Since December 14th, 2014, the Sacramento Kings have seemingly provided punchline after punchline to a neverending joke about just how bad and disorganized they've been.
"Can you believe what the Kings sent to Philadelphia to free up space?"
"LOL the Kings can't even convince Monta Ellis to sign with them."
"Vlade really fire the guy who wrote the book on basketball analytics???"
Hell, Grantland's even making "Suicide Squad" spoof trailers for the team's upcoming season.
I can't say it upsets me too much. Some of it's even genuinely funny. The Kings haven't done anything to deserve anyone's respect in about a decade. While most of that stench comes from the previous regime, the team has seen its fair share of chaos in Vivek Ranadivé's two years at the helm.
When Vivek came on board, he promised improvement, and we've seen it, just not on the court. Sacramento's business side and community reputation have been amazing the last two years. A new downtown arena is almost halfway complete. Yet the product on the court still stinks and until this summer, it looked like it could remain that way.
Obviously, nothing done this summer can be proven to be a great thing yet (or alternatively, a bad thing) until we see how this team looks once it gets on the court. But the talent level on this Kings team is soooooo much higher than it has been since probably the last time the Kings made the playoffs. For the first time in years, the Kings went after big time needs in the offseason, particularly focusing on shooting, defense and depth.
Sacramento was also able to keep hold of all the players from last year's team that were actually productive. DeMarcus Cousins is coming off a career-year and will only be 25 years old. Ben McLemore improved a lot last season and will hopefully keep growing his game. Rudy Gay and Darren Collison are in their primes and have played their best basketball in Sacramento. Omri Casspi flourished under George Karl and is back for more.
They replaced a guy like Derrick Williams with a veteran leader and shooter in Caron Butler. Nik Stauskas might one day be a great shooter but the Kings opted to bring in Marco Belinelli, who's already a great shooter, and James Anderson and Seth Curry can shoot as well. Kosta Koufos, Quincy Acy and Willie Cauley-Stein all bring toughness and defensive intensity to Sacramento's frontline, something that's been sorely missing.
Rajon Rondo brings some baggage, but his deal's for one year and even at 50% of what he used to be he's a better player than 90% of Sacramento's backup Point Guards for the last decade. Seriously, we used to start Luther Head. Luther. Head. And if he does work out better than expected, that means the Kings are bringing in the very good Darren Collison off the bench, which would be one of the better PG rotations in the league, especially as they could play together at times.
I understand that the Western Conference is very tough. But should that prevent the Kings from trying? They've got to establish some sort of foundation before they can build anything on top of it. With this offseason's additions, I'm starting to see that foundation where before I saw only question marks. This team now has a supporting cast to go along with its big guns.
It's easy to rag on the Kings. But I just can't identify an area where they haven't either improved or at least maintained, and I don't see any weaknesses that have been further exacerbated by this summer's moves. This is a much more well-rounded and deep team led by a Hall of Fame coach featuring one of the best young players in the NBA. So call me crazy, but I think this is going to be a hell of a year for the Sacramento Kings and a big step forward to a day where the Sacramento Kings inspire applause rather than derision.