Not every question I asked Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie made it into the Q&A that ran in Saturday's newspaper so here's some more from the interview.
Q: Do you think the lockout hurt players more than anticipated and led to a lot of players having subpar seasons? John Salmons started slowly and Chuck Hayes had a lot to deal with off the court, for example.
A: I don't really have an explanation totally for why we had three or four players who had been so much more productive and proven productivity, not just something that happened over a short period of time. And at least for this past season all of a sudden they were way less than that. I don't think that has to be the case going forward. It did happen this year and I guess that's still a question to ponder is why.
Q: Is a big part of the challenge for DeMarcus Cousins not worrying about getting foul calls inside and finishing around the rim?
A: He has little half hooks and what not that you see him use periodically. Sometimes you don't get calls because I think the officials think you're not throwing up a legitimate shot. Be that as it may, he's such a relentless rebounder, especially following his own misses, some of it I think is just experience going forward and figuring it out a little bit better about how to draw that contact when you have the ball in a crowd and how to use other kinds of shots sometimes to make it more obvious that you are getting fouled.
Q: How do you assess Hassan Whiteside?
A: It's hard to. Hassan has been the victim of bad luck. He missed all of last year with the knee injury and then this year he had some moments in Reno and we finally got down to the last 10, 12 games of the year where he was going to have a legitimate chance to play minutes he got hurt again. We have an option on him for next year and as we get into the summer we're going to continue to work with him. He's got to rehab from this ankle injury but he's made progress. He hasn't played enough on the court to say how much but I think he's still motivated to want to get there.
Q: What was Keith Smart able to get out of this group that you were looking for after taking over?
A: Every coach, with the lockout and no practice time to speak of, it was tough on anybody and affected change. He certainly changed us offensively from where we were, a very low place to start with. And he found ways to try and get guys going and get his best guys on the floor like Tyreke at small forward. John (Salmons) had about 20 what I would call John Salmons game after the first 20 because Keith started giving him the ball and let him run the offense and that got him going. And certainly making a decision to put Isaiah out there, those were all things he was trying to find a way to use people and find what combinations are going to work best together. And we were in a lot of games. It's not like we were getting blown out all the time. But we've got to start winning more the goes.
Q: You didn't use the amnesty clause last season. Is that going to be something that is an option this offseason?
A: There's tremendous advantages to amnesty and you saw it this year. The main advantage is you get that money knocked off you cap and your (luxury) tax and that's not an issue for us. The main advantage is the ability to go out and spend it again. That's not something we've really had much discussion about, the second part of it. Just in it of itself, it just creates more room and less tax and if you're not going to spend the money again it doesn't make any difference.
Q: How do you address defense? Wait on young players to improve or look to bring in veterans who are already defensive-minded?
A: It probably could be a combination of both really. We're the youngest team in the league. Our young guys played a lot of minutes. We feel and I feel they're still in the process of growing together. And at both ends of the court, that collective trust and creativity that you have to have to be a good team has to come from that core group. And they need to grow together so they become better players and they make each other better. We've seen some progress there and I know Keith and the rest of the staff are going to really work to try and build on that t going forward.
Q: Do you agree Tyreke Evans showed flashes of a player who can be dominant defensively?
A: He could. He has that because of his strength and his length and his instincts he could be a very good on the ball defender especially.
Q: Is it possible for a team to be better but it not show in wins?
A: I think to some extent maybe you can make that case but at the end of the day your record is your record. We had a large number, probably close to 15 games, that we lost late in the fourth quarter where we either had a lead or the game was up for the taking. And obviously one of the things going forward is we have to improve at is closing out games where we've played well enough to put ourselves in that position. We started off the season really struggling to score. The first two-and-a-half, three weeks of the season we could barely score 90 points. I think Keith (Smart) did a good job of upping the tempo and we really started to score the ball at a significantly better rate. But defensively, sometimes we still couldn't score enough to win because we weren't getting enough stops. So that's an area going forward we need to address and get better at.
Q: What do you think about the upcoming draft class? Where is strong?
A: The depth is at the four and five positions in this draft. It's not real deep at point guard, at least not on the surface of it all. There's some decent depth at the wing positions, but I guess the more proven players in this draft are at the four and five, that have a history and you've seen them a ton. And there's one very special player.
Q: I haven't heard a lot about overseas players in this draft. Have you looked overseas yet?
A: I haven't but we have our scout over there. This year it's probably a place we wouldn't go with our first pick for sure at this point. We're looking at our college guys.
Q: Last year you made a trade on draft day. After you know where your first pick is do you start thinking about moving down or do you go in intending to keep the pick?
A: We go in thinking we're going to take the pick. There's all these calls about 'Would you move the pick?' What would you give me for it? I don't think so. It's too fluid and there's just way too much lead time before the draft to have a handle on how something like that might play out.