The Kings have done it. It’s been seven and a half seasons since Chris Webber walked out that door, the face of a franchise that came up just one quarter short (or three refs short, if you believe the conspiracy goons) of the NBA Finals in 2002, maybe one of the most talented teams in history to end up without any hardware. That team was loaded as shit, well coached, and put on dazzling offensive clinics more nights than not. In the end, it’s achilles wasn’t defense so much as a lack of a player other than Mike Bibby being willing to take the biggest shots. Inches short, they were.
Well, after they traded Webber’s massive contract for spare parts during the ’05 season, it wasn’t long before everyone else from those glory years was gone, from Bibby to Vlade Divac to Peja Stojakovic to Doug Christie to coach Rick Adelman as his Princeton offensive that was tailor made for a group like this, a squad loaded with players who could shoot, pass and think on their feet.
Two years later they were out of the playoffs, two years after that they were in full-on rebuilding mode and four years into it, they’ve done nothing but draft the wrong guys, hire the wrong coaches and fall on their asses pretty much every night out. Listen, being bad in Basketball (or any other sport for that matter) is easy. Being among the bottom dwellers for five straight years in a sport where you can often be one great draft pick away from a total reversal of fortune? Well, that takes more than just thorough incompetence, it takes some bad luck to boot. The Kings have had alot of both.
They should have had Blake Griffin. That is, they had the best chances of winning the 2009 lottery and somehow ended up picking 4th. Instead of Griffin or James Harden (drafted third) or even taking a chance onStephen Curry, they took Tyreke Evans, he of the awesome rookie season and four subsequent years spent going backwards.
The 2010 Draft might have been worse. By picking Demarcus Cousins 5th, (again, they had the third best odds of winning the lottery and ended up getting bad luck) they were getting the most talented player in the entire draft. They were also getting a kid who might as well have had a giant red flag painted across his torso for all the trouble he’d been in since his High School days. In the end, he’s failed to disappoint on both fronts: He’s put up better numbers than anyone in that draft and found more ways to be suspended than, well, any player I can think of, ever. In less than they years, Cousins has already been suspended twice for arguing with coaches, once for menacing a broadcaster (yes, this really happened) and a couple more times for just being generally dickheaded.
Oh, and it gets better. After being sent home “indefinitely” for his lastest run-in with coach Keith Smart, he’s fired his agent and replaced him with Dan Fegan, the man who orchestrated Dwight Howard’s horribly botches escape from Orlando.
What a joke, and what a fine summary of what the Kings have been since the mid-2000’s.
Watch a Sacramento game, if you can stand to. Buncha dudes shooting from wherever, gettin’ theirs and shit. No defense, no chemistry, no real plan. Once a week they’ll win a game, if only because these are professional players and once in a while they’ll make alot of shots on a given night. otherwise, they are as hopeless as it gets in a sport where just one great player can change everything for you.
So what can you do? You can trade Cousins, but what exactly are you gonna get for a coach killing knucklehead who has no earthly idea how to lead, or win? Sixty cents on the dollar maybe, if only because some other team will gamble on being able to teach Cousins how to be an adult, especially after the miraculous recent maturation of Andray Blatche AND Javale McGee. And he is the most valuable trade chip they got.
You know what this team has going for it? Jimmer Fredette. No really, that’s about it. Playing about 13 minutes a game as the third string point guard and the only thing that even remotely qualifies as a draw or even a fan favorite in this town, (well, people do love them so Chuck Hayes, to be fair) Jimmer has to sit because he’s not better than Isiah Thomas or Aaron Brooks, who aren’t really good enough to start for a team going anywhere.Other than Jimmer, it’s a team full of negligible character dudes, marginal NBA players and guys being paid more than they are worth.
This team is fucked. Or was, as it turns out.
Now that they’ve been sold to a group that presumably doesn’t have their heads as far up their own asses as the Maloof’s do, there just might be hope after all. Sadly, the beneficiaries of such a turnaround will not be the long-suffering people of Sacramento, but the still-grieving fans of Seattle, who until recently were left to watch their old bride prosper in Oklahoma City, helpless to stop it. While their new spouse may be significantly less pretty, she’s still all theirs, so if nothing else there is hope where there was none before. For their part, the new owners already appear to have some real-heavy hitters in mind to run things, among them Phil Jackson and Larry Bird, and even if the chances of getting those guys are slim, it’s a good step in the right direction for a franchise that has been reduced to rubble by the buffoonery of those currently in charge. A team is only as good as the people running it, and if you were gonna spend what the new ownership has, you’d better be ready to get your money’s worth.
Still, it sucks to see a city lose it’s team, and it’s compounded by the undying loyalty they showed their mostly downtrodden Kings. As is always the case for the jilted, they deserved better than they are getting here.
So R.I.P., Kings of Sacramento. May your next trip be better than your last.