SACRAMENTO -- The curtain went up. The curtain came down. The curtain went up. The curtain came down. For the first time since he became coach of the Kings, Reggie Theus kept members of the media in the dark for an entire practice.
"Emotions were really high," Theus would explain afterward with a half-laugh. "No one likes to go on the road and get beat up like that. Guys were grinding each other (Monday) and beating up on each other. Things happen."
A fight would be interesting. A show should be better.
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A season that began with an 0-3 road trip isn't going to get much better from a wins-and-losses perspective for the Kings, who play their home opener tonight against the Seattle SuperSonics. Even before Mike Bibby's thumb surgery, Spencer Hawes' knee injury and Ron Artest's seven-game suspension, there was little likelihood of the Kings reaching the Western Conference playoffs. Now? With no Bibby for two months, no Hawes for a few weeks, no Artest for four more games?
There's no time like the present to plan for the future.
This is what I want to learn:
Can the prolific Kevin Martin become an all-court performer, improving his defense and rebounding, and earn All-Star status?
Can Francisco Garcia adequately fill in for Bibby and Beno Udrih at point guard and eventually resume his role as an important reserve? Garcia has the best court vision among his teammates and is the only player other than Brad Miller who makes plays for others.
Can John Salmons keep his head up emotionally, and when driving into collapsing interior defenses?
Can Quincy Douby shed the deer-in-headlights demeanor and attack offensively? Can the other young Kings -- Darryl Watkins and Orien Greene -- earn playing time?
Can Miller excise his miserable 2006-07 season and re-establish himself as an exceptional high post passer, perimeter shooter and adequate defender/rebounder?
Can Bibby regain his stroke and sustain the attitude he displayed during training camp?
Can Theus, a rookie NBA coach with a healthy ego and accompanying appetite for success, squeeze more out of ineffective power forwards Kenny Thomas, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and offseason acquisition Mikki Moore?
But as the season progresses, most of all I want to know the answer to this question: How long until Geoff Petrie makes the moves that accelerate the rebuilding process?
"I'm going to try and put the highest energy level out on the floor," Theus said as tonight's home opener nears. "I'm not an excuse guy, but the reality is, we go through preseason with Ron and Mike, and we start the season without Ron and Mike."
This is the new reality.
Time to embrace the future.