LAS VEGAS - Kings GM Pete D'Alessandro had planned to be here to watch Monday's opening day practice at USA Basketball's mini-training camp, and of course, primarily to see how DeMarcus Cousins responded to USAB czar Jerry Colangelo's olive branch. (DMC looked a little sluggish, but nothing that a few more windsprints won't cure).
Instead, D'Alessandro flew to Indianapolis for Greg Oden's early Tuesday workout and planned to arrive here in the evening. Assistant GM Mike Bratz and player personnel director Shareef Abdur-Rahim are filling in, and head coach Michael Malone is expected to attend the noon practice at UNLV.
The Kings are looking at the injury-riddled Oden - as our Kings beat writer has written the past several days - as a backup to Cousins, who is among a very impressive gathering of young NBA stars participating in this four-day mini-camp. The goal, of course, is to earn a spot on next summer's World Cup squad and the 2016 Olympic team, but the real question is: Who isn't here? Monday's scrimmages on the two adjacent courts at UNLV's Mendenhall Center featured Anthony Davis, Paul George, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, John Wall, Ryan Anderson, Kyrie Irving, Kenneth Faried ...
A few other offerings:
The NBA Summer League tournament format, which ended Monday night with the Golden State Warriors defeating the Phoenix Suns, is receiving mixed reviews. And is open to review. Longtime Summer League director Warren LeGarie, who has turned this event into required-viewing for the 30 NBA teams - says he is continuing to elicit opinions and isn't locked into the tournament format. "The teams that lose early hate it, the teams that win love it," said LeGarie.
The Kings finished 1-4 and departed Saturday morning.
Colangelo doesn't keep Krzyzewski around only because he wins. The longtime Duke coach, who was introduced to the international media crush when he was an assistant on the original 1992 Dream Team in Barcelona, remains amazingly patient and accommodating. And we're not talking about the media demands. Krzyzewski tends to dozens of sponsors at dinners and events all over the city, and in essence, gives plenty of attention to the high rollers who help finance Team USA's offseason program.
Larry Bird quietly watched practice from the upper balcony. The former Boston Celtics great - the famed Larry Legend - rejoined the Indiana Pacers after a one-year sabbatical and a recent flirtation with the Kings. As always, Bird was quick with the wisecracks. Asked the extent of his interest in the vacancy that has since been filled by D'Alessandro, he laughed, "Ah, they don't need me! They's going to be fine."
So, finally, here is another reason the tolerance level for NBA refs should increase: When thunderstorms battered the region late last week, flooding the region and causing power outtages throughout the valley (my hotel was without power from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.,), I escaped to my sister's house in the suburbs. Several current and former referees - who stay at this same hotel every summer - were not so fortunate. When I came back around noon Saturday, I saw one ref who curled up on a couch in the overcrowded lobby and slept through the night.