This is the official Sactown Royalty preview of the 2015-16 Sacramento Kings season, part of the SB Nation NBA preview series. We take a look at what the Kings did this summer, and what we hope we can look forward to as the season goes on.
Team Name: Sacramento Kings
Last Year's Record: 33-49
Key Losses: George Karl, Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, Seth Curry, Quincy Acy, Caron Butler and “LeBron” James Anderson
Key Additions: Dave Joerger, Ken Catanella, Arron Afflalo, Garrett Temple, Ty Lawson, Georgios Papagiannis, Skal Labissiere, Malachi Richardson, Anthony Tolliver, Matt Barnes
1. What Significant Moves were made in the offseason?
By far the biggest move the Kings made this summer was firing George Karl and replacing him with Dave Joerger. Karl was brought to this franchise after the schocking decision to fire Michael Malone proved to be a very bad one as the team spiraled out of control and the fanbase demanded a solution. That solution was supposed to be Karl, one of the winningest head coaches of all time. Karl never gelled with the roster however, especially with star DeMarcus Cousins. The two clashed almost from the moment he got here, and the relationship proved toxic enough that it affected the whole team. Dave Joerger is much more in the mold of Michael Malone in that he’s a defensive minded coach, but he also has experience utilizing talented big men on both ends of the floor and looks to be a good fit with this roster. We’ll see how that pans out soon enough, as this roster is not nearly as ready made as the one Joerger inherited in Memphis.
The Kings also beefed up their front office in preparation for the draft and free agency, adding former Pistons-exec Ken Catanella to help out Vlade Divac. Catanella’s knowledge of the salary cap should provide to be a decent asset for the Kings, and his presence has already been felt in Free Agency, as the team made some prudent free agent signings in adding guys like Arron Afflalo, Anthony Tolliver and Ty Lawson on contracts that feature a lot of unguaranteed money, which gives the Kings some much needed flexibility. The addition of veterans like Garrett Temple and Matt Barnes were also made to provide the team with depth.
This year’s draft was a little strange, as the Kings went in with just the 8th and 59th pick and came out with three first round picks. The Kings traded the 8th pick to Phoenix for the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic (you’ll have to wait for the 2017-18 season to see him in the NBA) as well as the 13th and 28th picks in the draft. Earlier in the day they had traded Marco Belinelli (who had an awful year in Sacramento) to Charlotte for the 22nd pick. Despite desperate need for a Point Guard, the Kings instead opted to choose the little known center Georgios Papagiannis out of Greece with the 13th pick, and then went big again with the 28th pick in Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere. Only Malachi Richardson at 22 was a guard, and he’s more of a score-first guy.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
Given that the roster is mostly new and there’s a new coach and system in place for the umpteenth time, it’s a little hard to pinpoint this team’s exact strengths. However they do have a few that are there regardless of coach. Sacramento has more big man depth than most teams, featuring DeMarcus Cousins, perhaps the best Center in the NBA, as well as Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein.
They’re also pretty deep on the wing now, with the returning Rudy Gay and Omri Casspi being joined by Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes and Garrett Temple.
I expect that Dave Joerger will make defense a primary focus for this Kings team, but I hesitate to put defense as a Kings strength until I see it for myself. This is the same team that hasn’t ranked in the top half of the league defensively since 2006.
3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
Point Guard depth is definitely one of them. Right now the Kings feature Darren Collison and one of Ty Lawson/Jordan Farmar/Isaiah Cousins at the position. Only one of Lawson/Farmar/Cousins will make the roster and it seems like it will probably be Lawson at this point. Garrett Temple will also expect to see some time at the position, especially early on in the year as Darren Collison is likely to be suspended by the NBA for his role in a domestic violence dispute that occurred this summer, for which he plead guilty.
I also think this team might struggle offensively as they learn a new system. Offense was one of the strengths last year, but it came at the expense of any semblance of defense. I expect more of a balance with Dave Joerger in charge.
4. What are the goals for this team?
Last year this was a team that was extremely upfront about trying to make the playoffs. After last year’s disaster, the franchise seems to be dialing the bombast back a bit and simply saying that they need to lay a foundation down, which is what should have been the plan all along.
That being said, I think the team will be pretty disappointed if they take a step backwards, as their secondary goal is to convince DeMarcus Cousins to stay long-term. Another losing season won’t help that cause.
5. Is Dave Joerger going to stick around?
Most carousel’s don’t spin as fast as the Sacramento Kings coaching carousel. Rick Adelman and Garry St. Jean remain the only coaches in the Sacramento-era to have at least three full seasons with a roster. The team has had 9 different coaches in the 10 years since Rick Adelman left. Will Joerger be different? History is against him, but at some point the Kings need to have some stability.
For more on the Kings, check out our 30Q series, where we answered 30 questions about the Kings over the month of September.