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Keep your chins up Kings fans

There’s good news for those Sacramento Kings boosters who are still feeling a little blue over the loss of Vlade Divac.

Divac – the completely lovable, yet totally unintelligible 15-year NBA veteran center – you’ll remember, turned in his key to Arco Arena Tuesday when he inked a two-year deal with Kings’ most loathed rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers.

No sooner did Serbia-Montenegro’s most accomplished flopper get a call through to the movers, that the Kings bagged arguably the top prize among the remaining batch of free agents:



Greg Ostertag.

What’s so funny?




True, the former Utah Jazz first-round pick’s offensive skills couldn’t be mistaken for that of Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, or even Tatum O’Neal for that matter, but take a look at the slim pickins among free agent big men, and the Ostertag deal was nothing less than brilliant.

Not buying it?

Former Houston Rockets’ lottery pick Joel Przybilla was out there, ripe for the picking.

So were Sean Rooks, Michael Doleac and Oliver Miller.

‘Nuff said.

While the 31-year-old’s career offensive numbers – 5.1 points per game, 0.5 assists per game and .577 free throw percentage – underwhelm, the Kings didn’t sign Ostertag to put the ball in the hoop.

When he’s in the game, which will be in a back-up role to two-time All Star Brad Miller, his role will be that of a rebounder, shot blocker and all-around tough guy on the blocks.

Plain and simple.

For that, Ostertag’s 7-foot, 2-inch, 280-pound frame, can be a good fit.

The all-time leading shotblocker in both Kansas University and Big Eight Conference history averaged a respectable 7.4 boards a game this year to go along with just under two blocked shots in 27.6 minutes a game.

Divac outscored Ostertag by 3.1 points and had over three times as many assists per contest (5.3) in 28.6 minutes a game, but how long were his 36-year-old, battle-hardened bones going to hold out?

It looks like Kings’ owners Joe and Gavin Maloof weren’t in a gambling mood.

Their slap-in-the-face $2.5 million offer to Divac proved that.

The suddenly post-challenged Lakers, who obviously weren’t too thrilled with the prospects of Slava Medvewhatever or the newly acquired Brian Grant taking over for the Diesel in the low block, offered Divac $5.5 million to bring his special brand of matador defense to Showtime.

Let’s recap:

Sacramento picks up a solid defensive presence under the basket, who won’t take any shots away from C-Webb, Peja and the boys.

Sacramento loses a defensive liability whose years in the ‘Association are numbered.

Feeling better yet?

ooo

Keith Jiron is a sports reporter for The Union. He can be reached at 477-4244, or via e-mail at keithj@theunion.com.


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