You walked into Arco Arena Monday afternoon for Kings Media Day and it seemed to be a little bit of a mess.
There were a number of media folks in the hallway near security that leads past the Kings locker room to the floor. The hallway also had a number of players milling around.
My first thought went to the words of late Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi, 'What the hell is going on here?'
However, the access to players was fine and for a media person, that's all that counts.
Moreover, the hallway set-up was somewhat consistent with the Kings squad as it heads into the 2010 season. The Kings are a new collection of question marks with more talent and skill and heart than seen around these parts in a while.
How and if they can come together is the overwhelming question.
NBA success certainly is related to talent, yet strength of mind and discipline under pressure play highly underrated roles. It's as underrated by young ballers as it is to many media members.
I've not yet decided whether I was shocked more by how old I am or how young these cats are. An unofficial count was this was my 19th consecutive Kings Media Day . I believe only broadcaster extraordinaire Gary Gerould and Jerry Reynolds (whom I did not see) can get with that.
However, since I'm not hooping, it's the team's youth that will be on stage for all to see. That will be both good and bad, as it always is with youth.
This edition of the Kings is young enough (Francisco Garcia, at almost 30, is entering his team-high sixth season with the crew) to believe that a playoff berth is within reach.
In the Western Conference, that goal is realistic, but if achieved would rank among the season's biggest upsets. So many situations would have to positively unfold it's nearly beyond conception.
For starters, who will become the team's starting and finishing small forward and shooting guard?
More importantly, can this team become interested and committed enough to make sharp strides defensively? Can they recognize the detail-oriented focus required to take advantage of their offensive talents?
That's likely too much to ask.
Said coach Paul Westphal, "It's a matter of trying to climb up that ladder. I look at the teams who finished ahead of us and all of them have gotten better. I believe we’ve gotten better. Have we gotten better enough to jump over those teams? We’ll see.
"I think we’ve made a lot of changes that give us a chance to compete because we have more size. I think that’s a very important start."
Forward Jason Thompson said his squad must change.
"We can't be the same young team we were last year," Thompson said. "We must have lost 15 games by five points." Yes, we're young, and we're going to be young for years to come, but that can't be the excuse."
Actually, the Kings lost what I consider to be 10 games by five points or less. I've included back-to-back overtime defeats around Christmas to Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers, respectively. Those losses ultimately were by 13 and nine points, respectively.
When thinking of Thompson, the thought of the league's impending cutdown on player reaction to officials' calls came to mind. In fact, when I first learned that overt player reactions will draw technicals, Thompson was the first player who came to mind.
"I've been trying to improve on (reactions to calls)," said Thompson, who last season had just two technical fouls. I guess this is as good a time as any to concentrate on it."
For the record, Tyreke Evans and Andres Nocioni led the Kings last season with five technicals each. Spencer Hawes had four. Newly-acquired Samuel Dalembert also had five with Philadelphia.
Said Geoff Petrie, " “I guess that’s fair in terms of some of the trials and tribulations Jason’s had over the first year or two, he’s got a long list of associates."
The oft-injured Garcia said he is healthy after an off-season.
Technical and mental difficulties prevent me from quoting him directly. I messed up using my Blackberry storm to record for the first time.
However, Garcia said after playing with DeMarcus Cousins and the rest of his teammates for a couple of weeks, he is surprised to have heard of the rookie being tagged as lazy and having a poor attitude.
"The guy has played hard and worked hard and asked me questions," Garcia said. "I don't know people were saying those things."