Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Was that a little swagger I saw?

With just under a minute left in Wednesday night's ridiculous 100-98 victory over Memphis, DeMarcus Cousins decided to gather his teammates together for a little huddle.

It was a small gesture in the scheme of things, but it struck me as a turning point.

Here was the NBA's rookie bad boy, explosively unhinged, a player benched because of immaturity - yet he was gathering his teammates to offer something the team so obviously lacks.

A dose of swagger.

Now Cousins is all about swagger. Usually misguided swagger. A selfish swagger. But this was different. This was Cousins feeling the swagger and wanting it to be a part of something bigger.

It's strange. Just from watching, you knew. From that moment, the Kings would win the game.

The players on the bench were energized. The crowd was electric. And suddenly there was confidence.

Even O.J. Mayo's impossible basket with 2 seconds left wasn't going to change the outcome.

What does it all mean?

Who the hell knows.

Tyreke Evans' 50-foot prayer with 1/10th of a second to play could be just the medicine to heal the deep, dark wounds this team has suffered.

And maybe not.

Maybe it was just a blip.

Maybe it all means nothing.

But I'm not sure. Swagger is the ultimate commodity in basketball. Once you get it, you learn to love it. And then you learn to love winning.

For one night, the players tasted the rare sweetness of a righteous win.

Let's see where it goes.

Where have I heard this before?

From ESPN's Chad Ford when asked in a chat: What's wrong with the Kings? So much talent with so little results? Coaching?

"Not as much talent as you think. No chemistry. Way overrated front office. Evans and Cousins are good individual players, not great team players. Rest of the supporting cast has a few solid players like Landry, Casspi ... but not much else to be excited about. I know lots of people love Geoff Petrie, but I don't get what they're so excited about. Team has been terrible for a while. You're supposed to get great players with very high draft picks. Rest of his moves are pretty questionable. Since the roster has already essentially been blown up ... might be time for changes at the top."

Geoff Petrie has been exposed and the league knows it. I've always kind of wondered why Geoff Petrie wasn't pursued by other teams if his reputation was so good. Wouldn't another team throw wads of cash at him if he was a genius? But there's been not a whisper of interest in Petrie over the past 10 years.

No surprise. He ain't a genius.

Here's an even more damning fact: David Kahn, who has garned a reputation as a complete buffoon as general manager of the Timberwolves, is making Petrie look like a hack this year.

Kahn gambled on Miami's Michael Beasley and it paid off big. He chose Wes Johnson over DeMarcus Cousins in the draft and that's looking like a brilliant move. He's got Ricky Rubio coming in next year. And he's always actively looking to make moves.

Petrie is barely a blip on the trade radar.

Read my post from a week back

I'll be over here patting myself on the back.

By the way, I'm officially throwing my hat into the ring for the general manager job. I have no doubt I can do what Petrie is doing. I'm very good at standing around and looking cerebral, giving non-answers to questions, and basically just surfing the net in my office instead of actually trying to do my job.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Joe Maloof's secret text messages: What it would take to fire Paul Westphal

Last night, Joe Maloof sent a text message to Jason Jones of the Bee proclaiming that "No" he was not going to fire Paul Westphal.

What hasn't been revealed were a number of text messages sent by Joe Maloof to his brother Gavin laying down the guidelines for what WOULD cause the firing of the coach.

The text messages were secretly leaked to Kings Talking Points and we are revealing them here today:

--If Paul tries to high-five me in the practice facility bathroom one more time, he's out.

--If Paul keeps ignoring my pleas to massage Tyreke's aching feet during timeouts, he is canned. Period.

--Paul is gone if he can't figure out that calling DeMarcus a "Sulky Suzy" in pre-game warmups is not helpful to the delightful young man's mental well being.

--I think Westy is done if I could convince Bill Walton to coach the team. He was at the house the other night and I love his enthusiasm, but his teeth are kinda annoying.

--If Paul loses another 20 more in a row, there's a pretty good chance we can get off easy by telling the press that he is voluntarily stepping down because of chronic heartburn. That way we don't look like we fired anybody and maybe Westy gets a deal with Zantac.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sam Dalembert for J.J. Redick anyone? And my dream scenario for the Kings

The Orlando Magic are reportedly desperate for another big to compete with the beasts from the East.

They are even pondering the thought of moving sharp-shooting guard J.J. Redick. That's because they recently acquired Jason Richardson from the Suns, making Redick a luxury.

Can you think of a team that might have an extra big man and might also desperately need a shooter?



Well how about this one:

The Kings trade center Sam Dalembert for Redick.

Redick is young, talented, smart and a great shooter.

Does it work?

I'm really not sure. The Magic acquired a $6 million trade exception in a recent deal that sent Marcin Gortat to the Suns. If you add that to Redick's salary of $7.5 million, it matches Dalembert's salary and you've got yourself a deal. Now I'm no cap guru, so maybe the numbers don't work, but wouldn't you make the call if you were Geoff Petrie. Orlando is certainly in the dealing mode right now.

This, of course, would be a huge leap of faith for the Magic. Dalembert's contract is expiring, but he would give them a nice influx of size and shot-blocking.

How about making it a blockbuster. Throw in Carl Landry. Get a point guard. Maybe get another team involved. Have some fun. Make a little news.

For the Kings, it just makes too much sense, which is why is won't even be attempted.

By the way, here's my dream scenario: Some way, the Kings pry Aaron Brooks out of Houston -- perhaps for Carl Landry and a few other pieces.

Then, we move Tyreke to small forward, which is probably his natural position, anyway.

Your new starting lineup:

PG Aaron Brooks
SG J.J. Redick
SF Tyreke Evans
PF Jason Thompson
C DeMarcus Cousins

Now that's a team you can build on...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DeMarcus Cousins is fined, but it's not a first-time incident for the Kings

DeMarcus Cousins was fined and benched for delivering the "choke" sign during the final moments of Tuesday night's humiliating loss to the Warriors.

But this is far from the first time for a incident like this for the Kings.

In an effort to promote fairness, we've gone over the film for the past few weeks to look for other players who were caught doing odd things on the sidelines.

--At four minutes into the second quarter of the Mavericks game, Donte Greene was seen quietly motioning to Dirk Nowitzki for an autograph. Nowitzki said something nasty in German and ignored him. Greene smiled, applauded, waved a towel, and cheered the response.

--With 30 seconds left in a recent loss to the Heat, Tyreke Evans waited for Kings coach Paul Westphal to turn his back, then he placed his finger down his throat, bent over, and feigned vomiting. When Westphal quickly spun around, Evans quickly grabbed for his ankle and grimaced in pain.

--While sitting on the bench during a blowout loss to the Rockets, Carl Landy was seen hiding under a towel, talking on his cell phone and mouthing the words, "You're my agent, get me the hell out of here."

--During a dry spell in the fourth quarter of a game against the Hornets, Beno Udrih was seen secretly using a Sharpie to write "Pass this, Tyreke" on the game ball. Later, during an important possession, Evans took the ball and held it for a full 20 seconds as he attempted to read the slightly smudged writing. The 24-second clock sounded just at Evans crashed into a defender for an offensive foul.

--Finally, even Westphal hasn't been immune. He was seen flashing the bird to his entire team during a timeout in overtime during the Warriors game.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How can Westphal survive this one?

There's no way Paul Westphal can continue as coach after Tuesday night's devastating loss.

I feel bad for the guy. He is, by all accounts, a decent man. But enough is enough. He has aged 20 years over the past three months. He looks like the poster boy for irritable bowel syndrome.

It's time to put him out of our misery.

Look, it's not Westphal's fault that his two studs - Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins - combined for a pathetic 7-for-31 for 22 points in Tuesday's horrifying OT loss to the Warriors.

But Evans and Cousins have become the Kings of the Forced Shot.

And that falls right on the shoulders of the coach.

It's his job to drum it in their ears.

Pass the ball. Make the offense move. Execute. And don't think you have to be the hero every game, especially when you are shooting like crap.

Westphal needs to be in their faces and making it clear. Maybe he is, but if so, the message isn't being absorbed.

Now all eyes turn to the Maloof brothers. How much humiliation are they willing to take? How many fans are they willing to lose?

Step up and make some moves.

The future of the team may be riding on it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Another meltdown. Ho-hum

Somebody coach DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans about what to do with the ball in the final five minutes of the game.


Oh, that's right. We would need a coach to do that.

By the way, I'm sure nobody's counting but since starting the season 3-1, the Kings have rolled to a 2-19 record.

And here's one last fun fact.

The Kings are averaging 13,457 fans for their home games this year. Only the Nets, who are averaging 13,387, are doing worse.

You can bet the Maloofs are entertaining some might fine offers from other cities right this moment.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Geoff Petrie deserves a lot of the blame for the awful mess of a team

Okay, fans, this is the easiest quiz you'll have to take.

Which person in the Kings organization seems to go year-to-year and never absorb a hint of criticism, yet he hasn't presided over a winning team since 2005-06?

Which person has chosen loser coaches with the names Musselman, Theus and Westphal?

Which person has gained the rep as a draft genius but, during 2005-2007 when the Kings desperately needed to keep the momentum of the fading glory days alive, drafted the likes of Francisco Garcia, Quincy Douby and Spencer Hawes?

Which person hasn't made a team-changing trade since acquiring Brad Miller a decade ago?

What person has repeatedly given mid-level exceptions to hugely overrated stiffs like Mikki Moore? Yes, Mikki Moore.

Which person has been given a free pass from the fans for his cerebral approach, gentlemanly demeanor and subdued personality?

Which person has continually built teams with gaping holes and easy-to-spot weaknesses? Rebounding. Defense. Athleticism. The Kings haven't had any of those attributes in years and they still don't.

You know the guy, Kings fans.

And it's time he took the brunt of the blame for this gory mess of team.

Geoff Petrie, step right up and take a bow.

Because you've been awful.

That's right. Awful.

Look, there's no doubt the guy has financial constraints, but that's too easy an excuse for his dreary collection of innocuous moves over the past six seasons.

Petrie no longer collects winning pieces for a franchise anymore.

He simply collects a paycheck.

And that's not good enough.

Not for the Kings.

And not for the fans.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Westphal is in the dark and that's all you need to know

During Paul Westphal's press conference after Tuesday night's loss to the Rockets, a reporter asked him about the newly acquired shooting guard Jermaine Taylor.

Westphal shot the reporter a dirty look and asked, "Why are you asking me that question?"

When the reporter explained, Westphal said, "I've just been coaching the game, I don't about any trades."

Really? Really?

Geoff Petrie can't even bother to pick up a phone and tell his coach about a new player coming aboard? No brief consultation? How about slipping him a note at halftime?

The exchange made Westphal look like an out-of-the-loop rube.

Was this an honest oversight? Or was it an ominous sign that Petrie just has no regard for Westphal and the way he's coaching and doesn't care to include his coach in personnel decisions.

When I asked Kings beat writer Jason Jones about it in a tweet, he tweeted back that Westphal just couldn't say anything yet because the trade wasn't official.

If that was true, that's what he should have said, But it sure didn't look like that on camera.

Stay tuned.

It's gonna get really interesting.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tyreke Evans injury report: Day-to-day chance that nobody knows what the hell is going on

Latest Kings injury report:

Tyreke Evans, plantar fasciitis, day-to-day: Unless, of course, his brother Doc decides to hold him out, or, on the other hand, if Paul Westphal asks politely for him to sit out and gets an answer in the affirmative.

In a super-secret email circulating through the bowels of the team's super-secret war room and high-tea recreation room, team officials are allegedly baffled.

A Kings doctor was allegedly quoted as saying, "Hey, I only went to medical school, do you expect me to make a sound decision based on my education and prior knowledge? Tyreke's brother is named Doc. I trust him."

Owner Gavin Maloof allegedly said he doesn't understand all the hubbub over this fasciitis stuff. "We intend to rip of 10 or 20 straight wins and we need Tyreke on the court to make it happen. He can sit when we clinch a playoff berth."

General manager Geoff Petrie says the injury is minor. "It's not the pain," Petrie allegedly said. "He just plain sucks this year."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A stench rises in Arco

There was a smell wafting through Arco Arena on Saturday night.

And I'm not talking about the exotic smell of spiced meat coming from Royal Shawarma on the concourse.

No, I'm talking about the smell of fear.

And the Miami Heat could sense it, laughing their way to an easy victory.

The Kings simply backed down.

Once LeBron James and Dwyane Wade took over, there was no fight. No hard fouls. Nothing but the smell of fear.

Only Omri Casspi played with heart. The rest of team put their collective tails between their legs and shuffled off into the foggy night with another disheartening loss.

They say a team reflects the personality of its coach. You wonder if Paul Westphal is a sulking, low-energy loser. Because that's what the Kings have become.

Fear wasn't the only smell.

More and more, DeMarcus Cousins carries the odor of a selfish, immature tool. When he was in the game, he fired up ill-advised shots and slump-shouldered his way through every possession. When he got benched, he could barely bring himself to his feet to join the huddle.

Cousins may have tremendous potential, but he's more ticking time bomb than future all-star at this point.

Look, beating a team like the Heat is a tall order, but it's not losing, it's the way you lose.

And unless something is done fast, fans are going to need to bring deodorizers to future games.

And now, just for fun, here are highlights from Saturday's game:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kings have a pulse

The Kings lost a two-point heartbreaker to the Mavericks, but we liked:

Pooh Jeter, who gave us a glimpse of how the ball might move if we had a real, honest-to-goodness, point guard.

DeMarcus Cousins, who was one or two baskets down the stretch from getting back into the talk about the NBA's top rookies.

Paul Westphal, who finally seemed to know what he was doing for most of game.

The fourth quarter, because it was the first one in four weeks worth watching.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Grant Napear sucks up to the Maloofs again -- and it ain't pretty

KHTK broadcaster Grant Napear spent Wednesday's radio show blowing unicorn dust up the asses of Joe and Gavin Maloof.

Nothing new there, but this was truly pathetic.

Challenged by frustrated fans about the team's cost-cutting and inability to secure high-priced talent, Napear could have finally broken free from the company line and ripped the team's ownership.

Instead, he told his listeners that they should be patient because the Maloofs are waiting to see the new collective bargaining agreement before they begin to spend money.

This is a crock.

Look, if the Maloofs want to nickel and dime and put an inferior product on the floor, it's their business. But don't expect the fans to be patient.

And don't expect them to buy tickets, no matter how many promotional deals they might offer.

Right now, there is no way I expect this team to be here next year.

A deal for a new arena is stone-cold dead. Arco is a morgue. The coach is lost. And the team lacks talent, energy and any charisma.

Why would any business owner keep the team in town?

But Mr. Napear is fine with this. Deal with it, he tells fans. Wait to make your decision until after the new CBA is signed.

One caller asked Grant to name a team that has pinched pennies more than the Kings. Lots of them, he intoned. And then named the Utah Jazz.

Oh yeah, the Jazz. The team with the 7th highest payroll in the league. The team that had no problem trading for Al Jefferson, a player who is owed $13 million, $14 million and $15 million over the next three seasons.

Sounds like a perfect analogy to me.

Look, if the Maloofs want to fill seats and generate enthusiasm for a new arena, they have to SPEND MONEY NOW. That's the only way you sell product. Not by cheesy seat deals. Sure, spending money now hurts the bottom line, but it builds good will, gets fans back in the seats, and turns around the momentum.

Unless, of course, you are not interested in any of those things.

Which looks very much the case right now.

Mr. Napear needs to stop bowing to the Maloofs. He needs to stop bailing the buckets of water out of their sinking ship and start laying down the truth.

I'm not holding my breath.