Monday , Nov , 19 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Sacramento Kings in Turmoil: Five Symptoms of the Problem

I am intrigued by Reggie Theus’ curfew and Ron Artest’s statement that he will abide by it. I don’t believe anything Artest says until I see it, but I’m going to give Theus some credit for reestablishing the player-coach line. We’ll see how this turns out.

I heard one rumor that the morning shoot-around was instituted to make sure Wilt Chamberlain did not stay out too late. There’s also the statement that players are often flat on Sunday afternoon games because that is right in the middle of their normal nap-time. I do not begrudge the nap time; I’m jealous and wish I could have one. 

Theus’ most recent move, however, does not seem to be sitting well with at least one player and could do “player relations” damage to him. He removed John Salmons from the starting lineup as soon as Artest had served his seven-game suspension. He was averaging about 21 points per game before he got benched.

Then there’s this article in which the interviewer asks Kings’ management whether they’re planning to tank the season.

Are you in full rebuilding mode or trying to reach the playoffs even though that means worse drafting position for what is being projected as a very strong 2007-08 class?

I wonder if the media is trying to give Theus a not-so-subtle hint. It seems the Kings have tried to lose the last two games.

In the last two games, although they were wins, Sacramento has let leads slip away. They failed to protect the ball and take good shots against New York last Friday but eked out a double-overtime victory. Last night, they tried to give the lead away to Detroit, but Rasheed Wallace would have none of that, so after getting called for a foul he argued his way to a technical and led assistant coach Dave Cowens down the technical path of destruction as well. A four-point play turned into a nine-point lead with two minutes to go. The Kings did not have enough time to lose the lead again, although they tried. Errant passes and poor shot selection plagued the end of that game.

Beno Udrih is now playing with an inferior team (he spent three years in San Antonio) and is starting to show some of his stuff. He has three starts already (six total in San Antonio) and is averaging 14 points and 4 assists per game.

To recap:

(1)    The Kings now have a curfew and Artest claims to be a proponent of it.

(2)    Artest is back – at least until he needs to promote another album – and a hardworking up-and-comer gets benched.

(3)    The Sacramento media thinks the Kings should already be planning for the draft lottery.

(4)    The players might be listening, but Isiah Thomas and Rasheed Wallace appear to be scared of what might happen if Sac-Town earn another high lottery pick.

(5)    With the absence of Mike Bibby, the point is being run by someone who used to share time with Jacque Vaughn and Matt Bonner.

For you Suns fans, the teams match-up with back-to-back games on Tuesday (in Sacramento) and Wednesday (in Phoenix). The Suns wanted Salmons two summers ago, but he chose the Kings and Phoenix signed Marcus Banks. Since he’s been benched for Artest, he might be wondering if he made the right decision. And, for the Suns, you just never know what’s going to happen with Artest on the floor.