Head Coach Michael Malone assess the team’s addition of Luc Mbah a Moute and Carl Landry. Plus, watch as the Kings leader dishes on Greivis Vasquez.
One of the most discussed topics among Kings fans is small forward. How do you feel the team now stands at the position?
“I think (trading for) Luc was a great step for us. We have Johnny Salmons, we have Travis Outlaw – both capable players at small forward – but by adding Luc Mbah a Moute, we’re bringing in a guy who is a versatile defender, a guy who is a high-character kid. He’s shown over his many years in the NBA his ability to guard (point guards) through (power forwards) at times. I love his defensive versatility, I love the kind of kid he is and I think he’ll be a great addition for our locker room, our team and our community as a whole.”
How much does his defensive ability help with lineup flexibility?
“I remember when he was in Milwaukee and I was in Cleveland, he’d guard LeBron (James), he’d guard Mo Williams – he’d guard everybody except the (center). So depending on whom we’re playing on a given night – the NBA is all about matchups – you can put him on whatever guy you think is maybe their biggest threat offensively. We feel very comfortable and confident that Luc can go out there and embrace the challenge of trying to lock that guy down with great help behind him. Nobody can guard great players one-on-one – there’s team defense – but you need that point person to kind of be the initial guy guarding that player and we’ll have four guys behind him ready, willing and able to help out.”
You’ve discussed the importance of changing the team’s culture. How much does a player like Luc help in that respect?
“It’s going to start with guys buying into the defensive end. We had our struggles last year on defense – being one of the worst teams in the League – and we added a guy who takes a tremendous amount of pride in his defense, takes a tremendous amount of pride in his preparation on who he’s guarding and his matchup that night. He’s a high-character kid off the court, as well – very involved in the community – so I think Luc kind of brings everything to the table of what the Kings are trying to become.”
How does the addition of Carl Landry bolster Sacramento’s frontcourt?
“Carl’s a guy who I coached in two places – New Orleans and Golden State – so the fact he knows me, he knows my coaching style and my philosophy is an added bonus because he knows what practice is going to be like, training camp and the season. He can help in the locker room and kind of spread the word.
“He has great toughness, he’s a guy who’s always been one of the better off-the-bench scorers in the post – a true low-post scoring threat, a guy who gets to the foul line and a very good rebounder. The knock on Carl for a while used to be his defense, but being around him last year, he’s very coachable, he has a great attitude and his attention to his defense really got better last year. I would expect it to be even better this coming year.”
How would you characterize your relationship with Carl, who’s called you one of the best coaches he’s ever played for in his career?
“That’s nice – Carl and I have a great relationship. He’s a guy who – no matter what’s going on in the world – is going to come in the gym, he’s going to work every day, he’s going to have a smile on his face and I love the fact he accepts coaching. A lot of guys take coaching as a personal attack, (but) Carl’s a guy who wants coaching, wants to be better and wants to challenge (himself). I think if he has that mindset, he’s only going to get better.”
As a player with past Playoff experience, do you feel he can serve as a veteran leader for this young Kings team?
“Yes, I told him that. I said, ‘I’m going to challenge you, Carl. Last year you weren’t one of our leaders in Golden State, but I want (you) to be one of our leaders (in Sacramento).’ He’s been around for a while, (as have) DeMarcus (Cousins), Greivis Vasquez – even if it’s by committee, we have to have voices in the locker room. It can’t always be the coaches, but if Carl can be that voice in the locker room to help our guys out, that’s just an added bonus.”
How does Carl help strengthen the type of culture you’re striving to instill in the team?
“He’s a guy who brings toughness, he brings hard work, he’s going to bring it everyday and he’s a high-character kid off the court – all the things we’re looking for. I give (General Manager) Pete D’Alessandro a lot of credit, because as we put these pieces together, we’re not just grabbing guys. We want guys who can fit into what we’re trying to do, and Greivis brings that, Luc Mbah a Moute brings that and Carl Landry brings that, as well as Ray McCallum and Ben McLemore.”
Watch as Ben McLemore and the Kings battle John Jenkins and the Hawks Friday at 3 p.m. PDT in Sacramento’s final Summer League tilt on NBA TV and Summer League Live.