Kings Passed On Nate

“Nate Robinson is signing with the Knicks for one year $5 million. That’s it. They get away with having him for a year at next to no real cost and nothing against their long-term plans of grabbing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Wilt Chamberlain at age 23 thanks to a Bill and Ted type of occurrence. Why didn’t the Kings grab this guy? He’d be perfect for us!!! – Disgruntled Dave

New Jersey Nets vs New York Knicks in New York

I received this email over the weekend from a reader (and apparently, a disgruntled one at that) and felt like I immediately needed to talk Dave off of the ledge.

My favorite line in the movie Super Troopers is “desperation is a stinky cologne.”

It’s a great line to drop at many different instances in life and you can even replace desperation with virtually ANY other word and it still works at a high level (much like Denver running backs under Mike Shanahan or shooters in a Mike D’Antoni offense). And desperation gets NBA franchises in trouble when it comes to signing players because you fear your team isn’t good enough. You feel like you need someone because your roster either feels incomplete or lacking a certain “umph” to make games in January entertaining.

And perhaps that’s where Dave was with the Nate Robinson signing. Trust me, Kings fans; you DON’T want Nate Robinson on this team. Not that he isn’t a nice guy or a good basketball player but I’m not sure he would fill in the need off the bench that we assume he would. Signing Nate Robinson means that you’re probably hoping for best-case scenario, a poor version of Ben Gordon, and worst-case scenario, a wealthy Eddie House. But I don’t think you’re getting either player.

His scoring and made three-point field goals have risen in each of his four seasons. In fact, he enjoyed such a fantastic scoring season in the 2008-09 campaign (17.2 per) that he finished third in Sixth Man of the Year voting and was the third leading scorer amongst those receiving votes for the award. He also won the NBA’s first WWE style of All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Contest when he was scriptedly (made it up) given the dunk title. So his value couldn’t be higher right now.

But I have no idea how he’d fit into the Kings and complement the other guards on the roster. One of the reasons he played so well is that he fits in nicely with D’Antoni’s chaotic schemes. He was asked to catch the defense off-guard on most possessions, which is shown by 57% of his shots coming in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock last season. He was easily set up by Chris Duhon’s distributor role and became one of more than a dozen players (Quentin Richardson, James Jones, Raja Bell) to have a career year in their first season under Mike D. He was allowed to jack a ton of three-point shots and in turn made over 100 for the first time in career.

Now, if you throw him out of D’Antoni’s system (and it’s easy to because he’s small and shaped perfectly for tossing) can he still be as effective? Before his season in a Pringles canister, he never had a PER over 15.3. Sure, he was only three years into his career at that point and still learning how to play the game at the NBA level but he still played with the same reckless abandon that he does now.

If you put him on the Kings roster and give him the reigns of instant offense off the bench, it severely cuts into your rotation and what you’re trying to build. As we’ve heard and I’ve mentioned roughly a thousand times, Tyreke Evans isn’t your traditional point guard. He’ll be a scoring style point guard, looking to get the free throw line and find guys when the defense collapses. He isn’t exactly going to create like Steve Nash did for D’Antoni and will look more like what Kevin Johnson did for the Suns. I don’t think that necessarily benefits a guy like Nate who will make his living on the perimeter.

Then you throw in the fact that Sergio Rodriguez’s minutes will have to be slashed, Cisco will then be playing almost exclusively at shooting guard when he’s on the floor and either Donte Greene, Omri Casspi, or Jon Brockman get shafted on minutes throughout the season because there’s a new guy getting 25-30 minutes every night and you have yourself too many players you’re trying to develop without any minutes.

Nate Robinson is a player you pick up if you’re the Kings on the verge of challenging for a playoff spot. Aside from the Kings making a huge acquisition of a veteran coupled with an explosion from Evans in his rookie season that puts him on that Kevin Durant list of players who are soon to take over this league at a young age, the Kings aren’t in position to gamble with giving a contract to a player like Nate Robinson. The Kings are following a plan here and roster patience like passing up on Nate Robinson will pay off down the road.

Rest easy, Disgruntled Dave.

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