Welcome to part five of our series, in which we reminisce on 31 summers of Kings basketball. The failures that comprised parts one and two were followed by a much more uplifting part three. In part four we reached for the brass ring, had it in our hands, lost our grasp and then fell off the damned carousel. Would we pick ourselves up and get back on?
2005: The Kings entered the off season of 2005 a mere shell of its golden era self. Gone were Vlade, C-Webb, and Christie, Hedo and Pollard. Peja Stojakovic and Mike Bibby remained, along with Brad Miller and Bobby Jackson, who would hopefully rebound from the prior year’s injuries. Not much was thought of Kevin Martin, who has shot 40% (and 20% from deep) with a butt-ugly stroke during his rookie season.
The first move of summer was the drafting of Francisco Garcia. He seemed like a nice get at #23 after having a nice run at Louisville. A little more than a month later, the team seemed to get eminently less likeable when Bobby Jackson and Greg Ostertag were traded for Bonzi Wells. The Kings also traded their 2006 2nd round pick for Jason Hart, and signed free agents Ronnie Price and Jamal Sampson.
Then the oddest signing occurred. The New Jersey Nets pulled their contract offer to Shareef Abdur-Rahim due to concerns about his balky knees. The Kings immediately signed Abdur-Rahim to five year, $30m deal. Questions abounded as it pertained to Abdur-Rahim’s true health, as well as his fit with Kenny Thomas, who was also under a healthy contract over that same period.
The ream was really a bit of a mess. Only Kevin Martin and Abdur-Rahim were really shooting at an effective clip, and the team assist rate was falling from its stellar golden age numbers. Stojakovic was especially struggling (his back was barking at him pretty good by then), as his effective field goal percentage fell below that of the team.
On January 24, the Kings lost and fell to 17-24 on the season. The playoff run was seemingly over, and the fan base was discussing a coaching change once Rick Adelman’s contract was up at the end of the season (overall it seemed pretty split, with perhaps a slight edge to giving Adelman a two year renewal). The next day the Kings traded Stojakovic for Ron Artest.
So now we were faced with a team that was not only going to miss the playoffs, they were becoming increasingly difficult to root for. Ron Artest? Why not just trade for Hannibal Lecter? WTF, Geoff?
The Kings would lose two of their next three (including their first two games with Artest), falling to 18-26. Yeah, this was going to be great. Show of hands that saw the 26-12 run to finish the season coming? But that is exactly what happened. Somehow, Bibby and Bonzi and Bonkers all worked together, while Miller, Abdur-Rahim and Thomas provided yeoman work up front. Martin became an effective core rotation player, and Rick Adelman was genius that must be re-signed at all costs.
(In the middle of this resurgence there was a massive four team, nine player trade that basically had the Kings sending out Brian Skinner and receiving Vitaly Potapenko and Sergei Monia in return. Kings fans hoped for another bolt of international lightning in a bottle, but it was not to be.)
Final record: 44-38, losing in the 1st round of the playoffs to the Spurs in six games, including a thrilling buzzer-beating win by Kevin Martin and a dominating series by Bonzi Wells. Maybe there was hope for the future after all…
2006: This was the first summer of Sactown Royalty, and if you have any doubts that some things never change, I present you with the following thread comment:
Grant Napear is a dinkus
I know...no duh.
Grant: College coaches make horrible professional coaches.
Caller: But you said you'd love to see PJ Carlesimo as coach...wasn't he a college coach?
Grant: I don't count him as a college coach, since that was so long ago.
What a maroon!
by Otis. on May 9, 2006 | 4:43 PM rec flag actions
Meanwhile, crap was happening all over the place as it pertained to the Kings. Rick Adelman’s contract was effectively up at the end of the 2005-06 season. The Maloof Brothers determined to kick the tires of Phil Jackson, and Adelman went public to state his discontent, and reminded the Maloofs that he was a free agent and could go elsewhere. The Maloofs did not appreciate the sentiment, and whatever chance there was that Adelman would be re-signed was gone. The Kings would go on to hire Eric Musselman, who blew the Kings brass away with his power point presentations. NBA 1.0!
There were a pair of initiatives on the election ballot that revolved around arena funding, known as Propositions Q & R. The initiatives struggled mightily and were objected to by Mayor Heather Fargo. The oddest turn came when the Maloof Brothers themselves turned against the initiatives (they did not like their cut of the parking revenue) and then immediately appeared in Carl’s Jr. $6,000 burger adds, wolfing down burgers and high dollar Bordeaux.
Meanwhile, back at the roster, the King drafted Quincy Douby with the 19th pick of the 1st round. The Kings needed depth at point guard, and Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, Jordan Farmar, Sergio Rodriguez and Marcus Williams (who had fallen way, way, way out of the lottery) were all available, but the Kings were certain that Douby could ascend to the point guard position in a manner at least similar to that of Bobby Jackson.
Bonzi Wells was holding out for a deal that was bigger than the reported five year, $36m offer that the Kings had made to him. By late July the Kings determined that they were at an impasse and instead snapped John Salmons out from under the Toronto Raptors with an 11th hour, five year, $23m deal. Wells would wind up signing a $2m deal with Houston, and after signing another $2m deal with New Orleans the following year he would be out of the NBA.
The Kings would complete their summer by signing and waiving Lou Amundson, Justin Williams (whom they would re-sign in January), Loren Woods and Maurice Taylor.
Newly minted head coach Eric Musselman was arrested for driving under the influence less than two weeks before the regular season was set to begin.
The team showed little cohesion during the season, ultimately dropping 17 of its last 22 games. Final record: 33-47. Musselman was fired at the end of the season.
2007: “With the 10th pick of the 2007 NBA draft, the Sacramento Kings select Spencer Hawes from the University of Washington.” Tom Ziller broke the news on Sactown Royalty, and I present his initial article in its entirety:
A big part of the fan reaction to the selection of Hawes was the massive disappointment of not landing Brandan Wright or Joakim Noah, two guys that were still on the draft board when the Kings were just three picks away. After the Bucks selected Yi Jianlian at #7, it seemed a certainty that the Kings would land either Wright or Noah. Kings fans learned a lot about the lottery and “certainty” that day.
Prior to the draft, the Kings hired Reggie Theus as head coach. Theus had done a nice job at New Mexico State, but I always had the suspicion that it was his work as head coach Bill Fuller of the Deering High School Tornados on NBC’s teen sitcom “Hang Time” that really turned the heads of the Maloofs. Ah, what the hell. At least Reggie would be smart enough to hire a limo if he was out drinking.
The Kings did more catch and release with their off season dealings, signing and releasing Orien Greene and Daryl Watkins. They did sign Mikki Moore to a three year, $18m deal, so he would join a roster that already had Brad Miller, rookie Hawes, Kenny Thomas, and an albeit damaged Sharif Abdur-Rahim up front. The Kings also signed Dahntay Jones, and they took a flyer on filling their point guard depth issue by signing Beno Udrih, who had been waived by Minnesota after the Timberwolves had obtained Udrih and cash from San Antonio for a 2nd round draft pick that was never exercised.
The team played hard under Theus, but never got over .500 (it never fell more than eight games under .500, either). Mike Bibby was traded in February for Shelden Williams and Anthony Johnson (the Kings also received Lorenzen Wright and Tyronn Lue, who were immediately waived, as well as a future 2nd round draft pick). The golden age roster was now officially gone, with Brad Miller being the only remaining distant remnant.
Final record: 38-44, back to the lottery.
2008: As it pertains to the drafting of Jason Thompson, I refer you to the draft thread of that day. The prior year’s Spencer Hawes thread was a ground breaker at the time, but the 2008 draft threads really put Sactown Royalty on the blogging map and cemented it as a member driven site, while also cementing its members as certifiably mad/crazy/funny/impassioned. A few excerpts:
I have a funny forward who comes and goes all day,
sometimes he says he’s leaving and sometimes he wants to stay.
He changes tunes and drives us crazy as the minutes pass,
but today is draft day so I don’t care – hey Ron, please kiss my ass.
by section214 on Jun 26, 2008 | 2:32 PM up 1 recs flag actions
Zillers sobriety this evening
probably depends on whether or not we end up drafting Kosta Koufos at 12…
by Mucho Moss on Jun 26, 2008 | 4:39 PM up rec flag actions
Watch your mouth!
by Tom Ziller on Jun 26, 2008 | 4:40 PM up rec flag actions
If that happens
I’ll drink a fifth of Kosta Koufos.
Nice to see SbN2.0 addressed my mobile posting problem. Minne better pick Brook Lopez, I hear she’s dreamy…wait, Brook’s a dude’s name? His sister Robin must be pissed
by Muff209 on Jun 26, 2008 | 4:48 PM rec (1) flag actions
Always makes a good entrance.
by Tom Ziller on Jun 26, 2008 | 4:49 PM up rec flag actions
It's just not an evening
by section214 on Jun 26, 2008 | 4:50 PM up 1 recs flag actions
Is that whoever we pick punches Stephen A. Smith
And then, upon the selection of Jason Thompson (twenty one actual consecutive comments):
who the fuck?
Well in Petrie we trust.
WHO THE F***!@LJ:L#TJ
What the fuck
Holy lord oh my lordy lord.
oh my god....
fuck…. im dead… nice knowing you all
…and so on and so on and so on.
you know, we need help at the 4. I’m going to try to talk myself into this
by coachtheus on Jun 26, 2008 | 5:43 PM rec flag actions
Good luck with that.
by Jaycee on Jun 26, 2008 | 5:44 PM up unrec (1) actions
you’re right. The Kings suck.
The Kings also drafted Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing, Jr. (or P-Ew2 as I called him) in the 2nd round. A couple of weeks later they packaged those picks and Ron Artest, whose continued off-court antics and contract demands had become overwhelming to the organization, sending them to Houston for Donté Greene, Bobby Jackson, and the 2009 1st round pick that would eventually become Omri Casspi. I posted my thoughts on Ron-Ron’s stay and exodus.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim retired prior to the beginning of the season and prior to the end of his contract due to recurring injuries, joining the Kings front office.
For as quickly as Reggie Theus had gotten his team to play hard every night, he lost it at least as quickly by disparaging the roster publicly, infamously noting that with Artest gone there was no one to “get the ball to.” Theus was speaking primarily of the low post, but the response of the team was to drop 18 of its first 24 games of the season. Theus was fired and replaced by Kenny Natt.
In February the Kings executed three trades that sent out Brad Miller, John Salmons, Bobby Brown (hey, it was their prerogative), and Shelden Williams for Drew Gooden, Andres Nocioni, Cedric Simmons, Ike Diogu, Calvin Booth and Rashad McCants. The team went 5-21 after those trades.
Final record: a Sacramento franchise worst 17-65, landing the number one slot in the draft ping pong ball drop.
2009: The early part of the off season was consumed with whether we would select Blake Griffin or Ricky Rubio with the #1 pick in the draft. Hey, worst case scenario we drop to two and wind up with one or the other, right?
And then we plummeted to fourth, and there was much unhappiness throughout the land, unhappiness that was met with ambivalence when the Kings hired Paul Westphal as the new head coach.
From the draft thread: Well, in a nutshell, the consensus was resigned to Griffin being off the board, relieved that Hasheem Thabeet (Thabeeeeeeeeeeet!!!) went second and James Harden went third. The overwhelming desire in the thread was to draft Rubio. When Tyreke Evans was selected, most of us skipped denial and went right to anger. I had already moved on to bargaining:
Or is there a swap cooking?
while guru21 (at the time pookeyguru) had moved on to depression:
I'm going to fucking die
by Kingsguru21 on Jun 25, 2009 | 4:57 PM rec (5) flag actions
Oh, and then there was this nugget:
Petrie will likely retire at the end of this year anyway
The Kings later drafted Omri Casspi at #23, which was much more popular with the membership. The Kings also traded the #31 pick for the pick that would become Jon Brockman (Mancakes! – Aykis16) and Sergio Rodriguez.
While the fans were not convinced about Evans, there was genuine excitement about the team being on the rebuild. The young bigs of Shock and Hawes up front, Evans and Kevin Martin in the backcourt, and Casspi and Donté Greene battling it out at small forward. Throw in Rodriguez, Beno Udrih and Andres Nocioni in to the mix, and this team promised to be fun to watch.
Five games into the season, Kevin Martin injured his left wrist, after averaging over 30 points a game during that start. When he returned, he and Evans were never really given an opportunity to gel, and Martin was ultimately dealt in what would later be seen as a pure contract dump, as Martin and his contract were sent out with Rodriguez and Hilton Armstong for Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey and the expiring contract of Larry Hughes (Hughes never set foot in Sacramento).
The team was not playing well, but Evans was having a season worthy of Rookie of the Year consideration. The “20-5-5” promotion by the organization was a little greasy, but Evans was fun to watch nonetheless, and by the end of the season the Kings were generally regarded as having aced the draft. They appeared to be heading – finally! – in the right direction.
Up next: The team can’t find footing, on or off the court. And just when it appeared that the party was over…