Posts Tagged ‘Geoff Petrie’

The Stephen Curry Draft Dominoes

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OAKLAND –
Stephen Curry just became the first Warrior with consecutive playoff games of at least 20 points and 10 assists since Tim Hardaway in 1991. The Suns just had another lottery season. David Kahn is out as director of basketball operations in Minnesota. And this isn’t exactly a good time for Geoff Petrie to be house hunting in Sacramento.

The Curry draft fallout from June 2009 are everywhere in April 2013. In Oakland and Denver, obviously, because the shooting star of a point guard has led the Warriors to a 2-1 lead over the Nuggets as the teams take today off before meeting back at Oracle Arena on Sunday night.

They have to be watching and wondering in Phoenix. The Suns and Warriors had serious discussions about a draft-night blockbuster headlined by free agent-in-waiting Amar’e Stoudemire to Golden State for the pick that would become Curry or, after the selection had been made, actually Curry. He was the clear target of personnel boss Steve Kerr.

Talks got interesting, but were never on the verge of being completed. The Warriors were not going to do the deal without a commitment by Stoudemire to re-sign a year later, and they did not so much as get to the stage of asking for permission to talk. Besides, he was not going to give anything close to that commitment, so the deal would have fallen apart anyway.

In the end, the Warriors kept Curry, the Suns took Earl Clark at No. 14 in that draft and kept Stoudemire for one more season before he left for the Knicks as a free agent.

Petrie and the Kings passed on Curry to draft Tyreke Evans fifth. It wasn’t a disastrous choice – Evans won Rookie of the Year and remains a starter – but Curry has lapped Evans for impact, and at the same position. The decision by Kahn and the Timberwolves, that was a disaster worthy of guys in yellow plastic outfits and masks.

With picks five and six, Minnesota went point guard-point guard. That was curious enough. But when one of the point guards was Jonny Flynn and his career went nowhere fast, while Curry and Brandon Jennings (10 to the Bucks) and Jrue Holiday (17th to the 76ers) developed, it became one of the Kahn undoings.

A lot of teams had Flynn in that No. 6 range, meaning it was no reach by Kahn. But when the Timberwolves passed on Curry twice, the Warriors were thrilled. They took Curry without serious consideration of anyone else on the board, kept Curry without getting to the brink of a decision on a Stoudemire deal, and then, nearly four years later, rode him to a series lead in the playoffs.

The Basketball Impact For The Kings

If you thought the Kings were wandering through a thick haze before, imagine the layers of uncertainty now that the team has been sold, sort of.

Transitions to new owners can be tricky on the basketball operations side under the best of circumstances – a pretty settled roster, a relatively quiet time on the calendar – and this is definitely not the best of circumstances. This is a losing operation desperate for traction with personnel decisions looming, varying degrees of involvement from the out-going owners depending on the day and the mood swings, and leaders in Sacramento weighing several counter-strikes, including legal action, to block the sale to a group that would move the team to Seattle.

P.S.: The trade deadline is Feb. 21, and the potential sale won’t be close to untangled by then.

Normally when a franchise is in escrow, the current owners, officially in charge until the Board of Governors approves the sale, continue to handle business, but in strong consultation with the incoming owners. It’s possible something would have been written into the agreement about veto power on decisions, it’s possible it would have been a courtesy. But, for example, outgoing Chris Cohan was not going to do a sign-and-trade for David Lee to come to the Warriors on an $80 million deal without a nod of approval from pending boss Joe Lacob.

This time? The Maloof family has agreed to sell to a group headed by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer. But Sacramento officials are lining up investors for a counter-bid in a last-ditch hope the Board of Governors votes down Hansen-Ballmer. Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has been promised a chance to appear before the BoG votes in April and commissioner David Stern is meeting with potential owners who would keep the team in the California capital. There is no “normally.”

The Kings have needs – defense, rebounding, shooting, playmaking – but only the future of Tyreke Evans is an issue on the clock. The former starting point guard, former starting small forward and current starting shooting guard becomes a restricted free agent July 1, making this the last chance to be in control of the possibility of getting something in return for a key player. If they have decided to match any offer sheet, which is not the case, that would be one thing. Evans would be coming back to the “Seattamento SuperKings” and there would be no pause heading toward Feb. 21. But letting free agency play out means management will have trade options greatly reduced if he signs a deal elsewhere and Sacreattle chooses not to match. The only trade can be with the team Evans has picked and there’s no guarantee that signing club would have anything of value to swap.

DeMarcus Cousins, meanwhile, is not pressing. There is no indication Geoff Petrie, the president of basketball operations, has had any serious trade conversations, no matter how many bad rumors got started this time. (To the Celtics for a package headed by Jared Sullinger? Good one. Because what the Kings really want to do about six months after investing a lottery pick on Thomas Robinson and big money to re-sign Jason Thompson is move their best talent for another power forward, and one with a concerning injury history at that.)

The real updates remain on the business front. Ron Burkle, the kind of big-money guy Sacramento has been hoping to have at the top of the ticket to present to the Board of Governors, met with Stern in New York on Thursday in a definitive statement of interest by the Pittsburgh Penguins owner.

The development, while noteworthy, is little more than an emotional boost to Sacramento fans latching on to any positive. In reality, landing investors and kick-starting an arena project, now possibly at a different location than what had been in place from the brief 2012 agreement with the Maloofs, was never the biggest challenge. It was, and still is, convincing the Board of Governors not to like what appears to be an ideal bid from Seattle. The money from Sacramento interests will be there in the end. But so will the Seattle group, and if the Board approves the Hansen-Ballmer purchase, Burkle or anyone heading efforts in the current Kings home won’t have a team to buy.

Evans Working Through The Drama





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We made a lot of assumptions about how the Sacramento Kings feel about Tyreke Evans based on the fact that they reportedly did not intend to offer the former Rookie of the Year a contract extension from his rookie deal.

Evans himself apparently did not.

Despite being mentioned in trade rumors and various other rumblings with free agency on hand, Evans continues to grind away on his game, and per Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, raise eyebrows while working through whatever drama comes his way:

The Kings certainly aren’t acting like a team trying to trade Tyreke Evans.

Unlike last season when Evans spent much of the summer in Southern California working out, Evans has been in Sacramento working out with basketball president Geoff Petrie and other Kings staff.

Rumors persist involving Evans being traded, the latest being another proposed deal sending him to Houston that no one in our outside of the Kings has validated the proposed deal.

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The Kings Did The Right Thing

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Only time will tell if Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins will live up to his immense potential or if Keith Smart will indeed have staying power as a coach in the NBA.

We can close the book on one thing: the Kings (specifically co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloofs) made the right decision changing coaches — from Paul Westphal to Smart eight games ago. That change had to happen, and not just for Cousins but for an entire team in need of a change in mood and direction.

The Kings are 3-5 since Smart took over for Westphal — that’s not exactly playoff-ready and is a mark that probably doesn’t have the Western Conference elite worried about them. But the difference in this team’s confidence is evident. They’ve shown a resilience and cohesion that was simply absent under Westphal, battling back from huge deficits to win games (last night’s win over Indiana being the latest such effort) that could have easily been blowout losses added to their pile.

Blaming the former coach for all that went wrong would be more than a little shortsighted on our part, so we’ll stop right here and point out the shared responsibility of all involved (coaches, players, front office, etc.). Still, a team that looked like a complete dysfunctional mess just a few weeks ago is at least showing signs of life now.

Sometimes a different voice, a different approach, is what it takes to get through to a team. Take Smart’s approach to his power forward rotation, per the Sacramento Bee (courtesy of my main man Jason Jones):

“I’m trying to create an environment where the power forward position is a partnership where no one is being demoted or upgraded over the next player,” Smart said. “I want to be able to write down tonight I’m expecting 20 points and 10 rebounds from that group and they form a partnership.”

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Only A Matter Of Time For Westphal

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The news that the Kings relieved Paul Westphal of his duties earlier this afternoon didn’t even rate a raised eyebrow here at the hideout.

“What took so long?” someone shouted from the back.

Was there any other possible outcome in a situation that had become a certifiable mess in recent days?

The Kings’ 2-5 start to this season coupled with Westphal’s repeated clashes with second-year big man DeMarcus Cousins will no doubt be held up as reasons for his dismissal, and they had to play a factor in this decision.

But his 51-120 record in two-plus seasons was bound to cost him his job sooner rather than later (and now Keith Smart assumes those duties for the team). It was only a matter of time for Westphal, who you should have known would not finish the season on the Kings’ bench after the craziness that transpired last weekend (when he said Cousins demanded a trade, Cousins was suspended and then comes back to the team and denies Westphal’s claim).

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About Last Night: Perfect No More

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If you’re not a big believer in signs, the Heat and Thunder losing their first game of the season on the same night means little to you.

But if you’re as fixated on these sorts of things as we are here at the hideout, those two teams losing on the same night makes us feel stronger than ever that our preseason prediction that they will battle for the Larry O’Brien trophy is on the money. (Yeah, we’re reaching a bit but the whole Mayan calendar thing has us a bit spooked.)

The Thunder losing to the Mavericks and the Heat losing the Hawks won’t rank as the day’s top news, however (sorry T-Mac). That honor goes to the fine folks in San Antonio and the Spurs, who suffered a much bigger loss last night when Manu Ginobili broke his hand in a loss to the Timberwolves.

Catch up on all of last night’s action in the Daily Zap:

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Whatever struggles the Mavericks might be experiencing early on this season, Dirk Nowitzki seems to be immune.

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Kings’ Cousins Demands Trade


HANG TIME CALIFORNIA BUREAU – 
In a strange moment even by the standards of their relationship that has tested the limits of patience, the Kings announced Sunday that problem-child DeMarcus Cousins was suspended for that night’s game against the Hornets and that Cousins has “demanded” to be traded.

It is not known whether the second-year center was suspended without pay or told to stay away in the latest attempt to impose discipline on a prospect so lacking in structure. It is also not known for certain whether Cousins actually demanded, asked, hinted or used a Ouija board to ask for a trade – his agent, John Grieg, denied there was any such request, according to Sam Amick of SportsIllustrated.com, and said “Maybe Westphal is just feeling the heat early this season.”

Whatever the impetus of the latest breakdown, a lot of front offices around the league are knowingly nodding their heads. Cousins was the second-best talent in the 2010 draft, at worst, and maybe equal or ahead of No. 1 pick John Wall, but went fifth to Sacramento because of issues that ranged from attitude to inability to always play hard. Cousins had the talent to reach the All-Star game but the personality and approach to get some GM fired.

The Kings took the risk with the understanding a lot of patience would be required, then got exactly the rookie season and opening weeks to the second campaign that should have been expected: Cousins had some good moments that were countered by a level of immaturity that could make him one of the great underachievers.

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Past, Present Staring Down Kings

HANG TIME TEXAS, Y’ALL – These are busy, frantic times in the King-dom of Sacramento.

For a minute or two, try to forget all of the problems in trying to get a new arena and the rumors that the franchise is still headed to Anaheim. For now, there are other immediate concerns:

First off, how to replace forward/center Chuck Hayes, whose free agent contract was voided when a physical exam revealed a heart abnormality?

Matt Kawahara and Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee had the news:

A projected starter who signed a four-year, $21.3 million free-agent contract Dec. 9, Hayes was expected to play a key role in the Kings’ offense and serve as a physical, vocal presence on defense.

“We’re not going to be able to replace him,” Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie told The Bee on Monday afternoon. “He was one of the best defensive frontcourt players in the league and a really unique player we thought would facilitate some offense.

“We’ll take a look at what we can do, but it’s not going to be the same.”In a statement released Monday, Petrie said notifying Hayes of the failed physical was “one of the most heartbreaking moments of my professional or personal life.”

Hayes has undergone further testing on his heart, but specifics about his condition have not been released. Messages left for Hayes’ agent Monday were not returned.

Monday evening, Hayes posted to his Twitter account, “Thank you everyone for your prayers and support, taking the next step to get healthy and back on the court, much love.”

Perhaps fortunate for the Kings front office is the fact that one of their own, who played in Sacramento last season, is still out there on the free agent leftover pile.

As the Kings look for ways to replace Hayes, among the available free-agent big men is Samuel Dalembert, who played last season in Sacramento.Asked about the possibility of bringing back Dalembert, Petrie said: “We’ve stayed in touch with him periodically along the way. We’ll see what develops here in the next few days and go from there.”

While scrambling to fill cracks in the immediate future, the Kings would be wise to take time out to honor their past in the aftermath of Peja Stojakovic’s calling it a career by hanging his retired jersey from the rafters.

As Victor Contreras of the Bee points out, those 7 1/2 seasons that Peja spent in Sacramento were special and usually spent performing at a very high level.

He goes out as one of Sacramento’s all-time favorite Kings, a player whose No. 16 should hang from the Power Balance Pavilion rafters soon alongside the jerseys of former teammates Chris Webber (No. 4) and Vlade Divac (No. 21).

Stojakovic was the stubbly, baby-faced assassin on the Kings’ original Fab Five. Webber was the muscle inside, Jason Williams thrilled crowds with no-look passes, Divac played point-center, and Doug Christie supplied the defense.

But it was Stojakovic who killed teams from beyond the arc. He was in constant motion, flowing along the baseline like a shark, scoring on back-door feeds and hitting threes from the corner.

Worth remembering also? Peja’s fourth place finish in the 2003-04 MVP voting (24.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 48% 3-point shooting) was just as high as Webber ever finished in his best season of 2000-01 (27.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 4.2).

A Royal Pain, Among the Many

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The immature rookie inched closer to behaving his way to the minors, the foundation of the future disclosed he is now aching emotionally as well as physically and that his All-Star plans have been adjusted accordingly, and stories popped from two very credible reporters that Geoff Petrie is close to being fired as head of basketball operations in a move the Kings would regret for years. Oh, and coach Paul Westphal is also close to being shown the door, but we’ll stick to what isn’t obvious.

The possibility is increasing that the Kings will have serious conversations about sending DeMarcus Cousins, the No. 5 pick in June and projected future starting center, to the NBA Development League. Kicking him out of practice hasn’t changed his sloppy focus, fining him hasn’t improved his attitude and, most recently, pulling him from the opening lineup Thursday against the Bucks for giving a choke sign to the Warriors two nights earlier hasn’t nudged him in the right direction. So, some quality time with the Reno Bighorns becomes a growing thought.

“If that’s what they feel is best, then I can’t do anything about it,” Cousins said. “But I don’t believe that’s happening.”

It may not be happening on Christmas Eve. But let’s just say the Kings definitely know a very public demotion is an option.

Cousins’ rookie season has been a series of failed attempts at getting the potential-filled big man to carry himself as a professional, or at least get to where his attitude is not overshadowing his considerable skill level. Even with the latest discipline still active, the benching against the Bucks, Cousins had another very public moment Thursday by walking past Westphal as the coach tried to give him a five coming to the bench. A minor moment almost with almost any other player at any other time, it was an obvious statement from Cousins.

Westphal was clearly unhappy with the snubbing. Cousins’ explanation later was that “He’s frustrated. We’re all frustrated. Emotions are just running wild. That’s how it is. It’s a tough time right now. Everybody’s frustrated.”

Everybody being an accurate assessment. By the end of the night, his agent, John Greig, issued a statement to Sam Amick of AOL FanHouse:

“I find it a curious decision to bench a productive young player for something that had nothing to do with the game’s outcome [against the Warriors]. I’m sure we all can agree that there are many areas of the Kings that need greater professionalism and improvement right now. I told DeMarcus to take it as an honor that such a significant amount of criticism is focused on his mistakes. Great players live with greater expectations.”

Bad move.

More than anything, Cousins needs to get away from controversy and self-inflicted distractions. This is a time for everyone around him to be dedicated to Cousins improving, not launching bottle rockets into Kings HQ, the coaching office and the locker room with “there are many areas of the Kings that need greater professionalism and improvement right now.” Agents back their guys, sometimes just for show, but time and place. Time and place. Cousins isn’t popular and this won’t play well.

Yes, it has been such a tough, tough road for Cousins, because “Great players live with greater expectations.” NBA teams placed such an unreachable standard in wanting him to play with sustained focus in the one season at Kentucky (which he didn’t), wanting him to show at the pre-draft camp in decent shape (which he didn’t) and wanting him to avoid three known disciplines before his rookie season was 30 games old. Which he didn’t.

Cousins’ best hope for the moment is that other issues will shift attention away from his development. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com and Amick both reported that Petrie’s job is in jeopardy, as well as Westphal’s, and that the Maloof family is considering hiring longtime WNBA coach/executive John Whisenant either as coach or for the front office. That would be the John Whisenant of zero NBA experience.

Co-owner Joe Maloof flatly denied Petrie was at risk, telling FanHouse that, “No, that’s not true. I don’t know where that’s coming from. We’re fine. We’re fine. We have a gameplan. Our future looks bright. We have young talent, (salary) cap space going into next year. (We have) cap space to make moves. We’ll stick together. We’re not going to go there. Not at all. Not true.” But for two well respected reporters, working for different outlets and from different cities, to have similar information at close to the same time is quite the coincidence.

In other news, Tyreke Evans said he will decline a spot in the Rookie-Sophomore game at All-Star weekend, if he is picked, passing up a chance to play in the event for the second season in a row in a continued attempt to nurse his troublesome left foot through a difficult season.

“I’m going to take All-Star weekend off and just try to rest it up,” he told NBA.com after missing 11 of 13 shots and totaling more turnovers (four) than assists (three) in a loss to the Bucks at Arco Arena, the latest blight for Evans and the 5-22 Kings. “I’ll talk to the doctors and see what I can do while I’ve got that time off.”

While the game is a ceremonial exhibition, and not even the same as skipping the All-Star game itself, deciding nearly two months into the future that he will sit out the showcase is a statement of ongoing concerns about plantar fasciitis in the foot. He said there are no current plans to rest during the regular season, after previously saying it would become a consideration if the pain continues, but Evans disclosed Thursday he is now burdened by a family matter. He did not disclose the personal issue.