The Sacramento Kings’ newest member and first-round draft pick Tyreke Evans flew into Sacramento for a workout last week, a mere five days before the NBA draft.
I think I was sitting three rows behind him on a Southwest flight from Los Angeles.
I know, classy.
Forgetting the fact that I was zoned in on Lance Armstrong being in town and what kind of competition would be devouring Nevada City, I couldn’t help but notice the 6-feet, 5-inch guard the Kings were setting up for a workout. I knew he was a baller before I confirmed his mugshot. Tall, dressed in brand new clothes and rolling with an agent-type on his hip. (Crackberry much?)
One question popped into my mind: Is this how the Kings roll out the red carpet?
I guess when you fly in 20-30 athletes for workouts in a one-month span, that’s quite a hefty expense. One that gets pretty heavy on a franchise having a tough time selling tickets.
So Kings fans, do you now have the incentive to buy those tickets? Do you see a quality lineup forming in Sacramento? A competitive team in the works? I do.
This season will be juicy and for two specific reasons: 1) Options. 2) Depth.
Unfortunately, Geoff Petrie still didn’t manage to draft a point guard because as much as he would like for you and I to believe, Evans is a 2-guard. Has been, always will be. And it’s his scoring ability that upped his pay grade, especially after working out head-to-head with some of the other top talent in the draft. He matched up well and earned his spot — even over European superstar Ricky Rubio.
But that’s not a problem. In fact, if it is a problem, it’s a good problem to have because Evans will provide versatility for new coach Paul Westphal to tinker with. Assuming Petrie and Westphal are on the same page, Evans will be in the lineup as the 1-guard, with K-Mart, Francisco Garcia, Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes filling out the other positions. All of a sudden, you have a young, somewhat matured, lineup of go-getters. Evans gets the nod because he also can make his own shot, as shown by his 17 points per game at Memphis. With Beno Udrih on the bench, Garcia’s ability to step in at point and Bobby Jackson lurking, there’s plenty of room to mix and mash.
On the other hand, there’s a logjam at the guard position with 6 1/2 on the roster (Garcia can and will play forward). That’s depth necessary for trade bait and necessary for the inevitable Jackson ankle tear, K-Mart leadership breakdown and a revert-to-Udrih spell. Trust me, it’ll all happen at one point in the season or another. And it all just adds to the spice of the Kings’ future.
With the development of Hawes and Thompson, a new coach, a focus on leadership (are you reading this Kevin?) and motivation from a very embarrassing prior season, the Kings will have to show some new stripes. Coming into the 2009-10 season with a different attitude is the only logical reaction. Petrie has made sure the team is, at the very least, in a position to make some noise. Whether that means fourth or 10th in the Western Conference is yet to be determined.
At least we have a reason to watch now.
Editor’s note: This column originally appeared in The Union.
How strange is it that after flying back from Los Angeles last weekend, Tyreke Evans was on the plane to Sacramento.
My first thought when I saw him, which is to say, I didn’t know it was him: Dude looks like a baller. Money-wise, hoop-wise. Second thought: Why the hell is this guy on Southwest? Third thought: Definitely a baller, getting picked up by some professional looking white dude with an agent looking fella (hooked into his phone) at the airport.
Weird how I couldn’t have pointed out Tyreke Evans in police lineup two days ago and he’s now the saving grace for the Sacramento Kings. Face of the franchise? Hell no. But he’s still taking over a spot that has been a critical part of the Kings’ downfall. But that doesn’t mean Kevin Martin isn’t the man. The real question for the Kings, whose gonna be the locker room leader? I don’t see K-Mart doing it. Guesses anyone?