The Sacramento Kings were one of the more fascinating teams to follow in the NBA this past season… and not because of anything that happened on the floor. Mayor Kevin Johnson’s hard work paid off immensely as the franchise remains in Sac-town rather than heading north to Seattle. The team also has new ownership and a needed fresh breath of air as the Maloof Brothers finally sold the organization.
With that soap opera behind them, the Sacramento Kings sorely need new direction moving forward beginning this NBA off-season.
Sacramento Kings (28-54 last year)
2012-13 Season Summary:
It is kind of depressing that the Sacramento Kings won just 28 games this season yet it was their highest win total in five years. So what did we learn about one of the league’s most dysfunctional franchises that we didn’t already know? Not much.
DeMarcus Cousins is one of the more skilled big men in the league but still has maturity and selfishness issues that are preventing him from becoming an elite player. Tyreke Evans continues to regress after a phenomenal first year in the NBA. Isaiah Thomas was one of the biggest second round steals of recent drafts but is not a starting caliber point guard on a playoff team. Nobody else on the roster is a long-term solution to help this franchise change course. They even gave up on their 2012 first round pick, Thomas Robinson who was selected fifth overall a year ago by trading him away to Houston after just 51 games in Sac-town.
Most importantly though, the Sacramento Kings are remaining the Sacramento Kings and not becoming the Seattle Super Sonics. That is a monumental enough victory to make their fan base forget about another abysmal season. Maybe?
2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:
C: DeMarcus Cousins/Chuck Hayes/Cole Aldrich
PF: Jason Thompson/Patrick Patterson
SF: John Salmons/^James Johnson/Travis Outlaw
SG: *Tyreke Evans/Marcus Thornton
PG: &Isaiah Thomas/Jimmer Fredette/#Toney Douglas
NBA Free Agents:
&PG-Isaiah Thomas (TO)
*SG-Tyreke Evans (RFA)
#PG-Toney Douglas (RFA)
^F-James Johnson (RFA)
PG-Aaron Brooks (UFA)
2013-14 Team Salary: Approximately $40.7 million
1. Leadership: It all starts at the top with the new owners and trickles down to team president and general manager, Geoff Petrie whose contract expires at the end of June and likely won’t be renewed. New head coach Mike Malone replaces Keith Smart and becomes the Kings their third head coach in as many years.
All aspects must also improve on the court and in the locker room where the relatively young roster has yet to find any true chemistry or person able to become the undeniable leader. This typically takes some with a young team but guys like Evans or Cousins, the two best players on the roster, and nowhere near ready assuming these responsibilities.
2. Tyreke’s Future: After an outstanding rookie campaign, Tyreke Evans has taken a step back in each of the past three seasons. Once considered the future face of the franchise, new Sacramento Kings ownership must now decide whether or not he is worth a long-term extension. With Evans being a restricted free agent, it does work in their favor that some other team will have to sign him to an offer sheet first. At this point, I can’t see any team opening up their wallets to sign Evans to a huge deal. The likely scenario would involve Evans taking the nearly seven million dollar qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
3. Small Forward: The Kings haven’t had a true answer small forward since Ron Artest. They’ve juggled several different players into that position including Andres Nocioni, Omri Casspi, Donte Greene, Francisco Garcia, and more recently Evans and John Salmons. Nobody on their current roster plugs that hole for the long-term so Sacramento should try to find a better option at three.
4. True Point Guard: With Isaiah Thomas, Evans, and Jimmer Fredette; the Kings have plenty of guys capable of scoring from the point guard position but no true distributor who creates for his teammates. Thomas led the team with a measly 4 assists per game and Sacramento ranked 25th in the league in team assists. Finding a point guard who can create for others and worry less about himself getting buckets should help the cause.
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David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks