JJ Hickson is waived; I also don’t care about that dang draft pick

I know this will seem a bit out of the ordinary to talk about with what I typically write about these days (hate Tyreke Evans, nod judiciously over Cuz’s improvement and hype up any other player who actually hustles and runs an actual NBA play) so admittedly I realize this is above my paygrade. But since when do I give a *insert preferred profane remark here* about such nonsense?

I don’t really care about the 1st round pick that will at some point getting sent to Cleveland. Why?

Tyreke Evans is 22.

DeMarcus Cousins is 21.

Isaiah Thomas is 22.

Jimmer Fredette is 23.

Tyler Honeycutt is 21.

Hassan Whiteside is 22.

Marcus Thornton is 24.

Jason Thompson is 25.

 

The next 1st round draft pick (I prefer Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Perry Jones III myself) will be 19-21 years old next season.

So how is it that with all the ridiculous amount of youth on this current team that this team needs MORE draft picks right now? And why would the next trade be any different than the JJ Hickson trade where you get a player with noticeable flaws and a team with noticeable flaws trying to work itself in together. How?

I understand all the criticism of taking a bullet out of a trade playbook gun, and I get that part. I do. What I don’t understand is why it matters. What does it really change? You can’t trade a future pick because of the pick promised to Cleveland? Oh my lord, what harsh circumstances to operate under. In my opinion,  trading future picks is bad practice. There is a reason the “Stepien Rule” is in existence. Why? Because the Stepien Rule (hence the name of the Cavaliers blog on Bloguin STEPIEN RULES–see what they did there?) keeps teams from trading draft picks in back to back years in advance. (In advance is the key word here.) Why is the Stepien Rules enacted? Ted Stepien owned the Cleveland Cavaliers in the early 80’s and traded for Don Ford who happened to play for the Lakers. In return, the Lakers got a 1st round pick. They just so happened to be James Worthy (1st overall 1982).

This isn’t a Cavaliers situation of the early 80’s. The Kings aren’t trading away a potential #1 overall pick ever over the life of this trade because that pick will be protected every year regardless of where the Kings finish in the standings. That is unless, naturally, the Kings make the playoffs. Then you can guarantee the pick will be Cleveland’s. If that’s the case, does it matter if the Kings trade away a non-lottery pick to Cleveland? Really?

There are 9 players on the current roster 25 years or younger. Another draft pick (or two if you include the 2nd round pick) will just add that to a total. Except for Marcus Thornton who will turn 25, and Thompson who will be 26, the Kings roster will still be REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY exceptionally young.

So why are we worried about Geoff Petrie and trading away that pick?

Here’s my theory: Geoff Petrie has been bullet-proof with so many fans for a really long time. Including me. A lot longer than practically any GM not named Jerry West in the NBA if you are ignoring how success factors in a GM’s long term success in one spot. I suppose you could include Jerry Colangelo in that discussion although Colangelo was an owner of the Phoenix Suns while he was running the team. I would bet that RC Buford in San Antonio is as close to bulletproof also.

Now Geoff Petrie is easy pickings these days. I’ve argued that he should be fired for firing Paul Westphal in a pretty gutless and convenient fashion. (It’s not like I miss Paul Westphal that much either. I don’t actually.) It’s a lot more complicated than that really, and realistically I think Geoff Petrie, right or wrong, is inextricably linked to the Maloofs and their family ownership.You can fire Petrie, but without the Maloofs actually spending money or selling the team, what difference would it make? Absolutely none is the simple and easy answer. I’m not the first to make this point either. Not even close to the first to make this point even.

I just don’t get why criticizing Petrie for a trade that is probably not that big of a deal (it matters a lot more that Isaiah Thomas, Tyler Honeycutt and Jimmer Fredette all have long term futures in the NBA yes?) about losing a single 1st round pick for a talented young player who admittedly has disappointed just about everyone this season.

So I guess my question is: Why does criticizing Geoff Petrie, a fair thing to do at this point, have to revolve around losing a draft pick that will be whatever Cleveland does with it? I’m just curious as to how the criticism of Geoff Petrie stems from a trade that may not mean much in the long run? Especially when that pick is not A) likely to be an impact player or B) is not going to be in the top 10 no matter what.

Color me confused on this one. I get thinking Geoff Petrie is past his prime running this Kings team. I’ll grant that is certainly possible if not outright likely. (Keith Smart doing the job he’s done so far is not really anything connected to Geoff Petrie. It’s more about Smart wanting the job for his own reasons. Good reasons, but, still, like I said, Keith Smart has done a good job with what’s he’s been given and under the circumstances he’s done it.) What I don’t get is the trade for JJ Hickson illustrates how Geoff Petrie has fallen off his rocker.

I know JJ Hickson has been waived (I started writing this last night before the official news of JJ being waived), and I’ve said this already on Twitter, but if the Jason Thompson production of the last 3 games is one partial bi-product of the JJ Hickson for Omri Casspi protected 1st trade, I do that trade every time. EVERY FUCKING ABSOLUTELY GODDAMN TIME. Is that the only reason JT is playing well? No, of course not. There is more than one way to guage a trade, and sometimes the subtle parts of a trade, even one that seems so negative such as the Hickson-Casspi trade, can often have positive and important long term reaching effects on the franchise. What if that trade in some small measure woke JT up to figure out that he, Jason Thompson, had to become more important to the roster? From Jason Jones of the Bee:

“I guess I had a little rage to myself a little bit,” Thompson said. “Especially how I started the (Warriors) game with nine rebounds and didn’t play the rest of the game. Sometimes it happens with matchups.

“But I took it on myself – I can play better. And sometimes even if the matchups aren’t there, if you play well, it’s tough to take a guy out.”

 

I doubt JJ Hickson contributed to that statement, but it couldn’t have hurt. With extra competition, and JJ Hickson when right is certainly a capable NBA big man, that makes a player sometimes figure out that the more things that he can do at any given point gives a coach less reason to take you off the floor. JT has figured that out, and I can promise you, even if you already agree, that JT did not know that at the beginning of the year.

Let’s see about all the things JT can do: Play at the high post, finish inside offensively, play in the block some, hit his FT’s at a decent rate (JT has been hitting his FT’s at about a 61% clip since February), rebound on both ends, play effective if not excellent defense for the most part on paint big’s especially, and be an active player on both ends using his boundless energy and enthusiasm for the game. 

Remember something about JT: He peaked at Rider during his Senior season, and what is this season? His NBA equivalent of his Senior season, and now that JT has shown all his skills, let’s remember that before we go all nuts over whether or not the JJ Hickson trade matters here. Because honestly, it really doesn’t in the grand scheme of things if the Kings make the playoffs in 2013, and go from there. Can JJ Hickson facilitate from the high post? Can JJ Hickson hit the outside Jumper from the high post conistently? Does JJ Hickson guard anybody? Does JJ Hickson make an extra pass? Does JJ Hickson always run the floor on both ends consistently? No. To all of that. Which, coincidentally, Jason Thompson can, and should more often, do.

Are you telling me that the 2013 Draft pick (assuming the Kings do make the playoffs) is better than the 2012 pick, Jimmer Fredette, Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas, John Salmons, Tyler Honeycutt, Hassan Whiteside, Donte Greene or even Francisco Garcia? You may think so, but there is no way of knowing that. At some point, letting the youth grow up without adding more competition to the roster is necessary. Hell, at this point, I’m especially doubtful that either Marcus Thornton or Jimmer Fredette starts on the Kings roster by the start of next season with a potential player like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist being added to the roster. With John Salmons being far more effective as a ball handling SG, where are the minutes for both Thornton or Fredette? So I ask again: Why are we worried about a “limitation” on a potential asset in the trading game? Isn’t that good the Kings don’t have to trade a pick right now until it matters?

Right now, the only real detrimental long term trend of the Kings season is Tyreke Evans play, and I”m not sure how Omri Casspi, a theoretical draft pick, or JJ Hickson factors in that.

Got that?