Gameday Q&A: Zach Harper of Cowbell Kingdom

With tonight’s home game coming against the Sacramento Kings, I talked to a good friend of Project Spurs and a very knowledgeable Kings blogger, Zach Harper. No, not the one from Sweet Valley High either.

KingsZach covers the Kings regularly for Cowbell Kingdom, is a contributing writer to Hardwood Paroxysm and an be found regularly on ESPN’s Daily Dime chats.

I asked Zach about the team the San Antonio Spurs are facing tonight and another important topic for Kings fans, the potential relocation of the franchise.

1. What’s the latest in all of the relocation talk?

The Maloofs have filed for a relocation extension and it was granted. So the Kings have until April 18th to file for actual relocation. Meanwhile, a development group (ICON/Taylor) is putting together a study and arena proposal for the Kings in Sacramento. A problem in this process has been the Maloofsnot providing the ICON/Taylor group with documents about previous arena studies. Also, Arco Arena was changed to Power Balance Pavilion. Weeks ago, they took down the Arco Arena sign and the PBP sign being put on the building has been postponed indefinitely. The Maloofs at the games are trying to look interested but for the most part, it seems like they’re just going through the motions. Basically, I’d be shocked if this team is still here 2 years from now. 

2. In your work with ESPN, I’m sure you have a great awareness for what’s going on in the NBA. What are your thoughts from an outsider’s perspective of the Spurs?

The Spurs are extremely impressive. For some reason, people aren’t talking about how Gregg Popovich has run away with Coach of the Year, even though he’s by far done the most impressive coaching job this season. I love that they’ve changed their entire philosophy to adjust to their roster strengths. They have role player upon role player to step up when needed. I might be the biggest non-Spurs fan Manuadmirer in the U.S. and he has been spectacular this season along with Tony Parker while Tim Duncan conserves his energy for the playoffs. But I’m still concerned about their team. I think to take down the Lakersin a 7-game series, you just need incredible and competent length. I don’t think Blair qualifies to handle their bigs. If Tiago Splitter could all of a sudden get it and become a good 8th or 9th man for them, I’d feel better about their title hopes. But for now, I just think they’re one above average big man from taking down LA. It’s not impossible, but it’s going to be very hard.

3. How can the Kings stop San Antonio’s balanced scoring attack?

Other than convincing them the game is tomorrow night? Nothing. The Kings can roll out a very good defensive unit of Luther Head, Jermaine Taylor, Omri Casspi, Jason Thompson and Samuel Dalembert. That unit can slow down even the Spurs on defense. However, it leaves them with incredible ineptness on offense. That lineup would turn the ball over a lot and give the Spurs plenty of transition opportunities. So yeah, the Kings need to convince the Spurs that the game is tomorrow. 

4. What will be the key matchup for the game? Duncan-Landry or will we all relive the rookie game and see Blair-Cousins take over?

With Tyreke out due to the same injury problems that have plagued him all season, it’s going to come down to Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins taking over on offense. I think the key matchup is Cousins vs the Spurs bigs. Cousins just put up an impressive performance against Dwight Howard by setting a career-high with 29 points. The Kings need him to get inside, be the monster he is, and get the Spurs bigs into foul trouble. If he can dominate the paint and slow the game down, I think it gives the Kings a shot to keep up. 

5. What’s your prediction…or in other words how much will the Kings lose by?

Kings lose by 12. I think it will be close until the third quarter. Pop will adjust to the Kings and Westphal won’t know how to counteract that. 

Thanks to Zach for answering my questions and be sure to check out Cowbell Kingdom for pregame and postgame coverage from a Kings perspective.  

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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