I'd like to think it's okay to feel this way. On the outside of basketball relevancy looking in for almost a decade now, I, like most Sacramento Kings fans, am ready for the expectations again. For the flurry of activity and the steadfast commitment to improvement that was so nonexistent in the last half of the previous regime's tenure.
However, woven into the emotional fabric of every compromised fan is the deep-seated desire for what they can't have. It's only natural to fawn over the excitement of the playoffs and the aura of substantive team building and covet that enterprise. Just as it will be in our nature to long for the season long doldrums and the patience inducing "player development" assignments if the aforementioned team building doesn't lead to the ultimate prize: an NBA championship.
Because more than anybody it is the fans of the bottom-feeders that trot out the "there's no point in making the playoffs if it's not to compete for a championship" card. It's a sort of last grasp at the fleeting relevancy they still hope to acquire after the doldrums and the player development are replaced with expectations and do-or-die games.
To us, teams like the Dallas Mavericks or any number of fringe playoff teams should be jealous of our position. Flush with potential, cap flexibility, and a proverbial clean sheet we seemingly control our destiny. Play this hand right, and we leapfrog the middle of the pack and into the upper echelon of contention.
To Dallas, however, their team building has led them to a postseason appearance in a profoundly competitive Western Conference. There's no disputing who had a better season even if in our minds the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay incite more long term hope than a Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Shawn Marion core.
But it's important to keep this perspective in mind when digesting the moves the current Kings management will make.
Minutes after the results of the NBA Draft Lottery were broadcast, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com reported that the Kings had placed the 8th pick on the trade block, in the hopes of acquiring a veteran player capable of pushing the team into playoff contention as soon as next season.
While it may just be a result of the proactivity with which the organization operates, it was a notion that seemed endearing to the Kings fans once again bereft of the postseason.
A guy we've mentioned on this site as a possible target: Taj Gibson, will be 29 at the start of next season and will be entering the tail-end of his career when the player you'd presumably pass on him for is entering his prime, comes by way of the sort of transactions that are crucial to the team building process. Butcher enough of those and you enter the dreaded overlap on the NBA's Contender-Pretender Venn Diagram.
Deals like those, in concept, are also microcosmic to the process. Do you practice patience by selecting a player you think is going to be crucial to your team in the long term or do you parlay that pick into a player who you think swings the needle for you this upcoming season?
There's obviously a middle ground to be found, but the likely direction the team takes is still in question. Every report on the Kings plans comes with the "Kings are actively looking to trade" kicker.
We've heard ad nauseam that the fans of Sacramento deserve a real contender more than anything else. You just hope that in a few years we don't look back on a first round departure wondering if maybe we deserved a real rebuild just a little more.