldridge has shown more for longer.
  6. Brewer.
  7. Thomas.
And then it gets very murky. The other 2009 outcome is that 14 of the 29 first-rounders that have played -- the No. 30 pick, Joel Freeland, is still in Europe -- have either been traded, cut or had an option declined. And that doesn't even count the draft-night trades.

Said an executive of one of the many teams that has seen little return: "That's a lot of liposuction."

This week is a reminder of just how much. They know all about that in Sacramento, the last few days in particular.

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