What Are You Selling?

Greg Wissinger

Basketball teams are either selling wins or selling hope. The Thomas Robinson trades helps neither cause.

I needed time to process Wednesday night's trade of Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt to the Houston Rockets for Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich. I couldn't write coherently about it. Anyone who follows me on Twitter has a pretty good idea of how visceral my initial reaction was. But now that I've had some time to cool down, I still can't make sense of it.

An old phrase in sports is that you're either selling wins or you're selling hope. It's been a long time since the Kings could be sold on wins. Kings fans have been buying hope for years. Don't believe me? Let's take a look at preseason predictions for any of the past 5 seasons. We hold out hope for the long term, for the future, for a surprise playoff berth, for improvement. We hope.

That's what bothers me. Patrick Patterson is a fine player. He's a player I've liked since he entered the NBA. There's no question that he's a better NBA player today than Thomas Robinson. Long term, the Kings may have even won this trade. For all we know, Thomas Robinson may end up being a bust as the fifth pick. He may never put it all together and achieve his potential. I'd be surprised by this, but it's certainly possible. Nonetheless, in the short term, Patterson helps the Kings win.

But the Kings aren't selling us wins. This team is bad. Really bad. Take away everything happening away from the court and this team is still miserable. It's poorly constructed, players aren't developing like we'd expect, and the team is nowhere near threatening for a playoff spot. If the team was better, it would be much easier to sell this trade to fans. Let's say the Kings were slotted for the 7th or 8th seed in the West. This trade would make sense. The Kings would be shoring up their big man depth for the playoffs. You can sell that deal as improving the team at a time when a few extra wins are important.

Meanwhile, on the other side of this trade? The team taking the long view? They're currently slotted for the 8th seed in the West. I'm sure that's just a coincidence though.

But this team? There's no point. Patrick Patterson improves the Kings big man depth. He's not as good a rebounder as Robinson, but a better scorer and far more polished. He could conceivably add a win or two to the Kings total this year. But why? There's no point. No matter where the Kings play next season, this roster will undergo a serious overhaul. Geoff Petrie will be out. The Maloofs will be out. The team will be looking to sell hope in earnest, regardless of location.

So what are the Kings selling? Nothing. The organization has obviously given up on selling anyone on this team.

They've given up.

They've sold out winning. They've sold out hope. They've sold out the fans. Because the team couldn't afford a $57 million payroll. This is the team that bragged about climbing above the salary floor this offseason. The team that bragged about getting to the salary cap.

At this point all I want is for this to be over. Now that they've finished selling out the fans, there's nothing left to sell but the team. I want it to be April so the NBA's Board of Governors can make their decision. We've bought the false hope for so long. I'm ready for new owners, a new downtown arena, new management, and real hope.

Anything between then and now? I'm not buying.

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