LAS VEGAS - A one-week visit to my adopted hometown is more than enough. Our Kings beat writer, Jason Jones, has solo duties tonight at the U.S. national team scrimmage at the Thomas & Mack Center.
But a few thoughts before packing for the flight home:
You never know who you'll run across during the confluence of these annual Summer League/Team USA/high school tournament events. While I was jogging very slowly on the treadmill about two hours ago, Paul Westhead - not Westphal - strolled into the hotel fitness center. Probably best known for his years with the Lakers, Westphal currently coaches the Oregon women's basketball team. He reports that former McClatchy High standout Ariel Thomas, who has been plagued by knee injuries throughout her college, is finally healthy and preparing for her senior season. Because of the prep tournaments ongoing throughout the valley, the city is packed with college coaches and recruiters.
Several of the Kings owners/officials met with DeMarcus Cousins for a late dinner. The timing was pushed back because the fourth-year center had an early-evening commitment with the national team. The contingent included majority partners Mark Mastrov and Junior Bridgeman, Pete D'Alessandro and Chris Mullin, among others.
Kings head coach Michael Malone is returning to the Bay Area and accompanying his parents to France and Italy for their 50th wedding anniversary. "We were supposed to go last summer," he said, "but then I interviewed with Portland (Trail Blazers). Normally, I wouldn't take a break at this time of the year. But your parents aren't going to be around forever." Brendan Malone - the original Toronto Raptors head coach, by the way - is joining his son's coaching staff.
Among the coaches, USA Basketball assistants, officials and other notables at Wednesday's national team practice: ESPN analyst Jay Bilas. When I reminded him that his NBA Draft Day commentary about Cousins was right on - incredible talent, all about maturity - he just smiled.
Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, who is still itching for an NBA comeback, and who still looks like he's 12 years old, said he just completed his Master's Degree in Education at Berkeley. Classroom. Term papers. Deadlines. The entire ordeal. Interestingly, during the Detroit Pistons' playoff run in the late 1980s, the man known as "Zeke" arrived late for several practices because he was taking classes and working toward his undergraduate degree. The late Chuck Daly was both understanding and accommodating.
Finally, I can't count the number of NBA types who said they were surprised and pleased that the Kings remained in Sacramento, and of course, lauded Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson - one of their own - for his efforts.