Every Sunday (actually just this Sunday but maybe next Sunday too), I do a twitter mailbag. These may be questions/observations you’ve made in the past week, or just random things I found interesting. As always these are real tweets from probably real people:
You’ve seen this by now. Kosta was killing it in the win over the Sixers, and the cameras found him on the sideline doing….well…..I don’t know what the hell he was doing. Listen, we all talk to ourselves. We all have conversations with the man in the mirror, we just don’t do it during a live broadcast. Whatever it was, I don’t care if Kosta was talking to aliens from Uranus, as long as he continues to play the way he played that night.
Kosta, of course, claims he was talking to someone off camera. I ain’t buyin’ it KK-
Yeah. Little green men. I got you my man.
So I’ve gotten some version of this tweet almost every day for the last two weeks.
-Why isn’t ________ starting?
-Bury George Hill
-Trade George Hill
-Don’t play the vets
Here’s the thing- I get it. I really do. And this isn’t going to be the most popular answer, but you have to play George Hill, because you have to trade George Hill. Generally, here’s a very normal conversation process I see online or hear on my show-
“Dude, (player X) sucks! He’s terrible. He’s almost as bad as (player Y)! If Vlade was smart he’d trade Players X and Y, and throw in (Player Z that also sucks) for a good starter and/or a draft pick!!”
Here’s the problem- other GMs are ALSO trying to keep their job. And quantity almost never, EVER, equals quantity. You can’t just throw your scraps over to another team and get some value. And stop trying to justify it in your head as well.
“Yeah, but (Player X who has sucked teat for us) is just not comfortable in our system, but in THEIR system he’d be amazing. Plus (Players Y and Z) would provide them some amazing depth! ZOMG DO IT”
K. But please remember the Sacramento Kings are one of the 5 worst teams in the NBA. Odds are, if a player can’t bust through on this team, they aren’t going to bust through on another team. Sure there are exceptions to this rule, but other GMs have to answer to their owners and their fanbases.
So we take the Curious Case of George Hill. He hasn’t been horrible, but he certainly hasn’t been good either. I have no answers. Is he nursing an injury? Not to mine or anyone else’s knowledge. Is it the system? Highly doubt it. I have no freaking clue but George Hill hasn’t been worth 10 million, much less 20. BUT- and I’m using the word BUT here- he’s the exact type of player that is the antithesis of what I was just speaking of. He has built up enough of a history that a contending team in need of an injury replacement may just fire off a 1st rounder they won’t really need anyway. Especially a 2019 1st rounder that coincidentally the Kings currently don’t possess (hi Philly).
But in order to get value for Hill, you have to play him. Also doesn’t hurt if you start him as well. People need to chill about De’Aaron Fox for two reasons:
- He’s 8th in the NBA in rookie minutes played at 26.8 a game
- He’s leading the team in minutes
- HE’S LEADING THE TEAM IN MINUTES!!!!!
Sheesh. So yeah, the youth needs to develop. But George Hill needs to keep his value (and so does Koufos and any other veteran we may want to move). So that brings us to our next most popular question-
I’m not picking on you Tabrez. There are about 1,338,302 versions of this tweet. What’s up with Coach’s rotations? Why isn’t he playing the best guys at XYZ spots?
Answer: He doesn’t KNOW what works yet. He has about 39 combinations he needs to try in about 38 different scenarios.
-How do Willie and Fox play together to close out the half?
-How do Bogdan and Justin Jackson play together down the stretch?
-Can this guy play with 3 bigs? Can that guy play with 3 guards? Can they do it against small/big lineups/early/late in games?
You get the idea.
As I said earlier, De’Aaron Fox leads the team in minutes per game. Dave Joerger has TEN guys playing between 18.8 and 26.8 minutes per game (Fox with the 26.8). Do you have any idea how difficult that is to do? You’re damn near playing your entire team the same amount of minutes, give or take 5. Through the first 10 games of the year, I think its pretty clear what Joerger is trying to do:
-Test the rookies
-Get the rookies minutes
-Throw the rookies into every possible situation with every possible combo
-Keep at least one vet on the floor whenever possible
-Seeing how player X does in pressure situations is more valuable than winning a ballgame
And that’s the toughest thing for fans to accept, and I get it. Guys- there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING this front office/Coaching staff is going to do to jeopardize a top 5 pick this summer. Its not going to happen. You will see guys rest. You will see guys sit. You will see Slamson at the 4 before you see this team win 30 games. The stakes are far too important. The Kings aren’t trying to build a “treadmill team” that competes for a playoff spot every year. They are trying to compete for a championship. They are trying to gather maximum young assets over a three year period:
Year one-Grab Skal, take a flyer on Papa, secure Bogdan, get Malachi. Trade Demarcus Cousins, add another rookie in Buddy Hield. Get another pick in the draft. Play who you can, learn what you can. You have 3-4 years.
Year two-Draft Fox. Trade the 10 you got for Cousins for Justin Jackson and a potential lottery ticket in Harry Giles. Draft Frank Mason. Play who you can, learn what you can. You have 3-4 years.
Year three-Another hopefully top 5 pick. Expend whatever assets you were able to pick up from Year 3, use them in this draft (or the next).
2020- All your vets from 2017 are gone. Willie Cauley-Stein (if still here), is your longest tenured player. You now know what you have in Skal, Papa, Malachi, and Bogdan. Your guys from Year Two (Fox, etc) are now full NBA contributors. Your oldest vet (perhaps) is 27 years old (Bogdan). Golden State, Cleveland, Houston, and most other contending teams of today are on the downward spiral.
This is the plan. And the beginning of the plan isn’t very fun. Wins aren’t important, though you don’t want to build a culture of losing. Time, development, and as Vince Carter said the other day “Learning the RIGHT way” is what matters. It takes longer to unlearn bad habits than it does to learn things correct the first time.
This season is basically one big training camp, with the hopes of another Fox-type draft pick at the end of the rainbow. And that’s tough for people to hear. Its tough for people to hear in early November that the plan is focused on summer and next season, but really the season after. It’s tough for season ticket holders to know they’re at least two years away from a winning team.
Above all, its the worst feeling to know that you can do everything “right”, and still fail (injury, failed draft picks, etc). I get it.
I’m saying all this not to depress you, but to hopefully keep driving it home. The Kings aren’t going to come out and say “Hey come see the team, but really we aren’t trying that hard to win this year, here’s where to buy tickets!”
But that’s what’s happening, and its the EXACT right (and responsible) thing to do. As long as the franchise higher ups stay patient and don’t panic, they’ll have a great chance of being fine.