Beginning Friday, the Sacramento Kings will have their best chance at getting back to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.
It has been a long road for Kings fans. Owner Vivek Randive has given the keys to the castle to Vlade Divac, who has made some questionable decisions when it comes to the team’s personnel. The Athletic’s Jason Jones was asked in his recent mailbag about when the Kings will turn the corner, and become a perennial playoff team:
“Let’s break this down. First, let’s talk about free agency. The Kings are not going to be in the running for max guys, and if the Kings are looking for free agents to fix problems, it really points to a bigger issue: the draft. The Kings have only drafted one player who would sign a max deal after his rookie deal, DeMarcus Cousins in 2010. That’s insane, given the Kings have been in the lottery every year since 2006 ... I’ve touched on this before, but banking on Vivek Ranadive to fire Divac is not wise. Financially, it doesn’t make sense. Why sign Divac to an extension last year and allow him to hire Luke Walton as coach only to abandon the plan now? Ranadive having to pay Divac, his replacement and a replacement coach (which would be likely) and Walton just isn’t likely, especially in this economic climate.”
Divac’s time with the team looks like it could be tied to how Marvin Bagley III develops. The second-year forward has had tough luck with injuries this season, but he has the potential be an All-Star. Still, the team’s decision to take Bagley over Luka Doncic looks terribly wrong at this juncture. Eventually, Divac’s spotty drafting record could catch up to him.
A smaller market team like the Kings need to hit on their picks in order to build up a contender. With De’Aaron Fox on the cusp of being an All-Star, Divac will have to get creative in filling out the roster around him to ensure Sacramento will be successful for years to come.
Walton and Divac both have another three years left on their contracts, and as Jones points out, it is highly unlikely that Randive will pull the plug anytime soon. Sacramento is still paying former head coach Dave Joerger his salary, something Randive will want to avoid doing with Walton.
Do you think Divac will get to finish out his contract with the Kings?
On to some links:
How many games do you think the Kings will win in Orlando? SI broke down some of the over/under win totals for NBA teams in the bubble, and they suggest taking the over for Sacramento.
The Kings have a favorable schedule as they battle it out for the final playoff sport in the Western Conference. Anthony Cardenas of Hoops Habit gives three reason why Sacramento will get into the postseason.
What are the best-and-worst care scenarios for the Kings in Orlando? ESPN’s Dave McMenamin shares his thoughts.