One wouldn't think the retention of point guard Charlie Bell in Milwaukee would have much to do with the Kings, nor would the news that small forward Mickael Pietrus might stay with Golden State after all.
But in a roundabout way, the Kings might be the benefactors of two failed attempts by Miami to add to its roster. And maybe, just maybe, this quiet offseason in Sacramento will have a loud finish.
While the Kings slowly design their master plan for the future, the Heat needs to improve now to continue its struggle for Eastern Conference supremacy. With Shaquille O'Neal in his later days, Dwyane Wade in his prime and the embarrassment that came after their feeble defense of the 2005-06 crown in last season's playoffs (a first-round sweep by Chicago), a new piece -- or pieces -- is needed, pronto.
It's why Miami president/coach Pat Riley offered Bell a five-year, $18 million deal recently, why the Heat worked so hard to secure a sign-and-trade that would bring Pietrus its way and why the team hoped the Kings would cooperate earlier in the summer when they showed interest in Mike Bibby and Ron Artest. But the pursuits of Bell and Pietrus fell short last week, when the Bucks surprisingly matched the offer for their restricted free agent and the Pietrus discussions hit a dead end.
Might the Heat look toward Sacramento again? It's conceivable.
According to a league source, a trade was discussed this summer that would have sent Bibby to Miami and brought "White Chocolate" back to Sacramento. Former Kings point guard Jason Williams and forward Udonis Haslem were offered in return, and possibly draft picks. Additionally, Miami was seriously interested in Artest, but the Kings didn't appear eager to move the small forward.
The consensus seems to be that -- barring an offer they can't refuse -- the Kings want to see Artest in action this season and feel somewhat confident he will both produce and avoid the off-court controversy that marred last season.
But Bibby could still be in play, and here's why.
Williams has an expiring contract, with his final season paying him a sum of $8.9 million that is both cheaper and one season less than Bibby's contract ($13.5 million in 2007-08, with a player option for 2008-09 at $14.5 million). Salary cap space would come sooner than expected for the Kings, and the collective EKG of their frustrated fan base could receive a decent spike with J-Will and his once-dazzling game back in town. If it's going to be a transitional period for the franchise, why not make it an exciting transitional period? The only one upset might be second-year forward Justin Williams, who would lose the rights to his nickname in this scenario.
As for Haslem, he's a quality role player who is only 27 with a contract that has three seasons and $19.9 million remaining. But the offseason signing of Mikki Moore could come into play here, as the power forward contingent now consists of Moore, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Kenny Thomas and Justin Williams. None other than the little-used Williams, however, rebounds at a higher rate than Haslem -- a point of note considering the Kings were nearly the worst rebounding team in the league last season.
Finally, the draft picks fit into the Kings' objective of building with young talent and would be a key component.
Bibby, meanwhile, has done well as a third scoring option on a playoff contender before and could do so again. The defensive attention paid to Wade and Shaq would take pressure off Bibby and allow for a revival. For the Kings, the fact that he'd be doing it in the Eastern Conference would make it all palatable.
Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie is in Europe. When he returns, it wouldn't be surprising if he hears from Riley.