It's a tidbit kind of time in the late stages of this Kings season, but there are a few worth getting into. Off we go...
* After practice today, it's still unknown which injured players will be ready to go against Memphis on Friday. Kings coach Kenny Natt said he's not sure if he'll have Andres Nocioni (right quad tendonitis) and it didn't sound as if Bobby Jackson (fractured left cheekbone) would be ready to return just yet.
"I think he's still under doctor's care and they're restricting his play from standpoint of playing in a game, but he's practicing every day," Natt said.
I'll probably have a story on Jackson for Friday's paper, but he told me today that he believes Spencer Hawes is the culprit of his face fracturing. Against Cleveland on March 13, the two players were going for the same rebound and Jackson bore the brunt of a Hawes elbow. Now Jackson - who declined surgery on his cheek last Friday - is wearing a purple protective mask and looking the part that he had already played in so many fans' eyes - a true Kings hero. Nicknames anyone?
* Oh, the irony.
Will Solomon misses a chance to seize the backup point guard spot in Toronto, gets traded from the Raptors to the Kings and sees his playing time decline the longer he's in Sacramento. And proving that the law of Murphy is alive and well in the NBA, former Kings guard Quincy Douby - who was waived just before the Feb. 19 trade deadline - is promoted from the D-League Erie Bayhawks to the Raptors and has a chance to earn the very minutes Solomon left behind. Douby didn't play in his debut game against Milwaukee.
* Lots and lots of chatter about Nocioni's comments in the Argentine publication 'Ole'' today.
Nocioni did not speak after practice, but I caught up with him via phone tonight and he was good enough to discuss the matter for some time. You can read our story for tomorrow's paper or his comments in full at the end of this blog post, but it's worth reading the original material to get a more fair sense of what he was saying (most, if not all, of which is true).
A sound byte never tells the whole story - and this story spread largely because Hoopshype translated a small portion of the interview - I have included below two translations of the Q&A. For the original, click here.
First, our own Jose Luis Villegas was kind enough to both translate and paraphrase Nocioni's comments...
Andres in headline- "I played bad, it's a season I can throw in the trash. (He talks of what it's like to play with teammates who don't play a team game, but an individual one)
Reporter - Andres is authentic and out front, on and off the court. To many Argentinians he is more liked than Manu Ginobili.
Andres - "I haven't played well all season, no exuses. The worst season of my career, and then I was traded to Sacramento."
Reporter - What is the reason for a bad season?
Andres - "My right knee, it's bothered me all season. I haven't been able to play the way I am used to playing. I hurt it in a game in (Beijing)...The trade wasn't a surprise, I was pretty sure I was going to be traded.
Reporter - John Paxson said (Nocioni) was one of the favorite Bulls players in the history of the organization.
Andres - "Yes, no one can say I didn't conduct myself like a professional, I gave the team 100 percent."
Reporter - The NBA is a business, it's part of the game. Then the trade to the Kings, the worst team in the NBA.
Andres - "Yes, it's difficult. It's the team with the worst record. There are a lot of young players who are trying to find there place, but they're not seasoned. There's no chemistry on this team. I don't see where we will be competitive in the West in the near future. I don't see the draft helping much, let's see what happens in the summer."
Reporter - Too bad you didn't go to Boston
Andres - "Boston and other teams inquired."
Reporter - Do you want to stay with the Kings or go to another franchise?
Andres - "If a better situation comes up, i'll consider it. Sacramento says I can be a big piece to the rebuilding of the club. But for now, they felt the need to shed some contracts at the expense of the team. I'll focus on my body and be ready to give it my best."
Reporter - There's talk the team might be moved.
Andres - "The team has lost a lot of money, the team might be moved. The fans have been a little put off what they have seen as a subpar effort by the team. They say they don't see players diving after the ball. I'll always give 100 percent."
Reporter - You've always played on teams that played together, had discipline.
Andres - "In Chicago, the team was made of individual players that didn't play as a team. I need to play on a team that plays together and has discipline. It's difficult to find a situation like that in the NBA. Manu, Luis (Scola) y Fabri (Oberto) have been very fortunate. I haven't had the friendships on and off the court. Last season I stopped waiting to get the ball passed to me. If it came to me, it came to me. It came to me infrequently."
Reporter - Do they pass you the ball much in Sacramento?
Andres - "There are a lot of young players here, and a lot of individual play. If Chicago was one band, Sacramento has two. I'm not used to playing that way."
Reporter - Have you ever given up? Lost the will to play 100 percent?
Andres - "That hasn't happened. What I do know is that I can't change things on my own."
By way of Google Translate. This is rough, but you get the idea. Not perfect, by any means. I've changed a handful of words that my 7th grade Spanish teacher told me meant something different - and more logical - than what Google says.
Andres Nocioni is genuine and front. In the stadium and outside. Therefore, for many Argentines, it is as or more wanted Manu Ginóbili. When should play injured Chapu (his nickname) does. And when you have to do self-criticism, no dramas. Nothing excuses or words disguised realities.
"This is the worst season of my career, no doubt. Not played well all year and I realize," says the eaves of entry, chat with Olé.
Question: But the worst of your career or the NBA?
Answer: In my career, without doubt. Neither Racing, with 15 years, played well (laughs). It was a season to run the garbage and I switched over to Sacramento ...
Q: What are the reasons for the poor campaign?
A: The knee-right (laughs). Bothered me all year and I could never play with my physical and usually do. When I have a lot of minutes, I had to loosen the knee. It is not an excuse but a reality.
Q: You've played with pain. Is it tough, no? You get into your head ...
A: And yes ... Vas lose confidence and you're not playing the way you want. I have not had the same speed, and reaction force. And I felt, gave me the invoice injury I had in Beijing.
Q: You saw the exchange come from Chicago to the Kings?
A: Yes, I was pretty sure that I would change (teams). I was not well physically, either on the team... I was not surprised. It was obvious. Top two players of quality offered by me (John Salmons and Brad Miller) and do not hesitate. I think that we are not repentant at all.
Q: But John Paxson, executive principal of the Bulls, said you were one of the favorite players in the history of Chicago. ¿Valuation of these words?
A: Yes, of course. I can not say or discuss anything in relation to effort and professionalism. I gave 100% for Chicago. What I do know that this is a business and going. I totally accept. But
Q: beyond that are the rules of the game, you had to go to the worst of the NBA (with the Kings). Is it hard, no?
A: Yes, it's hard. Is the worst team and being here, you realize why ... There are many young people who want to make a place but they lack a lot ... There is no chemistry or team play. I do not see that in the near future this group may be competitive in the West. It will take several years ... Nor does the draft coming to save anyone. I do not know, I will see what happens this summer ...
Q: Best was Boston, where could you go ...
A: There was a chance, as other teams that inquired...
Q: Would you rather go to another (team rather than) the Kings franchise?
A: If I can get something better, the decision is going to take. But if Sacramento can improve, I have no dramas to follow. The issue is that here are more concerned about not losing that much money for the team that came from.
Q: Are you in the future if they see you on the team?
A: I said yes, we want to improve the team and I infect my effort, but for now prioritized over economic rioja rioja sports. I'm going to focus on my body and see what I can give you.
Q: There is talk of a change in the city to Kings. It is a very unstable situation.
A: Yes, because it is one of the franchise that has lost more money and are looking to move to cities.
Q: Likewise, in Sacramento and were impressed with your toughness and competitiveness in the game. They said it was time that they did not see a player thrown to the floor by the Kings ...
A: Yes, what they value. I keep playing the same way (laughs) and I do not mind the team's position.
Q: You were always on teams that were ordered, disciplined and supportive. But lately you've been in other individualists, losers, with little wave ... How to deal with that, you warm up?
A: Last year in Chicago was spent pretty badly. It was a very individualistic or team game was crazy. And those teams I do not look good, I need something more organized, solidarity ... It is difficult to achieve in the NBA. Manu (Ginobili), Luis (Scola) and Fabri (Oberto) have been lucky. I do not, unfortunately. I fell into teams without regard to inside or outside the stadium and it is difficult pe ...
Q: Vos sos temperamental, what do I say to colleagues? Are you mad?
A: The last year and lost the hope to pass the ball (laughs). I just stayed in the corner watching what was happening. If I arrive, I get ... And coming soon (laughs) ... As happens in Sacramento. There are many people young and too much individualism. If Chicago was a band, Sacramento are the two bands. And I'm not used to playing well.
Q: Are you disappointed and makes you lose the desire to esforzarte as usual?
A: Not get to that point, but I realize I can not change things if you want ...
And yes, Chapu if you have some more heart and desire, everything would be different.
And now, for Nocioni's comments to The Bee in our chat earlier tonight.
"If you read (the interview) in Spanish, it's so different than what they said in English. My agent knows Spanish really well. He's a professor. He read the article in Spanish, and understood what I was talking about.
"I just want to say I have nothing (bad) with the team. I'm not happy with the situation with the team. We are the last team in the NBA, so I'm not happy with the situation. It's not about the organization or about the coaches or players of something like that. What I said about the selfish players was, I said that there are a lot of guys who are working towards their next contract, or they are young people who want to be in the NBA, so what happens sometimes is the team looks like a selfish team. This is what I said.
"I was talking about this situation. I was talking about this year. For sure I'm not happy with this situation. For sure right now, I'm not happy. Everybody wants to compete for something. Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to be on a nice team and feel well on the team. I said in the interview, I said, 'I want to be part of the rebuilding Sacramento team.' This is what I said in the magazine. If you had somebody read it in Spanish, they could read that. But I said, 'If Sacramento team does not think about rebuilding or doing something better or try to compete for next year, put pieces together and start bringing new guys, new players, I said of course I want the option to go to another team, a more competitive team. You understand?
"But if Sacramento team right now is thinking about rebuilding, thinking about next year, thinking about new guys, trying to think about the draft, I want to be part of the team. I never in my life have had some problem with the team. I'm not kind of guy to complain. I'm not this kind of guy.
"The most concern about this is about what the people who are going to support an arena and support the team think about me. This is my concern. And my teammates. That's it. After that, hey look, if somebody wants to say something about me, that's fine with me...
"I don't want the people of Sacramento to think I'm the kind of guy who likes to complain, that I don't want to compete, or that I'm here to be here for the (few) months and then want (to be traded). If this thing is going to be competitive in the next couple years - three years, four years - I want to be here. So that's it.
"(The Kings) talk about trying to put the team together and trying to improve the team. Of course they said that when I was traded. They came to me and said, 'Noc, we're trying to do rebuilding, trying to have a better team and they said I'm part of this.' I'm not complaining about nothing.
The most relevant question about this entire situation isn't about the Kings' future so much as it is Nocioni's. Will the Kings simply dismiss these comments and move on with the belief that he is a vital part of their rebuilding? Or will this inspire them to listen even more intently when they get proposals for Nocioni this summer? Not that there's a huge market for pricey role players, considering he's owed $21 million over the next three seasons. Add this to the already-long list of stories to watch this summer.
As a final note on this note, Jackson's comments were chopped down to size in print and are worth sharing here. The resident team spokesman said he hadn't read Nocioni's comments but that he was generally against any of the team's players voicing their concerns publicly.
"Everybody knows our ups and our downs, so why go out and talk about it and say 'that's how I feel'? As a team, I think we have to stick together regardless good or bad...If we continue to point the finger at people, that's giving people reason to talk, and also it's not showing leadership and it's not showing teamship. At the end of the day, if that's how he feels, I can't say anything about it."
I asked Jackson if he wished Nocioni wouldn't have been so candid.
"Of course. Because at the end of the day, you don't know where this is going to take you down the line. Obviously, this may not be his last stop (in the NBA)...He plays hard. He's talented. Most guys don't want to be in a situation like this and most guys can't handle it, so if he decides to be here, he's my teammate...Most guys in that situation would be like, either I want to be here or I don't, so trade me. Either say 'trade me,' or don't say nothing at all. If you're not happy, just go to management and say, 'trade me, I don't like the situation,' instead of talking about the team."
* Last but certainly not least - and perfect for those of you disinterested in the disagreements that take place on a 15-win team - we have yesterday's coverage of a Kings community event that will be remembered by kids in Del Paso Heights for years.
- Sam Amick