Kings notes: Who will take Bonzi's place? It's 'wide open'
By Joe Davidson - Bee Staff Writer
Last Updated 12:30 am PDT Tuesday, October 3, 2006
The Kings are minus their bruising off guard from a year ago, with Bonzi Wells pushing away nearly $40 million offer from the Kings to try his financial luck elsewhere.
He officially signed a two-year deal in Houston on Monday -- worth a fraction of what he could have made -- and the ripple effect lingers.
"Bonzi will be missed -- dearly," Kings guard Mike Bibby said.
Added Ron Artest: "We're definitely going to miss Bonzi because of how good he was."
So who fills in for the Kings' best performer from last postseason? It could be Kevin Martin, who started 41 games and showed great promise. It might be John Salmons, a free agent signing who covets the position. Then there's Francisco García, who showed flashes of agility during an injury-plagued rookie season.
The Kings' new coaching staff -- headed by Eric Musselman -- enters practice today with three certain starters in Artest, Bibby and Brad Miller. That leaves the Kenny Thomas-Shareef Abdur-Rahim power forward slot up for debate and the shooting guard spot.
"We're trying to figure out our rotation," Musselman said Monday. "We have an off-guard spot that is open. Someone's got to jump and grab that spot. We walk in here (today), and we give Kevin a shot (at first). It's wide open. We don't have anything set in stone."
More Martin -- When Rick Adelman left the Kings' practice facility for the final time in May, he cornered Martin and told him that he had a bright future in this game. Musselman has made it a point to talk regularly with the third-year player, with a lot of mutual respect.
"I feel like we have a great relationship," Martin said. "He's expecting a lot out of me, and I'm expecting a lot out of him. The way he's coaching me, it feels like we've been together since I've been 10 years old."
Older yet newer? -- Bibby and Miller sported different looks. Bibby said he lost 18 pounds. Miller is bulkier, though his body won't make him become Shaq's double soon.
"Brad got bigger and stronger," Artest said. "I saw that his arms were bigger. That's a good sign for us."
Musselman on Bibby: "Mike looks great. We have a routine. I'm walking out of Gold's Gym, and he's walking in. I know he's worked extremely hard."
Miller time, still? -- Miller flourished in the high-post sets that Adelman used in seasons past. What now? Musselman said he still wants to utilize his center's strength.
"Our staff loves the fact that he can shoot (three-pointers) from the five spot," Musselman said. "I'd like to see him shoot more threes. At least attempt more. That stretches out the defense, and it's a burden (on a defense).
"He's maybe the best passing center in the league. We're still going to (utilize his strengths)."
García vs. Bibby -- García worked out regularly with Bibby this offseason. The second-year man reports that the Kings' floor leader is "faster than he's ever been" but that he has suddenly passed Bibby up as a shooter.
"I still beat him -- three-pointers and mid-range," García said. "He knows it."
The walls have voices -- The Kings' practice facility doesn't look as sterile as it did last season. In addition to the retired jerseys that also hang in the Arco Arena rafters, the walls are adorned by motivational words of wisdom, all under the suggestion of Musselman, who likes to inspire through books, articles or face-to-face.
"Some of the things we feel are core values," Musselman said. "Some guys will read it a lot, and some won't read it at all. At worst, it adds a little color to the building.
"With some guys, it will be a constant reminder of what we're trying to do. If they want to read it, they can. If they don't, they will hear it."