NBA AM: Why Sacramento Dealt Thomas Robinson
While the NBA trade deadline this season lacked the movement of upper tier talent most fans expected, there were still a few interesting moves made before time expired on the clock. One of those saw the Sacramento Kings ship rookie forward Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich.
The move was somewhat surprising because Robinson was the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft and franchises rarely give up on top five talent with only 51 career regular season games under their belt.
But according to Robinson’s former teammate, Tyreke Evans, the rookie was frustrated with his role in Sacramento and likely needed a change of scenery to truly develop. Evans compared Robinson’s rookie year to date with current Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors, the No. 3 pick of the 2010 draft, who was involved in trade rumors from the day Brooklyn drafted him until being traded 56 games into his rookie season.
“[Robinson] is going to be pretty good,” Evans told HOOPSWORLD. “He’s young and got a lot of talent. He was a little frustrated here, but the same thing [happened] with Derrick Favors. He was in New Jersey frustrated, went to Utah and now he’s playing good.”
While Robinson was extremely frustrated in Sacramento, the Kings maintain they were still very high on Robinson but say they were motivated by the need to bring in more perimeter threats to add spacing to their lineup around emerging center DeMarcus Cousins.
“Patrick is a guy who has been in the league for some time now,” Smart said. “He’s a relatively young pro but he had a chance to play behind some really talented guys in Houston and this year was a year he was coming into his own and having his best year. He’s showed he can shoot the basketball. He’s a big guy at 6’9 and I think he’ll be a big help to us with having some size and also being able to space the floor. I think that helps in the offense when you can space the floor. We’ve had some nice games as of late with our four (position) being spaced.
“It’s tough to move players. That’s always a tough time. But the NBA is about movement and we made a move.”
While Kings essentially gave up on a lottery pick rather early, Smart reiterated that he feels Robinson would be a solid pro and complimented his professionalism in his short stint in Sacramento.
“It’s always hard when you lose quality young men,” Smart said. “Thomas Robinson is a quality young man. Francisco is a quality person. A super pro in everything he has done. Tyler was a good young man, working to develop. He didn’t get a chance to play a lot but you saw the growth in what he had been doing since year one to now.
“Obviously when you’re not winning at the rate you need to win at changes have to be made. And sometimes good people fall into cracks of those things you’re trying to change. We’re trying to get our team into a position where we can add and sometimes a good player, a promising player, needs to be involved that.”
The Kings (19-39) are currently tied with the Phoenix Suns for the worst record in the Western Conference. The team hasn’t reached the postseason since the 2006 campaign where Mike Bibby, Metta World Peace, Peja Stojakovic, Brad Miller and Bonzi Wells were club’s top five scorers. Only World Peace is still an active player.br> br>
The Philadelphia 76ers May Have Hit Rock Bottom
The Philadelphia 76ers were just one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals last season. In the pursuit of entering the league’s elite, the team swung for the fences last summer by acquiring All-Star center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers. In the deal, the Sixers traded former all-Star forward Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets.
Bynum has yet to play a game for Philadelphia and the Sixers are 22-33, losers of six straight games, and on the outside looking in at the playoffs if the season were to end today.
On Tuesday the Sixers lost to the struggling Orlando Magic and head coach Doug Collins admitted this may be the team’s rock bottom moment.
“I sure hope so,” Collins said after the loss to Orlando according to Comcast Sports Net – Philly. “I sure hope it can’t get any worse than this, but I mean, if you look at our schedule, 12 of our last 14 are on the road and look at the home games we’re playing: Atlanta, Golden State. Every one of them is a playoff team. But it’s interesting, the one thing my team has really never done is. I’ve always said ‘Beat the team you’re supposed to beat and let’s see where you are against the others.’ And it seems like for us we’ve laid some eggs in here against some teams we’ve had a chance to beat and then we’ve played pretty well — San Antonio, Memphis, Miami — played well, but they were still better than us and beat us, and that’s what you can’t do.”
In a memorable press conference, Collins also called out his players.
“I think we have some guys who have some capability,” Collins said. “I say all the time … they say it’s a players’ league, well then take ownership. Take ownership. That’s all I’m asking: Take ownership of what you’re putting out there. To me, I’m a day’s work for a day’s pay kind of guy. That all I’ve ever been taught. And the one thing I have to understand is — from me staying up, working harder, not sleeping — that’s not going to help anything. There’s nothing wrong with our preparation.
“I looked out there to start the game and three guys weren’t even sweating when we started the game. They’re going to ease themselves into the game. You’ve gotta get sweaty, you’ve gotta get ready to go. So we started out at the break, and we come over to the bench and we’re 6-for-18 [shooting] to start the game.”
Collins is one of the most respected basketball minds in the business. But his previous coaching stints have followed an eerily similar trajectory to what’s playing out in Philadelphia this season. You have to wonder, if things don’t improve over the final 27 games, if we’ll see Collins calling the shots from the Sixers’ sidelines in 2014.
Lakers Management Grew Impatient?
The Los Angeles Lakers have clearly played below expectations this season. Numerous player have voiced their frustrations over the course of the season, the team has played under three different head coaches and the future of All-Star center Dwight Howard (free agent) with the team is in serious question this summer.
With all of the drama surrounding the Lakers, general manager Mitch Kupchak recently revealed some of the organization’s early season moves (firing head coach Mike Brown) were motivated by team owner Dr. Jerry Buss’ failing health.
“The one thing that was a big factor is our lack of patience,” Kupchak said according to CBS Sports Radio. ”When we made the changes we made in the offseason, we really did it with a two- or maybe even a three-year window, probably a two-year window to do our best and win a championship. And clearly we knew Dr. Buss was not in great health, and we were hoping for the next year or two we could put something on the court that would result in being in the hunt at the end of the year for a championship.
“And when we didn’t feel we could get there after a preseason and a small number of games, we didn’t feel we had the patience to wait and see if it was going to work out. And that’s really why we made the change we made so early.”
In an interesting twist Kupchak also confirmed the reports on internal locker room tension, a notion most executives have been known to sidestep.
“Up until lately, I don’t think anybody in our locker room was getting along,” Kupchak said. “If you went down there, you’d see a bunch of grumpy, upset players, and that’s because we were losing. Losing brings out the worst in everybody, and nobody is happy.”
The Lakers are currently 28-30 which is good enough for ninth in the Western Conference standings. The team is three games behind the eighth place Houston Rockets for the final playoff spot in the conference.