The Sacramento Kings are a bit of a hot mess. Sure, the Kings beat the New York Knicks on Saturday, but a single win hardly covers the flaws that are increasingly apparent with the team. This isn't about Michael Malone or Tyrone Corbin or George Karl. These issues existed under Malone, they still exist under Corbin, and hiring Karl doesn't fix anything overnight, despite what some Kings fans may insist.
The Kings can't hold a lead. That was a persistent issue under Malone, and it reared its ugly head again against the Knicks. The Knicks have a legitimate if flawed star in Carmelo Anthony. But the Knicks are bloody awful this season. They've won five games all season. They were without Amare Stoudamire, Quincy Acy, and JR Smith. I mean, criminy, the Kings should have run away with this game. And they did for a bit. The Kings led comfortably most of the game, with the Knicks just barely hanging around. The game never should have gone to overtime.
This issue stems not from coaching, but from effort and depth. The Kings' second unit has been a disaster most of the season. Under Corbin we've seen more of Ray McCallum and less of Ramon Sessions, which seems to be an improvement, albeit a minor one overall. Long term, I believe it to be the right move, but it doesn't change the fact that the second unit needs work. Nik Stauskas is coming along slowly, but had a nice 11 points on four shots against the Knicks.
I like seeing McCallum in the games instead of Sessions. I think Stauskas will be fine long term and he's not worth cutting bait on. I like the energy from Omri Casspi off the bench. Derrick Williams hasn't been a complete disaster, but I still worry about relying on him. And I'm confused as hell by Carl Landry getting just 11 minutes on Saturday. Safe to say, the Kings' bench is still a bit of a mess.
And the issues don't end there. The Kings ended regulation on Saturday with a predictable and predictably ineffective isolation play for Rudy Gay. DeMarcus Cousins was livid when the play resulted in a turnover, and he had every right to be upset. Cousins had been destroying the Knicks, who were left to throw Samuel Dalembert and Cole Aldrich (former Kings all around!) at Cousins, and yet he had to watch Rudy dribble for 20 seconds before turning the ball over. Once again, this isn't a new issue that's cropped up with Corbin. This was an issue with Malone as well. But it's an issue that needs to be fixed.
Next, what does Ben McLemore need to do to prove he deserves to be involved in the offense? He's been a fantastic surprise this season, and I love that he's not a guy who demands a lot of shots or touches to be effective. He scored five points on four shots, had five rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block. But he's shown himself to be a valuable part of the offense. The team can't run a few plays a game to create an open look for him? Just a bad look. Ben fits into the flow, and isn't going to force his looks. If you don't call plays for him, it's easy for him to disappear into a game. Call the plays.
Finally, the team is too reliant on Boogie. Most teams with a top 10 player are reliant on that player for success. That's to be expected. But the Kings are a wreck whenever Cousins is on the bench. Even more so when Cousins misses a game to illness or injury. If the Kings want to be a great team, the need to be able to succeed without Cousins on the floor. Cousins can't carry it all. Rudy Gay has been wonderful, but he's best suited as the secondary player. I don't mean this as a slight. As a secondary option, Rudy is elite, Without a big man to draw the defense, Rudy struggles. We saw it when Cousins was out with meningitis. And it's been cited as why the Kings wanted to trade for him. Rudy is great with Cousins, but he can't be relied on to carry the team when Boogie isn't on the floor. Collison, too, has been great. He had a superb line against the Knicks. But he's not a guy you can rely on to carry the Kings. The Kings need another guy who can shoulder the load. Easier said than done, of course, but it's an obvious issue.
So one win doesn't fix the Kings. The issues remain. The issue aren't due to the lack of Michael Malone, the presence of Tyrone Corbin, or the absence of George Karl. They are issues with the team as a concept and a reality. The Malone firing made the issues fall under additional scrutiny. The issues need to be fixed in order to achieve the stated goals of ownership and management. Head coaching is important, but head coaching be damned. Kings management needs to make a move to repair the roster. And they need to make a move soon.