For a couple years after the knee injury to Chris Webber, the Sacramento Kings front office tried to rebuild the team on the fly. They (Geoff Petrie, the Maloofs, and all decision makers) tried to keep the team relevant by making some, for the most part, lateral moves, while it was obvious that at some point the ship was just going to sink. Some time in the past couple years, the FO finally realized that a full-on rebuilding plan was needed to return the team to respectability and, ultimately, put the organization in a position to again compete for a championship.
To me (my personal opinion) rebuilding in the NBA has three big stages: first you set the dynamite and blow the team up, you ship out the veterans that won't fit in the future plans, keep the young promising players (if you have any), and then you endure (at least) a couple bad seasons; that's just the name of the game. The second stage is the actual building. Because of those bad seasons you have high draft picks, and along with whatever you were able to get from the "blowing-it-up" trades, you start shaping up your team. What's the third? Patience. You let the young guys grow together, learn the game together, get better every year, and hope that in the end they have something special.
For the Kings, I believe the the "blowing it up" stage began with the Mike Bibby trade. Then followed with the Ron Artest trade and ended with the Brad Miller-John Salmons trade. The Kings finally blew it up, shipped out the veterans with long contracts, let the others expire (except for K-9, he'll be here forever), and finally committed to the young guys. What did this do? 17-65. Rebuilding sucks!
So what about the actual building? Some of it began even before we blew it up I believe. Because of staying in 'mediocre land' the Kings were able to secure 2 lottery picks in the '06, and '07 draft. Say hello to Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson. Shock and Hawes. JT and StR's whipping boy. You choose the name.
Thanks to the Artest trade, the Kings also acquired the rights to Donte Greene and Omri Casspi. Add The Show and the Player from Judea to the "building blocks." Finally, this year the Kings were able to secure a top 5 pick (thank you worst record in the league) and that became Tyreke Evans who looks like a stud, and leading candidate for the ROY award. Add Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia and you have almost all of the main pieces of the Kings future puzzle, in my opinion. (Note: please don't turn this into a trade Kevin Martin thread, I haven't even made my main point yet. This isn't about the pieces of the puzzle but about the puzzle itself)
So based on the nonsense I wrote, the patience, growing, and learning stage is next. That's where this post actually starts (long ass intro, huh?). Lately, there has been, in my humble opinion, a lack of patience and exagerated dissapointment towards this team. Losing sucks; we all know that. Losing at home sucks, losing on the road sucks too. Being outplayed by bad teams suck; we would love our team to do well every game. I don't think anyone would deny that losing completely s-u-c-k-s.
So why do some here seem 'ok' with some of these losses? I think it's simple:
The Sacramento Kings are still rebuilding!
How can I know that for sure? I decided to look at two other teams that are good examples of the rebuilding process in this league and see how they compared (on a very superficial level) to our young Kings. The best I could come up with: the Portland TrailBlazers and the Seattle Supers... err the Zombie Supersonics aka the OKC Thunder. I don't have much fancy analysis but more of a timeline of facts to illustrate how these two organizations rebuilt their teams. I won't try to comment on any of these moves because you are all smart enough to understand what's going on. Here's what I found:
Please feel free to correct any of these 'facts.' I could be way off.
How do I see their rebuilding? Break up the JailBlazers and build through the draft.
2002-03: 50-32, 7th in the league. Playoffs
2004-05: Drafted Sebastian Telfair with the 13th pick in the draft. Traded 'Sheed to Atlanta. 27-55, 25th in the league
2006-07: Acquire the rights of LeMarcus Alridge (2nd in the draft) and B-Roy (6th in the draft). Traded Ruben Patterson and Sebastian Telfair. 32-50, 23th in the league.
2008-09: Acquire the rights of Bayless (11th pick) from Indiana. 54-28, 7th in the league. Playoffs
2009-10: Drafted Victor Claver with the 22nd pick. Will probably make the playoffs after battling numerous injuries to about every single player, coach, and fan in the organization
Their rebuilt was a bit weird because they were relatively mediocre for years, then they had a good run in the playoffs (the Jerome James series against the Kings), and then decided to blow it up and built. I'm just going to pick it up from their playof year and on:
2004-05: 52-30, 6th in the league. Playoffs.
2005-06: Drafted Johan Petro (25). 35-47, 20th in the league
2006-07: Drafted Mohammed Sene (10). 31-51, 25th in the league.
2007-08: Drafted Kevin Durant with the second pick and acquired the rights to Jeff Green (5th pick). Traded Ray Allen to Boston (for Wally world, Delonte West, and 5th pick/ Jeff Green) and traded Rashard Lewis to Orlando for a second rounder (creating a trade exception). They also got Kurt Thomas from Phoenix plus 2 first rounder (2008 and 2010). 20-62, 29th in the league
2009-10: Drafted James Harden with the 3rd pick in the draft. Will probably make it to the playoffs for the first time(7th, 8th seed).
A couple general points (including Sacramento):
Since '03 the Blazers have been in the playoffs once (last year). Since '03 the Sonics/Thunder have made it to the playoffs once (04-05). In the same time, the Kings have made the playoffs three times (03-04, 04-05, 05-06)
Blazers have picked in the top 10 of the draft 4 times (twice in the top 2). Seattle/ OKC has picked four times in the top 5 of the draft (all in the last 3 years). The Kings have picked in the top 5 of the draft once (Tyreke Evans, 4th) and once in the top ten (Spencer Hawes, 10).
After their worst season (21-61) the Blazers won 11 more games the following season, and 9 more the next.
After their worst season (20-62) the Thunder won only 3 more games, but is now expected to win about 40+ games.
After their worst season (17-65) the Kings are on pace to winning about 10-13 more games.
The big draft for the Blazers was 06-07 getting Alridge and Roy. They followed by getting Oden at number 1 the next year.
The big draft for the Sonics/ Thunder was 07-08 getting Durantula and Jeff Green. They followed by getting Westbrook at 4 the following year and Harden at 3 this past draft.
The big draft for the Kings was this year (!) getting Tyreke Evans and Omri Casspi (at 23!).
The Blazers are good now, 3 years removed from their big draft. The Sonics are barely getting good, 2 years removed from their big draft. Also note that both those teams went back to the lottery and got very important players the next year.
My question is: why can't we just give the Kings a break when they barely just got their big draft? Look at this two other teams (that I'm sure many of us like). It took the Blazers 3 years to reach the playoffs after their worst season. It looks like it's taking the same time for the Zombie Sonics. How about we give the Kings just one year (at least one!) after their worst season to see some real improvement, not only on the court but on the record as well. Hell, we are still on pace to win over 10 more games than last year! We still need more pieces, and they will come, just like they did for the Blazers and just like they did for the Thunder.
I don't think I'm going to change the dissapointment after losses, and that's not really my intention. I think what I would like (in a perfect world) is for more people to understand where we are at in this big process. I hope that this bit of research can provide a bit of perspective to some of you. I know it's tough, especially after last year, but the team has already shown much more than most of us hoped for before the season started; don't forget that.
One more time, let me repeat: We are still rebuilding. It's the time to be patient.