The Sacramento Kings begin training camp on Tuesday morning in Santa Barbara and everything is new. From ownership to strength and conditioning coach, the franchise has undergone a metamorphosis this summer. It is exciting, but it is also scary. So many changes, so little time to let the pot simmer.
New general manager Pete D’Alessandro has been busy reconstructing the Kings roster, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is an NBA playoff team. This is the first time that D’Alessandro will walk into a season with his own team and the same can be said for head coach Michael Malone and chairman of the board Vivek Ranadivé.
On the eve of pre-season, patience is needed and it sounds like Sacramento has the right man for the job. In a season of firsts, Pete D’Alessandro drops in to preview the start of the 2013-14 campaign.
CK: We’re just a couple of days before camp, how many position battles do you think we have on this roster? Because it looks like you have quite a few.
D’Alessandro: Yeah, I think that’s a good thing. I think that’s what we’re excited about. I think if you look at our coach [Michael Malone] and the way he coaches, I think that’s what you want. And I think that’s what he would want. So I’m excited about that. I’m excited about camp – checking these guys out and may the best man win so to speak.
CK: You’ve got at least the point guard, probably the two guard, the small forward position and the power forward position – is Cousins the only guy that is guaranteed a starting position on opening night?
D’Alessandro: Honestly, I would leave that to coach. I think we’re going into it with a very open mind for the roster. It’s our first training camp together as a group, so we’ll have a lot of meetings together, Michael and I. And our staffs will meet a lot and talk about it, but look, this is a competition. This is basketball and I don’t think that there are any of us that are in it for any other reason, so it should be exciting.
CK: How comfortable are you walking into this season with so many of your young players entering the final year of their rookie deals? (Note: This conversation took place the day before DeMarcus Cousins reached a new four year deal with the Kings.)
D’Alessandro: I’m fine. You know, look, every team you go to there is the next decision. There’s always the next decision and I’ve always thought a few decisions ahead. I’ve already got my mind on other things as I’m doing one thing. You have to and that’s the nature of the business. My staff is doing it as well. Yeah, there are some decisions to be made, but there’s also a lot of analysis that needs to be done and I wouldn’t want to make any rash decisions without really knowing that we’ve done the work first.
CK: With camp opening, how do you think this is going to play out? Is it going to come together quickly or do you think there are just too many moving pieces and it’s going to take some time?
D’Alessandro: I think it’s so new, there’s going to be some time. There is going to be a period of time that, not just our players, our staffs need to kind of get on the same page. And we have been working hard this off-season, which has been good. Our ownership, our staff, our players – everything is new. So yeah, with that, I think there needs to be some time. But none of us are sitting on our hands, that’s for sure.
CK: How excited are you that a lot of your players have shown up so early and are here in Sacramento for voluntary workouts?
D’Alessandro: It’s a credit to our coaching staff. They’re accessible, they’re here, they’re working hard. They’ve created an environment that would encourage players to come in and voluntarily workout out. And it’s been so impressive to come out there and see actually 8, 9, 10 guys going up and down. It’s really encouraging for me.
CK: I’ll finish with this, you’ve got your young kids – Ben McLemore, Ray McCallum and you brought in Trent Lockett. What do you expect out of those guys this year? Can they be rotational players – any of them? Or are we just going to have to wait and see?
D’Alessandro: I think it’s hard. This is the NBA and you look at a guy who has unlimited potential versus a guy who has played a year or two, it’s a big difference. That year or two of experience makes a big difference in this league. I won’t put any predictions on our young guys. We have high hopes for our young guys or we wouldn’t be here with them, but with that said, it’s going to be a battle. And I think it will be a good battle for them, especially with our coaches and the way they are going to conduct this thing.