View Full Version : More Bad Tidings for Sacramento? The Kings refuse to pick up option on Adelman's contract.

07-31-2004, 12:11 AM
Are Kings still among royalty in the West?
Kerry Eggers

The window of opportunity to claim an NBA championship may have closed on the Sacramento Kings. But Geoff Petrie and Rick Adelman will try to keep it cracked open.

Sacramento’s six-man nucleus — Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Brad Miller, Mike Bibby, Doug Christie and Bobby Jackson — remains intact for 2004-05. The Kings signed center Greg Ostertag to replace Vlade Divac, who went to the L.A. Lakers, and re-signed power forward Darius Songaila.

Guard Anthony Peeler is an unrestricted free agent, and athletic small forward Gerald Wallace was lost to Charlotte in the expansion draft.Adelman got what he hopes is a little help in the draft in first-round pick Kevin Martin, a 6-7 guard out of Western Carolina whose 24.9 points as a junior last season was the second-highest average in Division I.

“Kevin is a very talented offensive player,” says Adelman, who has coached Sacramento to a 230-98 regular-season record the last six years. “He’s thin with a very immature body, and he doesn’t really defend people, but he’s explosive and quick. The biggest thing with him is, how hard is he going to work and develop discipline with his game?Is there a chance Martin will play his way into the rotation as a rookie?“There’s a chance he’s going to have to,” Adelman says.

Breaks of the game

The Kings might have won a crown last year had Webber been available all season, but the All-Star power forward missed 58 games with myriad problems: He sustained a knee injury, and served suspensions for lying to a federal grand jury about illegal payoffs during his college days at Michigan and violating the league’s anti-drug policy. Just before he returned, Jackson — the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2002-03 — was lost to an abdomen injury that kept him out the rest of the season.

After a remarkable 43-15 start, the Kings finished 12-12, rallied to eliminate Dallas in five games, then lost to Minnesota in a heart-wrenching seven-game Western Conference semifinal matchup.“We played well against the Timberwolves,” Petrie says. “It came down to a couple of games where we needed to make a shot or get a stop at the end, and we couldn’t quite get over the hump. We were very good last season, but like 28 other teams, not good enough.“I would like to see our team have a year where they could play the most important part of the season with a full deck of cards. In what I would call the ‘breaks of the game’ area, we haven’t been very lucky.”

Hefty criticism

Webber will be a key. The 6-10 forward, 31, never regained his full physical abilities last season, and it hurt the Kings. Critics think Adelman should have kept intact the starting lineup that got the team off to an NBA-best record the first two-thirds of the season before Webber’s return.

“Then what am I supposed to do with Chris Webber?” Adelman asks. “When a guy has the highest salary and is your best player, and he’s ready to play, do you just sit him? When San Antonio brought Tim Duncan back after his injury last year, I didn’t see Pop (coach Gregg Popovich) sitting him.“If Chris doesn’t play (big minutes), can you really beat the best teams in the league? Brad and Vlade are good players, but they don’t have the capabilities of Chris, who can raise his game to a higher level. I had to find out where he was.”Webber exacerbated the situation by being critical of teammates, particularly Stojakovic, after the Minnesota series, questioning their heart and willingness to “step up in the tough times.”

Some think the Kings must trade either Webber or Stojakovic, that the chemistry is bad. But Petrie, always a cool hand during heated times, won’t jump to any decision without long, hard thought.“I’m not trying to trade anybody,” Petrie says. “We don’t have any nonproductive players making a lot of money. The history of this league is replete with teams that are real good, and for some reason get dissatisfied and are too eager to make changes. Portland, after losing to the Lakers (in 2000), might have been better off standing pat.“That doesn’t mean we’re ruling out (a trade). Something gets done every summer, but we’ll do something only if it makes sense.”

Dunn deal

The Kings also lost veteran assistant coach John Wetzel, who had been with Adelman through his entire 14-year run as NBA head coach at Portland, Golden State and Sacramento. Wetzel, 59, retired after 31 years as a player or coach in the league. Adelman replaced Wetzel with one-time Blazer guard T.R. Dunn, who had been an assistant in Denver.“I’ll miss John a lot,” Adelman says. “It would be like if Jerry Sloan lost (longtime right-hand man) Phil Johnson in Utah.”

Adelman, whose career coaching record of 658-411 makes him one of 18 NBA coaches in the 600-win club, has one year left on his contract, with an additional year at the club’s option.“I’ve asked for another year,” says Adelman, 58. “I think they should pick up my option year, I really do. I think my staff and I have done everything we could do, but there’s nothing I can do about it. It makes it more difficult (to be in a lame-duck situation), but you don’t coach differently. Geoff and I talked briefly about it, and we agreed there was too much else going on now, and we would talk later in the summer about it.”

Petrie likes Adelman, professionally and personally. But it’s a business, and at some point, almost every coach takes the fall.“Rick is a very good coach, the best coach for our team right now,” says Petrie, who has two years left on his contract. “Our owners have been terrific to work for. At some point, everyone’s tour of duty comes to an end. I don’t know when that will be, for either Rick or me, but it’s the nature of the business.“I do know all the people who have been here during my time here have done a good job, and we’ll keep trying to do that.”

Portland Tribune (http://www.portlandtribune.com/archview.cgi?id=25365)

07-31-2004, 02:15 AM
But it’s a business, and at some point, almost every coach takes the fall