Today's Q&A is with my
mentor friend nemesis significant other blogging colleague Tom Ziller from Sactown Royalty. As you'll see below, there are some surprising similarities between Kings fans and Clippers fans.
ClipperSteve: Things are not so good for the Kings or the Clippers. And perhaps worst of all, a dreaded in state rival is more powerful than ever, with a capital PAU. But an optimist could make a case on either side as well. Who should be more depressed about their team right now? ClipsNation or Sactown?
TZ: This is a tough battle, and quite depressing. But one factor -- and one factor only -- gives the Depression Award to ClipsNation, and his name is Donald Sterling. Sacramento's owners are not angels, but they are addicted to winning (sometimes to the pain of self-inflicted wounds) and they will do whatever is necessary to field a competitive team. Again, sometimes this manifests itself in less-than-perfect ways, such as the firing of Rick Adelman before an assumed one-year run with Artest and Bibby. You think Sterling might be content to pick in the lottery the next decade; the Maloofs would sell or commit suicide before they'd admit eternal defeat. I'd probably rather have L.A.'s roster (though it pains me an inordinate amount to give up Martin), and I'd definitely take L.A.'s arena situation... but I'll stick with the Kings in the grand scheme.
ClipperSteve: Brad Miller is having his best season in many years, after looking like he was done last year. What's the explanation for his rejuvenation?
TZ: It's three-fold. Fold #1: He's in shape. He was not in shape last year, nor the year prior. Apparently, for 30-year-old slow-footed, unathletic centers, being in shape helps! A shocking finding, really. Fold #2: His personal life is in order. In the preseason, Miller revealed his first daughter had been born prematurely and in poor health last January, and the trying times combined with extra travel back to Sacramento during road trips got to him in a serious and wholly understandable way. (The baby is in good shape these days, like her dad.) Fold #3: He knows his role. Under Eric Musselman, Miller was oft quoted as saying he wasn't really sure what his role in Musselman's offense was. Under Theus, he has a better idea. Strangely, letting Miller do the things he's good at (shooting, driving, passing) leads to more success than forcing him to do stuff he's not good at (posting, running)!
ClipperSteve: Both the Kings and the Clippers have been hit mercilessly with injuries. Both of them parted ways with a veteran point guard associated with playoff success. The Kings have managed to remain competitive, even while Artest and Martin were hurt, while the Clippers are solidly in last place in the division. But tell the truth: would you rather have the wins, or the ping pong balls?
TZ: This time last year, the answer would be ping pong balls. Now? I'll take the wins. Two reasons: What happened to Boston, Memphis and Milwaukee last May was scarring, and every single loss is one step closer to Ron Artest decapitating Reggie Theus, something I'd prefer did not occur for several reasons.
ClipperSteve: The Spurs, notoriously good judges of talent, gave up on Beno Udrih. Meanwhile, Jacque Vaughan was their backup point guard most of the season. Isn't Benu Udrih a lot better than Jacque Vaughan? How much is it going to cost the Kings to keep him next season?
TZ: Yes, I would agree Beno is better than Jacque Vaughn by a solid measure. Last year, this was not the case though -- Beno was awful and Vaughn was adequate. Add that to Udrih's disputes with Gregg Popovich (over injuries and supposed toughness), and it wasn't completely shocking the Spurs cut him free to edge away from the luxury tax. He's been just short of a marvel -- currently, I'm high off 73 points, 22 assists, and 2 TOs in his last three games (not counting the Lakers game Tuesday). He might cost the full mid-level; right now, I'm cool with that.
ClipperSteve: Finally, the obligatory Ron Ron questions. Does he opt out? Do the Kings let him walk? Will anyone actually pay him more than the $7.4M in his current contract? (The situation is almost identical to the Clippers and Maggette, with different baggage.)
TZ: Instead of those questions, I will answer the following question, as I am of the belief I can answer the following question with much more certainty than any of the submitted questions.
How many licks does it take Ron Artest to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
The world may never know.
Thanks Tom. Nice Mr. Owl impression. Oh, and sorry about that Lakers loss last night. Man I hate those guys. But they're pretty damn good. Gee, i hope that game didn't take too much out of the Kings. I hope they don't experience any sort of a let down against the Clippers.