The game within the NBA game begins 12:01 a.m (EST) Thursday morning. That's when teams officially can make their cases for the services of the league's best free agents.
That's also when teams begin to vie amongst each other for the opportunity to pay these free agents as much money as they have underneath the salary cap.
Teams long since have begun planning and scheming to acquire what they believe is the best combination of talent among the likes of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudamire, Joe Johnson, David Lee and even Dirk Nowitzki and Ray Allen.
However, these late-night/early-morning sessions with the free-agents sound more like opportunities to beg, plead and soul-sell more than anything resembling negotiations.
How can a team like the New York Knicks, who decided years ago it was better to eliminate talent, reduce salary and wait for this night, pretend to do anything but beg James for the opportunity to pay for his services?
The Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets and Chicago Bulls are kidding themselves if they believe they are negotiating.
These rich and, in some cases, glamorous franchise will reduce themselves to money-laden suckers with no pride and/or self-respect. In most cases, they'll just be giving away big bucks with little return other than appearance and possibly improved attendance.
Only one team can win the NBA title per season.
Instead of begging, these teams should be asking these free-agents to show them why they deserve such lucrative future commitments. Only Wade and Allen among the nine aforementioned free-agents have championship rings.
Each of the others are wanna-be stars. As talented and accomplished as is James, he has yet to win a 'ship.
Amare Stoudamire should be asked: "Why should we give you a maximum salary when you play defense like Casper, the friendly ghost? Can we pay you in invisible money?"
Someone should ask Chris Bosh: "If you're so good, why were the Toronto Raptors 40-42 last season and never made it past the first round in the Eastern Conference since you've been their leader."
Joe Johnson should hear each team ask: "How can you ask for the max when you were absolutely terrible against Orlando in the conference semifinals?"
Another should ask Carlos Boozer: "If we give you the maximum for five years, can you stay healthy? In three of the past six seasons, you failed to play in 52 games and in two of those seasons, you averaged 35 games."
Nowitzki likely will remain with Dallas, but he should hear the question: "Dirk, you've been the man for the Mavs, but why haven't you been able to deliver a title? In fact, had you made two free throws in the final seconds of a NBA Finals game against Miami, D Wade wouldn't have a ring."
Ask David Lee: "Shouldn't you pay us for the opportunity to let you see what it feels like to finish .500 since your Knicks never have done it?"
And yes, Mr. James, we have a question for you: "What the hell happened to you in Game Five against the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals?
We didn't see any of that dancing Rockettes stuff in that game. Instead, we saw the incredible shrinking egotist.
And why the heck are you changing your number from 23 to 6? To respect Michael Jordan? What about Bill 'Freaking' Russell?"
You can't blame teams for trying to improve their respective lots in one fell swoop. However, years (and not very many) from now we may see this instant gratification money give-away isn't the way to go.
Kings' Petrie staying put - so far
Kings owner Joe Maloof said Monday evening none of the teams without general managers - Phoenix, Portland and New Jersey - have asked for permission to talk to Geoff Petrie, the team's President of Basketball Operations.
"I haven't heard from anyone and I don't think Gavin (his brother) has either," Joe Maloof said. "He would have told me if he had."
Said Petrie, "With all due respect to the question and the questioner, the job I'm interested in talking about is the one I'm doing."
What Petrie also would not discuss are his team's plans for free-agency.
"We'll take a look," he said of free agency, "but I can't really talk about that."
Joe Maloof did speak about how pleased he is with Sacramento's recent big-man upgrade.
"I loved our draft," he said of selecting DeMarcus Cousins and Hasaan Whiteside. "And then we picked up Samuel Dalembert (from Philadelphia in the trade for Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni). We transformed our team in a two-week period."
The Kings' entry in the Vegas summer league will feature Donald Sloan, Tyreese Rice and Devan Downey at the point; Dionte Christmas, Ryan Thompson (brother of Kings' power forward Jason) and Sylvan Landesburg at shooting guard; Omri Casspi, Donte Greene, Tyren Johnson and Lee Cummard at small forward; Whiteside, Wayne Chism and Jason Ellis at power forward with Cousins, Steven Hill and Connor Atchley at center.
The team will be coached by assistant coach Mario Elie.