Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Scientific, Analytical Guide to How Many Games the Kings Will Win

Okay, forget the pundits and radio hosts and columnists pontificating on how many games the Kings will win this season.

There's only one true way to prognosticate. And that's with pure science and analytics. At Kings Talking Points, our staff of over 100 statisticians and part-time fast food workers always make sure our numbers are on the money.

So buckle up and read on and the suspense will be over. You won't even need to pay attention to this season.

Let's start with 82 wins.

Subtract 40 games right off the bat for being the Sacramento Kings. Climate scientists have proven this sad fact by looking at weather models over the past 10 NBA seasons.

Subtract 5 wins for the awful idea of putting veteran poison Rajon Rondo into the middle of an already volatile mix. Rondo can still see the floor and deliver a perfect pass, but his woeful shooting and fading athleticism makes him a poor fit for a modern NBA team.

Add 3 wins for the addition of Willie Cauley-Stein. Finally, a true athletic big man who can change shots and run the court. And who thankfully doesn't need shots.

Subtract 4 wins for Ben McLemore. Every year there's hope he'll take the next step. And every year he disappoints. Once considered one of the top shooting prospects coming out of college, he's not even streaky at this point. And his ball handling? Oy. He can't take anyone off the dribble and he makes you cringe every time he tries.

Add 2 wins for Omri Casspi. Nobody brings more hustle on the court and he proved to be a consistent fireplug off the bench last season. If he ever got his three-pointer to drop, he'd become even more valuable.

Add 3 wins for the acquisition of Marco Belinelli. Finally, a consistent 3-point shooter on a team filled with brick layers.

Subtract 2 wins for the rest of the bench.  Kostas Koufas is solid, but he won't win you any games. Quincy Acy was a wasted signing. James Anderson was a Sixers washout. And Seth Curry has the wrong first name.

Subtract 10 wins for DeMarcus Cousins. Yes, he's a load. Yes, he's supremely talented. But no, I don't think this team can win with him. Too selfish. Too explosive emotionally. Too hard for him to share the spotlight with any other player.

Subtract 4 wins when Cousins and George Karl have a shouting match on the bench after a particularly bad turnover by Boogie on one of his coast-to-coast jaunts.

Subtract 3 wins when Rondo misses a flight to Cleveland because he's been supplanted as the starting point guard by Darren Collison.

Add 6 wins after the Kings acquire a fresh boodle of talent when the Kings trade Cousins in January.

Add 3 wins as Rudy Gay feels revitalized with the depature of Cousins.

Add 4 wins as Karl finally gets his offense into high gear without having to dump the ball into the middle on every set.


Friday, July 3, 2015

How panic, knee-jerk decision making, Vivek and Cousins have destroyed the Kings

Creativity, long-range tactical thinking, and common sense are nowhere to be found.

Instead, the Kings organization is now a constant source of panic, knee-jerk decision making, and utter disregard for logic.

The installation of Vlade Divac as the head of basketball operations has changed nothing.

He is clearly in over his seven-foot head. And despite his bold proclamations that he's in charge, the mere fact that the team is pin-balling from one high-risk, low-reward target to another is clear evidence that Vivek Ranadive is still calling the shots.

Rondo? Vivek's been drooling over the uber head case for a year. Josh Smith? Vivek has desperately wanted the me-first chemistry-killer since last winter.

Vivek is partying like it's 2008. You wonder how a high-tech nerd could be so wrong on so many things when he has a boatload of analytics to use as research.

The recent salary dump trade would have been fine if a smart trade or signing was already in place, but now the team is scrambling for table scraps, offering low-level talents stupid money to join the stupidest team in the NBA.

There is absolutely no plan. There is certainly no regard being given to team chemistry. And nobody seems to care that you can't put a group of flammable personalities together on an already kerosene-soaked team.

I've been campaigning for a year to rid the franchise of its major stench-inducing player - DeMarcus Cousins - and bring in a fresh crop of young, unselfish, hungry players.

Cousins may very well be a top-five talent, but he is not the type of guy who makes his teammates warm and fuzzy. In fact, most hate playing with him. And now his relationship with George Karl is broken beyond repair.

DeMarcus is almost impossible to root for as a fan. He's a surly, self-centered jerk. He whines and scowls and barks at referees and glares at his teammates. If he gets his numbers, he's a happy guy. If he doesn't, it doesn't matter what the scoreboard says.

Yes, trading him to the Lakers would take guts, but there's only one way out of this current swamp of despair.

Put a young team on the floor consisting of D'Angelo Russell, Darren Collison, Julius Randle, Willie Cauley-Stein and Rudy Gay and watch your fans cheer like crazy.

The air will feel cleaner. The beer will taste better. The popcorn will be less rancid.

It won't happen, though. I have no idea why. But the smartest guy in the room at Kings headquarters is in danger of losing every last ounce of goodwill he earned when he saved the franchise for Sacramento.

Pessimism reigns supreme these days. A Rondo signing will only prolong that feeling and delay the inevitable total meltdown.

Vlade needs to do two things today:

Hire Geoff Petrie as a special advisor.

March into Vivek's office and tell him to shut up and sit down.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Cousins Era is Over. Nobody Wants to Admit It, Though.

If I'm running the Kings, I'm getting ready to field all offers for DeMarcus Cousins.

There's really no other choice at this point.

The sulking superstar has reached his Sacramento expiration date. There's been too much turmoil, too many deep-background leaks, too many coaching changes, too many on-court explosions. I don't think anyone believes the hulking center is ready to go through another season of losing.

Of course, the notion of trading Cousins seems ludicrous on first blush. He's the most dominant center in the game, a bull of man who punishes opponents. His defense has improved tremendously and his passing is sometimes remarkable.

But you can't deal a star from a position of weakness - and that's exactly where the Kings will be next season if things don't drastically turn around. A beef with coach George Karl or an eight-game losing streak would most likely knock him off the rails and send him into the final tailspin, eventually leading to a trade request.

And when teams need to deal players, there's blood in the water. Offers get diluted. Teams play hardball.

The Kings have a new arena coming on line. They need to freshen the air. They need to wipe away the stink of losing and turmoil. And, most of all, they need to bring in a crop of players who are likeable, unselfish and motivated.

Luckily, with a trade chips like DeMarcus and Rudy Gay (yes, I'd trade him, too), you can just about retool your entire roster. 

Could you perhaps deal Cousins and Carl Landry for a package of players like Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic, Joaquin Noah and first-round picks from the Bulls?  I would.

But there are probably other monster offers that could come their way.

Yes, it's hard to get equal value for a superstar. But it's even harder to get value for a pissed-off superstar who wants out. I'd betting even odds that Cousins is a very pissed-off superstar by week six of next season.

Karl knows the type of player he wants. I'm not sure Cousins fits the bill. And I'm not sure he even gives a bleep.

Cousins is all about Cousins right now. The Kings need to be all about the team's future.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Eyewitness: Inside the room during the negotiations with George Karl

I was lucky enough to be invited inside the top-secret negotiations between Vivek Ranadive and George Karl. Here's my report:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Show me the money, DeMarcus the victim, and other interesting musings

Things we know about the current state of the Kings:

Suddenly, the management is cheap. They don't have the cash to pay a new coach. Yes, they can buy into a professional soccer club, but when it comes to hiring real talent, they throw a fit.

The money issue just brings back bad memories of a former ownership group headed by a group of lunkhead playboy brothers. It's not a good look.

Ty Corbin should just resign and tell the ownership group to take his job and, well, you know the rest. He was put in a ridiculous position. The players had no desire to listen to him. And general manager Pete D'Allesandro barely made a peep to defend him.

DeMarcus Cousins needs to shut up and stop acting like he's the poor victim in all of this. We've seen some of his antics, including berating teammates and having complete mental breakdowns on the court. I'm not so sure that Cousins isn't the biggest problem in regards to the team's attitude.

This team's start was mostly fluke. Yes, Mike Malone had the team playing tough defense, but the early season was not as rosy as it seems. The offense was still a mess and the lack of outside shooting was evident even then. In addition, the poor depth became increasingly evident as soon as the injuries started to pile up.  This is not a good team. It's pretty much a bad one. And I'm not so sure it would have been that different if Malone had stayed on. Still, you have to credit Malone for one thing: He and Cousins seemed to have a connection - and that's hard to do.

George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins is gonna be pure theatre. I'm grabbing my popcorn now and waiting for the fireworks to begin.

Nik Stauskas was drafted for one reason: He was a great shooter. Now we're looking at possibly the biggest bust in the draft. He doesn't have Ben McLemore's athleticism to fall back on, so I'm not sure if there's much of an upside. He needs a summer of performance enhancing drugs just to have a shot at improvement. Some skeptics were comparing him to Jimmer after the Kings drafted him. They might have been right.

Rudy Gay has reverted to his selfish persona of the past. Toronto fans hated him. I'm starting to see why. He's all about getting his shots at any cost. And, most of the time, it doesn't matter if he's double or triple teamed. Can a new coach get through to him? If not, I'd put him on the block in the summer.

I'd explore a deal with the Chicago Bulls. Any deal. They own the rights to the Kings' first-round pick if Sacramento doesn't end up as one of the 10 worst records in the league. Make a deal with them in exchange for relinquishing the protections on the pick. Maybe get Taj Gibson. They need to give up this year's pick in order to have a first-round pick going forward.

Tempo is great when you have Klay Thompson and Steph Curry. It's a damn near disaster when you have the crew that the Kings put on the floor. If we never hear that word again, it will be too soon.