Preview & Chat: The Sacramento Kings

Kurt —  April 1, 2007

The up and down Jordan Farmar. Jordan Farmar is set to make history today — the Lakers are going to assign him to the D-League so he can play with the D-Fenders at 2:30, then after the game call him back up to the main team and he will suit up for the Lakers. If he gets into the game tonight he will be the first player to play in a D-League and NBA game on the same day.

The thinking, by the way, is that he needs minutes to get his rhythm back and he wasn’t going to get those with the Lakers, so why not with the D-Fenders? For one day, it makes some sense. But I will say I expect that after a summer of working on his shot and strength, plus from watching and learning this season, I think Farmar is going to take a step forward next season.

Smush in the D-League. Roland Lazenby reminds us of something today that we guys who follow him closely need to remember — Smush Parker is a great story. I get frustrated with how he breaks out of the triangle, but how many guys from the NYC playgrounds could run it as well as he does? And how many players fight through playing in a smallish college and playing in Europe to be an NBA starter?

And, Roland and Tex Winter note, Phil Jackson loves the kid.

“He’s a tough little kid and a hell of a competitor,” Winter said. “I admire him for that. I’m still not totally sold on the job he’s doing. He has all that tremendous speed and quickness. But he gambles too much on defense and gets beat on the screen and roll (sounds like Tex describing Bryant’s recent defensive efforts).

“Still, it’s absolutely amazing what he’s done, considering where he came from,” Winter said. “He’s spent two years here as a starter. And I don’t think that’ll change.”

Why? Because Parker has enjoyed the support and admiration of the only person who matters—Phil Jackson.

“He certainly has,” Winter replied when I asked about Jackson’s backing. “I think Smush appreciates it. I think Phil has gotten more out of him than most coaches ever could. Smush knows Phil has a great deal of confidence in him.”

The up and down Kings. I recently asked Sactown Royalty’s Tom about the team’s problems and one of them was inconsistency. Sound familiar.

Among the downs recently has been up-and-coming star Kevin Martin, Early in the year he looked like an All-Star, of late he has looked pedestrian, at best.

After a blistering start that saw his statistics hover around 50% makes from the field and 40% from beyond the arc, Kevin’s statistics have dropped, whether due to fatigue, increased attention from the opposition, or greedy ball-handling from teammates (I won’t name names). Compared with the first month of the season, in March, Kevin is scoring 5 points fewer a game, his field goal percentage is down a full 12 percentage points, to 40%, and his 3 point field goal percentage has been cut nearly in half, from 47% in November, to 27% in March.

The bad news for the Lakers. Balancing out Martin’s down is Mike Bibby, who is hot. And traditionally a Laker killer. Again I quote Tom:

His March has been fantastic. With the exception of Sunday’s eruption, it’s flown completely under the radar. He’s shooting .438 percent this month – not great shakes, but much better than his dreary November .361 mark. From three (which is where he takes 40% of his shots), he’s hitting .456 in March. That’s incredible.

The Musselman Mistake. When Sacramento hired Musselman last year, I thought it a good hire, a guy who got Golden State to overachieve his first time around and was primed for success this time. But I was wrong – he lost the team and it two weeks he’ll have lost his job. And it all is because he got arrested before Ron Artest did. Let me go to the words of Sactown Royalty (since it appears Tom wrote most of this preview, he can have my pay for this post).

He hasn’t gotten a fair shake, but it comes down on his head. Not a single Sacramentan will fault management for sending this guy out on a railcar. And it all stems from that DUI. There’s no reason to believe Muss can capture the hearts and minds of upstanding citizens Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia and Mike Bibby and Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Ronnie Price after that magnificent mistake. So why keep him around?

I think it’s very obvious that the Maloofs will can him at the end of the year.

Things to look for tonight:
The Lakers to play great defense…. April Fools.