Currently, the Western Conference is stacked. Last season 48 wins wasn't even enough to get into the playoffs. With free agency rumors abound (Melo to Lakers, Bosh to Rockets) and allegedly the best draft class since 2003 coming into the league, the Western Conference won't have become any easier.
So if a team wants to improve their record from lottery-bound to "on the cusp" or in the West playoffs, they're going to have to make major improvements. The problem for the 2014-2015 Kings is that ,historically, teams haven't improved from where they are with small deals and 7-10 draft picks while relying on last year's major players. Yes, some players do make jumps from All-Star snub to questionable MVP (Kevin Durant 08-09 to 09-10), but it takes more than that to elevate a team to a .500 or better record.
Since 2008, only 6 Western Conference teams have actually improved their records from where the Kings currently are without adding an immediate Star. Take a look at what each small-market team did to improve:
New Orleans Pelicans: 2012-13 (27 wins) to 2013-14 (34 wins)
Existing Improvements: New Orleans also got big boosts from Anthony Davis' development upon his rookie year (+7.3 ppg, +1.8 rpg, +1 bpg) and Eric Gordon playing 22 games and 800 minutes more than 2012-13.
Minnesota Timberwolves: 2012-13 (31 wins) to 2013-14 (40 wins)
Existing Improvements: Ricky Rubio went from playing in 57 games toall 82 and finished with career highs in fg% and apg. Kevin Love also returned from injury (18 games up to 77 played) and finished with career highs in ppg and apg.
Phoenix Suns: 2012-2013 (25 wins) to 2013-14 (48 wins)
Existing Improvements: Klay Thompson improved dramatically in his 2nd year, and Stephen Curry came back from injuries (26 games played out of 66, to 78 out of 82).
Portland Trail Blazers: 2012-2013 (33 wins) to 2013-2014 (54 wins)
Oklahoma City Thunder: 2008-2009 (23 wins) to 2009-2010 (50 wins)
Existing Improvements: Durant went from All-Star snub to MVP question.
In each of these scenarios, the team either picked up major FA/trades (Martin/Evans/Holiday), a slew of medium FA/trades (Portland/Phoenix/Warriors), drafted well (Harden/Ibaka, Barnes), changed coaches (Phoenix), or got players back from injury (Portland/Warriors/Minnesota/Pelicans). These are major upgrades in the quality of players on a roster, injury recoveries from top players, and coaching changes. And unfortunately this isn't exclusive to the Western Conference (it just happens to be a better comparison for the Kings).
I think if the Kings are going to improve going forward, major changes have to happen besides counting on existing players improving, another year of Malone's coaching sinking in, Landry coming back from injury, or Thompson being traded for near-equal value. These are all small things that may contribute to a better team, but historically they're insignificant compared to a major revamping of the roster. If the Kings are going to win more games, I think the FO needs to explore ALL trade options.