If you’re a dismayed Warriors fan who is bumming about how the season seems to be going, here’s a little solace: Things could be worse — you could be a Sacramento Kings fan.
As the Warriors struggle to keep their season afloat, what’s going on up I-80 is more extreme. Sure, it will be a downer if the Warriors don’t make the playoffs. But there will be silver linings: The coach is secure; the team’s two best players are 20 and 21 years old and the trade of Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy saved more than $30 million in the long run.
In Sacramento, it’s all gray. The Kings are eight games under .500, have lost their edge at Arco Arena and the prospects for improvement seem distant.
But right now, it’s all about coach Eric Musselman in Sacramento, where the owners, general manager and players are coming down his road. The other night, Musselman, playing the role of martyr, ripped himself.
It’s been a troublesome week for the Kings and it is impossible not to notice that it has come on the heels of team president Geoff Petrie tip-toeing around the vote-of-confidence question about his coach.
In fairness to Musselman, the Kings are a difficult team to guide — with a volatile star (Ron Artest) who is a drag on the team offensively and two defensively challenged core players — Mike Bibby and Brad Miller — who are no longer the players they once were.
But Musselman hasn’t done himself any favors and seems to be reliving some of the same issues he had in the Bay Area when he coached the Warriors. That main issue seems to be Musselman’s inability to win over those who surround him.
Late last week, Artest took a big-time roundhouse at Musselman in the wake of the Kings’ loss at Washington. After scoring 21 of his 32 points in the first half, Artest had this to say after a three-point loss: "I would have tried to do a little bit more, but then coach just stopped going to me. I don’t know [why]."
Over the weekend, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof followed with this upper-cut when asked about the team’s inability to win close games (0-5 in overtime; 11 losses by five points or fewer):
"[Musselman] needs to address those close losses," Maloof said. "I think he’s a little inexperienced, to be honest."
Perhaps sensing the impact of his words, Maloof did follow up with a perfunctory "Nobody is going to work harder than Eric Musselman."
Things seemed to take a strange turn on Monday, when Musselman greeted the media after his team’s 89-82 loss to the 76ers in Philly, and pointed the finger at himself. Likely feeling ganged-up on, Musselman figured why not add to the dog pile.
"I take blame for the loss tonight," he said. "I need to do a better job teaching rebounding. ... The fatigue games, you’ve got to somehow find a way to win them. And we haven’t done that this year, so it’s my fault."
Don’t be surprised if the Maloofs and Petrie come to the same conclusion at season’s end.
Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.