Tag Archives: Sacramento Kings

Buy em, Sell em, Hold em with the Stavster: Pacific Division (Part Deux)

Unknown

Hey Guys,

I can’t believe it’s been 5 weeks since I started BSH.  Sadly, like all good things, this series is nearing its conclusion. Unless Bangkok or Dublin miraculously pick up teams in the next few weeks, our journey will end on the West Coast. Today, I’m going to shed a little light on the cellar of the Pacific Division.  While most people’s basements might be crawling with junk, it’s my job to scavenge for the forgotten treasure. Now that you guys are savvy investors, you know it’s time to go digging. Let’s go.

Los Angeles Lakers: Hold

It may come as a surprise that I’m not pounding the sell button on this one.  The Lakers have perhaps run into a brick wall.  The organization lost out on Dwight, Kobe’s not getting any younger and frankly, they’ve got nothing waiting in the wings. So why not short this seemingly doomed organization?  Perhaps, because it’s like asking a Goldman Sachs analyst to short Google or Apple. At the end of the day, the Lakers have a track record of excellence.  While I’m not saying the 2013-2014 campaign will be a splendid one in Lakerland, I’m not betting against the Gold and Purple’s long-term prospects.

Los Angeles has a couple things going for itself.  After Kobe’s and Pau Gasol’s deals are up, they’ve got virtually no money locked up anywhere else.  Coupled with the lure and prestige of Hollywood, I wouldn’t doubt that some notable players would have interest in suiting up for the Lakers come 2014-2015. While I cannot defend the team’s current roster, the Lakers are never out for too long.

After Magic and “Showtime,” they reloaded with Kobe and Shaq. After Shaq, they got Pau.  After Bynum, they went out and got Dwight.  While the latter didn’t work out, you get the gist. The organization is capable of making a big splash at any given time.  On Wall Street, sudden positive news can create a short squeeze.  A short squeeze is when all the people who shorted the stock have to cover and buy the stock, driving the price up. I’ve seen this story play one too many times to succumb to this greedy trade.

Sacramento Kings: Hold

As much I love the Boogie Man, I cannot make a serious investment in a team that plays in the Sleepy Town Arena. For what its worth, I think that the Kings have actually had a decent off-season.  The Maloof (Foolam) brothers no longer can ineptly run the team and Tyreke Evans is out of town. Here’s my main problem with the Kings: Before the game even starts, they know the 4th quarter will most likely be garbage time.  Until this culture flips a 180, I’m on the sidelines as an investor.

Nevertheless, any team featuring my man Boog has me gleaming with optimism. While the Kings might not be good in the near future, these two occurrences are definitely steps in the right direction.  Throw in the hiring of new GM Pete D’Alessandro, a basketball analytics whiz, and Boogie and company seemed to have bottomed out.

Perhaps D’Alessandro doesn’t think it’s a good idea to have a cohort of “me-first” wings hogging the ball.  His predecessors clearly didn’t get the memo, employing Evans, Marcus Thornton and John Salmons at the same time. Now, the Kings have a pass-first point guard in Greivis Vasquez and might have snagged the steal of the draft in Ben McLemore to play the two. If DeMarcus Cousins makes the steps we all know he’s capable of, Sacramento actually looks like they might have some cohesion in the starting lineup.

Don’t look now but the Kings might have something brewing in Sac-Town.  (Pssst…I secretly hope they fail so I can buy them in seven years.)

Phoenix Suns: Buy

There are very few things I remember about the Jazz from the 1998 NBA Finals.   While Karl Malone and John Stockton are givens, I can recall two other things that have stuck in the back of my mind throughout the past 15 years: Utah’s warm-up jackets and Jeff Hornacek. Now, in 2013, the former sharpshooter has been named the head coach of the Phoenix Suns.  While I usually don’t read into new hires immediately, Hornacek has said all the right things.

In 2012-2013, Phoenix was one of the  worst offensive teams in the league.  For a franchise led by Steve Nash the past decade, this was a rare sight for basketball fans in the desert. Perhaps their greatest inefficiency was the roster’s propensity to chuck up low-percentage, two-point field goals. You don’t have to be an analytics nerd to understand that the expected value of such attempts is way lower than interior shots or three-pointers.

Let’s put this in perspective for a second. In order for the Suns to have any chance against a quality opponent, two things would have to happen:

1)    The Suns shoot a significantly better percentage than their opponents.  Over the long run, this is an unsustainable trend.

2)    They would have to hold a dramatic possession per game advantage.  Also, extremely unsustainable.

Thus, the Suns are making a concerted effort to avoid low-percentage, low expected value shots.  Extremely concrete in his objective, Hornacek wants the Suns to score 102.9 points a game.  I’m not making that up. Additionally, the combination of Goran Dragic and newcomer Eric Bledsoe should insure that the Suns are constantly playing up-tempo. While rookie Alex Len and the Morris twins are still works in progress, I like what’s going on in the Valley of the Sun.

I’d hold this for five years and expect significant appreciation. Oh, and Phoenix management, you can kick that punk Michael Beasley out of town already. Folks, this entry concluded the Buy em, Sell em, Hold em series.  I hope you enjoyed my valuation of the industry and learned something along the way. Who knows, maybe the NBA Stock Exchange will open on Monday and this information will suddenly become valuable.

If you haven’t read the series, you’ll never find out.

Have a good weekend,

-Steve

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DeMarcus Cousins: My Love Affair with the Boogie Man

Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins, Chris Paul

Hey Guys,

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a bit of a paradox.  While I might seem impossible to please, I’m actually the easiest to please. Having said this, there are a few things that I irrationally enjoy: chewing ice, watching stock tickers go up and down, White Sox baseball and DeMarcus Cousins. While I could talk your ear off about my favorite texture of ice or the Sox’s future prospects, this is not the venue to do so. However, thanks to my superiors here at DRaT, I can laud over Boogie on this forum.

I’ve been asked the following question many a time: out of all the players in the NBA (to love unconditionally), why DeMarcus Cousins?

The love-story began sometime sophomore year of college.  At the AEPI house, we were fortune enough to have NBA League Pass. The world of League Pass opens brand new doors for NBA fans.  Suddenly, a Wednesday night Sacramento-Portland match-up was fair game.  I know, exciting. It must have been on one of these lame duck nights where the Boogie Man caught my eye. From a basketball perspective, he displays it all: solid interiors moves, surprisingly good vision, a decent stroke and loads of potential.  From a chirping standpoint, he’s in a class of his own.

See, DeMarcus and Technical Fouls are like Peanut Butter and Jelly.  They’re just meant to be together.  Or Adam and Orah, for a more accurate depiction. While he’s no stranger to swinging an elbow or jawing his mouth off, Cousins just wants to succeed and prove that he’s the type of talent that warrants a front office firing its head coach.

For a player like Cousins, Sacramento might have been the worst destination coming out of Kentucky.  At the time, the Kings had no semblance of veteran leadership (still true today) and the most-inept owners in the NBA running the show. Plus, add in how lame Sacramento is and it’s understandable why the Boogie Man has to throw his own parties…. Doesn’t necessarily scream like a great setting for developing a 20-year-old kid. In his three years in the league, I will contend that Cousins has actually done a decent job acclimating to the pros.

Basketball analysis:

He’s one of the most efficient low post scorers, improved his free-throw percentage each season and cut down on his fouls.  Assuming he continues these trends, he should be a monster as he enters his prime.  Remember, he’s only turning 23!

Until now, Cousins has been an NBA orphan, alone in this league.  Refs don’t like him, coaches can’t stand him and most fans are sick of his antics. I’m not of those fans.  It probably has to do with the fact that I play a lot like Boogie on the court.  Of course, minus the skilled part. I like to chirp at my opponent but I’m constantly trying to win the game. No matter the venue, the Sleepy-Town Arena or Life Time in Vernon Hills, that’s the objective of the game.  Down deep, I think Boogie gets that.

While the man’s not foreign to bad shot selection or dogging it down the court, he plays his behind off when push comes to shove. On April 5th, Cousins and Blake Griffin got into an altercation during a Clippers win.  Cousins called Griffin a “baby” and an “actor” for his soft-play.  On a side note, Boogie was probably right.

Less than two weeks later, in the final game of the regular season, Boogie singlehandedly beat the Clips by logging 36 points and 22 rebounds. After the game, Cousins said the following, “I gave it my all. I did it for the fans. It was also a statement going into next season. I want to do more for the fans and win more games.”

He’s got cohones. He’s got a mean side.  But most importantly, he’s got a ton of skill.  Just check out this dunk.

I also think that’s why new ownership will hand DeMarcus a big, fat max deal in the near future. While I love that the Kings wear purple and that I share the same initials as the franchise, I hope that you guys can see that my love for the Boogie Man is real.

(Editor’s note: Steve goes by DeStavster Cousins on Twitter, and is generally insane.)

Western Conference Early Off-Season Report Cards Part II, by Professor Weiner

Jake Weiner

Kevin-Durant-and-Russell-Westbrook

If you missed Part I of the professor’s off-season report cards, check it out here.

Minnesota Timberwolves

2012-13 record: 31-51 (12th)

Biggest departures: Andrei Kirilenko, David KAHHHHHHHHN

Biggest arrivals: Kevin Martin, Shabazz Muhammed

Analysis: Minnesota has made a lot of noise this summer. First, they finally got rid of former GM David Kahn. In Kahn’s tumultuous time in Minnesota, he somehow managed to alienate the superstar that he inherited (Kevin Love), draft two point guards in the same draft lottery (Ricky Rubio and Australian league superstar Johnny Flynn) and completely botch a #2 overall pick (Derrick Williams, I do not believe in you). Flip Saunders has replaced Kahn and got things started quickly by flipping the 8th pick (Trey Burke) in the draft to Utah for what turned into Shabazz Muhammed and Gorgui Dieng, a sound move that added depth and potential. However, Kirilenko turned down his $10 million player option* and the Wolves chose to renounce him and agree to terms with an extension for Chase Budinger and a four year deal for sharpshooter Kevin Martin. While Minnesota desperately needed shooting, I don’t know if it was worth losing AK47. His defensive value was unmatched last season and Kevin Martin is a verifiable black hole. Even assuming Nikola Pekovic signs a deal to stay, I’m still worried about this team getting stops. If Pekovic walks, this grade suffers more.

Grade: C+

*-“what an iiiiiidiot!” -Wedding Crashers voice

New Orleans Pelicans

2012-13 record: 27-55 (14th)

Biggest departures: Robin Lopez, Greivis Vasquez

Biggest arrivals: Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans

Analysis: It feels kinda good to write Pelicans; sue me. The Pels (definitely enjoying this) made a splash on draft night by flipping the sixth pick (Nerlens Noel) and a 2014 first rounder for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. They weren’t done yet, inking Tyreke Evans to a four year offer sheet before agreeing to a three team swap that moved Lopez and Vasquez out of town. I have mixed feelings about New Orleans’ off-season. I thought they overpaid for Holiday, but Noel was a franchise-killing risk that they swapped for an extremely young and talented point guard. However, if they can’t put it together this year, the 2014 pick they surrendered will be worth a lot. The Tyreke Evans move confuses more. The Pels already have Eric Gordon, who makes max money and is having trouble staying on the court. Why add another project wing for double digit millions? Now, the Pelicans have lost their big man depth and must rely on Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson to shore up the defense. Anderson is a strictly offensive player and Davis is still undersized at center. Moving Lopez was a risk that may only be mitigated if Anderson gets flipped, perhaps for defensive specialist Omer Asik. In total, I don’t hate this off-season for New Orleans because they added legitimate young talent as well as gave their fans reasons to be excited. Depending on what happens with Anderson, this grade could change.

Grade: B-

Oklahoma City Thunder

2012-13 record: 60-22 (1st)

Biggest departures: Kevin Martin

Biggest arrivals: Steven Adams

Analysis: The Thunder have done very little this off-season, which is mostly understandable. They have very little cap flexibility and can’t afford* to pay the luxury tax like big market franchises. Steven Adams is only a big arrival because any minutes he steals from Kendrick Perkins should help the team, if only because Kendrick Perkins isn’t playing basketball for them. The Thunder chose to let Martin walk, which was probably the right choice given the circumstances. He can’t play any defense and he commands more money than he’s worth in the sixth man role he filled last season. However, the departure of Martin and arrival of Adams serve to prove how badly GM Sam Presti screwed up by trading James Harden to H-Town for a couple picks and Martin. Martin’s gone, and the best pick turned into Steven Adams. Don’t fall over yourselves in joy, Thunder fans.

Grade: C

*- YEAH RIGHT! I don’t believe this shit. They could’ve paid Harden.

Phoenix Suns

2012-13 record: 25-57 (15th)

Biggest departures: Jared Dudley

Biggest arrivals: Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len

Analysis: The Suns have been relatively quiet, but their one major move really stood out to me. While Jared Dudley is a productive wing who can really help the Clippers contend, he had no value to a rock-bottom rebuilding team like Phoenix. By flipping him for energetic young point guard Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix has found a real potential future prize. Bledsoe wreaked havoc off the bench last year, tallying up stats in every category as he led the league’s best second unit. Now that he’s not behind Chris Paul, Bledsoe will have more room to grow and mature into a lethal point or combo guard, depending how Phoenix sees him and incumbent Goran Dragic. Len may have been a riskier pick than Noel or Ben McLemore, but the new Suns’ front office liked the potential they saw in him and rolled the dice. In one summer, Phoenix may have added the PG and C of their future.

Grade: A-

Portland Trail Blazers

2012-13 record: 33-49 (11th)

Biggest departures: J.J. Hickson

Biggest arrivals: Robin Lopez, CJ McCollum

Analysis: Portland had a promising starting five last year but literally no depth. I’m not kidding, Stavi could’ve snagged a few bench minutes on the wings. They drafted combo guard CJ McCollum from Lehigh who they want to pair with reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, something of a combo guard himself. Furthermore, Rip City took advantage of a three way trade and landed Robin Lopez for virtually nothing. This was a strong move. There’s value to a 12-6 guy who can block shots and defend the rim; he should fit nicely with LaMarcus Aldridge*. I expect Portland to improve, but they’ll have to do more than this if they want to contend in the Western Conference.

Grade: B+

*- Aldridge reportedly asked to be traded to Chicago, but the Bulls won’t budge on Joakim Noah. Good. Aldridge would be terrific in Chicago but Noah is the Bulls’ second most important player.

Sacramento Kings

2012-13 record: 28-54 (13th)

Biggest departures: Tyreke Evans, the Maloofs*

Biggest arrivals: Greivis Vasquez, Carl Landry, new owners/GM/coach

Analysis: The Kings have been the laughingstock of the NBA for a decade or so. With the Maloofs at last selling the team, it’s finally over. The new ownership group brought in a smart GM and hired highly regarded Warriors’ assistant Mike Malone as the head coach. The first big decisions the new group would have to make is whether to build around Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins or deal them and their baggage. Their hand might’ve been forced, but the Kings elected not to match New Orleans’ $44 million offer and agreed to a sign and trade that landed the Kings a solid PG in Vasquez and some draft picks. Word is, however, that the team wants to resign Cousins to an extension. He wants big money, so we’ll have to see how that plays out. Only a few moves have been made, but the new ownership group in Sacramento is universes better than the pathetic Maloofs.

Grade: B+

*- the Maloofs were legitimately the worst owners in NBA history.

San Antonio Spurs

2012-13 record: 58-24 (2nd)

Biggest departures: none

Biggest arrivals: Marco Belinelli

Analysis: The Spurs have dished out some serious cash to keep the band together. And why not? Although they’re considered the old warriors of the NBA, outside of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs are quite young. Tony Parker is still in his prime and Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter and other key contributors are very young. The Spurs locked up Splitter to a four year, $36 million extension, which is a lot*. Big men get paid in the NBA though, and the Spurs have spent far too long developing Splitter into Duncan’s perfect sidekick to let him walk now. Splitter is young, talented and big; those guys get paid. The Spurs also brought back Manu on a two year, $14 million deal, which isn’t exactly a hometown discount. Regardless, he had to stay. Finally, they snatched Marco Belinelli, former Chicago Bull, on a relatively cheap two year deal. If the Spurs can’t retain Gary Neal (restricted free agent), Belinelli should do well to replace him. The Spurs have brought back the whole rotation from last year’s team that was seconds from capturing a championship. Can’t hate.

Grade: B+

*- too much for me. I wouldn’t have necessarily let Splitter walk, but the Spurs struck quickly to lock him up. They couldn’t have shaved off a few milli?

Utah Jazz

2012-13 record: 43-39 (9th)

Biggest departures: Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Randy Foye

Biggest arrivals: Brandon Rush, massive contracts

Analysis: The Jazz decided to plan for 2014. Given the situation, it’s hard to blame them. Millsap and Jefferson were both unrestricted free agents and the Jazz decided they’d rather develop Derrick Favors* and Enes Kanter than shell out big bucks to get slaughtered in the first round again. This was expected. What really surprised everyone was taking on the expiring contracts of Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson to give Golden State the cap space to ink Andre Iguodala. Utah snagged a couple first round picks by doing this, but it’s gotta be tough to swallow for Jazz fans. They have no chance of making the playoffs next year but are set up really nicely for the future. There’s probably not a better way they could’ve transitioned from a borderline playoff team to punching a lottery ticket.

Grade: B

*- big Favors fan. He’s a freak.

What’s up with the Pelicans?

Pelican

Thursday afternoon news broke that the Kings, Pelicans and Trail Blazers had agreed to a three team deal that had interesting implications for several players. The main components of the deal were as follows: The Kings sign and traded Tyreke Evans to the Pelicans. The Pelicans sent PG Greivis Vasquez to the Kings and big man Robin Lopez to Portland. Portland doled out some second round picks and some shit that nobody cares about.

For Sacramento, this trade is significant because in a way it signals the changing of the guard. The franchise has lived with the world’s largest black cloud hanging over its head for nearly the last decade, as the team has become a laughing stock in the league. Owned by the financially troubled Maloof brothers, the franchise seemingly made bad decision after bad decision. With a new ownership group, front office and coaching staff, some of those previous blunders are being undone. Letting Tyreke go is a bit of foreshadowing with how I believe the team will deal with DeMarcus Cousins.

But when taking a look at the Pelicans roster, it’s not hard to notice that this club is constructed more like a fantasy team than a team looking to vie for a playoff spot in the incredibly challenging and deep Western Conference. The Pelicans now employ three different players who:

1. Are all being paid over $10 million a year

2. Are not known for their ability to catch and shoot

3.  Are accustomed to having the ball in their hands all the time.

Even if Monty Williams is able to coax Tyreke into either coming off the bench or playing small forward, I believe it is going to be hard for this team to manufacture points. Yes, they still employ Ryan Anderson, a top shooter in the entire league, and who knows what year two of The Brow will look like, but the totally revamped backcourt in New Orleans is going to run into some trouble.

And this is just looking at the pure playing styles of all three of these guards. The personalities of these players also raise a lot of questions in a game where teamwork is indispensable. Eric Gordon, the big prize in the controversial Chris Paul trade from two summers ago, has not panned out like many NBA experts had predicted. While injuries have robbed him of the necessary court time to put his personal stamp on the team, there have been off the court episodes that have raised some red flags for the organization. Last year, as a restricted free agent, Gordon signed a giant offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns and then told members of the media that “Phoenix is where my heart is now.” When the Hornets (they were the Hornets back in those days) matched the offer sheet, Gordon was very upset. He missed the first several months of the 2012-13 NBA season with a mysterious knee injury that some people speculated was not as bad as Gordon was making it seem, using the injury as a way to force New Orleans to trade him.

While the Pelis (can I start that? is that cool?) may not be done wheeling and dealing, it seems as though this is going to be the core next season. For all I know, having so many capable pick and roll ball handlers could serve as an advantage that no other team can match up against. Austin Rivers could take a step forward, seeing as he literally cannot take any more steps backward.

The only sure thing is that this NBA offseason has been wild so far and is still far from being over.