Coming into camp, I believed that Luther Head was a perfect fit for the Sacramento Kings bench. He is an experienced shooter with ball handling skills, but still young enough to fit the culture of the current club. After the first week of camp, however, I thought Head had played his last NBA game. He was slowed by a quad injury and honestly, he looked like he was wearing cement shoes. Luther Head’s lack of mobility triggered a bad Kings memory: Is the ankle injury that the New Orleans Hornets used to renege on his contract offer, just another Shareef Abdur-Rahim situation without the mid-level exemption money?
Word in the media room had Luther Head being waived without a strong showing in the Kings first meeting against the Clippers. He didn’t have a strong showing, but when the screen was lifted at practice the next day, there was Luther, practicing with the team. It has been an up and down camp for Head, but here he is, shooting almost 45% from the field and almost 42% from three. Camp is almost over and he is still around, so here is the enigmatic Luther Head with the Purple Panjandrum:
TPP: You seem to be finally getting your legs underneath you after a pretty slow start with the quad tendinitis. Are you finally feeling up to full speed?
Luther: I’m feeling better, but it’s still sore from everything, from the healing process. Hopefully it will calm down. It frustrates me a little bit because it isn’t happening as quick as I want it to, but everybody is just telling me to be patient.
Luther: I hope. I hope. That’s why I’m putting in all the work, so when I get my chance, I can just go out there and prove and go out there and do the things that coach wants me to do.
TPP: You played with Deron Williams at Illinois and Aaron Brooks in Houston. How do you compare those guys to the guys you have here in Tyreke and Beno?
Luther: They’re completely different. Beno you can compare to Aaron Brooks sort of, but Tyreke, he is a different player all on his own. I think he is evolving into something that you can’t even label- not a point guard or a two guard, just a guy who can go out there and do it. Whatever you want him to do, he can just do it.
TPP: You’ve also played with two players who have a really different kind of fame in Yao Ming with the Asian fanbase and now Omri with the Israeli fanbase and the Jewish fanbase. What’s it like to play with players like these guys who have this other worldly kind of following?
Luther: It’s great because you see the different side of things. You see the different ways that people look at different people. You see the different types of relationships they have in different places. You see how guys are treated over here when they are labeled as good players and when you see a guy like Yao. His popularity is amazing. It’s something we may never see again. It’s like a rock star, like he’s one of the Beatles or something. With Casspi, being the first Israeli player to ever play, there’s nothing you can say. It’s kind of like being Yao. When he goes home, it’s probably like that, like Yao.
TPP: You came in with the quad injury and you’ve been fighting for a roster spot, but before that, there was this whole thing in New Orleans. What’s your take on what happened there?
Luther: I still don’t know. I really didn’t even ask any questions. I guess when I play, I’ll just show people that I’m healthy enough to play. I really didn’t look at the x-rays or the MRI that they did on me I just heard that they said I failed. They didn’t really give me an explanation as to why I failed, they just said that I failed. So I just take it for what it is and just wait for the next opportunity, and that was Sacramento. And now I’ll just show them and everyone else that if I’m not as healthy as they want, I can get there and I don’t really see it as a big enough problem that I would fail a physical.
TPP: What is your specific role on this team as of today?
Luther: A guy that can come in and fill spot minutes as of now. There’s a lot of good guys on this team, guys that have been around, so I’ll just wait on my shot and try to get in there and be ready and do my job.
TPP: Do you think your job is as an energy guy who comes in to score and stretch the defense?
Luther: I think it can be. I think at times it might be different. I might come in as a defensive guy on a point guard or a defensive guy on a two guard who’s scoring a lot who I can just put some energy on and try to pressure up the court and just try to be a presence out there.
TPP: How frustrating is it to go from a solid role player in the NBA to all of a sudden, you are on shaky ground, be it injury or a numbers game?
Luther: I don’t really look at it as I’ve been a solid role player anywhere. I played a lot in Houston, but it was all other people’s spots. It was always when guys were hurt I would play a lot there and when T-Mac got hurt, I would play a bunch there. I haven’t really felt like I’ve had a solid spot anywhere in the league so far, I’m just trying to make it.
You can tell by his words that Luther Head is a good teammate and in the right situation he feels like he can contribute. He isn’t the most vocal player, but he is a guy that has shown a knack for doing some of the things that the Kings really need, like shoot from the perimeter and defend. With camp ready to break, we can only speculate whether Head and his non-guaranteed contract will be on the final roster or not. To this point, Luther has outplayed free agent Pooh Jeter, but the Kings are high on Jeter who is younger and under contract for two years. Only time will tell what, if any, role Luther Head will have with the Kings, but if I were making decisions, I would wait just a little bit longer to see if he can regain the form that made him a dangerous weapon in Houston.
In case you missed it, here is Friday’s Beno Udrih interview.