Thursday morning, rumors began flying that the Kings were involved in a three team, five player, three draft pick deal that sent point guard Beno Udrih to the Milwaukee Bucks and brought John Salmons back to Sacramento. Since then, it has been a wild ride in the river city.
Draft night yielded three new young Kings, including Wooden Award winner Jimmer Fredette and the party really began. Fredette was the headliner but both Tyler Honeycutt out of UCLA and Isaiah Thomas out of Washington were never supposed to be available at their respective spots in the draft.
Hundreds of Kings fans filled the baggage area of Sacramento International Airport to welcome their new heroes to the family on Friday afternoon, chanting the familiar “Sac-ra-mento”, as Fredette, Honeycutt and Thomas rolled down the escalators. If there was any question about whether Kings fever is back in Sacramento, the reception at the airport should answer that.
Saturday morning came the press conference where Coach Paul Westphal and President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie introduced their newest toys to the media. Pictures were taken, interviews done, family members met and two black SUVs pulled up to shuttle the group to their next destination.
Hundreds of local fans jammed into the Arden Mall to catch a glimpse of Jimmer, Tyler and Isaiah as they showed off the jersey’s that they will hopefully wear as professional basketball players. The reception was overwhelming and the three young men spent the evening tweeting about the experience.
And then they were gone. Jimmer back to Glens Falls, New York to continue his workouts. Tyler back to Los Angeles where he has been working out with a group of his draft mates and Isaiah back to Seattle where he has spent a lot of time with NBA players Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford and others.
Their departure marks the end of draft season and the beginning of what could be an extremely long summer. With the NBA collective bargaining agreement set to expire this Friday, only hours remain to try and settle some Grand Canyon sized issues or face a dreaded work stoppage. We will know more on Tuesday as the NBA owners are set to meet and vote to either institute a lockout or extend the negotiations into July, but things don’t look good. With the NFL in a state of complete disarray due to their own work stoppage and the NBA coming off an extremely successful playoff run, it is hard to imagine that cooler heads can’t prevail.
For Jimmer, Tyler and Isaiah, their dreams of being NBA players might have to wait just a little bit longer, while people who didn’t spend the last few years of their lives eating top ramon work a few things out.
Here at Cowbell Kingdom, once we have finished rolling out all of our coverage from this weekend, we will shift gears from draft to hopefully free agency. We will also return to our coverage on the new sports and entertainment facility front, our weekly podcasts and if there is a work stoppage, plan on some pretty heavy discussions on the NBA collective bargaining agreement. So don’t go anywhere.