HANG TIME WEST – The latest was Aaron Brooks being released Friday as part of a buyout. But that came after the Kings spent most of the last four months trying to sort through options at point guard among current candidates and a good portion of the last several years scanning the globe for a solution.
Literally scanning the globe. Brooks signed last summer after playing in China, which came after Jimmer Fredette was picked from BYU in the lottery, which came in the same draft Isaiah Thomas was selected in the second round out of Washington, which came after Tyreke Evans was chosen in the lottery via Memphis, which came after Slovenian Beno Udrih was signed and then woefully overpaid to re-sign. Anthony Johnson, Sergio Rodriguez, Luther Head and Pooh Jeter (as in “cheddar,” not as in Derek “Jeter”) were somewhere in there as well. So even Derek Jeter was in there.
How long have the Kings been searching for a replacement for Mike Bibby?
So long that Bibby has played on four different teams – Hawks, Wizards, Heat, Knicks – and has sat all this season without announcing his retirement, while Sacramento has burned through prime draft choices and cap space. And still no answer. Nothing close to answer, in fact.
Three of the so-called solutions are still on the roster, but Evans has been moved to the wing, at shooting guard and small forward, in his own ongoing search for position stability and could be playing his final games for the Kings, before becoming a restricted free agent July 1. Fredette struggled so much last season as the next Point Guard of the Future that management offered the vote of confidence of signing Brooks in what at the time seemed like a smart move, with a reasonable salary and a coach, Keith Smart, who wanted to play fast.
Thomas, while clearly delivering the best return on investment, from No. 60 pick in the 2011 draft to an encouraging start on a long career, is at 25.5 minutes a game heading into Friday’s game, commendable given his path but not exactly taking over the position.
The topic becomes especially relevant as the draft gets closer and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart continues to track to a potential top-five pick and maybe even the top three. But, though a physical presence at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds with an intense style of play, he’s still learning to be a true point guard instead of a combo guard. His shot is inconsistent. There will be Evans flashbacks.
For now, the roles among the remaining Kings have better definition, with Thomas the starter, after sharing the job at times with Brooks, and Fredette coming off the bench barring a sudden change of direction from Keith Smart. Fredette is shooting better than a season ago, but getting inconsistent minutes and still trying to show he should remain in the conversation for the job in the future.