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Chainmail: Answering your questions with James Ham

This week we welcome special guest, James Ham of NBCS!

Welcome back to Chainmail! This week, we have the privilege of welcoming Sacramento Kings insider James Ham of NBCS to the mailbag to answer some of your questions. We're talking keeping Harrison Barnes, trading Harrison Barnes, pushing for the playoffs, tanking, and much, much more!

Let's dive right in!

From 1951:

Fox, Buddy, Barnes, Rese and Bagley cost about $85m next year. Holmes is unsigned.

 

Advocate for those who want to keep Barnes – show me a realistic roster next year and show your work. Just saying “trade Buddy” is not enough, show me a realistic trade and convince me another team wants him at his current cost.

James: You lost me at “show your work.” In all honesty, the Kings base roster - Fox, Buddy, Tyrese, Barnes, Bagley and Holmes isn’t all that bad. Dealing away Hield won’t be easy and his ability to stretch the floor is a big reason why Fox has any driving lanes at all. Giving away Barnes in a salary dump will only leave a 35 minute a game hole in the Kings’ rotation.

The roster for next season might look similar, but with the likely departures of Cory Joseph, Nemanja Bjelica, Jabari Parker, Hassan Whiteside, Glenn Robinson III and one or more of the younger players.

Where the Kings can realistically improve is by adding better versions of the players that won’t be back. They need a center that can block shots, but keep up with the pace of the Kings’ offense. They need a defensive minded guard that can push the tempo. They need a bigger 3-and-D wing and a stretch four that can run.

Players like Robert Woodard, DaQuan Jeffries and Jahmi’us Ramsey can be part of the roster and might fill one or more of these roles, but Monte McNair has his work cut out for him.

In a perfect world, the Kings would use expiring contracts with second round sweeteners to add one or more of these pieces at the trade deadline. They should be able to find another player that fills a void in the 2021 draft.

They’ll have some salary space to work with and the fact that Holmes only has a $6.5 million cap hold allows the team to go out and use what space they have and then potentially bring him back on a full mid level or maybe a little higher.

None of this is sexy, but with improvements expected from Fox, Haliburton and Bagley and some savvy additions in the draft and free agency, this team could perform better next season.

Tim: I think there's probably a market out there for Buddy Hield, assuming that he's the definitive odd man out to generate some cap flexibility for the offseason. The Pelicans, Mavericks, and Sixers all need shooting and have the right type of contracts to consummate a deal, so if the Kings are determined to move Buddy, they can get that done.

I will disagree with James in his assessment of the roster. "Not that bad" isn't exactly a great trajectory, especially when considering the cost and the age of this group. If we only trade one of Buddy or Barnes, most of the team's available cap space will be used to re-sign Richaun Holmes, assuming that he's a priority moving forward. I don't think he can be brought back using his early bird rights or even the mid-level exception. We need cap space or he walks.

If that's the case, there isn't really a way to add better versions of Cory Joseph and Nemanja Bjelica, and that's not even concerning one's self with the possibility of improving the starting lineup, which isn't up to par either. The MLE can only go so far, and next year's crop of free agents isn't exactly world-shattering either. We can hope that the Kings find another quality player in the draft, but betting on that late lottery pick to be as good or better than Tyrese Haliburton isn't a particularly wise path.

Going back to Barnes, if the Kings feel he's irreplaceable in the short-term, they can keep him if they're willing to make other sacrifices down the road, such as letting Holmes go in free agency if he gets too expensive. Personally, I think this team isn't getting to the 10th seed at full strength to even battle for the final playoff spot, so if a team offers any decent value for any of the non-core players, Monte McNair should pull the trigger.

Will: I love how these first answers are a slow descent into Kangz-centric nihilism. If the starting roster + 6th man for opening day next season is Fox, Buddy, Tyrese, Barnes, Bagley, Holmes my soul is going to miraculously gain mass and bust through my rib cage like a Xenomorphic chestburster doing a Marshawn Lynch impression. This team's core is Fox and Haliburton. Fox. Haliburton. I know I have to live in a real world where acquiring ONLY young assets is apparently not a recipe for long term success and so I'll safely assume that at least one of those three vets is still on the team next year, but if I had my druthers, Buddy and Barnes would be gone at the deadline and Bagley would get the rest of this season to be evaluated and then more than likely moved in the off-season (I can keep him on a bench role next season too if he shows improvement in the back half of this season too, I'm not picky with him). Holmes is young enough that he can be a moon around Planet Foxiburton, but only for the right price. Paying through the nose for anything outside of an absolutely unquestionable elite center is a quick way to mediocrity and so if he doesn't want what reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell got, I feel confident that another center looking for a spotlight can be found. I'm sure he's earned $15 mil a year, but if the market says $7-9 mil a year, that's all I'm willing to pay.

Veteran presence can be found at every position literally every single off-season and for far cheaper than what Barnes and Buddy are making. 25 players come of the book ever season with the 'winning mentality' some of you crave. The Garrett Temple's, Iman Shumpert's, Kent Bazemore's, Kosta Koufos' of the league - those guys get acquired in trades and picked up on the cheap every single year. The Kings can find productive fill-in starters for whatever position they don't draft for this off-season. Will Buddy's shooting be missed? Hell yes. Volume shooting like his is never easily replaced. But a leap from Haliburton and extra shots for Fox can smooth those deficits. The goal moving forward toward next season should be to unload costly vets, surround Fox, Haliburton and semi-high '21 Draft pick with cost-effective, decent veterans, allow Fox the space to grow as a leader and franchise guy, use the cap space to facilitate other team's trades for draft assets and play whoever of the young outer rim players like Guy, Jeffries, Woodard, Ramsey etc. enough to see if they can be a piece of the team moving forward. This team can be turned around in a year, two years depending on the choices that get made. It doesn't have to be a five year plan. But, they cannot stay their current course.

From LandParkJimmer:

Why should the Kings trade Barnes? Yes his contract isn’t cheap and he’s not all that young (still only 28), but he can still ball as he’s been proving and is a great locker-room presence. Do we get enough in return to justify the trade or is this really more of contract dump?

James: You aren’t going to get straight value for Barnes. The question the Kings have to ask is whether they can replace even part of what he brings to the table via trade or free agency.

Barnes is having a career year, even if his last set of games is less than stellar. He has a declining scale contract and he is a player that you can put out on the court and get league average production for 35 minutes a game.

He’s a leader behind the scenes, sets an example for the young players about how to maintain your body and he is one of the best community representatives in the league. He has another five years of very solid basketball in front of him and it’s very unlikely that the Kings will get more than a salary dump, a young player with potential and marginal draft compensation in return.

The sticker price of $38 million over the next two seasons is steep, but name five Kings over the last decade that check all of the boxes that Barnes does.

Tim: Trading or not trading Barnes probably comes down to your belief in this particular roster. If you think they can make a legitimate run at the 8th seed, keeping him around is easily the best option. Conversely, if you think winning seven of eight was a fluke, and losing seven of nine was more indicative of this team's season-long projection, dealing Barnes is probably the right move.

It's true that Barnes is the third-best small forward of the playoff drought if he ranks below Rudy Gay and Ron Artest, but the Kings past stupidity shouldn't necessarily impact their future decisions. I don't want to compare Barnes to players of the last ten years, I want to compare Barnes his counterparts in the league right now, and I think he's about an average starting forward. He's not easily replaceable, but he's also not irreplaceable. He's solid.

Will: I ranted on the last question a bit so I'll keep it short and say that I agree with Tim here. Schrodinger's Barnes has already shown that he's both good enough to keep the Kings in some games they should have lost but also not good enough to completely overcome his talent of disappearing for stretches of games at a time. I'm one of the people Tim listed above that believes this good stretch, while encouraging and fun, was also a fluke and not indicative of the overall direction the team is headed. I'm high enough on this draft class to think the Kings could greatly improve the trajectory of the franchise by focusing on giving guys like Jeffries and Woodard a chance at the forward spots for the rest of the season and collecting a decent draft pick. As such, I think Barnes return of a young player with upside and a marginal draft pick plus cap space is worth losing him. The evil tankie in me knows he'll win us a game or two by himself in the second half of the season and every bit helps. As for the other parts that are missing: I put the onus on Fox and any vets acquired to help with leadership and community work. If Fox is being paid the max, he should be the leading voice in the locker room. Next year will be his fifth season, so it's time for HIM to be the vet presence.

From BBmuteman:

Is it better to get very limited minutes and practice with the NBA team or a lot of minutes on the G League team? I’m just wondering if the young guys, Ramsey, Woodard, and Guy, might be better off in the G League bubble or playing with the kings riding the bench.

James: It’s better to get Woodard and Ramsey as much 5v5 court time as you can get them. They lack experience, which can only be gained by playing in game action. With the compact schedule and Walton focused on an eight man rotation, the team just doesn’t have any true practice time, just a lot of film and walkthroughs this season.

Without a summer league or true offseason, this group is in danger of being left behind. Woodard has absolutely shined in his opportunity and Ramsey is showing some promise.

But without the bubble, these two would be sitting and watching the entire season.

Tim: I'm with James, here. Woodard and Ramsey were getting very little practice time with the team due to the compressed schedule, so getting them on the court is a huge plus. I also love that the G League bubble has plenty of former NBA players trying to mount a comeback, as well as the Ignite team, so the rookies are getting a real opportunity to compete against NBA-level competition.

With Luke Walton focused on winning games and saving his job, there is very little chance that Woodard or Ramsey would be given a shot at rotational minutes, so I'm perfectly happy for them to get 25 or 30 minutes of playing time in the bubble

Will: Three for three on this one. There are a ton of NBA ready guys that are playing in the G-League anymore and getting NBA style minutes against NBA level players is invaluable for a group that missed out on the regular rookie routine. Ball out young ones, we'll see you in the second half of the season!

From GregoryI:

If the trade deadline was this week, what should Monte do? Go all-in for the playoffs or trade for assets?

James: I would go all in for the playoffs if the deals make sense beyond this season, but I’m also jaded from covering the team for 11 seasons.

A winning culture starts with...winning. A losing culture happens when you don’t give a squad enough depth or talent to compete. Welcome to the 2020-21 Sacramento Kings roster.

I would shop all expiring contracts, the stack of second round picks and try to improve now. Even if you miss playoffs, there is a chance that you add a major piece like the team did when they acquired Barnes. At worst, you want to build some momentum for next season.

Lastly, I love the top 5-6 players in the 2021 NBA Draft, but my concern is that the Kings are going to be just good enough not to land one of those players. After that group, it’s a mixed bag of potential, just like every other draft and banking on finding another Tyrese Haliburton in the back half of the lottery is a fool's errand.

Tim: Earlier this week, I wrote that this team was built to lose, and I don't think Monte McNair can really depart from that plan, outside of an insane run by this team. To James' point, there may be some win-now/future-building moves out there, like a John Collins trade, but those transactions are going to be few and far between. If something along those lines is a possibility, count me in.

Assuming a Collins or an Aaron Gordon or a Lauri Markkanen type player doesn't become available for the right price, the Kings probably need to punt on the season. I don't believe they'll be bad enough for a bottom-4 finish, but if they're not making the playoffs anyway, they may as well cash out where they can and gain better lottery odds in the process. For example, the 14th pick has a 2.4% chance at jumping into the top-4, while the 7th pick carries a 32% change at a top-4 selection. That's not exactly a small difference.

Will: A winning culture starts with winning talent. Try to think about a team that made a championship run without an elite player or coach... I know you didn't just think about the '14 Atlanta Hawks, coached by Mike Budenholzer. While Fox and Haliburton are steps in the right direction, this team just isn't a talented enough team to get anywhere long term, from both a player and coaching stand point. Prime Fox and Hali can drag this team to play-in games for 5-7 straight years, but if the goal in Sacramento is to win a championship, there needs to be a serious upgrade in coaching, as well. If I squint really hard I can see that Luke Walton and staff have done enough this season to prove why Vlade Divac might have thought he was the man for the Kings, but at the end of the day, he sets the tone, he decides the rotations, he does the scheming and the Kings plain don't have it. You want to keep Walton as your coach and gun for a playoff spot? You better have an All-Century talent like Lebron Ja- oh, oh wait. No, that didn't end well either. Talent is what wins in this league, talent is where your winning mentality will derive from. Either hire a coach talented enough to drag 5 good guys to the playoffs through scheming or acquire player talent that covers the deficiencies in their coach. Kings don't have either.

From RobHessing:

The Kings’ recent run: Fad or fashion?

James: Which run -- the 7 wins in 9 chances of the four game losing streak? My opinion is that the Kings have a solid base and when they are playing together, they can compete on a nightly basis, as long as they are 100 percent healthy.

When you take away even one of the main six players (Fox, Hield, Haliburton, Barnes, Bagley, Holmes), the lack of depth on the team becomes glaring.

Unfortunately, the schedule is so compact that players are running out of gas and the team hasn’t been hit with a true covid scare or a major injury. Without an infusion of reliable NBA talent, this team is going to have a tough time finishing this season on a high note.

So fad and fiction is my answer. They can win, but they desperately need help. They aren’t a 7-2 team or an 0-4 team, but they can be a 7-6 team, if that makes sense.

Tim: The Kings aren't going to lose seven of every nine games, nor are they going to win seven of every eight, so I would say both of those runs are more fad than fashion. However, their overall record (12-15) feels more indicative of their place in the league. A 36-win pace in an 82-game season feels about right.

Will: I think outside of Fox, they've vastly overperformed as a team so far. It's been enjoyable to watch, but it's an illusion brought on by unnaturally lucky circumstances regarding COVID and injuries. Tim wrote a whole article this week on the Kings being built to lose and I think it's pretty damn accurate. The lack of a bench wasn't a bug in this years team, it was a feature, designed to acquire higher end talent at the end of the season while not looking so terrible that it can be called an outright Process-level tank. In hindsight, this run probably wasn't long enough to save Walton's job and with injuries starting to show and the trade deadline approaching, I doubt those winning ways return.

From bgord:

When we get everyone back from the g-league and health, what do you think the rotation should look like?

James: The same. Woodard and Ramsey are young and still need a lot more time to get their feet wet in the league. There may come a point when the Kings pull the plug on the season and play the young guys, but keep in mind that Walton is coaching for his future as well.

Jeffries is more likely to get an opportunity before Woodard and Ramsey, but if the season spins out of control, all bets are off.

Tim: Get Cory Joseph all the way the hell out of the rotation. For some reason, we still want to pretend that Joseph is an effective defender, but that's simply not the case anymore. The Kings actually surrender 3.9 more points per 100 possessions with Joseph on the floor, which is the worst rate of any rotational player on the team. Yes, even worse than Marvin Bagley and Buddy Hield. The Kings score 7.1 fewer points per 100 possessions with Cory Joseph on the floor, also the worst mark on the team. Give Kyle Guy his minutes. Give Jeremy Lin his minutes. Give Will his minutes. I don't care, get him off of my television.

Oh, the question was about the rotation. Well, that's my answer!

Will: I... I will take his minutes. I've got like a bunch of COVID weight to lose and an Achilles with scar tissue but, I accept on behalf of the tank.

James is absolutely right in that Walton is coaching for his future - not just with the Kings but in the NBA and as such, any vet that is left on this roster is going to play until the call comes from on high to wrap it up. Maybe they'll cut Joseph's minutes for Kyle Guy and in the last ten games give Joseph a few games to rest so Guy and Ramsey can play 2nd and 3rd string but... that's all we can reasonable expect. Copy and paste the same if Barnes is on the team past the deadline but with Jeffries and Woodard.

From Peja:

Fox and Haliburton appear to be the backcourt for the kings for the next 5 plus years. What do you do as a front office to add talent around them? What kind of talent are you looking for?

James:It does appear that Fox and Haliburton are the future backcourt for this team. If this is the case, then I would design my team in a similar way that the Trail Blazers have built their squad with Dame and CJ.

You need length, versatility and shooting at both forward and a big man to play off of in the middle. You also need a major scorer off the bench and plenty of positionless players.

I think Hield, Barnes, Bagley and Holmes can be a part of this plan, but the team needs a lot more. I also like the versatility of players like Woodard and Jeffries, but it’s too early to tell if they can stick in the league.

Monte McNair chased Derrick Jones Jr. in free agency, which is the player archetype the team will likely look for. When Blazers were at their best, it was with players like Mo Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu covering for their guards and spacing the floor.

Tim: Yes, Fox and Haliburton are the future of this team, and they're going to be the best guard duo in the league in a few years. As far as building around them, the Kings need to find a core that can run and defend with both of those guys. A long, defensive-minded wing would do wonders for this entire organization, while finding a permanent rim protector (potentially Holmes?) is also going to be key. This upcoming draft will hopefully be the last high pick the Kings see for a while, so targeting one of those needs is a must moving forward.

Will: Tim is drunk on yogurt pie with that assertion about the best backcourt in the league but I like his confidence so I won't try to argue. One thing that is nice about a backcourt like Hali is that there is plenty of scoring, playmaking, defense and long range shooting to go around so no real holes need to be prioritized. Are the thin physically? Sure, but give it some time. I do think they need either a defensive or offensive anchor, maybe even both. Fox's scoring has been great this season and he's really been a good #1 threat for the Kings this year, but ultimately I see him as a 1b to someone's 1a. I feel similarly about Haliburton and his defense. He pops on the eye test as far as a defender, but having a lock down forward or a big shot-blocking center could do wonders for Hali moving forward. There's a ton of flexibility in where the Kings can grow this season and beyond and it isn't just because they're lacking everywhere! Yay!

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King4life
February 18, 2021 8:26 am

I would not be happy if the roster for next season looks similar to this season. That sounds like a strategy Vlade Divac would pursue. This team as it’s currently constructed will top out as an 7-8 seed. I would hope we aspire to do better than that.

I don’t think McNair will sit back and keep the core the same. Most new GM’s come in and make changes to the roster to match the vision they have for the team. Let’s hope McNair’s vision has a higher bar than the 8th seed.

andy_sims
February 18, 2021 8:44 am
Reply to  King4life

If the roster looks largely the same next season, it will be because no one offered anything like fair value for players like Barnes and Hield, and to a lesser extent, Bjelica, Holmes, Whiteside or CoJo. The likelihood of moving Barnes & Hield this season was always 50/50 at best.

Mortgaging the team’s future by making trades to shake things up is exactly what VD would do. So far, McNair’s moves have been sensible. Once the cap and player situations begin to look like something that he created, and he’s not slogging through VD’s Master Plan, we’ll be able to see what path McNair is working to get the team respectable.

I don’t favor doing things just to do things. I think our GM has a similar mindset.

Otis
February 18, 2021 9:38 am
Reply to  andy_sims

Well, there’s a wide gulf between an untalented GM like Divac making aggressive roster moves and a guy like McNair. I’d agree that he shouldn’t do things just to do things, but I also think a GM in this market needs to always be ready to jump on an opportunity.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 10:58 am
Reply to  Otis

McNair has positioned the team to jump if a big opportunity arises. It’s painful on certain nights because he chose flexibility over depth. But with money locked up in Fox, Barnes and Hield moving forward, he had to pick his poison — come back with Vlade’s roster or sign veterans and second round picks to short deals.

Otis
February 18, 2021 11:02 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Oh, certainly. I think if he had a deal he liked for Buddy, Buddy would be wearing a different jersey.

And I’m one of those guys who doesn’t think Barnes is moveable (for anything of real value) at this point, so might as well keep him around as well. Next season might be more realistic.

RobHessing
February 18, 2021 11:13 am
Reply to  JamesHam

It’s unfortunate that the Milwaukee deal with Bogi blew up. DDV would have been nice to have on this roster.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
February 18, 2021 11:23 am
Reply to  RobHessing

I often think about that. Sure it would have been nice to get anything for Bogi and DDV would be an excellent asset and playe, but would we be seeing Hali and awarded with his impact had DDV been here? How would the rotations have worked with all of Fox, Buddy, Hali, Joseph and DDV sharing the backcourt?

RobHessing
February 18, 2021 12:15 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

With almost 900 minutes going Joseph and GRIII, I’m guessing that it would have worked out. Heck, with DDV here, perhaps Buddy would have been dealt by now?

RORDOG
February 18, 2021 11:24 am
Reply to  JamesHam

I’m not sure if they’re in a position to pounce just yet. At least not for the best opportunities. Teams like OKC and NOP can easily outbid the Kings with their war chests. I can’t read McNair’s mind, obviously, but I’d consider this the asset accumulation stage if I were GM. I suspect moves will be predicated on how they can help the team seize on an opportunity in the summer of 2022. That’s when they’ll have at least one max player slot going into free agency.

andy_sims
February 18, 2021 11:22 am
Reply to  Otis

I agree with all of that. I have no reason not to trust his acumen and disposition in either regard.

Klam
Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
February 18, 2021 8:44 am

Awesome job getting James Ham as a guest! Just more reminders why this site is miles better than the “one that shall not be named.”

andy_sims
February 18, 2021 9:26 am
Reply to  Klam

It’s true, James has been contributing to Kings discourse forever, and now he hangs out with Kayte. That’s progress!

Full disclosure: I was shocked when I found out that he isn’t Korean.

Kosta
February 18, 2021 9:28 am
Reply to  andy_sims

He’s not Korean???

Kosta
February 18, 2021 9:29 am
Reply to  Klam

I love the photoshop anthropomorphic character they (Will?) made for James Ham.

TonyXypteras
Admin
February 18, 2021 10:14 am
Reply to  Kosta

It was Will, and it is beautiful.

Bbmuteman
February 18, 2021 11:09 am
Reply to  TonyXypteras

Thank you will for that beautiful one-eyed boar image. :p

Marty
February 18, 2021 9:27 am

It sounds like James is jaded from covering this team for ten years and as a result doesn’t want any big changes to the roster.

Makes perfect sense.

Otis
February 18, 2021 9:30 am
Reply to  Marty

I think James’ role with his particular media company requires him to cheerlead. You gotta sell the upside of a “group of solid players who enjoy playing together and playing in Sacramento”.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 10:01 am
Reply to  Otis

Otis, my role with NBC doesn’t have anything to do with my opinion and I certainly don’t get paid to cheerlead. Although I do miss having spirited debates with both you and Pookey.

I’m not selling upside as much as I know that in order for Fox to be successful, he needs specific ingredients around him. Some of those pieces are in place, whether they are playing up to their potential or not, overpaid or not. Saying something like, “The Kings need a superstar center” would be disingenuous. I work within the parameters of what might be realistic.

I think this team would be much deeper and more competitive if Bogdan Bogdanovic was on the team. I feel the same way about Donté DiVincenzo. This team lacks depth and needs more talent.

To your point about a group of solid players – this is the best culture the team has had since I started covering them in 2010-11. That’s a good thing, although they need an enforcer and some toughness. The Metu injury shined a very unflattering light on this team a whole in my opinion.

Saying all of this, they are closer to being competitive than they have been in a decade. Maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome, maybe it’s that Fox is developing into a star, Haliburton is the best rookie they’ve had since Jason Williams, Harrison Barnes is a very solid NBA player, Richaun Holmes is a true find, Buddy Hield matters even when he doesn’t hit his shot and Marvin Bagley is still only 21… That’s a lot better than discussing Pooh Jeter vs. Luther Head, Donté Green vs. Omri Casspi or whether Terrence Williams has finally found a home with the Kings.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
February 18, 2021 10:07 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Solid points. Could you go into more detail about the best positive culture you’ve seen in the last 10 years?

Since you have better behind the scenes access than anyone of us, I’d love some specifics on the locker room chemistry. Is that culture coming from the top down, and how and why is it different from last year?

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 10:17 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Well, I’ve walked into a locker room where DeMarcus Cousins had just lambasted George Karl moments before and if things couldn’t get any worse, Drake walked in the side door to say hello.

Players don’t always like each other and it shows behind the scenes. But that doesn’t totally capture “culture.” Having a group that likes each other is a good thing. Having a group that puts in the work, often together, is even more important.

Even is Buddy is shooting less than 38% from the field, I know and so do his teammates that he is putting in the work to improve. You can be frustrated or disappointed, but know that he is too. That hasn’t always been the case in Sacramento. There have been a lot of players that come here for overpaid free agent deals and then coast. They coast on the court, but it’s even more obvious behind the scenes.

Otis
February 18, 2021 10:29 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Yeah, a good portion of that last decade was the Cousins era. Probably not the greatest workplace environment.

But, I do wonder if the culture is considered better now because these guys like Luke Walton? You might be able to speak to this, but apparently he’s well liked personally in that locker room, and is a bit more of a “friend” to the guys than Joerger was.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 10:43 am
Reply to  Otis

No, players might like Luke more, but they also loved winning and playing fast under Joerger as well. Buddy had issues with Joerger and so did Bagley II. But was the team better with Buddy off the bench? Was Bagley a starter in year 1? Haliburton doesn’t start as a rookie and we can all agree that he is better prepared for the rigors of the NBA than Bagley was as an 18-year-old.

I would also add that Joerger surrounded himself with a group of coaches that he knew very well. They had coached with, for and against each other in the minor leagues and they were a family. This isn’t to knock Luke’s staff last year, but most of them didn’t know each other that well. Luke had been buried by media for bringing in his friends in LA and so he tried something new and I think it did impact the team last season. There is a better flow this year with Gentry as his right hand man, but then again, we aren’t allowed anywhere near the group.

Gregoryl
February 18, 2021 11:54 am
Reply to  JamesHam

James: Talk more abt Joerger…the team was on the upswing, yet we heard that Vlade felt the culture was so toxic under him that he had to make a change…was it not as bad as reported?

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 12:22 pm
Reply to  Gregoryl

The culture wasn’t toxic with the players and Joerger. Sure, Buddy was unhappy that he was coming off the bench, but the team was better with Bogi starting and Buddy anchoring the second unit.

The real toxicity came from the Joerger/Brandon Williams situation. Joerger knew he wasn’t going to last deep into the season, so he threw away his game plan and had the team outrun their opponent.

Williams, who had seized way too much power, wanted to replace Joerger, even after the team got off to a fast start. The whole situation blew up in his face and the relationship with Joerger was beyond repair.

Neither was willing to sit down and hash it out, so Divac moved on from both of them. In the end, everyone lost.

RORDOG
February 18, 2021 12:33 pm
Reply to  JamesHam

how did Williams seize way too much power in the first place I wonder?

Williams arrived a month after Scott Perry left his post as a Kings executive to become the New York Knicks’ general manager, and he came with the strong support of Ranadive and his most trusted and controversial confidante, Matina Kolokotronis.

(source)

Gregoryl
February 18, 2021 1:06 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

comment image

Matina!

Gregoryl
February 18, 2021 11:53 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Well, I’ve walked into a locker room where DeMarcus Cousins had just lambasted George Karl moments before and if things couldn’t get any worse, Drake walked in the side door to say hello.”
comment image

Otis
February 18, 2021 10:17 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Hey James, no offense was intended, I just think that your gig (and Kayte’s and Doug’s) generally dictate a focus on the positive. To use an overworked cliché, “it is what it is”.

As to the points you listed here, I have my doubts about the “culture” when a team is this bad defensively. I suspect they all like each other, and generally like playing in Sacramento, and maybe even like playing for Walton (which might actually tell us a bit about the guys on this roster).

This roster is clearly competitive offensively. But IMO, that’s all about Fox and Haliburton, and (as you noted) Buddy’s ability to stretch the defense. I think you keep Fox and Haliburton, obviously…but Buddy and everyone else on the roster can be replaced rather easily IMO (and in some cases, cheaply).

McNair can build a more enduring and competitive culture via a roster of hard-nosed, defensive minded players and shouldn’t have much trouble generating at least a league average offense with Fox and Haliburton in tow. Everyone else should be on the market IMO.

Last edited 16 days ago by Otis
JamesHam
February 18, 2021 11:11 am
Reply to  Otis

Doug works for the team and to be honest, he is one of the most positive and amazing people you will ever run in to.

Kayte’s role changes from one night to the next. She tries to breakdown the “why” as opposed to focusing on the negativity of losses.

We do look for positives, but it’s more because doom and gloom gets old really quickly. If the team is bad, I call them out. If a player is having a breakout moment, I call that out a well.

There is a silver lining in almost every game and you search for it when you’ve written well over 500 losing game recaps over an 11 year career.

As far as Fox and Haliburton, I agree they are the future of the team, but they won’t win on their own. Whether it’s Buddy or someone else, you need a shooter. The fact that he is usually an elite 3-point shooter and launches 10 a game is not something that can just be pulled up from the G League or guaranteed at the No. 12 pick.

Giving away talent is not something I believe the Kings as a franchise can do because replacing it is extremely difficult. You can see the outline of what Divac was trying to build and it has holes. I also don’t believe the Kings tried to fill those holes in the abbreviated 2020 offseason.

Lots of work to do!

Otis
February 18, 2021 11:42 am
Reply to  JamesHam

There is a silver lining in almost every game and you search for it when you’ve written well over 500 losing game recaps over an 11 year career.

I get the feeling you don’t completely disagree with my point. You’re just speaking to the tendency to focus on the micro (it’s easy to find positives most nights) and not the longer term picture (I mean, the ongoing futility of this franchise is easily shown and probably too obvious).

And again, you write about the difficulty of replacing Buddy’s offense, but not his defense. And this team’s defense is what needs improvement.

Perhaps this is something a new coaching staff could partially fix, but there’s definitely a talent issue as well. I don’t think many of the guys on this roster fit a hard-nosed, physical, team defensive concept.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 12:28 pm
Reply to  Otis

Kyle Korver played in the league until he was like 38. Jamal Crawford could still play in the league. Neither of them ever stopped anyone from scoring.

He has to be better defensively, for sure. He actually is better than when he first came into the league. But the would also benefit from having a true defensive-minded center/power forward behind him playing goalie.

And I fully agree that this team more hard-nosed guys. The Metu situation shined a bright light on that issue.

BestHyperboleEver
February 18, 2021 12:37 pm
Reply to  JamesHam

Worth noting that Korver never got paid more than $7.5MM in a season. Crawford peaked over $10MM a few times in his career, but pretty much lived in the $5-8 range. Crawford was also a significantly better passer/playmaker than Hield.

Kosta
February 18, 2021 11:56 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Doug seems like a super nice guy, unless you’re disrespectful/wearing yellow with purple.

Then….
comment image

Last edited 16 days ago by Kosta
Gregoryl
February 18, 2021 1:08 pm
Reply to  JamesHam

James, what do you consider fair value for Barnes, Hield or Holmes?

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 1:42 pm
Reply to  Gregoryl

Man, that’s tough. I wold want more than a salary dump for Barnes. A young player or maybe a pick in the 20s. I also would consider holding onto him. You have to have at least some veteran influence on a team.

With Hield’s shooting woes, I think the team has a hard time finding a taker for now. Maybe if he catches fire, but even then, there is a pretty solid book on him. I’m not taking back a trash contract for a player that can’t help, that might be my starting point.

As for Holmes, I wold keep him as well. If the team completely falls out of contention, they could always use him as an asset to acquire more assets — something like Holmes and a No. 2 for a 15-30 pick. They could also in this scenario try to bring him back this summer.

Value is what someone else will pay. If the Kings become sellers, I don’t think they’ll be able to just move on from every contract on the books.

Marty
February 18, 2021 10:03 am
Reply to  Otis

Well Ham’s contribution to the article was eye-opening for sure. It does make it easy to understand the cheerleading responsibilities you’ve described Otis.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 10:23 am
Reply to  Marty

Don’t listen to Otis. LOL. Neither the Kings, nor NBC ever tells me what to say or write. If everyone would prefer that I dunk on the team all the time, I would be called a hater. I work within the understanding that this is Sacramento. You have to draft well, search out the right type of players and then get lucky. The Kings have gotten lucky with Haliburton and Holmes. But it says a lot when Holmes is the best free agent signing since Vlade Divac and Haliburton is the best draft pick since J-Will.

I try to take a realistic view of the changes that can be made. I also know that it sounds easy to just replace Harrison Barnes with a cheaper version. The reality is different.

Kosta
February 18, 2021 10:48 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Pssst. James, blink twice if the Kings made you write this. 😉 😉

Last edited 16 days ago by Kosta
Otis
February 18, 2021 10:51 am
Reply to  Kosta

Don’t listen to Otis. LOL.

Carmichael Dave probably wrote this part. 😉

Kosta
February 18, 2021 10:53 am
Reply to  Otis

Otis, blink twice if 1951/Rob have you locked in a basement and are using your account to post their opinions. 😉

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 11:23 am
Reply to  Kosta

Otis and I used to go at it at StR.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
February 18, 2021 11:39 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Otis and *insert any name* used to at it at StR.

Otis
February 18, 2021 11:43 am
Reply to  Adamsite

What can I say, I get uncomfortable when too many people agree with me. 🙂

Kosta
February 18, 2021 11:47 am
Reply to  Otis

agreed

Kosta
February 18, 2021 11:44 am
Reply to  Adamsite

_____JLV_____

Otis
February 18, 2021 11:48 am
Reply to  Kosta

JLV was always off limits! It would be like fighting with Sign Lady.

1951
February 18, 2021 11:51 am
Reply to  Otis

You haven’t done that?

Weak sauce! 😉

Kosta
February 18, 2021 12:00 pm
Reply to  1951

Soft!

Kosta
February 18, 2021 11:59 am
Reply to  Otis

Sign Lady: “Otis? Yeah, fuck that guy. Want me to write that on a sign?”

Kosta
February 18, 2021 11:43 am
Reply to  JamesHam

That’s something a veteran would say!

I love Otis and appreciate very much that you made time to hang out with us today here on TKH, James!

Continue the battle…..!

KingOfTheMonsters
February 18, 2021 10:57 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Your answers to the questions broadened the perspective of the discussion. I tend to agree with Tim and Will, that we must move on from Barnes, Buddy and even Bagley (if we can get a decent return). However, I do agree with you that Fox is benefitting from having Buddy and Barnes on the court. I applaud Buddy bringing other things to the game when his shot is not falling.
Much of my desire for change is because of the decrepitude of the past seasons. In other words, I’ve lost patience, and I’m sure I’m not realistic in potential returns from the trades.
Your takes make me think and bring my feet a bit closer to the ground.
I appreciate that you are not being positive for your bosses. I think accusations from people that you are stem from the overhyping of Bagley for the press (which continues to this day) and the patronizing tone of Kayte’s “what the fans don’t understand” monologues. In a past life, I once said, What the fans don’t understand is why they are watching Kings games.
Luckily this year, many of the games have been worthwhile.
Thanks for your input.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 11:23 am

I’ll let all of you in on a secret from this season. WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME ZOOM CALL AND GET THE SAME QUOTES.

Our jobs are to look for the most interesting pieces of post game and practice and then build out stories with our own take. But there are no side conversations with players or coaches from 150 feet away.

So when the conversation shifts to the job Luke Walton is doing when the team has won 7-of-8, it’s not some grand conspiracy amongst me and my fellow writers to promote Walton. It’s an interesting topic, he did make some adjustments and now you get similar stories that look like a mass mailer at election time.

As for Bagley, there is a ton of talent there. I said it on draft night and on more than one occasion that I personally would have drafted Luka, just on need alone. But once he’s a King, the focus for me as a writer has to shift to who and what he is as a player. And I still believe he is a huge moldable piece of clay. Bigs don’t fully develop usually until they are 24-25. That’s still 3-4 years from now.

BestHyperboleEver
February 18, 2021 11:21 am
Reply to  JamesHam

There are a couple things I take a bit of issue with here.

I work within the understanding that this is Sacramento.

I think this sets the bar frustratingly low and is simply making excuses. Being Sacramento certainly changes the dynamic and approach compared to some other markets. But there’s no reason building a winner in Sacramento is any harder than building a winner in places like Milwaukee, Utah, Portland, San Antonio, OKC, or any other non-marquee city.

The Kings have gotten lucky with Haliburton and Holmes.

I bristle at the idea that these things are all luck. They didn’t get lucky. They did a good job of talent evaluation and valuation. They didn’t get unlucky with T-Rob. They made a shitty decision. Luck obviously plays SOME role, but that doesn’t mean the only path to respectability depends on it.

Honestly, these and the culture conversation above just feel like the usual grading on the Kangz curve. Our standards have been beaten down so low that anytime we see a glimpse of competence we get crazy. I mean, we’re talking about the importance of keeping a “core” together that is 12-15 (and probably should be worse) and sitting in 11th and are closer to 14th than they are to an 8-seed. We’re celebrating a “culture” that is basically the baseline standard for an NBA team of guys that seem to like each other and are trying to achieve their goal. At some point, we have to start grading the Kings relative to successful teams. Not relative to our own pathetic past.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 12:16 pm

I don’t disagree with most of your take here. But this is more of a “conversation over a bottle of Woodford Reserve.”

I could explain where the Kings have botched the draft and the Bucks, Blazers, Jazz, Spurs and Thunder have all either hit home runs or lucked into top picks in great drafts to build their core. I’ll add that the Kings would be in this discussion if they had drafted Luka. That’s not a dig, just a reality.

I’m not going to take luck out of the equation. Spurs landed David Robinson and Tim Duncan with No. 1 overall picks which were the centerpieces to their dynasty. The Kings selected Pervis Ellison with the one and only No. 1 pick franchise history.

Of this group of teams, the best free agent signing over the last decade might be LaMarcus Aldridge. Every other team has done much more with the tools at hand.

On the Haliburton/Holmes front, Haliburton should never have fallen to No. 12. That was a mistake by 7-8 over teams and the Kings are reaping the rewards. If Sacramento would have moved up to get him, then I would agree, it wasn’t luck.

With Holmes, he was signed to compete with Harry Giles for the backup center job behind Dedmon. The fact that he’s playing 30 min a night and a starter is a testament to him putting in serious work and seizing an opportunity when presented.

The Kings signed Dedmon, Joseph and Ariza in that same offseason. The lowest paid guy of the lot is the best player. If I’m giving credit for scouting, the group loses because of the totality of the offseason haul.

Your last two lines are spot on, but where does the discussion go from there? Do we just hand the franchise D or an F and walk away?

I get the frustration. I’ve written the frustration. But I’ll tell you that coming into last season, it was the best vibe of any Kings team I’ve been around. There was a cultural shift with the team and it was heading the right direction. And then they didn’t play well in the first five games, injuries hit, the pandemic hit, the bubble happened, Vlade was fired and it’s back to square one.

JoeEnzyme
February 18, 2021 4:44 pm
Reply to  JamesHam

James, it is truly awesome to have you participate in the comments. This is the most insightful and entertaining thread I’ve seen in a while, and I read and enjoy all the threads on TKH. TKH is blessed to have intelligent, fair and hilarious members. I’m laughing out loud at the takes on Otis today.

andy_sims
February 18, 2021 11:29 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Don’t listen to Otis.

Ordinarily, that would be excellent advice, but I’ve found a lot of Otis’ takes this season to be rather on-the-nose.

Clearly, the pandemic has made all of us insane.

Otis
February 18, 2021 11:46 am
Reply to  andy_sims

So you’ve had that awkward feeling as well?

Otis
February 18, 2021 9:28 am

This team’s core is Fox and Haliburton. Fox. Haliburton.

Will got down to the essence of what really matters in all this discussion of roster building. Every other player on this roster is replaceable, and many at a lower cost.

Kosta
February 18, 2021 9:31 am
Reply to  Otis

3 on 3, full court matchup–
Who you got?

FOX HALIBURTON BUDDY

or

BIBBY CHRISTIE BOBBY

Last edited 16 days ago by Kosta
BestHyperboleEver
February 18, 2021 10:33 am
Reply to  Kosta

Just don’t do the front court version of this.

Kosta
February 18, 2021 10:57 am

WEBBER DIVAC PEJA

or

PAPPAGIANNIS BHULLAR MALACHI

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
February 18, 2021 9:33 am

Sorry, but Ham “lost me” with the first thing he said,

You lost me at “show your work.” In all honesty, the Kings base roster – Fox, Buddy, Tyrese, Barnes, Bagley and Holmes isn’t all that bad. 

That base roster is that bad by nearly every measurable stat.

He then goes on to contradict himself with this:

Where the Kings can realistically improve is by adding better versions of the players that won’t be back. They need a center that can block shots, but keep up with the pace of the Kings’ offense. They need a defensive minded guard that can push the tempo. They need a bigger 3-and-D wing and a stretch four that can run.

So the Kings need at least 3 more players that are better then the current ones to make the base roster better. Tell me how they can realistically do that with the assets they currently have and how they can do it with their cap situation. He says in a perfect world the Kings could trade off their expirings and some second rounders to do that.

Yes, let’s call up the Pacers and offer them some 2nd rounders and Jabari Parker for Myles Turner. That should work just fine.

Otis
February 18, 2021 9:42 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Frankly, I think James is being fooled by what many casual fans are fooled by – offensive performance. This team is 11th in the NBA in ORtg right now, but are genuinely (statistically) one of the worst defensive teams in recent NBA history.

Oddly enough, defense is fairly important.

Jman1949
February 18, 2021 10:01 am
Reply to  Otis

Frankly, I think James is being fooled by what many casual fans are fooled by

So you think Kayte is just trying to cure Ham?

RikSmits
February 18, 2021 10:57 am
Reply to  Jman1949

That’s a good one, any way you slice it.

richie88
February 18, 2021 3:39 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

It’s also good to glaze it.

Last edited 15 days ago by richie88
RikSmits
February 18, 2021 10:55 am
Reply to  Otis

Defense is important and the fact that we have been one of the healthier teams in the league, until now. It seems that the wheels are coming off around now.

PhutureKings
February 18, 2021 9:49 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Totally agree about Ham, uh, hamming it up. Will crushed this Mailbag (although I agree that Fox and Hali will be one of, if not THE, best backcourts in the league in a few years and Will seemed to be less optimistic there).

But for Ham to assert that the Kings have a good core seems…weird and disingenuous. Take off those NBSports/Kings colored glasses, man. Unless you want to be mired in middling mediocrity for the next half a decade, you move Barnes, Buddy and CoJo asap and get the tank rolling already.

This weird mantra about a winning culture can never apply unless you have the talent to actually win, which outside of Fox, Haliburton and Holmes this team lacks. Barnes is nice, to be sure, but we need assets and losses this season.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 10:31 am
Reply to  PhutureKings

“This weird mantra about a winning culture can never apply unless you have the talent to actually win”

Take a look at the Minnesota Timberwolves for the last five years. You could easily say that they have more talent than the Kings, but they can’t win at all and the things that go on there are completely unacceptable.

Kings need more talent, but talent is one ingredient. You can’t continue to tank and lose every year and then just arrive one day as a winner. At least I haven’t seen it work that way.

BestHyperboleEver
February 18, 2021 10:41 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Reference points:
Wolves last 5 seasons – 162 wins.
Kings last 5 seasons – 162 wins.

Seems like this refers to both teams pretty equally:

but they can’t win at all and the things that go on there are completely unacceptable.

Also,

You can’t continue to tank and lose every year and then just arrive one day as a winner. At least I haven’t seen it work that way.

See:
2012-13 Warriors
2017-18 Sixers
2020-21 Suns

All absolute definitions of losers until they suddenly weren’t.

Otis
February 18, 2021 10:50 am

Agree, I think the old school ideas of how you have to slowly build a winner are a bit archaic. Things can happen quickly.

BestHyperboleEver
February 18, 2021 10:54 am
Reply to  Otis

I would also point out that the Wolves, despite at the time having the longest playoff-free streak and being a long-term loser in every sense, went 47-35 and made the playoff immediately upon adding an elite talent. And fell back to 36-46 when that talent left.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
February 18, 2021 11:18 am

Excellent point, and that elite talent in Butler only played 59 games. Elite talent trumps all.

Hamlet1989
February 20, 2021 5:48 am

This may be an excellent point lost on me. Are you saying JH is wrong and the T-wolves aren’t a complete waste of talent? Because they are. I think Hamm made an excellent point.

PhutureKings
February 18, 2021 2:08 pm
Reply to  JamesHam

Sure. I agree you can’t keep tanking and build a winning culture, but my counterpoint would be that the Kings, due to organizational ineptitude have not had a sufficient braintrust doing a proper tank.

I’m a believer in Monte and I trust him to do it the right way. And given the top 5-6 picks available in this year’s draft, THIS is THE year to go for it. I think that would lead to a better record and deeper playoff pushes for the next five years versus keeping the mediocre core in tact just to make the playoffs as a potential 8-seed for a year or two.

As far as Minnesota, they clearly have a bad culture and they don’t live up to their talent. But, even if they did, they’re not a legit contender, so what’s the point? I don’t want the Kings to simply make the playoffs. I want them to be able to go far when they do. I also feel like the argument could be made that the Kings w Cousins, Gay and Rondo had better talent than the current squad, but I’d take this squad over the former any day of the week. All this is to say winning is about culture and talent, sure. But you also have to have chemistry and the right talent blended together.

Personally, I think tanking this season for a rad draft pick, clearing salary and signing a nice FA (doesn’t even have to be a superstar) will lead to more winning, better talent and the right mix of culture for years to come.

Also, props for weathering the storm and making your case to the rabid fans here on KH.

andy_sims
February 18, 2021 11:31 am
Reply to  PhutureKings

I feel so bad for your mailbag.

Maximus
February 18, 2021 10:18 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Here are the Kings’ 5-man lineup stats

https://go.nba.com/2hgj

The top 2 most used lineup are positive, featuring those 6 players.

James is right to believe in it.

He did not really contradict himself when he said we would need better a better center, better guard and better 3 and D wing. He did not spell it out but the players that he implied were Cojo, Whiteside and GR3. He meant that we would need to upgrade the bench. I think it is not that difficult to upgrade from those guys even with our cap situation.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 10:26 am
Reply to  Maximus

Spot on. I often look at the roster as a group of player archetypes. Kings missed on Derrick Jones Jr. and Glenn Robinson III was brought in to kind of see if that type of player would work. They aren’t the same, but close enough on paper. Now can you find a different or better version and plug and play? Maybe.

Otis
February 18, 2021 10:30 am
Reply to  Maximus

It’s kind of strange, there have been various points over the last handful of seasons where the Kings biggest-minutes lineups have performed at a high level in the league.

Never seems to last though.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 10:34 am
Reply to  Otis

Yeah, I have the “we didn’t play well enough for 48 minutes line” tattooed somewhere on my brain. There is always a let down somewhere, which usually plays into the depth or chemistry of the team.

Maximus
February 18, 2021 11:39 am
Reply to  Otis

I think the only lineups that similar were Cousin-led lineups. We did not have an overly-positive high-minute lineup during Jeorger years.

We have one lineup last year but that was not high minutes compare to the rest of the NBA.

This year, the starting lineup of Fox-Hield-Barnes-Bagley-Holmes has the 4th highest minutes in the entire league. One can assume that that lineup is successful against great variety of opponents.

Season is still young though. We can revisit these stats later.

Last edited 16 days ago by Maximus
BestHyperboleEver
February 18, 2021 11:51 am
Reply to  Maximus

This:

Season is still young though. We can revisit these start later.

Is why I’m not diving into the NetRTG or +/- discussions

ZillersCat
February 18, 2021 9:43 am

James Ham gets to be a pirate pig?

Kosta
February 18, 2021 9:45 am
Reply to  ZillersCat

We have yet to see a TKH staff person depicted as a cat.

Weird.

Klam
Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
February 18, 2021 9:59 am
Reply to  Kosta

But Kosta is actually a cat.

WGriffith
Admin
February 18, 2021 10:14 am
Reply to  Kosta

Beg your pardon but Brendan has come on the mailbag and is depicted as a hairless cat.

are you claiming hairless cats aren’t cats at all, Kosta?!

Kosta
February 18, 2021 10:51 am
Reply to  WGriffith

I stand corrected. Meow!

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 10:09 am

Hey guys, I’ll jump in the chat from time to time today. For those who don’t know my story, I started out blogging on StR. I started my own blog years ago with the idea of providing a beat writer for the blogs like StR. It turned into a five year run owning Cowbell Kingdom and also working as the stringer for NBA.com and now a six year run at NBC Sports Bay Area.

I’ve known many of the regulars here for 15 years or more. We’ve had spirited debates, ran the Here We Stay campaign together and had a few drinks along the way.

Hit me if you have any questions.

WGriffith
Admin
February 18, 2021 10:13 am
Reply to  JamesHam

James,

important question: Do you like the art?

Asking for a friend.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 10:45 am
Reply to  WGriffith

The art is cool. Good work.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
February 18, 2021 10:17 am
Reply to  JamesHam

It’s awesome that you are here James. Welcome!

I’d love for you to go into more detail on how you think this roster can be improved. I just don’t see the core, as you described as Fox, Buddy, Barnes, Hali, Bagley and possibly Holmes, as being good. They are not a playoff core, IMO and if all are back next season, with Holmes definitely costing more, how does the team build around them with their current assets and cap space.

To be clear, the stats just don’t back up the notion that the core is good. Unless all of those players by some miracle make a jump in their game, this team will once again be stuck in late lottery purgatory regardless of what support players they get.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 10:54 am
Reply to  Adamsite

The team need more. A lot more. But my point is, if you dump Buddy for nothing, who spaces the floor? If you bail on Barnes because you think he makes too much, first, I would look around the league at other players making in the $18-22M range. Secondly, in Sacramento, can you find another player that can bring what Barnes does for 35 minutes per game?

Yes, this team would look better with Anthony Davis at center or Kawhi Leonard at the three. But I also think this team would look better with the same core and pieces that help fill in the gaps. They need a version of Hassan Whiteside that can actually run the floor. Even Alex Len would have been a better fit in my opinion.

They need another defensive minded guard that is physical and can hit the 3-ball while playing with pace. Can DaQuan Jeffries be that guy? Maybe, but again, what would this team’s record be like with either Bogdanovic or DeVincenzo? They need a rangy long defender at the three (Derrick Jones Jr. was the target) and they need a stretch four, although Bagley is getting better from the perimeter.

This team was considerably deeper last season. If they had the same depth this year, they may have a few more wins in my opinion.

Otis
February 18, 2021 10:58 am
Reply to  JamesHam

But my point is, if you dump Buddy for nothing, who spaces the floor?

Could he give us a decent portion of the floor spacing yet play some defense? I think you can find those guys out there, and not pay what we pay Buddy.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
February 18, 2021 11:29 am
Reply to  Otis

Yeah, for me it’s the production to contract. Is Buddy elite at shooting, of course, but that skill is more widely available in the league then ever AND at far cheaper prices. I mean the Nets just signed arguably the best shooter in the league in Joe Harris to a far cheaper deal than Buddy. $14M cheaper over 4 years to be specific.

Hamlet1989
February 20, 2021 6:38 am
Reply to  JamesHam

I agree the team needs more. I also liked A Len better than Whiteside. I still believe we’re only one player away as long as the player is Lebron or Kahwi. Those guys always bring their buddies anyhow, which is a big part of how these teams get so much better in such a hurry. And I do think the best way to do it is with imperceptible growth. Warrriors hid their growth behind Steph’s injuries long enough to draft a team around him. If you do it gradually the decreasing draft odds bring diminishing returns. Draft a guys like Simmons and Embid who sit their first seasons with injuries and stack the roster in the interim.
I’m afraid it’s going to take luck because Ranadive can’t afford to let the team tank and has pushed a win-now approach since day one which is the same as win never. That’s how we got on the perennial 9th seed treadmill in the first place. Maloofs were in the same boat their last five years. That’s how we got Fredette over Kawhi! They wanted someone who would put butts in the seats NOW! Ranadive will wise-up and allow someone to engineer a true rebuild soon or he will realize it’s time to sell. The franchise was a throw-in for him anyway after the city agreed to hand him a bevy of free downtown real estate.
Bagley could be our sleeper. I don’t understand the hate against Marvin right now. He came into the season with three major deficiencies in his game. The shooting has improved. James already explained why offense is first in the NBA, defense optional, especially if you can hit the three. Bags is hitting his threes. That’s the biggest (and most important)hurdle to overcome. Size and defense will come with time and exp.
Getting rid of Buddy=less floor space. That’s why he needs to go! Don’t allow the talent we have to succeed yet, this isn’t their time. We need more talent, less wins. Buddy is made of iron-pyrite. Don’t continue over-valuing our talent. Buddy=threes, not wins. He’s a waste of Ranadive’s money, and the $ is a waste of Buddy’s career when he could actually be a very valuable piece coming off the bench, spark-plugging for a playoff team.

RobHessing
February 18, 2021 10:18 am
Reply to  JamesHam

And if you ever need a tapas and mojitos partner at Vegas Summer League, you can do no better than Mr. James Ham.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 10:56 am
Reply to  RobHessing

I do like tapas and mojitos. And taglines that talk about creamy shakes.

Marty
February 18, 2021 11:53 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Appreciate you taking the time James. To clean up from above, I do not think the Kings tell you what to say, but I do think Sac sports media is prevented from being critical, but that’s another discussion.

I’ll get right to it.

We’ve all seen the constant barrage of statistics this year on twitter showing that Bagley is one of the worst players in the NBA.

What do do you see in him that is worth investing more time in?

Please don’t say “he’s 21”. There are lots of young players in the NBA who have “right now” skills. If he’s one of the worst players in the NBA, are the Kings investing in a potentially average player?

IMHO expecting players to transform into something they aren’t is a very, very poor strategy. Right now Bagley is one of the worst players in the NBA and it seems to me the Kings are wasting their time. Convince me they aren’t.

Otis
February 18, 2021 12:02 pm
Reply to  Marty

are the Kings investing in a potentially average player?

Marvin Bagley will most likely be an average player in the league (at best), but I don’t know if “investing” is the right word. Evaluating might be better, since they’ve already done the investment. He’s played just over 2,500 minutes in his career – that’s the part that matters to me (moreso than his age).

Even though he’s played better of late, watching him this season is convincing me that he’s unlikely to be a high-end player in this league. Still, I think he should get 30 minutes per night any time he’s available, just to be sure.

What’s the drawback to this – that we’ll help Richaun bump up his free agent value in the offseason?

Marty
February 18, 2021 12:40 pm
Reply to  Otis

I have no problem playing him 30 minutes at all, my own personal wish is they would finish with one of the three worst records in the league. My concern is when I read quotes like “part of their future core” kind of thing from both fans and media. For the life of me I cannot imagine looking at one of the worst NBA players in the league and thinking he’s what you want to build around.

I’m not worried about Holmes because I don’t think he’ll stay in Sacramento.

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 12:53 pm
Reply to  Marty

Holmes loves Sac. He thinks he’s found a home, but it will come down to money.

The conversation with Bagley has changed after him playing 13 games last season. Everyone has to have a wait and see approach regarding him as a potential building block. And remember, he’s at the bottom of the league in some categories, but those also come as part of a five man group. Any of those stats take a lot longer than 25 games to really mean anything.

He’s getting better. He works hard. He wants to be better.

Otis
February 18, 2021 1:10 pm
Reply to  Marty

For the life of me I cannot imagine looking at one of the worst NBA players in the league and thinking he’s what you want to build around.

De’Aaron Fox was (by RPM) one of the worst players in the league his rookie season, and he played almost 2,000 minutes. Bagley isn’t far beyond that minute count.

Again, I don’t think Bagley will turn it around and have the same level of success, but I wouldn’t close the door on it completely.

Hamlet1989
February 20, 2021 6:50 am
Reply to  Otis

Listen to Holmes interview on Hoopshype talking about how the “process” Sixers had incredible talent and won six games. It’s really no secret how to build a team, we all know what needs to be done. Does Ranadive have the guts/money to allow a professional to do it?

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 12:44 pm
Reply to  Marty

Bagley is steadily showing signs of improvement. You may not see it, but it’s happening. He’s getting better in rotations, taking charges, switching, hitting 3-pointers.

With the development of Fox, the arrival of Haliburton, the strong play of Barnes and Buddy’s ability to catch fire, Bagley’s biggest asset — his ability to score, isn’t really what the Kings need right now. That could easily change and tonight’s game against the Heat without Barnes and Holmes may show that.

But again…at 21, with most bigs taking until they are 24-25 to really develop, and with his injury history, he is just way behind and fighting to catch up.

You’re already pot committed and his value is low at this point. What do you have to lose in trying to develop him, especially in a season where everything could completely go sideways at a moments notice?

The true commitment by the franchise will come when it’s time to extend him. I don’t see that happening this summer. He’ll have to continue to improve next season as well and then the two sides will have difficult discussions.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
February 18, 2021 1:01 pm
Reply to  JamesHam

If they don’t extend him this summer then he will be a RFA in 2022, correct? Do you see that as the most likely situation for him?

Last edited 16 days ago by Adamsite
JamesHam
February 18, 2021 1:12 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

That would be my guess, barring some Ike Diogu level finish to the season.

Marty
February 18, 2021 1:06 pm
Reply to  JamesHam

I agree with all of this James.

You’re already pot committed and his value is low at this point. What do you have to lose in trying to develop him, especially in a season where everything could completely go sideways at a moments notice?

The true commitment by the franchise will come when it’s time to extend him. I don’t see that happening this summer. He’ll have to continue to improve next season as well and then the two sides will have difficult discussions.

It’s the improvement I don’t agree with, and the statistics speak for themselves. For example, the other night both Simmons and Embiid straight up ran right into him and Bagley was applauded for taking a charge, when really the offensive player was just out of control. Also, he gets praised by Jones for rebounding when SO MANY of today’s rebounds come when a three point shooting team vacates as a whole when the shot is taken, so to me there are a lot of empty rebound statistics in today’s NBA and I don’t see that as anything to hang your hat on. You mentioned being jaded after ten years, and I think I’m in the same boat with regards to the organization forcing us to hope for players to magically transform. I’ll use Thybulle as an example. The Sixers are hoping he magically transforms, but in the meantime, they can at least utilize the one skill he has, which happens to be the same skill he was noted for on draft day. He may never transform, but at least he has a very measurable skill that is useful. I see none of those skills with Bagley. Literally, none.

He looks lost on the court, can’t guard the perimeter or bang with bigs, has limited offensive skills outside of a 1986 hook shot, can hit a three once in a while when someone finally sees him standing around, which he does, a lot. Seems to me it’s ok as an organization to admit when you’ve failed.

Otis
February 18, 2021 1:12 pm
Reply to  Marty

He looks lost on the court

I would have agreed with you early on this season, but not any longer. He might not look great, but he doesn’t look lost to me.

ForKingsandCountry
February 18, 2021 2:54 pm
Reply to  Marty

I’m going to agree with Otis on this one in that I don’t think he looks lost nearly as often as he did the first 8 games or so. He still isn’t very good but the fact that he’s at least semi-playable now is improvement even if modest. I was actually pretty encouraged after the Sixers game because while he may have taken charges on out of control players as you noted, he had to be in the right place to even take those charges and early in the year he couldn’t even do that. Plus I do think his three point shooting has improved quite a bit from where he was at a year or two ago and that’s a helpful skill in a team concept with Fox and Haliburton on the court.

Just to be crystal clear, I still think maybe he tops out as a middling starter but that also doesn’t mean he hasn’t improved a little bit and this is coming from someone who called him an obvious bust on draft night so I’ve never believed in the talent.

Hamlet1989
February 20, 2021 7:15 am
Reply to  Marty

Also this franchise has gone from trying to keep secrets to running endless disinformation campaigns. The lies surrounding injuries to Giles and Bagley last year. The lies around Jabari Parker this year. Disgraceful!

Hamlet1989
February 20, 2021 7:09 am
Reply to  JamesHam

A reminder for those out there who keep bringing up Bogey. Monte spared us another season of talking about how, “If he could just stay healthy.” I would’ve rather they kept him, but the mistake was re-upping Buddy. The decision to sign Buddy was the decision to let Bogey walk. Blame Vlade, not Monte. If we had made the right choice we wouldn’t have either. Buddy would be unhappy somewhere else, and bogey, hurt again. We’d be looking at much better draft odds after what was bound to be a lost season anyway, and we could look forward to Bogey next year, instead of looking for a way to off-load Buddy’s useless contract.
The fact Ranadive is still trying to win now,(and you know he can’t understand why his people haven’t achieved more with all the high-level talent he’s paying for)after knowing nothing could put butts in the seats this year, tells me he’s still clueless and likely we’ll be having these same conversations until he decides to cash in and leave us alone.

Hamlet1989
February 20, 2021 6:44 am
Reply to  Marty

It isn’t so much that he’s 21, it’s that he’s a slender 21. Some bigs take longer. He’s not so much a “big’ as he’s just tall. The skill and athleticism is there. If he learns defense he’s a better shooting Ben Simmons without the passing. And if his long-ball continues to develop, he’s KD.

Bbmuteman
February 18, 2021 11:58 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Hi james. Glad you’re here hanging out. I lurked forever on str, so I never got to interact with you. Thanks for your insights.

Adamsite
Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
February 18, 2021 12:33 pm
Reply to  JamesHam

James, do you have any info on Jabari Parker? I find it odd that he hasn’t even seen the floor once. Honestly, I haven’t even really seen him on the sideline. Is there and ready to play each game? What gives?

JamesHam
February 18, 2021 12:48 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

He’s there and he actually looks like he’s done a ton of work on his body. But…he missed most of camp with a back injury, then had a personal issue that had him leave the team for a stretch, followed by quarantining on his return.

Walton has his set group and Parker hasn’t hardly practiced at all. He can go out there and score, but with Walton focused on Bagley and Barnes at the four and Holmes and Whiteside at the five, there just isn’t really a lot of time available.

Bjelica is in the same situation at this point and Nemanja can at least stretch the floor, pass, rebound etc.

Hamlet1989
February 20, 2021 7:28 am
Reply to  JamesHam

Nemanja would be good on the Celts. Why do I feel like there’s a Boston deal that won’t get done because the Kings(Ranadive) are still over-valuing their assets. I say get it done if you have to give them Bejelica, Holmes, GRIII, DQ, even Bags.
Question: Are there hidden costs for making trades (legal fees etc.) the average fan doesn’t know about?
Good franchises make deals. Sacramento’s always trigger shy. Afraid of doing deals just for the sake of deals, or just afraid of spending money? You still there Hamm?

PhutureKings
February 18, 2021 2:19 pm
Reply to  JamesHam

For what it’s worth, CK was LEGIT back in the day. I won’t speak on its current state bc I don’t have much good to say, but when you were there it was my favorite Kings-centric podcast by far. It had an underground feel and passion that was truly special. It also felt like having a discussion with my friends about the Kings, except we also got truth nuggets dropped that we didn’t have access to get for ourselves.

I miss it, honestly.

ForKingsandCountry
February 18, 2021 2:45 pm
Reply to  JamesHam

Oddly enough CK is how I found STR about a decade ago just prior to all the Here We Stay stuff. I used to love the old CK site and now… yeah…

RobHessing
February 18, 2021 10:15 am

I could not help but notice that my question was the 5th one answered. Well played. I only wish that I had also asked about the current status of OJ Mayo.
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Bryant
Member
February 18, 2021 10:36 am