There are four ways for the Kings to get better this offseason: The draft, free agency, trades, and skill development. Head coach George Karl shed light on the latter two on Monday.
“Getting better is a big part of being a pro,” Karl told Carmichael Dave and Keith Brooks on Sports 1140 KHTK-AM radio. “Even the great players when they go home in the summertime, I always remember that Larry Bird and Magic Johnson said they would work on some specific aspect of their game to get better at.
“If you stand still and don’t improve in this league, you’re going to be bypassed by a lot of players.”
Karl also compared and contrasted the vibe between the regular season and the summer.
“I just love the game of basketball in the summertime because, you take win-lose out of the cycle and all you’re worrying about is how you’re going to get better. And every day and every phone conversation, every talk with your assistant coaches you’re talking about ... ‘Maybe we could get better if we did this’ ... ‘What about this player? Should we bring this guy in?'" Karl added.
“Your mind is always in a fresher, energized, get better (mode). How we can move forward in a positive way? There’s an energy to it, that’s different than the regular season. ... The ups and downs, the lows of losing and the highs of winning, and the season kind of has a different energy.
“I really enjoy the summertime.”
The sixth winningest coach in NBA history, who led the Kings to an 11-19 record after taking over at the All-Star break, took Seattle to the NBA finals after some tinkering.
Karl referenced his experience in Seattle -- losing in the first round of the playoffs for two consecutive seasons but then advancing the the NBA finals in the 1996 season -- and what changed the Sonics' fortunes.
Dealing a "very talented player" in Kendall Gill for a "quiet, good player" in Hersey Hawkins was one key.
“It made our team work,” Karl said. “The fit of a team can have tremendous talent but it just doesn’t fit. It doesn’t go together.
“A glue guy or a role player or a hustle player or even a veteran player that might only play minimal minutes sometimes can take a really talented team and make it fit and make it work and make it feel like they’re going to be special.”
The coach also relishes individual player workouts in the offseason.
“You get to know players better,” Karl added on KHTK. “You get to ask questions. You get to find about their families a little bit more, what maybe makes them tick and what they get energized by.”
There’s no question that being back in coaching has Karl energized.