Kings

Randolph arrest puts Kings in (familiar) uncomfortable situation

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AP

Randolph arrest puts Kings in (familiar) uncomfortable situation

SACRAMENTO, CA -- For the second straight season, the Sacramento Kings are in the uncomfortable position of having to answer questions about the off-court actions of one of their veteran leaders.

After spending plenty of time last December on Matt Barnes’ arrest and eventual guilty plea for his role in a nightclub skirmish, the Kings were hit with another development Thursday morning. 

Recently signed big man, Zach Randolph, was booked in a LA County for felony possession of marijuana with the intent to sell.

“We are aware of the situation. We have no further comment at this time,” the Kings responded when reached for comment.

It’s not the news that any team wants to wake up to, especially one in rebuild mode. Randolph, a 16-year NBA veteran, signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Kings in July. Randolph, along with Vince Carter and George Hill were brought in to mentor the young core of the team that includes 10 players with two years or less in the league, five of which are rookies this season.

Like Barnes, this isn’t the first run in with the law for Randolph. In fact, Randolph has found trouble multiple times in his life dating all the way back to his high school days. He struggled during his time with the Trail Blazers early in his career and there has been concerns over the company he keeps in the past.

“As always with Randolph’s life away from basketball, you never know the full story and you never knew if it was his fault, or his fault for hanging around the wrong people, or nobody’s fault,” Jonathan Abrams wrote in his comprehensive piece on Randolph for Grantland in October of 2012.

At the time of Abrams piece, Randolph was a 31-year-old player who was entering his 12th season in the NBA. Abrams chronologs Randolph’s stops in juvenile detention for a myriad of offenses as a teen, as well as arrests for underage drinking and even a fight with a former teammate during his time in Portland.

But by most accounts, the 36-year-old power forward has matured both on and off the court as he made his way through the league. He has become a family man, a respected veteran and according to his agent, the latest snafu is nothing more than a misunderstanding.

"The charges are false and misleading," Randolph's agent and attorney Raymond Brothers told the AP on Thursday. "We're looking at all options to resolve this matter."

The Kings are at the mercy of the courts and then the league. There are very few options they have in this circumstance until the legal process has moved beyond the initial investigation stage. Like the Barnes situation, Sacramento will likely take a patient approach and wait for more details to emerge.

Despite his legal issues last season, Barnes remained with the Kings until the All-Star break when the team cut ties with the veteran wing. They chose to pay out his remaining year and half left on his deal and reboot the locker room down the final 30 games of the season.

The Kings are counting on Randolph to mentor their fleet of young bigs, including Skal Labissiere, Harry Giles, Willie Cauley-Stein and Georgios Papagiannis. He is also a player that averaged 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game last season and he is very familiar with head coach Dave Joerger after their time together in Memphis.

Sacramento needs Randolph to be both the player and the leader that they hoped they were getting when they handed him $24 million in guaranteed money. His latest entanglement is an unwanted distraction that once again thrusts the franchise into an uncomfortable situation. 

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

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AP

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

Some professional athletes take a stand by kneeling on the sidelines or raising a fist into the air. Some write succinct tweets expressing their dismay with the current political climate in the United States of America. Others just get right to the point with a poignant off the cuff statement to a waiting camera.

Former Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has certainly mastered the art of the cryptic tweet, but he’s also never been one to shy away from a direct question when asked. When an inquiry was thrown his direction about confederate statues in New Orleans and his home state of Alabama, Cousins was brief with his words, but very clear.

"Take all them mother****ers down," Cousins told TMZ while navigating a security line at the airport. "Take 'em all down.”

Cousins may not have chosen the most eloquent words, but his point of view is shared by plenty of others. He isn’t the first athlete to take a stand with regards to race in America over the last week as racial tensions have spilled out into the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia. Social media is filled with professional athletes adding their thoughts to the conversation.

The Warriors’ Kevin Durant has made it clear that he will not visit the White House and President Donald Trump, a visit most teams make following an NBA championship.

"Nah, I won't do that," the 8-time All-Star told ESPN on Thursday. "I don't respect who's in office right now.”

"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant continued. “That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."

Garrett Temple has used Twitter to make his thoughts known as well. Recently named the Kings’ Players Voice Teammate of the Year by the National Basketball Players Association, Temple has used his position as an NBA player to speak out multiple times.

Over the last week, he’s fielded questions and had plenty of discussions through social media on the issues of race and equality. His Twitter timeline is littered with thoughtful replies and some not so thoughtful ideas as well. Plenty of fans thanking him for using his position to further the conversation and of course, there is the occasional, “stick to sports” comment.

Agree or disagree, today’s athletes have huge platforms to share their opinions. From Cousins to Temple, there are varying degrees of engagement, but the time of players staying out of the discussion is long gone.

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

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AP

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

Gavin and Joe Maloof have gambled plenty in their lives, which is in part how they ended up losing the Sacramento Kings. They ran big, they hit a dry well, and they ended up selling the works.

So their decision to bet $880,000 on Floyd Mayweather in his “thing” with Conor McGregor for a $160,000 payout seemed the perfectly daft idea for two guys who were painted as perfectly daft when they were running the Kings and their other businesses into a freeway abutment on I-80.

In fairness, they are planning to donate their winnings to a number of charities in the name of their hangover drink (Never Too Hungover, although I might have gone with the more lyrical HurlNoMore), so it’s not like their hearts aren’t a place close to the mythical “right place.”

But it does beg the question, “Why don’t they just give $160,000 and skip the scam?” Because it wasn’t about charity, it was about promotion, and while there’s nothing wrong with promotion, attaching it to one of the seediest carnival events of the modern era makes it seem, well, kind of creepy.

Or maybe “creepy” is too strong. Maybe’s it’s just opportunism, which is more, well, Vegas-y.

Kings fans will remember the Maloofs as the family that saved the foundering team from the clutches of owner Jim Thomas, and then remember them as the family whose clutches Vivek Ranadive had to save the team from 15 years later. It’s the nature of most ownerships – you do good to eliminate a prior evil, and eventually become evil yourselves when the fans turn on you.

But the Maloofs aren’t evil – even their most strident critics will say that. They just saw an opportunity to scratch a bunch of itches at once – good-heartedness, advertising, gambling and Vegas’ most important product – selling you things you could never imagine wanting.

It almost makes you wonder if they harbor a secret itch to take the $160,000 and double down on behalf of the charities for another of their pet projects – the Vegas Golden Knights. If they put it on the Knights to win the Stanley Cup at 200-1, that’s $32,000,000. Then if they took that and . . .

. . . and before you know it, they’re trapped in the fantasyland of Las Vegas at its weirdest. Maybe it’s just performance art with more money than most of us can eat.