While changing channels between the figure skating performances at the Vancouver Olympics - love that stuff! - I caught ESPN's blurb about the Memphis Grizzlies sending rookie center Hasheem Thabeet to the Developmental League. This is beyond embarrassing for a No..2 NBA Draft pick. The onus here, though, is clearly on meddling Griz owner Michael Heisley. The basketball people definitely wanted to draft local Memphis standout Tyreke Evans, but were overruled by their boss. For some reason, Heisley bought into the old school theory about the need to draft centers - even longterm projects - even though far superior players were available.
If Evans had gone to the Grizzlies, and Oklahoma City had stuck with James Harden at No.3, I'm confident the Kings would have bypassed Thabeet (whew!) and selected a point guard - albeit, the wrong one. From all accounts, they would have drafted Jonny Flynn, leaving Stephen Curry for Golden State. As Doug Collins noted on TNT's telecast of the Nuggets-Warriors game earlier tonight, most NBA types failed pegged Curry as an undersized shooting guard and failed to appreciate his pure point guard skills. As I have mentioned before, my dream backcourt for the upcoming decade is Curry-Evans, with Curry at the point. Don't think even the Warriors are dumb enough to make that move, however.
So, as the season continues to go south, that's the good news. Also, unless the Kings catch a wave, they have a great shot at another top five draft pick.
For all those Rush Limbaugh partisans
I heard from several Rush Limbaugh fans today, mostly chiding me for referencing him in my column about Paul Westphal's decision regarding Spencer Hawes. For those who might not have been following the drama, Westphal placed Hawes on the inactive list Tuesday after the third-year center voiced his frustration about roles, rotations, and substitutions. Of course, Evans and Sean May voiced very similar comments, and neither was punished. Westphal explained that May apologized, Evans was only speaking in generalized, and .... well, he just seemed ticked off at Spencer. I wrote that it was surprising that Westphal, who is a friend of right-wing blowhard Rush Limbaugh, would attempt to muzzle a player, especially since all of the player comments were relatively mild and matter-of-fact. Anyway, to set the record straight, if Westphal and Keith Olbermann were buddies, I would have offered a similar comment about the bombastic left-wing talk show host. While I thoroughly enjoyed an intelligent, enlivened, provocative discussion - we are all about passion here - if I wanted to be lectured or yelled at, I'd re-enroll in my Catholic grammar school.
Carril keeps the basketball nuggets coming
While chatting with Evans after Thursday's practice, Kings special assistant Pete Carril urged the rookie to take more jump shots, in essence, forcing himself to improve in that area. Carril believes that the passing lanes will open up when Evans starts taking and knocking down jumpers. And who is to argue with the Princeton legend? Carril's insights, astute observations and attention to detail continue to amaze me. Here's another one: In the exact opposite of Jason Thompson, who has huge feet, Omri Casspi's feet are small for someone 6-foot-9. Carril maintains that, as a result, it's imperative that Casspi be fully squared (and therefore balanced) before he releases his jumpers. From what I have seen, Coachie is right on. The problem is that with inconsistent playmaking and passing, and an offense that often results in one-on-one plays and doomed, ill-advised last second hoists, the Kings wings never know when they're going to receive the ball, and too seldom receive the ball in rhythm.
Just a thought: More of Rick Adelman's old elbow series, which involves several players offensively, and fewer of the pick-and-rolls that usually wind up with Evans, Beno Udrih or one of the other Kings dribbling dents into the floor and forcing up bad shots.