The title implies I hate Chuck Hayes. Not at all. I like Chuck Hayes; as a 4th big man. While I used the Bill Simmonsian line from the 2011 trade deadline column, it's still pretty worth it nonetheless.
The problem isn't Chuck Hayes okay? It never was. Chuck Hayes is neither the problem or the solution. It's the method behind the madness that is the problem.
I'll advocate shooting the moon and overpaying, even drastically, a guy like Nene Hilario, Samuel Dalembert or Tyson Chandler. Those guys all have major impacts on the game. Hayes does not. I think Chuck Hayes is the low rent version of a "veteran hard working doesn't complain big man who can help a young team grow and improve along the way". Which is exactly why I'm advocating Tyson Chandler.
I know all the upsides of Hayes vs Chandler. The injury history alone makes Chandler a very expensive risk. But that's the kind of risk that tells me you're willing to lay it on the line to really improve the team. Yet, like usual, this team has limited it's spending to limited veterans and biding it's time with young players on rookie scale contracts.
If you saw my ridiculous onslaught of a Twitter rant, then you know why I'm pissed. I'm not upset at anyone for attempting to inject reason into that (except lecturing me on how to act; that's always a no-no) side of the debate.
Trying to "figure" out who you are? What does that even really mean? Flexiblity? For what? A much overall worse Free Agent class than 2011 beyond the big 3 names (Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard in case you're living in a cave)?
The problem is not Chuck Hayes. In fact, I understand why the Kings may end up signing Hayes, re-signing Thornton to a big up front money this season (similar to Nick Collison) with reasonable payments the rest of the contract.
I wrote this at Sactown Royalty, and again I'm hashing this out on Twitter too. This isn't about Chuck Hayes. Chuck Hayes is a solid honest to goodness guy who plays hard and does what a head coach asks of him. He's carved out a real niche in a league where big men drafted in the top 10 (including Hayes' potential now old teammate Jordan Hill) routinely fail. That is nothing to sneeze at.
Here is some excellent Youtube footage of Chuck Hayes defending Amare Stoudemire in MSG last season. I suggest watching it. Like I said, Hayes is a blue collar worker. He's a veteran presence (I'll expand on this in a bit do trust), but is he enough of one?
Hayes is not the problem here. I repeat: I like Chuck Hayes. And, if this was a signing that happened last year I would have applauded it. I wouldn't mind if the Kings opened the whole bank for Chandler (aka the whole max) and even signed Hayes at 5 years 20 million. I'D BE OKAY WITH THAT.
We are talking about the major imports of the whole off-season as John Salmons (in trade for Beno Udrih), JJ Hickson (for Omri Casspi and the somewhat protected 1st rounder that is really lottery protected and little else), and now Chuck Hayes.
Hickson has potential, I've had my say on Salmons, and Hayes is a solid big man in a number of ways. Does Hayes have the kind of influence to get a strong willed exceptionally difficult young talented big man like Cousins to listen to him? Even with the Kentucky connection?
Honestly, that last paragraph is just spinning this in the best light. Because that's what will happen. Geoff Petrie and Jerry Reynolds will go onto 1140 the next few days and spin this as "we need flexibility in re-signing all of our young players who will be getting new contracts. Additionally, we need a veteran presence that fits in with our other young guys and this is just the type of player we are looking for." Tell me you can't see Petrie or Reynolds saying that in the next few days or something similar?
At some point, it's not all the basketball operations fault. They can only work with what they have, and up to a point I understand the reasoning of Hayes. He's not a break the bank player, if you strike it rich with Hickson you are protected if you let Jason Thompson walk in FA next summer type of thing. You can play next summer for a big "star" like Dwight Howard that won't happen.
The Maloofs still want to maintain "flexibility" to sign a big star. They are hoping to strike it rich to maintain their ownership. In otherwords, they are George Shinn Jr's (just the family version). They've had their share of mishaps and are doing everything in their power to ignore it and move on. Sacramento is a dead market to them and vice versa. A number of fans are waiting for a quality move beyond Jimmer Fredette to sell them on the Kings this year. Now? Forget it.
The problem is: What if this is only an over-reaction? This is a kind of silly first step isn't it? Especially when you've talked about signing Marcus Thornton to a long term contract? Chuck Hayes first? Umm, okay.
This whole deal smells of George Shinn and a family desperate to hold onto their premiere property of value at a time they can least afford to do so. They are hoping that either Sacramento comes back in wholesale to give them some cash so they can keep all the young guys together. That they have the promise to make a run in the West without a bigger name like Tyson Chandler, Nene, Dalembert etc etc.
It's also possible that the Front Office is wary on Chandler and his financial demands given the injury history. I understand all that. I really do. I just don't see Chuck Hayes having the cachet to get Cousins, Hickson and Thompson to change their ways. I just don't see it. Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe this is entirely over-reacting. I'll say so if and when that is the case.
But if all signing Chuck Hayes amounts to is allowing the Maloofs to continue owning a team they no longer have the financial werewithal to own (like a George Shinn), than I'm upset. I feel like I have the right to be upset about being told that using the cap space was coming. I knew the Kings would have to get to the salary floor, and I knew somebody would get something other than Thornton himself. But using the cap space and using it in a way that could get a real upgrade with a necessary veteran who still has mileage left (I think Chandler very well may despite the long scary history).
I really hope I'm over-reacting. I really hope that Chuck Hayes can have a positive impact on Cousins, Hickson and Thompson. I hope that Hickson and Thompson can take a real step forward. Obviously that goes for Cousins.
I'm upset by the message, the repeated promises, and the reality of the road that this team is headed. Unless a major leap by no less than 5 players of whom have 3 years or less NBA experience happens, the Kings are not a playoff team. Maybe not 5 players. Maybe 3 players. But that's tough enough to ask for.
I however do not think it is fair to the fans for the Maloofs to cheapskate their way into ownership because they desperately want to hold on to whatever cache they can have after losing their casino to bankruptcy, selling their beer distributorship for probably 50 cents on the dollar due to the timing (late 2009), and the drastic reduction of Wells Fargo stock. What I've always hoped that this off-season would bring in is a major splash, albeit at a drastically overpayed "price" like a Chandler, Nene, Dalembert etc. Not a reasonable value Chuck Hayes that may not make a difference. There is risk if you spend 20 million or 75 million. 75 million is expensive, but like the 20 million it all depends on how you look at it. The 75 million is a reasonably strong signal that a real spending for other players down the road will be there.
I care about keeping a young core that this team has spent years and energy building. If you have to cheapskate your way to owning a franchise while blowing a significant asset to do so, you're not effective ownership. The Kings made a play for cap space. This is not the best or most effective use of cap space in my opinion. And while I don't see the Kevin Martin trade as a tie-in to the cap space in of itself (I don't think it's that simple), I do think it's absolutely fair to note that squandering an asset where there was real opportunity to get a quality player is not being fair to your fans. I understand why the Kings didn't spend money last summer. They simply didn't have anyone out there to spend it on. But what I don't understand is NOT TRYING to spend money on a Chandler, Nene, Dalembert etc etc so you can own the team on your terms.
Building a winning team can be expensive. I know that. But the Maloofs are showing once again that their ego, that their need to be a centerpiece of the franchise while being displayed prominently front and center are what is important. The Maloofs are desperate enough to display how much the almighty Maloofs control the sails on the SS Sacramento Kings in the NBA winds. It's simply not right. Making Chuck Hayes an emblem of the Maloofs desire to be important and powerful is just one of the worst kind of messages you can send in any fashion. It's outright criminal to act omnipotent and powerful when you are no such thing. The Maloofs, if this is the way you are continue to own the team, you might as well inflict your cheapskate assclownery on another town. Because Sacramento will tune you out so quickly. Which, of course, is the point. The Maloofs want out because they know, Chuck Hayes or anyone else, they can't keep owning this team forever. They are simply running out of luck with ownership, and this is just the latest notch on their totem pole of business failure. What's worse is they know it and they are trying to scheme, I think, to convince themselves that of course they can continue to own the team.
Chuck Hayes, the other Kings players, the coaching and other management of the basketball staff, and the fans do not deserve these clowns. New blood is needed from every standpoint. If you simply can't do what's right as ownership, it's time for you to go. The Maloofs are displaying that they are so inept that their ego is the only thing they know how to cash.
What I would like to know is that competent adults are running the show, and not some kids trying to prove they don't have big red noses. I guess we are still in the "we're gonna show you!" phase the Maloof children are in. I was hoping that a major splash would happen not because it would knock the Maloofs out of the game (I don't care if they continue to own as long as they spend money as necessary and let their basketball staff do their jobs), but to illustrate that commitment to the franchise winning (The Maloofs don't have, and never will, commitment to Sacramento and I won't waste anyone's time entertaining that silly conceit) is what this is all about.
We are reminded once again that the Maloofs ego and pride is all that matters. Since I've been a fan of this team longer than the Maloofs have owned the team as minority or majority owners, I'm a bit tired of this act. I just want a competent adult at the table for a change. Is that too much to ask?