Bibby stays put
Point guard's feelings conflict over trade talk
By Sam Amick - Bee Staff Writer
Last Updated 12:39 am PST Friday, February 23, 2007
Story appeared in SPORTS section, Page C1
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He had no choice but to believe his Kings days were numbered, so Mike Bibby conducted himself like a player on the verge of being traded.
Before the Kings faced Boston at home Tuesday, he let friend and teammate Brad Miller know that it might very well be their last game together.
Despite Miller's inflamed left foot hurting badly enough for him to sit out, he played.
Thursday at the Verizon Center, Bibby finished a shootaround with the Kings some three hours before the league's 3 p.m. EST trade deadline and headed to lunch with his teammates for what might have been their last supper together.
But after months of speculation and signs that Bibby's six-year run in Sacramento would end, the Kings didn't move him -- or any other player -- on the final day of dealing. Bibby, meanwhile, was left with the bizarre sensation of not feeling like part of the overall plan but still being on the payroll.
"They say this is a business, and my business now is more certain than it was earlier today, so I'm going to go out there and play hard and try to make this playoff push," Bibby said before the Kings lost to the Washington Wizards 109-106. "I'm here playing. ... I'm here with this team now, and all this trade talk is done."
When Bibby said weeks ago that his preference was to finish his career with the Kings, he wouldn't answer when asked if he reached the point of wanting to be traded. Nor would he say whether the trade talks would change his plan to not opt out of his contract after this season. He has a combined $28 million and two seasons left on his contract, with the ability to opt out after this one and the next.
The talks surrounding a potential deal to send Bibby to Cleveland for forward Drew Gooden and some combination of expiring contracts and young players were, in the end, fruitless, even as Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry tried desperately until the deadline to find a proposal that was to the Kings' liking.
Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie -- who said Wednesday that "one of the biggest assassins in life is haste" -- opted not to make any trade, setting up what might be a busy offseason.
In the Kings' locker room Thursday, some teammates were pleased that Bibby still was on board.
"He's the best point guard I've played with," said forward Kenny Thomas, who voiced his disagreement earlier in the season when Bibby trade talks heated up. "I'm glad (he wasn't traded)."
Coach Eric Musselman said the trade talk had little effect on himself or the team but might have impacted Bibby.
"I think anytime there's speculation, it can affect you," Musselman said. "And there won't be any speculation now."
There was nothing but speculation Thursday morning, and Bibby struggled with the notion that he could remain with the team that seemed so motivated to move him.
"I don't know where it's going to leave me," Bibby said. "I think they're trying to go in a different direction, and I don't think I'm involved in that direction."
As for how he handles himself now, Bibby said he has no choice but to turn around his season.
"I'm trying," he said. "That's what I'll do. That's what I'll have to do. I'm out here, and the situation that I'm put in is kind of difficult, so I'm going out there regardless."
No matter how much playing time or production comes of it.
"If I score 10 points, 20 points a night, I'm out there playing the best I can, regardless of how much time I get, if I bring the ball up or not, if I'm involved in the offense or not," he said. "I'm playing the best I can regardless."
Ailene Voisin: Feelings are clear: The love has faded
By Ailene Voisin - Bee Columnist
Last Updated 12:41 am PST Friday, February 23, 2007
Story appeared in SPORTS section, Page C1
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A breakup between the Kings and their one-time clutch shooter would have been in the best interest of all concerned. Mike Bibby and Geoff Petrie and the Maloofs can all agree on that.
Yet the inevitable divorce -- stay tuned this summer -- won't occur because Bibby stopped taking out the garbage or began leaving the cap off the toothpaste. Nothing that sordid or sloppy. Rather, the strain between the longest-tenured King and his bosses traces to the same simple elements that doom so many other relationships.
Bibby has stayed the same, and the Kings want change.
They want to get younger, play faster, become more athletic. They want new and different and exciting.
And Bibby? Though one of the league's premier shooters, he is no longer young and has never been fast or athletic or more than mildly interested in defense.
So for the closing weeks, Bibby and the Kings will live like an estranged couple sharing a house until the kids turn 18. The atmosphere figures to be uncomfortable at best. At worst, everyone in the locker room will be miserable.
"The deadline creates a lot of anxiety for everybody," Petrie said after refusing to consummate a trade that would have sent Bibby to Cleveland for forward Drew Gooden, "but you have to let it go. ... We need him to play. We still have to try and win games."
Though the deal failed to materialize for obvious reasons, specifically because the Cavaliers lacked the additional quality draft picks or expiring contracts Petrie coveted, the candor of the conversation at least injected some clarity into a murky situation. The sides are picked. The end to that eight-season playoff run is near. The current standings are nothing more than foil, just crazy numbers that distort reality. The Kings remain in the Western Conference playoff hunt only because the teams they're chasing are so pathetic.
All eyes over at the kingdom should be fixated on an offseason that will present opportunities to reconfigure an ailing roster in one or all of three ways: via the draft, free agency or trade. Salary cap flexibility is all the buzz, with Petrie's aggressive attempt to trade Bibby particularly significant in this sense: Teams that deal their veteran starting point guards -- or seem determined to do so -- are intent on changing both the personality and style of play.
In essence, without saying as much as sayonara, Petrie announced his blueprint for the Kings' next generation. And although it excludes Bibby for several reasons, including the $28 million he is owed over the next two seasons, the formula (new and exciting and athletic) isn't designed to disparage the nine-year veteran as a person or a player.
This is Mike Bibby here. Who doesn't remember who hit all those big shots? Who wanted the ball against the Lakers? Who once engaged Steve Nash in delightful duels? Rather, this pragmatic Kings approach simply reinforces the notion that Bibby's particular talents don't fit into their future.
At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Bibby is a hybrid, a shooting guard at heart who, because of his small size and lack of quickness, is cast as a point guard by profession. And frankly, he owes the Kings an assist here. The team that Petrie began piecing together almost a decade ago -- adroitly matching the skills and personalities of Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Jon Barry, Bobby Jackson, Doug Christie and Brad Miller, among others -- offered a near-perfect stage for an undersized, combination-type point guard such as Bibby to excel.
Christie's presence and complementary talents were particularly beneficial. At 6-6, he was the Kings' primary ballhandler, the best defender, the most creative passer among the guards and certainly the most effective at initiating the fast break. He was an anomaly, a modern-era guard who advanced the offense with a long pass, eschewing any temptation to dominate the ball and slow the pace.
Knowing Petrie as we do, these new and future Kings are being assembled in the image of the 1999-2004 squads, built to pass, to rebound and run, with Kevin Martin, Francisco García, Ronnie Price, Quincy Douby and John Salmons already eminently capable of sprinting and passing and dunking. But along with the glaring need for a rebounder and interior defender, the Kings need someone to accelerate the tempo, force the pace, direct the break, defend the ball.
Kings' late rally ends agonizingly
By Sam Amick - Bee Staff Writer
Last Updated 6:28 am PST Friday, February 23, 2007
Story appeared in SPORTS section, Page C4
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WASHINGTON -- Mike Bibby had done nearly everything else, but this was asking a bit much.
With 0.7 seconds left Thursday night, Brad Miller inbounded a full court away from the Kings' basket. Bibby called for the ball from some 10 feet away, but Miller knew this called for more.
So he heaved a 66-foot pass to John Salmons, who turned between two Washington defenders and hit a three-pointer that appeared to tie the score and perhaps save the Kings from yet another close loss. The 17-point fourth-quarter comeback seemed complete, with only overtime standing between the Kings and an emotional lift to start their four-game road trip.
But after reviewing the play for several minutes, the officials determined Salmons' shot came after the buzzer, and the Kings were out of time in their 109-106 loss to the Wizards.
"I was thinking we were going to overtime, and then they just called the game," Salmons said. "We came in and saw the replay, and I was definitely way behind the (three-point) line. But the time was close. We couldn't really tell one way or the other."
No one was more disappointed than Bibby, who scored 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and lost out on his own welcome-back win.
He never really left, but this officially was the first time Bibby knew his own fate. The trade deadline passed with no Bibby deal, and he suddenly played like he hasn't for much of the season.
Bibby scored 12 points during a 21-3 Kings run that turned a 95-78 deficit into a 99-98 lead. In that stretch, he made three of his six three-pointers. For the first time in the last seven games, Bibby shot better than 50 percent (12 for 21). He had struggled of late, averaging 9.8 points in the previous five games.
"It wasn't different to me," Bibby said. "I was going to play hard until (a trade) happened ... . We had a tough fight in the fourth, but we just couldn't pull it out. Well, I think we pulled it out, but that's the way it goes sometimes."
Bibby sank 5 of 8 shots in the fourth, but he was unable to hold onto the ball with 27.8 seconds left, as a Caron Butler steal led to two Wizards free throws and a two-point lead. Salmons also traveled with 13 seconds remaining, though he said he disagreed with the call.
The role of dominator changed hands numerous times. In the first quarter, the Wizards' Gilbert Arenas scored 19 of his 43 points, and the Kings' Ron Artest had 15 of his 32.
"I would have tried to do a little bit more, but then coach just stopped going to me," Artest said. "I don't know (why)."
Some interesting quotes/stuff. Maybe Bibby will opt out? He knows he isn't wanted anymore which kinda sucks. Maybe now he'll start playing for a contract. I could also see Ron wanting out if we keep losing this season and because he probably hates the coach. Muss is pretty clueless.
Honestly I can see him choosing long term security over an immediate 28 million. I mean look at what Peja got, and Mike has been/is better than Peja and is way more clutch. Guys get these contracts because young teams(like ATL/Milwaukee/Memphis who are all desperate for a PG btw) with cap room want an experienced vet and so they'll over pay. Peja had a pretty crappy year last year and he got like 64 million dollars. If Mike steps up his play and shows teams he's still got it I could/can see him getting a big contract. Also the situation here gets pretty unpleasant I can see him opting out. You know what I mean? Just look at what happened to Peja. If he hadn't opted out he would never get a decent contract again. Even with his bad year he got paid.