Preview & Chat: The Sacramento Kings

Kurt —  April 18, 2007

Phoenix or Dallas. Win tonight and it’s the Suns this weekend, lose (and Golden State wins in Portland) and it’s Dallas.

I don’t think the Lakers can look at it that way — after the ugliness of the last month they need to win because they need to build momentum and confidence. The Lakers do not gain some incredible match up advantage facing one of the top two teams over the other, for the Lakers to bother either they are going to have to play much better. And that is what starts tonight.

Who plays? After the first half against Seattle, and with the Suns and Nash on the horizon, is there really any question that Farmar starts over Smush? And I might limit Kwame’s minutes a little, but he has got to start as well. The Lakers are not in the Dallas position of resting their stars, this unit needs to play together.

What the Lakers face tonight. According to Tom Ziller (he of Sactown Royalty and Fanhouse), you will not see any Brad Miller tonight (not sure Kings fans saw much of him all season). You will see Bibby, Kevin Martin and Ron Artest to start the game. But in the fourth quarter expect to see the King kids — Quincy Douby, Francisco Garcia, John Salmons.

But before you relax, remember that those are some talented kids who play very hard in their limited minutes. Just ask the Clippers.

Kareem Turns 60…. and a bunch of other fun numbers with the Captain (thanks to gatinho for the link).

Don’t look West. Some out there seem to think Jerry West is going to ride in on his white stallion and make some brilliant move to turn the Lakers into instant contenders. Um, remember that he never had that chummy a relationship with the Buss family and then lost a power struggle with Phil Jackson. Really, he wants to come back?

By the way, I think he’s done a good job in Memphis, despite this season’s record. He’s overhauled that roster into a young and athletic team, and after this year’s draft they will be younger and more athletic. This is a team poised to start getting better and be very good in three or four years. He has laid a very good foundation.

to Preview & Chat: The Sacramento Kings

  1. What Jerry West has done is Memphis is simply phenomenal. Their BEST season prior to his arrival was 23-59. Now they’ve been in the playoffs 3 times in 5 years and after the draft will have a great foundation for the future (even if they only get the no. 3-4 pick).

    I remember reading an article in the 90’s where a long-time rival executive was asked if West should win the Executive of the Year award. The guy replied, “Win it? They should name it after him!”

    That says it all.


  2. A few days ago the Lakers had their annual Town Hall night where Phil and Kupchak answered some questions for season ticket holders. The second question of the night was about KG coming to the Lakers. The Laker execs could not really answer the question because of league tampering rules but all they said was that they will do whatever necessary to improve the team over the offseason.

    A couple years ago, during the Rudy T year when we were horrible, at this same town meeting the fans told Kupchak and Dr.Buss that they wanted them to bring Phil back as coach. That summer, Dr.Buss did whatever he could to get Phil back here, to make his fans happy. He offered Phil 10mlilion dollars and his daughter!

    Now the fans have spoken again. They are basically telling Dr. Buss now that they want KG and they want to be contenders again.

    Lets see what Dr. Buss does this summer


  3. I’d love to think that all it takes is a few season ticket holders emailing the same request… and voila, KG appears on a silver platter.


  4. I still am not sold on the KG move.

    I am on board for a front office shuffle. It is apparent from the moves (or lack of moves) that have been made since Jerry West’s departure, that we need some change in our management. Here are the biggest problems:

    – Jimmy Buss has a say in managing this team. He has no knowledge of the game of basketball, and he has very little intelligence.

    – I believe Mitch Kupchak is best suited at recruiting. He doesn’t have the business skills to be an effective negotiator or creative ability to orchestrate complex trades/acquisitions. He WOULD, however, be great out in the field as a Laker recruiter, and was able to learn from West for years.

    My solution:
    – Find a young, business savvy, go-getter type of guy with basketball knowledge out there. Who do I believe fits this role better than anyone? None other than:

    Mr. Earvin Magic Johnson


  5. ” . . . .is there really any question that Farmar starts over Smush?”

    Not from me, but the coaches say they haven’t decided.

    Phil did say that he wanted someone who could play good point guard defense tonight. Kurt, maybe you could remind him where the point guard defensive presence is on the Laker team right now?

    As far as I know, the only one who strongly wants the Smusher starting tonight is Henry Bibby


  6. Good move by Collison to stay in school. What do folks think about him versus Farmar as far as a NBA player?


  7. I read multiple accounts of that town hall meeting and first, is it really a shock Laker fans want KG? Through all the veiled talk, what Mitch said is that if he becomes available the Lakers would make a run at him.

    As has been said many times before — getting KG begins with KG asking to get out of Minnesota. Until that happens there is little to do.


  8. Most players benefit from staying in school. Especially in a program like UCLA. The talent is 1st rate and the coaching tough. The players learn fundamentals and are able to display them on a national scale.

    My personal opinion is that any college player who will go lower than 20 in the 1st round, should stay in school. Sure, there is good money at the end of the 1st round, but the additional year is likely to yield a jump of 5 to 10 places in the draft. Now the money is better AND the player has one more year of front line play behind them.


  9. In today’s NBA, with the calls on the perimeter, Collison could be better than Farmar. But, I think he needs to be in a system that uses that quickness. For the triangle, Farmar is better.

    And I think it’s a great move by him to stay in school, a year of feeding the ball in the post to Kevin Love will make him look like an assist king.


  10. Just to be a little contrary: Kupchak has made one incredible trade with the Wiz.

    I honestly don’t know who to credit more (Mitch or Phil) for seeing the kind of player that Kwame could be. The trade happened the summer before Phil’s return, though the hiring was announced already. It’s easy to forget that at the time it looked like a huge gamble. That gamble has paid big dividends for the Lakers. We’re at a point where Phil can say Kwame is the key to the Lakers defense and everyone agrees.

    It’s easy to look at the draft busts under Kupchak’s watch and say he can’t evaluate talent. But the Kwame trade has to count as a point in his favor in that department. His business acumen must also be recognized because he found a trade that made both teams better. That is key to being a GM that folks want to deal with.


  11. Just read an old rumor that the younger Buss may have lobbied for Kwame too.


  12. I don’t see how the Kwame trade worked for both teams, as you’re saying Rob L. I see your point about how we look at Kwame now as our best interior defender, but thats only compared to the rest of the players on the front line, none of whom can play very good D. The wizards have benefitted from that trade way more than the Lakers. Caron Butler was an All-Star this year. All Kwame has done is give Laker fans a heart attack every time he fumbles a wide open pass or misses a wide open layup. The real question is whether, in hindsight, the Lakers would do the trade again


  13. And as much as we are talking about how the Lakers are “limping into the playoffs” this year at 3-8 as opposed to 11-3 last year, lets not forget that the Suns just lost their last two games to the Rockets and Clippers. They’re not exactly kickin ass right now either.


  14. I still say the Kwame deal worked for the Lakers. Butler would not have been the same player here with Lamar. The trouble is, Kwame became a solid player, just not the player he was billed as out of college. The fact that the guy doesn’t score 20 a night does not mean he’s worse than Butler.

    I’d also say that Kwame’s interior D would shine on any team. The fact that the Lakers have bad team D does not necessarily mean Kwame is simply “The Strongest Man in Wimpy Town”. His rotations and position look good on the court. The defense that Kwame provides doesn’t figure into stats like PER. While Kwame has a negative +/- vs. opposing centers, Caron Butler is essentially even vs. opposing small forwards. I attribute part of Kwame’s -5 pts/game to the swiss cheese perimeter. Guy can’t quite bang like he could sporting 2 fouls used to prevent a slashing guard’s easy lay up.


  15. ^ Even though Kwame has a negative +/- vs. opposing centers, Kwame has the best +/- on the Lakers in terms of how the Lakers fare when he’s on the court, compared to when he’s off the court. The reason for that disparity is that the Lakers leave Kwame on an island defensively. Opposing centers get more scoring opportunities as a result, but the other 4 players on the opposing team are easier to shut down since the Lakers don’t have to double down on the center.

    I agree with Rob L. that Kwame is an underappreciated defensive force.


  16. In other news: Farmar’s starting!


  17. warren (philippines) April 18, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    During the all-star break, I was on a frenzy with ESPN’s trade machine. The biggest catch – Jason Kidd. Due to his 18M salary, it was almost automatic that Kwame Brown be on the list to match the requirements. the Trade Deadline passed with a lull that Kidd was actually staying put.

    I was quite disappointed that we were an Andrew Bynum away from acquiring Jason Kidd. I still am. I was a skeptic though I must admit that, on the proper time, he will be decent. But my theory revolves around the Chauncey Billups example. He was in Boston, Toronto, Denver, Orlando, Minnesota then finally, Detroit. Here is where his star shines the brightest.

    Darko Millicic will soon be one like Billups. Until he finds the perfect home, that’s when we’ll see his star shine. But you have to remember that it may not come too.

    Kwame Brown has found a home in LA and in the hearts of Laker fans. He shall settle here as a decent defender and hopefully more. But at the moment I’m cool with him. I’m happy now that the Kidd deal didn’t push through. We’d have lost Kwame in the process…


  18. This is great, instead of getting thoroughly dismantled by Mark Cuban’s boys we get to be slaughtered and carved up by Nash and Amara running endless pick and rolls.


  19. It’s on to fun in (with) the Sun(s).


  20. Time for the 2nd season to get going. Finally. Anymore games and we might have fallen right out of this whole party.

    Playoff thoughts: Defend the 3 point line and we have a puncher’s chance. I have to keep in mind that this is not last year’s team chemistry-wise. I feel quite unoptimistic. Maybe the underdog role will get the whole team to keep the energy up to run with the Suns.

    You never know. My blind faith will keep me going until the series is over.

    Btw, what’s the over/under on Raja v. Kobe turning ugly this time around?


  21. If we do it, its gonna have to be a team effort, a real one, because for some reason or another, the suns defend kobe better than any other team. Everyone is gonna have to bring something, from Sasha to Lamar, I hope we play with passion and execute with precision, that and a little luck


  22. warren (philippines) April 19, 2007 at 1:08 am

    Now we got the win and off to Phoenix we go.

    I’m still convinced that the Farmar move was good. Though it must be noted that Kwame was very good in this game too.

    I’m pretty hopeful about the series… Game1 for me is a very crucial indicator. Phoenix will be firing from all cylinders thats to be expected. What we can do is slow it down a bit. Farmar in the 1st quarter should paint a picture of how the series will end up. I believe he is a decent defender against Steve Nash. Jordan will be the “X” factor. One match-up I like is Ronny Turiaf on Amare. Strength-wise he can heads up defend. Lamar Odom as seen many times defend Marion well too.

    Just as Greg Anthony said, the playoffs is about the better team. They usually win. The one quickest to make the adjustments and the one quickest to respond to the “game-plan” is whats important. The thought of being underdogs is an advantage. What have we got to lose, right? But it shouldn’t get in our minds. We shouldn’t be convinced that losing it is OK.


    Nash vs. Farmar
    Bell vs. Kobe
    Marion vs. Odom
    Amare vs. Turiaf
    Thomas vs. Kwame

    if Phoenix plays small ball, Walton should me matched up with Raja Bell and Kobe on Nash.

    Barbosa for me IS Phoenix’s X-factor. He’s the hardest to match up. Maybe Evans can chase him around.


    Phil Jackson should be secretly cursing Andrew BYnum’s MOM and call her names. Maybe that’ll bring out the man in him. No more Boyish smiles, angry looks Andrew that’s what we need.

    Luke Walton is rather weak defensively when matched with Marion. Marion is too quick and to wily for him. Baseline alley-oops are a beauty if you’re rooting for Phoenix. I’ve seen that with Denver a couple of times too. Andre Miller to Marcus Camby or to Melo stuff.

    Smush has to be revived a bit. He can play with fire too. Let Him be the Sixth man. Maybe if he could limit Barbosa and chase him around maybe he’d get a contract this summer.

    On offense, Kobe playing the point should be abandoned. Kobe is our only scorer. Lamar Odom should create more shots for spot-ups like Vlade Radman in the corner or Cookie in the wing.

    Theres a choice. We can let this be a happy experience or we can make it a learning one. I prefer the latter. Go all out on trying to “fix” Amare’s game from 2 feet to 8-10 feet from the basket. Push him, deny him the entry. Though that’s easier said than done with Nash around.


  23. warren (philippines) April 19, 2007 at 1:19 am

    I like the idea of matching up vs. Phoenix. contrary to ian’s view, I like what Phoenix does.


    This is great, instead of getting thoroughly dismantled by Mark Cuban’s boys we get to be slaughtered and carved up by Nash and Amara running endless pick and rolls.

    Comment by ian — April 18, 2007 @ 10:46 pm

    The Phoenix pick-and-roll is theoretically easy to defend. Simply defend Nash. He is deadlier than Amare. An amare penetration is worth 1-2-3 points. Nash is a sure 2-3 at least. Raja Bell will be a sitting duck waiting at the corner for a killer three. Farmar should defend Nash’s left. He’s right-handed right? Help defense can get that. But San Antonio defense cannot even stop his left.

    Nash is multi-dimensional and that’s what makes him deadly. Offensively he can shoot and he can penetrate. I’m sold at Sasha coming in for Farmar and put at least 4 fouls on him in the 1st half. He’ll be too exhausted in the second. Smush vs. nash is a gimme. I tell you SMushky, stay away from Stevie.


  24. Warren, actually the book on Nash and the Suns is to make him a shooter. The Suns are a better team when he is dishing the ball and everyone scores. Letting Nash shoot is not a great choice because he can score, but he’s not a Kobe-style 50 point guy. If he has 20 and 15 assists, that is far worse than him scoring 30+.


  25. warren (philippines) April 19, 2007 at 2:47 am

    thats exactly what I meant. MAke Nash shoot more and pass less.


  26. Ooh boy..It’s pick-your-poison time…But I agree with Kurt in that we’re better off with Nashie as a spot up shooter than playmaker but one thing to be noticed about the Suns offense is that it doesn’t involve a whole lotta off-the-ball movement a la the Sactown Motion offense a coupla yrs back,which was just as potent..This is primarily because besides Nash,the Blur and the Frenchie,this Suns team just does not have the all around ball handling and/or passing skills to keep their much vaunted offense chugging along..IMO,the key is to get Marion and Amare to try and put the ball on the floor and create by themselves..And to do this v gotta get the damn roundie outta Stevie Wonder’s hands..Since v do have three guards theoretically capable of guarding Nash,y don’t we try and use Farmar,Sasha and Smush (in that order) to try and single cover Nash the whole 90 feet?? Kinda like a full court press but only for Nash…Is that too wacky a defensive alignment?? Lemme know…


  27. (22) (23) Warren, I’m with Kurt on a best poison defensive strategy against Nash. Force him to shoot (sort of like what Farmar did against Bibby in the first quarter). No mater what we do, it will be painful. He’s not a two time NBA MVP by accident.

    There are other elements.

    If we look to the last Phoenix/Lakers game as a compass, you can see that we were on course with a slowdown/defense minded orientation. We matched them point-for-point for most of the game. Problem is, we lost.

    Why would we win this time?

    1. Kwame Brown. He has to be an Amare nightmare. Kwame was the biggest difference maker last year. Times have not changed the significance of his role, but we’ve now got Ronnie to add to Amare’s nightmare!

    2. Smush as 6th man is the wrong number. I’m not sure that the right number is 16, but I have a good rule of thumb: bench the Smusher when Nash is on the court. Nash actually uses Smush as an offensive weapon. By selective use of the notorious Smushian turnstyle defense in various locations on court, Nash can pick his offensive poison and/or set up fouls against Laker key players.

    3. Keep Kobe rested enough (w/Evans) so that he is not totally worn down by playing such aggressive defense. We don’t necessarily need that many points from him in a slow down game. We need a high percentage.

    Kobe’s role in this last Sactown victory is a good prescription for the entire series against these Sungods–who may be more mortal than most people think.


  28. There was a good analysis on playing Nash on the LA Times blog (sorry guys, but they do have some good comments – even if there is too much junk too).

    It was aimed at making him a scorer and how to force him to the baseline and under the basket. The key was not to let people other than the center (Kwame) and the guard (Farmar) collapse on him and leave their man. Ok, that isn’t new, but there was some good stuff on how exactly to do this.


  29. Smush can torch Nash on the offensive end though. I think he is a good player to have coming off the bench bringing energy and athleticism.

    I’ve said this before, but Smush fits the Devin Harris type of role for this team. He just needs to keep working on his defense.


  30. Smush vs Devin Harris??? Sorry, can’t buy that.