INDIANA 117, KINGS 109
Day-after story on defense
Follow-up arena piece on how badly Cal Expo needs NBA's plan
Four days between Kings games and the reality that this team is 13-49 means this is the time to discuss other topics. And beyond the fact that candid rip-jobs like the one Shaquille O'Neal just unleashed on Stan Van Gundy are worth reading and watching on their own merits, there is a small Kings tie-in here.
With the backdrop of the Kings' coaching carousel that took them from Rick Adelman to Eric Musselman to Reggie Theus and Kenny Natt, there has been a widely held notion that Van Gundy as Kings coach would have been better than the rest. Of course, Stan the Man left the Kings at the altar and later admitted he hadn't handled the situation very well at all.
But among the many things Shaq accuses Van Gundy of is of being a "front-runner," which leads me to wonder how Stan could have been with a Kings roster that is a relative D-League roster compared to what the Magic have. Would he have developed the youngsters and ushered in a new, more promising era in a less dysfunctional way, or would he have hit the panic button the way O'Neal insists he always will? The verbal backhands from O'Neal also set up an interesting subplot to the postseason. While no one expects to see Suns-Magic in the Finals, we can at least watch Van Gundy when it matters most and see if he proves Shaq right or wrong.
MALOOFS MAKE SACRIFICES TOO
I've been meaning to follow up with a few notes in regards to recent coverage and offer a couple of disclaimers ...
First and foremost, the Kings aren't alone when it comes to the cutbacks we keep talking about in the paper. It truly has become a league-wide trend, and we'll likely have a larger story on that reality soon. I mentioned a few more in Tuesday's paper, and inadvertently left a relevant cutback out off the list:
The Maloofs are flying commercial.
That's right, the Kings' co-owners are done with the pricey, private jets and are bouncing in and out of airports with the rest of us when traveling from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Las Vegas and wherever else their endeavors take them. And from what I'm told, their airline of choice is Southwest.
On the downside, the security lines, baggage claim delays and tightly compacted seats certainly elicit some culture shock. But there is a positive that I can attest to, as enough flights on Southwest earns you an annual companion pass and - alas! - more savings. So long as Joe and Gavin fly together, of course.
What's more, the Maloofs have yet to make any layoffs in these tough economic times. That's more than most struggling companies can say.
FORMER KINGS WATCH
* Boston is a .500 team in the Mikki Moore era.
OK, so its 2-2 record (wins over Indiana and New Jersey, losses to the Clippers and Detroit) might be a little harsh to put it on the big man. He has had moderate minutes and impact since starting with the reigning champs Feb. 25. It would be disingenuous, too, as I'm on the record stating Moore will help the Celtics.
* Chicago is 3-4 since acquiring Brad Miller and John Salmons and is tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Salmons has started the last two games after Luol Deng suffered a shin contusion that could wind up being much more serious. He had a team-high 23 points in Chicago's win over Golden State on Wednesday and has had some decent impact. Miller, meanwhile, is coming off the bench and has fit in quite nicely so far.
* No word on whether Quincy Douby will pop up somewhere this season.
I had a conversation with one of his people about a week ago who insinuated Douby could be close to signing somewhere (no word which team). He had a workout with the Knicks and is on the New Jersey Nets' radar as well.
* Minnesota has lost five straight since one of the former Kings first hit the floor with the T-wolves (Bobby Brown's five minutes in a loss to Toronto).
The backup point guard is playing more and more after Sebastian Telfair went down with a groin injury, and had 15 points in a loss to Portland and 12 points in a loss to Golden State. Shelden Williams has played a combined 13 minutes in five games.
THE PLUG ZONE
* We're doing another live blog Friday at 11 a.m. - www.sacbee.com/live - and I believe it will be myself, Scott Howard-Cooper and Melody Gutierrez taking part.
* I've been Twittering some material that isn't substantial enough for a blog post but might be interesting for the super-fans out there. To follow, click here. - Sam Amick