I've struggled this season. I love following the team, but this has been a very difficult and frustrating team to watch.
I've enjoyed watching flashes of Cousins' brilliance, but I've been frustrated with foul struggles and turnovers. Tyreke Evans is still fun to watch, but the injury has clearly hindered him compared to what we saw last season. Through all of the rotation changes, offensive struggles, and defensive struggles, I've sought out some sort of silver lining. I'm an optimist, I look to the future, and I wanted to find some way to make things better than what we're currently experiencing.
Searching for a silver lining is sometimes messy. I looked into our advanced stats, but failed to find anything we truly excelled at. I could point out that the Kings don't rank last in many categories, but "Hey! We're 3rd from last, things aren't so bad!" didn't feel right.
I've continued to search, I kept watching games, knowing that something would jump out.
This morning I was listening to the BS Report while driving to work. I know there are many negative opinions about Bill Simmons, but I enjoy the BS Report. Ric Bucher was on, and they were discussing the potential lockout next season. Bucher genuinely believes we could see a lost season. I won't get into all of the details of his rationale. If you're interested, you can always give the podcast a listen. Bucher also said he intends to write a column about this soon, so you could wait for that.
Back to the point, Bucher brought up the idea of what teams would benefit most from a lost season, and which would be hurt the most. Obviously, older teams like the Lakers, Celtics and Spurs would be hurt most by a lost season. Bucher mentioned a team like the Thunder as an example of a team that could really benefit from it.
Suddenly, the silver lining was apparent. The Kings are a team that is built in preparation for a lockout. Consider the following:
Paul Westphal was granted his extension, preventing him from being a lame-duck coach. This maintains the status quo, but doesn't commit a large contract to a coach for next season. If there is a short or lost season due to a lockout, this would allow the franchise to conduct a full coaching search without committing big money during a season where there may or may not be any coaching actually being done. If the CBA is decided prior to the season, the team could still replace Westphal if they felt it was necessary.
Next, look at the Kings roster. Currently, the team will only be committed to roughly $28 million next season. Obviously, this is in preparation for a new CBA rather than a lockout since you don't pay player salaries during a lockout. But it makes sense if the team expects a lockout as well. Why bother spending cap space on veterans? Why do anything that takes playing time away from younger assets?
How else would a lockout benefit the Kings? While we assume (or perhaps hope is a better word) that players will continue to work out during a lockout, it would provide Tyreke a chance to rest and truly recover from his plantar fasciitis.
Hopefully none of this will be misconstrued as me being in favor of a lockout. I love the NBA, even with all its faults, and I want the league to figure out a way to split their millions and millions and millions of dollars. But, in the face of a possible lockout, suddenly the management of the team seems to make more sense. Perhaps I'm giving Petrie and Co. too much credit, but it would certainly explain the current appearance of apathy in the organization.
This idea, which I've referred to as a "silver lining", is an ugly thought. However, this team was not going to be a realistic competitor for a title this season. Probably not the following season either. Faced with that reality, I want the front office to be in a position to face a possible lockout. More than that, I want the team to be put in a position to come out of a lost season in a position of strength.
Of course, winning a few more games would be nice too. Go Kings!