Thursday Mail Sac: Expansion, your 2013-14 Sacramento Kings, & pick your situation

USA TODAY Sports

Almost Friday, almost Friday, almost Friday...

It's the return of adamsite: "Sorry to bring it back, but I am for the sake of summertime dialogue. I for one feel very confident that expansion to Seattle will happen in the next few years and my gut tells me it will be announced before Christmas. I will also be happy for our Seattle friends when it does. Assuming expansion to 31 teams do you envision realignment of divisions and what would you like to see. Assuming expansion to 32, who is the other city and what realignment do you wish to see then?"

There's a part of me that thinks that we won't see expansion any earlier than the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, if at all (the current CBA expires in 2021, but either side can opt out after the 2016-17 season). The NBA may hold Seattle out there as the hammer that forces a few of the current moribund NBA cities to come to the party a la Sacramento or face the very harsh reality of losing their team. And make no mistake - there are always at least one or two current NBA markets that will fit this description.

However, I know enough to never say never. If the Hansen/Ballmer group makes some grossly outsized offer to the NBA to add an expansion team in Seattle, the NBA would have to give it serious consideration, wouldn't they?

If the Seattle group did make an offer that pushed the NBA to 31 teams, the league might not be in an immediate hurry to get to 32. When the NBA added the Dallas Mavericks in 1980, it took them to 23 teams. The next three expansions (1988, 1989 & 1995) added two teams each time, taking the league to 25, 27 and 29 teams, respectively. When the league added Charlotte in 2004, it was the first time in 24 years that the league attained an even number of expansion teams.

Imagine the feeding frenzy that would take place if the Seattle group "set the price" for expansion, thus igniting the race for Kansas City, Louisville, Virginia Beach and Las Vegas (and perhaps even Anaheim and San Jose, subject to area rights) to all get the deal together that would make them team #32.

I hope that Seattle does get an expansion team, as much for them as for the poor fan bases that will soon be subjected to the same sort of crap that we had to deal with over these past several years as long as the situation up north remains unsettled.

Next up, MI80: "In my opinion, with the moves made this offseason (acquiring Vaz, who should help make Cousins more efficient on offense, and a defensive minded 3, as well as Landry to help give him some off- court guidance) I think this is the year that he makes a leap to the next level. With all the talk of him becoming the face of the franchise and building around him, do you think it makes sense to extend him to a max deal prior to deadline this year. All the talk is one thing, but making the financial commitment shows they are really committed to building around him. I know they can wait until next year to do this, but I think doing so now would really thrust him into that leadership role. I think if you add a shot blocking center next to him next year and allow him to move to his more natural 4, he will excel even more. Thoughts?"

As I noted yesterday, I would like to see three elite months from Cousins before offering him a max extension. But my guess is that Kings ownership and management will make the offer well before Cousins attains my benchmark. And much like letting Evans go for 4/$44m and signing Landry to 4/$27m, this won't be the first time that I don't agree with new ownership/management. However, they have a definite plan in mind, and they are not at all bashful about investing in their plan. So while I wouldn't extend Cousins right now, I would support ownership/management's decision, and then I would cross my fingers (and my sphincter) and hope for the best.

I'm not sure that the team as comprised is ready to make the leap to the next level. Just think about all the things that would have to go right. Either Thomas or Vasquez would have to play at a level considerably higher than that of the last three years, with the other maintaining his current level while contributing in a bench role. Marcus Thornton would have to return to his offensive ways of two years ago while improving significantly on the defensive end, and either Ben McLemore or Jimmer Fredette (or John Salmons, I suppose) would need to become a consistent scorer off the bench. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will need to stay healthy. The new hydra of meh (Landry/Patterson/Thompson/Hayes) will need to mesh into a group of solid contributors on both ends of the floor (I think that this is the most easily attained of everything that I am listing here, though I have my concerns as it pertains to the defense).

And Cousins will need to take a huge leap in his game. You know how we always point to the 36/22 game against the Clippers, or the 31/20 game against Toronto? Cousins needs to be consistent in between those types of performances, a double-double machine that is efficient on offense, a factor on defense, and a guy that is not sitting for long stretches due to foul trouble.

Man, that is an awful lot that has to go right. I think that the next step for the Kings is less about climbing into playoff contention and more about playing their collective arses off nightly. I do feel that this squad can surprise the national pundits that are predicting another bottom five finish for the Kings, as I could easily see them finishing in the 9-12 range of the lottery. And given the mess that new ownership and management and coaching inherited, I'd count that as a big win, though it might not count as a vault to the "next level."

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Pick & Droll is delivered by 10KingsFan10: "Let's say that life turned out exactly as we imagined it would back in elementary school and we all became professional basketball players. The situation: You are a free agent smack dab in the middle of your prime (27 years old) who is a solid starter / good bench player (i.e. Francisco Garcia, Carl Landry, Boris Diaw, JJ Redick, etc.). First, what position do you play and what are your strengths / weaknesses? (Choose your position based off of what you prefer to play, not what you would play because of your height and weight. So, if you are actually 5'6" but love to play in the post, you can be a PF/C if you want. Second, what team do you sign with, and why? Do you pick the rebuilding Kings in order to play in front of family and friends for solid money? Do you take a big pay cut to play for a contender like the Heat or Spurs? Don't forget to take into account what the team actually needs (i.e. if you are a guard, going to the Sacramento Kings may not be the best idea, but hey, it's all up to you in the end)."

Well, I guess that this would be my part time gig, as I would be playing center field for the Giants (though it looks like I'll be available for training camp this year). Point guard for my hometown Sacramento Kings. Screw the ring hunting - I've always been one of those idiots that thinks that you can actually build a winner if everyone is truly committed to the team first. Be the local kid that plays for and gives back to his community? That's what would ring my bell.

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Send your questions and topic ideas to asksactownroyalty@gmail.com. Feel free to discuss the above topics or anything else that pops into your head in the ensuing thread.

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