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Denver’s playoff win reminds Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins, and Isaiah Thomas what could have been

Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins, and Isaiah Thomas reflect on what could have been if the Kings hadn't fired Michael Malone.

NBA fans were treated to a nail-biting Game 7 on Tuesday, as the Denver Nuggets barely held on to defeat the Utah Jazz. Denver had trailed the series 3-1 but managed to come back and advance to the second round of the playoffs.

The Nuggets, of course, are coached by Michael Malone. Malone, you may recall, was the head coach of the Sacramento Kings once upon a time. He was Vivek Ranadive's first and best hire, but was fired by Pete D'Alessandro in 2014. The Kings had started that season going 9-6, but DeMarcus Cousins missed time with viral meningitis and the Kings had slipped to 11-13. D'Alessandro used that as his excuse to fire Malone.

(Pause for a second to reflect that a Kings GM thought being two games under .500 while missing your best player was a good reason to fire the coach)

Malone's firing caused a rift between the roster and the team that never fully healed. DeMarcus Cousins despised the front office and George Karl, Malone's eventual replacement. Rudy Gay had just signed an extension to stay in Sacramento, in part because he wanted to continue playing for Malone. The extension had been agreed to just a month before the Kings fired Malone.

This is all ancient history at this point, but those wounds remain for the players who felt they were building something special in Sacramento. After the game Rudy tweeted about what might have been, and other Kings quickly chimed in.

Ok, I'm going to go cry now.

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Aykis16
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Nostradumbass 13
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Nostradumbass 13
September 2, 2020 9:23 am

I still can’t get over the fact that Pete D’Alessadro didn’t think it was worth keeping Isaiah Thomas (a 24 year old who had just averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists a game in his 3rd NBA season) especially when he was a Restricted Free Agent. Instead he wanted a “pass first” Point Guard and spent money on Darren Collison, who in his entire career never averaged more than 6 assists in a season or averaged more than 16.1 points a game.

Falconsfury
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September 2, 2020 9:27 am
Reply to  Aykis16

Good thing Vivek surrounds himself with people smarter than himself

beephop
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September 2, 2020 11:46 am
Reply to  Falconsfury

I honestly believe he does surround himself with people much smarter than him. It’s easy, he’s not very smart you guys…

Murf
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September 2, 2020 9:35 am
Reply to  Aykis16

Even if he didn’t rate IT, its that he failed to get anything of value for him if he didn’t want him on the Kings roster

RORDOG
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September 2, 2020 10:34 am
Reply to  Aykis16

I wish they would’ve kept them both.

Otis
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September 2, 2020 12:58 pm
Reply to  Aykis16

I can’t forget him being interviewed by the local media after the sign-and-trade, and he seemed flabbergasted that he was getting so many questions about IT. For a player of that caliber, at that age – I’d have matched Phoenix’s offer and spent the next hour praising my good fortune.

TheFifthMookie
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September 2, 2020 9:24 am

Rudy, DMC, IT, and Malone – the start of that season was the last time I believed the Kings could win.

TheFifthMookie
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September 2, 2020 9:26 am
Reply to  TheFifthMookie

woops double post

Last edited 1 year ago by TheFifthMookie
Sryan1987
September 2, 2020 9:57 am
Reply to  TheFifthMookie

on everything…

beephop
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September 2, 2020 11:49 am
Reply to  TheFifthMookie

Last time I believed they could win was Fox, Heild, Bogi and Joeger. I think that was a solid foundation with a solid coach who I believe actually WAS an innovator NBA 3.0 potential. His offense was made for TV and those time outs actually had other teams worried about what he would draw up.

Klam
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September 2, 2020 9:27 am

Trading IT for nothing was the start of (not-so-great) things to come…

That was the first thing this ownership did where I was geuninely like “WTF?” But when the Kings started 9-5, I was willing to give it a chance. Firing Michael Malone was what really sent this team in a downward spiral that it has never recovered from.

AmateurNerd
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September 2, 2020 11:16 am
Reply to  Klam

“Trading IT for nothing”? Ahem. A Mr. Alex Oriakhi would like a word with you, sir.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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September 2, 2020 12:21 pm
Reply to  AmateurNerd

The the Kings ever use the trade exception that also came as part of the deal, or did that expire unused?

Otis
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September 2, 2020 12:59 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Man, do you remember the debates we had at StR? There was a contingent that didn’t think you could evaluate the deal until the trade exception was used.

Wonderchild
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September 2, 2020 1:14 pm
Reply to  Otis

or was it just trying to save a bit of face on the trade from being a complete disaster?

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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September 2, 2020 1:49 pm
Reply to  Otis

That’s why I just don’t like sign and trades. It’s like playing with a stacked deck. The team trading away the player is at such a disadvantage. You either pay up to keep a player that wants out or you get crumbs from the other team because it’s not a balanced negotiation. Pete got his ass handed to him on that trade. Phoenix had all the leverage.

This is one reason why I think the Kings should match any offer for Bogi. Keep him as an asset. You could always trade him down the road and negotiate with far more teams.

BestHyperboleEver
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September 2, 2020 1:56 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

The only way S&Ts work out for the trading team is if they’re actually happily willing to keep the player unless the other team makes it worth their while. When it’s clear the original team wants to be rid of the player either way, then they have zero leverage.

BestHyperboleEver
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September 2, 2020 2:39 pm

I’ll also note, that a team like the Kings should make a decision about how much a player is likely to be offered and if they’re willing to match that amount before the previous trade deadline. If the answer is no, then they should have traded him at the deadline.

It’s all part of the “having a plan and thinking more than one move ahead” thing.

Last edited 1 year ago by BestHyperboleEver
Adamsite
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September 2, 2020 4:38 pm

Totally agree.

Adamsite
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September 2, 2020 4:50 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I’ll add…If the Kings let Bogi walk for nothing or match for a sign and trade, your point is golden. If you don’t intend to match your RFA at market value in the offseason, you should have looked to trade him by the deadline.

LandParkJimmer
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September 2, 2020 9:49 am

Reading this makes me sad. Vivek deserves props for keeping the Kings here and getting the arena done but that’s it. I really had high hopes when we had Rudy, Cousins, and Rondo but that was quickly dismantled and now we are forever rebuilding.

beephop
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September 2, 2020 12:01 pm
Reply to  LandParkJimmer

The only props Vivek deserves is persuading the rest of the owners to let him run the show. As a Communications Major, I would love to sit in on that meeting just to witness his bullshit manifesting itself into some sort of inspirational mirage of consistency, success and innovation. And now, I’d like to sit in on those meetings to hear how he’s still managing to do it when all he’s given them and us is a flaming paper bag full of shit. Communication skills are important people. It can literally get you an NBA team.

LandParkJimmer
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September 2, 2020 1:08 pm
Reply to  beephop

That and lots of money

andy_sims
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September 3, 2020 7:52 am
Reply to  beephop

As a fellow Communications major, you should know that it’s not something that one brings up when one wants to be taken seriously.

beephop
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September 3, 2020 4:40 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

As an Anatomy/Physiology Major, I’d really love to sit in on those meetings to see how he manages to stick his head so far up his own ass while speaking to the rest of the ownership group regarding basketball matters.

Is that better?

1951
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September 2, 2020 10:04 am

Somewhere in the universe are galaxies filled with black holes that are filled with Kong’s “could have”s.

RikSmits
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September 2, 2020 10:37 am
Reply to  1951

You mean purple and black holes?

154-98
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September 2, 2020 10:55 pm
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AKA Buddy Contracts

Kosta
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September 2, 2020 12:47 pm
Reply to  1951

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN…

Don’t even need to parody these lyrics. Everyone who hears this soft rock /country love song knows that Little Texas is talking about the Sacramento Kings fans’ plight :

™«

Sure I think about you now and then
But it’s been a long, long time
I’ve got a good life now, I’ve moved on
So when you cross my mind

I try not to think about what might have been
Cause that was then and we have taken diff’rent roads
We can’t go back again there’s no use giving in
And there’s no way to know
What might have been

™«
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Last edited 1 year ago by Kosta
Klam
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September 2, 2020 1:33 pm
Reply to  Kosta

Hey, there’s a picture of you on Charlie Brown’s wall.

furious.d
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September 2, 2020 10:30 am

I’m all for shitting on Pete D, Vivek, and Vlade, but thinking about enduring the last 5 years with this Big 3 makes my skin crawl. Definitely would’ve been on board to keep Malone, launch Pete into the sun, and trade IT, Cousins, and Rudy though.

AmateurNerd
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September 2, 2020 11:17 am
Reply to  furious.d

Factual.

Otis
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September 2, 2020 1:01 pm
Reply to  furious.d

I’d have been perfectly happy keeping IT and Rudy. It’s not like they would have killed the team’s cap. And I’m not sure I’ve seen a Kings basketball player who wanted to win more than IT.

DeMarcus needed to go earlier, for sure.

Kingsguru21
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September 2, 2020 2:32 pm
Reply to  Otis

In 2013 in point of fact, Cousins needed to go. The fact they thought they could ‘change’ Cousins was a huge red flag. Missing on McCollum hurt, too. Arguably Steven Adams, also.

Its easy to focus on Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert but they were unique cases. And Gobert was 27th overall for a reason. There seems to be alot of reasons for that level of success.

Trading for Rudy Gay, drafting De’Aaron Fox and what else were wins during this ownership group? There’s so little there and it’s 7 years in!

I quit on this franchise a few years ago and I can’t really feel like I was wrong in doing so. The emotional investment is no longer really there. (2018-19 was unusual and even then that wasn’t as important as it was fun to watch until reality caught up to them. I was mostly interested to see if they can beat the odds.)

Occasional interest is all I can muster now. And until they change their MO, and maybe if they don’t i don’t know, there’s no reason to spend much emotional energy on this team.

This franchise just isn’t worth it. And it hasn’t been for a real long time. The fans don’t owe them anything. They had better learn that and start acting accordingly. But I’ll believe it when I see it. The proof is in the pudding. And so far the pudding smells badly and tastes worse. Is it any wonder many fans want to get away from this ugly food that stinks?

Otis
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September 2, 2020 2:46 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Like many others here, I probably would have just bolted from Kings fanhood if it wasn’t for the community. But I wouldn’t even really consider myself a fan now, more of an interested observer. Maybe if they show the ability to make multiple good decisions in a row.

Right now they are at…one.

TheFifthMookie
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September 2, 2020 3:21 pm
Reply to  Otis

But I wouldn’t even really consider myself a fan now, more of an interested observer.

Same here. I no longer live and die game to game. the last time I did, was the time this post is about. I didn’t come back that way for the Joerger speed team, I just had no faith the franchise would keep success going, and surprise, they didn’t. I am a huge NBA fan though, and keep hoping that someday the Kings will be decent again. In the meantime, I’ll watch other basketball for the most part.

When COVID won’t kill me, I’ll go to games at G1 again too, even if the kings still stink. Nice Arena after all.

SierraSpartan
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September 2, 2020 10:38 am

Can somebody educate me as to why Petey D was hired in the first place? Was he actually good at his job someplace else or something?

AmateurNerd
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September 2, 2020 11:19 am
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He’s a slick-talking manipulator, and this appealed to the slick-talking manipulator who interviewed him.

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September 2, 2020 12:26 pm
Reply to  SierraSpartan

From what I remember he was one of the hot assistant GMs that was on the up and up. He was Golden State’s cap guru and assistant GM. He was then hired by Ujiri in Denver. I don’t think many were upset with the hire at the time, other than hiring a coach first. Amazingly he is now the assistant GM in Orlando. He must have some respect around the league, but he sure did lay an egg in Sacramento.

AirmaxPG
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September 2, 2020 1:21 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Which is one of the things that gives me pause when considering one of the “up and up” assistants for our current GM opening.

Pete might be a fantastic assistant GM. Working under Ujiri and Jerry West (like Webster and Redden are right now) can make anyone look good. It’s the Alvin Gentry effect.

A big reason why I want Hinkie over the other candidates.

Adamsite
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September 2, 2020 1:27 pm
Reply to  AirmaxPG

There could be some truth to that. I’m not sure how much decision making is done by assistant GMs. Maybe they are tasked with other things like analytics or number crunching? That seems like what Pete might have been good at, but when it comes to the big decisions they can’t see the forest for the trees.

Last edited 1 year ago by Adamsite
Otis
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September 2, 2020 2:50 pm
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Wasn’t Pete the cap/contract guy as as assistant?

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September 2, 2020 2:54 pm
Reply to  Otis

For Masari Ujiri in Denver? Yes. That’s actually what Pete did and does well. But hell, one could consider David Kahn a cap wizard because he was and is. It was everything else that’s questionable.

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September 2, 2020 1:30 pm
Reply to  AirmaxPG

Pete was conniving though. That is what I didn’t like about him the most, and why he ultimately failed as a GM.

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September 2, 2020 1:38 pm
Reply to  Wonderchild

I also though he was incredibly condescending and couldn’t admit fault.

wilbur10
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September 2, 2020 1:40 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

That morning he went on KHTK and let people just kind of freely fire questions at him did for me. Pete was so god damn arrogant and never once admitted any type of fault, I don’t think.

rockbottom
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September 5, 2020 7:27 am
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Which means he is third on B-ball chart behind Weltman and Hammond ! Their version of Cap Guy !

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September 2, 2020 12:51 pm
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Vivek needed someone to stand next to him to make him look smart.

4on5
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September 2, 2020 10:50 am

Essentially all of the media primarily consumed in this region said each of those move were probably correct and/or would work out for the Kings over the long term. So the were not objective and/or correct? Man, go figure.

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September 2, 2020 1:22 pm
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“What Kings fans need to understand is…”

RobHessing
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September 2, 2020 11:01 am

I am surprised that these three gentlemen can take time off of their own hectic playoff schedules to weigh in on this issue.

RobHessing
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September 2, 2020 11:48 am
Reply to  Greg

I think that James Naismith has seen the playoffs more recently than the Kings.

Jman1949
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September 2, 2020 11:51 am
Reply to  RobHessing

He went to Jared!

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September 2, 2020 1:04 pm
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Jman watching his downvotes accumulate:
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Jman1949
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September 2, 2020 1:19 pm
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I guess linking Rob’s comment to Jared’s was a bit too much?🤔

RobHessing
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September 2, 2020 1:25 pm
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Stop Trumping my comments!

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September 2, 2020 1:30 pm
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September 2, 2020 3:22 pm
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how do I vote down and up at the same time?

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September 2, 2020 4:40 pm
Reply to  TheFifthMookie

At least you voted.

VOTE!!!

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September 3, 2020 9:33 am
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Vote early, vote often.

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September 2, 2020 11:12 am

Just saw that Fox sold his home in Foslom – could a trade request be coming soon?

Aykis16
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September 2, 2020 11:30 am
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September 2, 2020 11:44 am
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You’re not old enough to use this reference.

/grumpy old man out

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September 2, 2020 2:45 pm
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September 2, 2020 3:32 pm

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September 2, 2020 12:49 pm
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Say Anything seems really appropriate for this organization.

Kosta
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September 2, 2020 1:00 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Weekend at Bernie’s Vlade’s was fun to watch while it lasted.

Now on to the sequel:

Weekend at ___(insert next GM)___ Part 2, Electric Boogaloo.
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Last edited 1 year ago by Kosta
Kingsguru21
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September 2, 2020 1:02 pm
Reply to  Kosta

This gives me a large sad.

AirmaxPG
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September 2, 2020 2:54 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Or Better off Dead.

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September 3, 2020 9:35 am
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Now that’s a damn shame, when folks be throwin’ away a perfectly good Vlade.”

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September 2, 2020 11:22 am
Reply to  LandParkJimmer

Moving to Elk Grove. It has more Wal-Marts.

1951
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September 2, 2020 11:23 am
Reply to  LandParkJimmer

He wanted to move away from his neighbors Boggis, Bunce and Bean.

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September 2, 2020 11:48 am
Reply to  1951

Fantastic, you sly fox.
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Last edited 1 year ago by RobHessing
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September 2, 2020 12:08 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

But I thought you could play basketball in the Winter with all that sun in Sac?
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September 2, 2020 12:24 pm
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Stop badgering me!
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September 2, 2020 11:30 am
Reply to  LandParkJimmer

Moving to Phoenix to settle his feud with BabyGiraffe.

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September 2, 2020 11:43 am
Reply to  LandParkJimmer

If he wants that max deal, probably not. It probably has to do with moving somewhere else.

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September 2, 2020 12:27 pm
Reply to  LandParkJimmer

Maybe he is upgrading while expecting a fat extension this offseason.

SneakerKing
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September 2, 2020 11:17 am

I am not sure the IT/Rudy/Cousins combo would’ve figured it out to where they would’ve stuck around. I think it would’ve required Malone getting one of them to sacrifice quite a bit of their game and another of them to sacrafice some while the third guy (probably Cousins) became the primary guy. Still, Malone should’ve been afforded the opportunity to figure it out with all 3. Instead, we are what we are.

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September 2, 2020 11:34 am

Eh, I loved Malone. Absolutely terrible decision.

But any team with Cousins at the top wasn’t going anywhere.

We may have made the playoffs, but never would have gotten to the level the Nuggets are now

andy_sims
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September 3, 2020 8:12 am
Reply to  Dougscott

The second round?

Kings_Life_Sentence_86
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September 2, 2020 11:36 am

God I still hate Pete D with a passion. I mean come on man, someone give me this man’s current address lol.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kings_Life_Sentence_86
RAP87
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September 2, 2020 12:34 pm

Yep, pretty much sums up Vivek’s tenure with the Kings. It has been their M.O since day 1.

Show any signs of improvement and you’re fired! Happened to Malone and once again happened to Joerger. It’s like this ownership and F.O is allergic to winning. SMH

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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September 2, 2020 12:42 pm

LOL, this is Wikipedia’s description of Pete as GM of the Kings:

On June 17, 2013, he was hired as the new general manager of the Sacramento Kings by new majority owner Vivek Ranadive.

D’Alessandro pledged to aggressively pursue deals as the Kings GM and followed through on that with three major trades in the first five months of his tenure, including a 7-player trade with his former boss Ujiri in Toronto. But the promising start quickly devolved, and his tenure in Sacramento was ultimately regarded as “a mess.”

D’Alessandro was responsible for getting rid of Isaiah Thomas, a favorite player of both the fans and coach Michael Malone, and who has since become an NBA All-Star with the Boston Celtics. That move was followed up with his insistence upon the midseason firing of head coach Michael Malone, in favor of Tyrone Corbin as a stepping stone to George Karl. The firing of Malone was universally criticized at the time,[and with the subsequent firings of both Corbin and Karl, has since solidified itself as one of the most catastrophic head coach firings in modern NBA history. Furthermore, throughout D’Alessandro’s time with the Kings, he developed a tendency to leak negative stories to the media about members of the Kings organization,including DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Michael Malone, and owner Vivek Ranadive, in an effort to further his own personal agendas. Ultimately, this was a significant factor in an upper management shakeup that resulted in his tenure as GM coming to an end.

RikSmits
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September 2, 2020 1:03 pm

It’s typical of this franchise that we are still bemoaning fuckups from years ago.

The only thing this organization has done to erase these bitter memories is creating even bigger fuckups in more recent years.

Your Sacramento Kongs!

Kosta
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September 2, 2020 1:07 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

+1 “Ignore the fuckups. Watch this Jason Williams highlight reel!”

Last edited 1 year ago by Kosta
BestHyperboleEver
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September 2, 2020 2:41 pm
Reply to  Kosta

Just be sure to cut to the next scene before we can see if the shot falls or not.

ZillersCat
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September 2, 2020 3:11 pm
Reply to  Kosta

comment image
comment image

Last edited 1 year ago by ZillersCat
4on5
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September 2, 2020 2:32 pm

The last time there was this much negativity toward Pete, Dave did his bonkers €œtown hall€ looking to prop up his source (instead of calling balls and strikes and prompting a change that needed to happen.). The media in this town has been so bat shit crazy for so long, that many die hard fans that haven’t lived in other cities, think it’s normal.

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September 2, 2020 4:02 pm

Being in the 30s I guess I am still young and will be able to witness this team to reach the playoff and the eventual championship. But I have began to wonder Vivek saving this team from moving to Seattle was really a good move after all…..

Dougscott
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