Welcome to sixth and final installment of our series, in which we reminisce on 31 summers of Kings basketball. In parts one, two, three, four and five we covered the peak and valleys of Kings basketball. Today we complete the circle of
strife life and bring our situation current.
2010: Kings fans entered the season with a glimmer of hope. Tyreke Evans was awarded Rookie of the Year, and the Kings were going to get another young prospect via the draft. Enthusiasm was muted a bit when the Kings secured the number five pick, but excitement was renewed a couple of days before the draft when the Kings shipped Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni to Philadelphia for Samuel Dalembert.
Does this mean Spencer won't play in Summer League?
The trade was met with mixed reactions from StR members. Aykis and I had determined that the Kings had gone from about 18th to 11th on the centers list (your mileage may vary). But it appeared to give the Kings their first defensive backstop since Duane Causwell (Yogi Stewart notwithstanding).
So…on to the draft…
I will remember this period fondly when we are contenders again
The anticipation, the conjecture – it’s an awesome time of year for a fan of a non-contending team. That said, I’d like to get on with the fond remembrances sooner than later.
HAHAHAHA!!! – Here is my draft board from 2010: John Wall, Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins, Wesley Johnson, Al Forouq-Aminu, Cole Aldrich, Greg Monroe, Ekpe Udoh, Ed Davis, Hassan Whiteside, Patrick Patterson, Xavier Henry, Daniel Orton, James Anderson. And the cherry on top:
4 – DeMarcus Cousins: Simply, if Cousins’ attitude raises a flag with Kings brass, I would drop him below Wesley Johnson. And I have some concerns. That said, I had concerns about Chris Webber coming here, and I had concerns about us drafting Jason Williams. I had concerns about Ron Artest and Bonzi Wells. I wasn’t sure about Jimmy Jackson. In the end, only Artest really created any real heartache while in a Kings uni. And to be clear, Cousins has not really done anything other than show that he is a petulant and somewhat spoiled youngster. The question is, will he grow out of it? 3 and a half stars.
And once the Kings selected Cousins? More accurately, once Wesley Johnson was selected by the Timberwolves? Relief, followed by elation. Unlike the most recent drafts, the selection of Cousins was overwhelmingly approved by those participating in the draft day threads. That said, here are a couple of amusing nuggets.
So how long before the Calipari - Kings Coach rumors begin?
I put it about mid-season.
Had Cousins slipped past the Kings, the agent for Cousins would’ve made it clear to Warriors that his client didn’t want to play there.
Lame duck coaching staff and front office…they aren’t sure if they are keeping Ellis or moving him. Lots of question marks on the roster?
OTOH, they have a rabid fanbase and the new owners are going to have deep pockets. Might not be a bad place to be once the corpse of Don Nelson retires to Hawaii permanently.
The Kings went on to select Hassan Whiteside in the 2nd round, which was seen as a steal for a guy that had been projected by many as a lottery pick. (Side story here: I was given the opportunity to attend a practice one day, meet Paul Westphal, have a picture snapped with Tyreke Evans, you know, your usual Tuesday. Anyhoo, after practice Samuel Dalembert summoned Whiteside over, as he was going to mentor the young rookie with some one-on-one time. Whiteside gave Dalembert about 45 seconds before walking off, leaving Dalembert standing there, astonished. I understood at that moment why/how Whiteside had slipped all the way out of the 1st round.)
The Kings continued throughout the summer with general housekeeping moves. Fan favorite Jon Brockman was traded for Darnell Jackson and what would become the 60th pick in the 2011 draft (worthless!). Guys named Antoine Wright, Pooh Jeter and Luther Head were signed.
The team looked to have some promise, albeit not quite yet playoff material. Cousins, Dalembert, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry up front. Omri Casspi and Donté Greene fighting it out at small forward. Evans, Beno Udrih and Francisco Garcia in the back court. But the team never really found any sort of groove. Landry was traded for Marcus Thornton at the trade deadline, and Maquis Daniels was acquired for a 2017 2nd round draft pick.
Final record: 24-58.
2011: There was a pall hanging over the fan base as the off season approached. News had broken during the season that the Maloofs intended to move the team to Anaheim, and it had gotten serious enough that Anaheim had approved bonds to lure the brothers down south. As the season concluded, the Maloofs and Sacramento’s Mayor Kevin Johnson pleaded their respective cases to the league. Ron Burkle’s name popped up for the first time as a prospective buyer that would keep the team in Sacramento, but the Maloofs had no interest in discussing the matter. The Maloofs released a statement in May that the NBA would approve a move of the team in 2012 if a new arena deal was not finalized in Sacramento.
Meanwhile, Geoff Petrie and the Kings front office turned in a week of work that was stunning at the time, and an absolute train wreck in retrospect. On draft night, the Kings traded Beno Udrih and the #7 pick for John Salmons and the #10 pick. The Kings determined that Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker were not worth the #7 pick, and then determined that Kawhi Leonard or Klay Thompson were not worth the 10th. There were over two dozen players from the 2011 draft that have gone on to have a better professional career than Jimmer Fredette, but the Kings organization determined that it was time to bring Jimmermania to the River City. The Kings also selected Tyler Honeycutt in the 2nd round, and spent their 60th pick on a 5-9 guard out of Washington by the name of Isaiah Thomas. A week later, the Kings would trade Omri Casspi and a 1st round pick that hangs over the head of the franchise to this day for J.J. Hickson.
If the arena affairs and shocking draft week activity was not enough to turn your stomach, the league threw in a lockout at no extra charge. Once that was cleared up, the Kings signed Travis Outlaw. And in one of the more bizarre signings / non-signings / signings, the Kings signed Chuck Hayes, then rescinded the offer due to reported heart issues, then ultimately signed him.
Westphal lasted seven games into the season before he was replaced by Keith Smart. The moment Smart took over there was a seismic shift in how the team was run, and it became apparent that the Kings’ world now revolved around not Tyreke Evans, but DeMarcus Cousins. Hickson didn’t even make it through the season before he was waived. With all due respect to front page decorum, it was a shit show. Aside from some young talent (Cousins, Evans, and Thomas, who finished 7th in ROY voting), there was little to like about the team, its front office, and especially its owners.
Final record: 22-44.
2012: I’ll be the first to admit that I was OK with the drafting of Thomas Robinson with the 5th pick of the draft. I was certainly more OK with that then when the Maloofs sold the 2nd round pick so that they could pay the utility bills. I thought that Robinson and Damian Lillard were a toss-up. I, as it turns out, am an idiot. Not an Udrih/7 for Salmons/10 idiot. Not a draft Jimmer Fredette idiot. But an idiot nonetheless.
The Kings also traded a 2nd round pick for James Johnson, waived Hassan Whiteside and signed Aaron Brooks. And that was pretty much it until the Kings shipped Robinson, Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt off to the Rockets for Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas, and of course, cash.
The 2012 off season was also the time frame where the City of Sacramento came up with an arena plan that the Maloofs rejected.
On the upside of things, Cuzizstan was formed.
Final record: 28-54, but hey, we all learned where Virginia Beach was along the way.
2013: And now it was Seattle. The Maloofs had determined to sell the Kings to a group headed by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, and the team would be relocated to Seattle. The only problem was, Sacramento was not done. As the saga progressed from the time of Daina Falk’s initial doomsday tweet of the move to Seattle to the May 15 decision by the NBA to deny relocation and the ultimate approval of the sale of the team to Vivek Ranadive group, Kings fans persevered and persevered and persevered. Perhaps all the years of suckitude had hardened the resolve of Kings fans, but for once they were rewarded for their blind loyalty.
New ownership proceeded to hire its first head coach, securing the services of Michael Malone. A few weeks later, Pete D’Allesandro was hired as the General Manager for both his linear and non-linear thinking, according to Ranadive. NBA 2.0 was born.
It’s amazing how many deck chairs you can shuffle when there is a new ship captain. To wit: drafting Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum, trading Tyreke Evans (as opposed to matching his contract offer) for Greivis Vasquez and a couple of 2nd round draft picks, trading one of those 2nd round picks for Luc Mbah a Moute, signing Carl Landry, trading Mbah a Moute for Derrick Williams, signing and later waiving Hamady Ndiaye, trading Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Vasquez for Rudy Gay an Aaron Gray, trading Marcus Thornton for Reggie Evans and the ghost of Jason Terry, trading for and waiving Roger Mason, signing and later releasing Orlando Johnson, waiving Jimmer Fredette, signing and later releasing Royce White, signing and later releasing Willie Reed, and signing Jared Cunnningham through the end of the season.
Final record: 28-54, identical to the prior year, but somehow it felt like progress.
2014: This was the inaugural season of synergy, or so we thought. Last year’s draft was a hurried affair, with the head coach and general manager not having much, if any input. But this year, boy, everyone was going to be singing out the same hymn book. When it came time for the Kings pick, I liked the raw Noah Vonleh, while others preferred Elfrid Payton. But Nik rocks, so it was Stauskas in the end.
Up to this point, the new front office was given the benefit of the doubt. But that came to a crashing end when the Kings decided to not match a reasonable offer sheet for Isaiah Thomas (four years, $27m), opting instead to deal him to the Phoenix Suns for a trade exception and the draft rights to Alex Oriakhi. Wait…this can’t possibly be right.
The Kings decided to not match a reasonable offer sheet for Isaiah Thomas (four years, $27m), opting instead to deal him to the Phoenix Suns for a trade exception and the draft rights to Alex Oriakhi. Welp! I guess that’s right.
Next for the Kings was the trading of Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw for Wayne Ellington and Jeremy Tyler. This was a cap-clearing move, and the Kings are still paying for Ellington today, as they waived him and utilized the stretch provision. Tyler was ultimately waived as well. Sim Bhullar was signed. The ghost of Jason Terry was traded for Alonzo Gee and Scotty Hopson, both of whom were ultimately waived. Darren Collison, Omri Casspi, Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins were signed.
The team jumped out to a 9-5 start, but lost DeMarcus Cousins to viral meningitis after suffering their sixth loss of the season. The Kings would drop seven of their next nine, and Malone was inexplicably fired. Between the Thomas debacle and the Malone firing, serious concerns now existed about the front office as well as the the role of Vivek Ranadive as a team-shaping influence. The team would proceed to go 7-21 under interim coach Ty Corbin (who was initially sold by the front office as not being an interim coach), and he was followed by George Karl, who went 11-19 with an abbreviated and disinterested roster.
Final record: 29-53, a lost season.
2015: This is the period where Vivek Ranadive said that he should not have hired his head coach (Malone) before his GM (D’Allesandro), and that he learns from his mistakes. The Kings proceeded to hire George Karl, and then afterwards brought in Vlade Divac to take D’Allesandro’s place. Wait…this can’ possibly be right.
This is the period where Vivek Ranadive said that he should not have hire his head coach (Malone) before his GM (D’Allesandro), and that he learns from his mistakes. The Kings proceeded to hire George Karl, and then afterwards brought in Vlade Divac to take D’Allesandro’s place. Welp! I guess that’s right.
The Kings selected Willie Cauley-Stein with the 6th pick of the draft. Some fans were calling for Emmanuel Mudiay or Justise Winslow with the pick, but overall the selection of WCS was well received.
The front office then went all-in, trading Carl Landry, Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson, a future unprotected 1st round pick and the rights to swap as many as two other 1st round picks to Philadelphia for the rights to Arturas Gudaitis and Luka Mitrovic and a future 2nd round pick. Ray McCallum was dealt to San Antonio for a future 2nd round pick.
The Kings turned around and utilized their existing and new-found cap space to sign Rajon Rondo, Kosta Koufos, Marco Belinelli, Omri Casspi, James Anderson, Caron Butler, Quincy Acy, Seth Curry, Eric Moreland and Duje Dukan.
Snakes and grasses and egos and asses doomed the season before it began, and the Kings were once again a band of under-performers. Thanks to the Philly trade, they were also under-performers with limited future assets and limited cap space. Karl was fired at the end of the season.
Final record: 33-49, which depressingly is the best record for the organization since 2007-08.
And that’s 31 summers of Kings basketball. In a league where 53% of the teams make the playoffs (or 16 appearances over 31 years, the Kings have converted 32% of the time (10 times over 31 years), and 0% of the time over the past ten years. But the team has succeeded in becoming part of the fabric of Sacramento, and hope springs eternal for the dawn of a new day as the Golden 1 Center prepares for its inaugural season.
If you’re a Kings fan, you’re Andy Dufresne or you’re Red. Heck, maybe you’re Heywood. As Kings fans, all of us and none of us are Brooks, simultaneously. The only question that remains is, how much farther do we have to crawl to obtain our redemption?
Thanks for reading. I know that large portions of this were difficult to re-live and write, so it must have been tough at times to re-live and read. I appreciated your fortitude if you made it to the end.