After Monday night’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a game in which Zach Randolph and Vince Carter were healthy screatches and George Hill came off the bench for the first time this season, Coach Dave Joerger revealed to the media that the team was going to be going even younger for the second half of the season.
The current plan is that at least two of the vets (Hill, Randolph, Carter, Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos) will sit out every game for the rest of the season. Which veterans sit will alternate depending on the game, but they will be told in advance. From the Sacramento Bee:
“It’s not an easy conversation,” Joerger said. “They’re very professional, they’re competitive. All of them are rotation players on a playoff team. So to ask those guys to step aside at different times is not enjoyable for me. They handled it well, they’ve been pros.”
This is an unusual amount of transparency for a move that many rebuilding teams make, but the Kings up until this point have done a decent job of mixing in the veterans while also giving the youth room to play. But the Kings have a lot more youth than most, with 10 players still on their rookie contracts. The veterans were brought in with the expectation that they would be mentors both on and off the court, and now it seems they’ll be spending a lot more time off it.
This is a move that some fans might have hoped for from the start of the season, but it seems this was the plan for the team coming in, to bring the young guys along slowly and then set them free as the season went on. While some might see this move as the Kings tanking, it’s not like the Kings were setting the world on fire anyway. Even with the veterans playing, the Kings have the third worst record in the NBA (and are just half a game from the worst record) and have the worst offensive rating and second worst defensive rating in the entire league. This team was already losing plenty well enough on their own.
But now it’s time to see what the young guys can do. We’ve already seen a lot of growth from Willie Cauley-Stein and guys like Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield. But for guys like De’Aaron Fox, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissiere, Justin Jackson, Frank Mason, Georgios Papagiannis and perhaps even Harry Giles if he makes his debut soon, this will be their time to shine. They will be given opportunity and it’s up to them to make the most of it.