Losing sucks. It really, really does. Losses like last night against the Cavaliers, and the previous two against the Wizards and Celtics hurt even more because those are teams that we as fans feel like the Kings can beat and even should beat. We've seen this team play better, we know they can play better, so when they lay eggs like they have on this road trip, frustrations boil over.
Now before I go into my spiel about patience, I just want to say that there is extra cause to be pissed at the Kings over these last three games. The effort and execution hasn't been there. Whatever we want from our team, we want to see them try hard on a consistent basis, and these last few games I don't think we've gotten that. That is unacceptable, especially from a guy like DeMarcus Cousins who is supposed to be our franchise player.
We as fans have suffered through a painful rebuilding process for what feels like a decade, and that's not far off. The Kings essentially tried to rebuild on the fly in 2005 when they shipped Chris Webber to Philadelphia and focus on building around Mike Bibby, Brad Miller and Peja Stojakovic. We all know how that's worked out. By the time the Kings truly tried to start fresh and rebuild in 2008, the Maloofs were already looking elsewhere.
The Kings have failed to make the playoffs or even seriously contend for 7 seasons now (going on 8, barring the spontaneous combustion of at least 7 teams in the West). Kings fans desperately want to become good again, and its why after games like yesterday's , I get comments, tweets and e-mails about what the Kings should do up to and including blowing up the team.
The thing is, despite all those years of losing and rebuilding, the Kings essentially started over this past year when Vivek Ranadivé took over. Before he did, the Kings were a mess on and off the court. Now they're just a mess on the court, and that's an improvement!
Jokes aside, whatever plans Geoff Petrie and co. had in store for this team went out the door this summer. Pete D'Alessandro is trying to build this team his own way, and that's going to take time. The Kings had some pieces to work with when they acquired the team, namely DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, Patrick Patterson and a lottery pick, but Pete's rebuilding project was just getting started.
So what have the Kings done so far?
1. Selected Ben McLemore with the 7th pick of the draft and Ray McCallum with the 36th pick.
2. Decided not to offer Tyreke Evans a contract but let the market dictate his value, something Petrie was infamous for not doing (see Marcus Thornton, Jason Thompson and Francisco Garcia's extensions). When New Orleans offered Evans a 4 year, $44 million contract, Pete said thanks but no thanks and got Vasquez and a couple second rounders in return.
3. Traded one of those second rounders to Milwaukee for Luc Mbah a Moute.
4. Sign Carl Landry to a 4 year, $26 million deal.
5. Committed to DeMarcus Cousins as a franchise player by giving him a 4 year, $60 million extension.
6. Traded Luc Mbah a Moute to Minnesota for Derrick Williams.
7. Traded Greivis Vasquez, Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson and John Salmons to Toronto for Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy.
That's a lot of work to have done in just over half a year but it's abundantly clear that this team is still an unfinished product which is why patience is needed.
Here's what the Kings have going for them:
- DeMarcus Cousins has improved a lot this season, into one of the best big men in the league at just 23 years old.
- Michael Malone seems like a great coach, and he's locked in for a while which gives him more authority to work with.
- Acquiring Rudy Gay has made the Kings better, and they didn't give up much for him.
- Isaiah Thomas is having a career year as a starter, and will be a restricted free agent after the year. Even if the Kings aren't sure of his status as their point guard of the future, his restricted status (and as Zach Lowe pointed out earlier, a lack of teams with cap room in need of a point guard) should allow the Kings to keep him on a relatively good contract, unless someone makes a truly ridiculous offer.
- Quincy Acy is a cheap, young roleplayer with some potential.
- The Kings will likely have a top 8 draft pick in a very good draft (they're currently in 4th, but I think they'll end up closer to 8th than 4th, unless they jump up, but ha! The Kings jump up, that's a good one)
- The defense is terrible and the Kings don't have any notable defenders on the roster (although DeMarcus Cousins is much improved as a one-on-one defender, he still has bouts of laziness and isn't a great team defender).
- The Kings don't have a guy who can really run an offense outside of Isaiah Thomas. Jimmer Fredette tries but he's a more natural spot-up shooter. Ray McCallum has potential but he's very raw.
- Ben McLemore hasn't nearly been as good as we had hoped we could be in his rookie year, although he has shown improvement. He needs a lot of work before he's ready to be considered a key piece for the future. Fortunately he's still got plenty of time to develop.
- Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson haven't produced to contract, and while the Kings would love to trade them in the next couple weeks, it will be a tough sell for most teams. If Pete can do it, more power to him.
- Carl Landry's pre-season injury has limited his value. At the time, I thought it was a pretty good signing to add a quality bench big but he hasn't looked the same since coming back and will probably spend the rest of this season working his way back into shape.
- The supporting cast in general needs a big time face lift. Derrick Williams is a nice piece there, but he's young and inconsistent.