Looking at the big moves they’ve made in the past — Mike Bibby, Chris Webber, even Mitch Richmond was [acquired though] a trade, so I don’t think Sacramento has or ever will be the L.A., Miami, or New York of free agent destinations. The last player they gave a lot of money to in free agency might be John Salmons (five years, $25.5 million in 2006), as far as guys they’ve gotten who weren’t re-signed.
Considering the type of player the Kings are targeting, is it fair to say the team no longer sees Spencer Hawes as the center of the future?
I don’t think they’re as down of him as they were a few weeks ago, but they’re going to be cautious about it and need to see some consistency. They have to see Spencer put together a long stretch of play where he’s the physical presence they need him to be, mainly defensively. I think they like Spencer, but it’s just a matter of [deciding] whether they get by with Spencer as the primary center or if they need to get a guy to pair with him who can take some pressure off him. But even if you’re high on Spencer, once you get past him and Jason Thompson, the Kings are very small up front and need to add some size.
This is his third year, so if anyone would be in the starting lineup every game, it should be him. I didn’t have grand expectations of him being a 20-10 guy, but I didn’t think he’d average six rebounds. Some of it is his minutes being up and down and him not being in rhythm — he’ll start one game, and then play three minutes off the bench. I think a lot of it is a game between (Paul) Westphal and Spencer, figuring out what works best for him. I want to see how the last few months play out and see if he can assert himself and be an aggressive player in both ends. If [he can’t], he’s someone you can dangle out there to make a move.
Speaking of Coach Westphal, what kind of grade would you give him? Do you think his lineup shuffling has had any negative effects on some of the players, as you alluded to with Hawes?