Friday Five: Kings reign supreme; best, worst deals

Friday Five: Kings reign supreme; best, worst deals
July 25, 2014, 11:45 am
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The Sacramento Kings won the NBA Summer League, while LeBron James returned to Cleveland. (AP)

Editor's note: NBA free agency is in full swing. Stay logged on to CSNBayArea.com, and tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 6 and 10:30 p.m. for complete coverage and analysis.

The NBA's Summer of LeBron has yielded to the Summer of Love. Yes, we know of Carmelo and CB4 and Dirk and even Gordon Hayward. But once LeBron James announced he was going home, the offseason belonged to Kevin Love.

That and other storylines simmer and percolate. Always do. So we'll spend every Friday between now and training camp dipping into five topics germane to the Warriors or the NBA in general.

Welcome to the Friday Five, Part I.

1. All hail the Kings (while winking).

Sacramento won a very good Las Vegas Summer League and center DeMarcus Cousins, out to shed his reputation for being thoughtless and selfish in equal measure, was highly visible and often helpful.

But barring a life-altering experience, Cousins will remain a coach killer. He got Paul "Tough Love" Westphal fired, and Keith "Tender Love" Smart met the same fate. After a season in which Michael Malone's Kings finished with the identical record as Smart's Kings the year before (28-54), Malone gets another season behind the big man to whom owner Vivek Ranadive seems committed.

The Kings are poised to follow a "leader'' who is a skilled offensive player but shrinks on defense and, worse, operates on his own personal planet. Hate to say it, but Boogie Cousins is rapidly becoming this generation's Derrick Coleman.

And, get this, Sac is pondering the acquisition of . . . Josh Smith.

2. Offseason Champ so far (after the Cavaliers).

After two bold strokes, the Cavs are a contender in the East. Replacing Mike Brown with David Blatt and adding LeBron means there could be a real offense in Cleveland for the first time since the days of Brad Daugherty, Larry Nance and Mark Price.

With the Bulls and Spurs and Mavericks fighting for runner-up, we're going with the Mavericks, a No. 8 seed that was able to reload because Dirk Nowitzki took a contract that pays half of what Hayward will make in Utah.

Dallas added frontcourt livewire Chandler Parsons and defensive anchor Tyson Chandler, who ain't what he used to be but remains formidable. Nabbing Jameer Nelson is another nice pickup. Might be good enough to get to a No. 6 or 7 seed.

3. Best Bargain (on paper): Rodney Stuckey, one year at $1.28 million to Indy.

A lot of players coming cheap have a chance to make an impact, including Brandon Rush (two years, $2.4 million, Warriors) and Danny Granger (two years, $4.25 million, Heat). But Stuckey brings another dose of toughness to a team that already has the eternally cranky David West.

Stuckey won't rack up triple-doubles at the rate of departed Pacer Lance Stephenson (now with the Hornets) but he'll bring focus and stability; if Indy had possessed those attributes down the stretch, they would have dropped the Heat.

4) Worst Value (outside of Hayward): Channing Frye, four years at $32 million to the Magic.

The Warriors sniffed around the one-dimensional Arizona product, knowing he would have been dangerous in the offense being installed by new coach Steve Kerr.

But Orlando, with a much weaker roster, is paying $8 mil per for a 6-foot-10 player who is . . . one-dimensional. If Frye isn't hitting the 3-ball, he's hurting you.

5) Quietest Trend (years in the making): Bay Area representatives in the NBA.

A trip to Las Vegas for Summer League served as a reminder of just how many former players with Bay Area ties have infiltrated the NBA power structure – no fewer than seven from the East Bay alone.

Two head coaches: Brian Shaw (Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland) of the Nuggets and Jason Kidd (St. Joseph-Alameda), from the Nets to the Bucks. Three assistant coaches: Lester Conner (Fremont-Oakland) of the Nuggets, Chris Farr (Contra Costa College-San Pablo) of the Nuggets and Greg Foster (Skyline-Oakland) of the 76ers.

There is general manager Dell Demps (Mt. Eden-Hayward) of the Pelicans and director of player personnel Tony Ronzone (O'Dowd) of the Mavericks.

This, of course, does not include various others, such as Clippers trainer Jasen Powell (O'Dowd) and two members of the media following the NBA: Gary Payton (Skyline) of Fox Sports and Antonio Davis (McClymonds-Oakland) of ESPN.

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