Carl Landry

Kings’ Carl Landry smacks coach Paul Westphal

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Paul Westphal has struggled to get along with his best big man (DeMarcus Cousins), has struggled to get everyone on the same page on offense, and he has struggled with rumors of losing his job. (He’s not getting fired, if you take the word of a team owner.)

Wednesday, Carl Landry was willing to publicly compare Westphal to his previous coach Rick Adelman. Adelman wins as Landry fondly remembers an offense with motion, picks and actual scoring, as he told the Sacramento Bee (via Sactown Royalty).

“We ran and everybody shared the ball,” he said, “and when we didn’t have anything on the break, we’d run pick and rolls. We won 22 straight games (in 2007-08) without Yao (Ming) and mostly without Tracy McGrady. We could do that here, but that’s not what we do, and you have to play the system the coach (Paul Westphal) wants.”

Landry smacks not only Westphal but also past coaches (Eric Mussellman and Reggie Theus) for where this team stands right now.

“The basketball IQ on this team is not very good,” Landry said, “and that (knowledge) takes time. If you look at J.T. (Thompson), he’s had three or four coaches in his four years, coaches that probably weren’t that good. Everybody in this league can play. But it’s about spacing, having the right guys on the floor, running the right play. Move the ball. Set back screens, down screens, and play together. Our shooting percentage is so low because everything is one-on-one.”

This is not the 1990s, what Westphal has drawn up as the Kings offense has spacing and screens and plenty of motion. But that’s not what the Kings do. Tyreke Evans breaks out of the offense for isolation plays, they clear out the post for Cousins and it all goes away. NBA teams can defend isolation fairly well if that is the steady diet.

As Ziller notes at Sactown Royalty — that is where Westphal fails. It’s not the system, it’s that nobody is buying into the system and he cannot get them to do so. Blame the players if you want, but the best coaches in the league are the ones that can get the guys to buy in — Rivers, Jackson, Van Gundy, Popovich, you don’t see their players just constantly blowing off the system. Not even Kobe.

Landry admits he’s part of the problem, chucking up shots rather than moving the ball and making the smart play.

“When players don’t know when they’re going to touch the ball again,” he said with a sheepish grin, “you tend to shoot it when you get it.”

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.