After the trade deadline, once all the dust settled, there was one team more than the rest that I was excited about: the Sacramento Kings. I know what you’re thinking, but I’m not crazy. Despite Sacramento’s 13-48 record in the Western Conference, there is more than Kevin Johnson to be excited about in Sac-Town.
Think about it. Just weeks ago this team was miserable with a couple big salaries on the roster of players they had no desire to have, and now the forever documented “youth movement” is on in full effect and the Kings are primed to become players once again. If I had to find one team to compare them to, it would be Miami.
While the Heat used to be dominant and won the ‘chip back in 2006, they basically had to start over around D-Wade and find working pieces that could go around him. Last year they lucked out in the draft by picking up Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers, too key contributors to a team that sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, while many believed the Heat wouldn’t even make the playoffs.
For the Kings, the Draft this June has the potential to add a couple key components much like Miami did last year. Slated to have the No. 1, No. 24 and No. 31 picks, the Kings can address many issues and potentially trade one pick for a more well-established player that fits their system.
With a core of Kevin Martin, Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes, the Ws seem closer than many think. Plus, after buying out Drew Gooden on Sunday, the Kings clearly want their young bigs (Thompson, Francisco Garcia and Donte Greene) to get as much PT as possible. Don’t believe me? According to the Sacramento Bee, “Thompson’s name was mentioned in trade rumors last month in talks with the Suns for Amar’e Stoudemire, but Sacramento reportedly wasn’t interested in moving the rookie averaging 10.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season.”
Wow. That’s a lot of confidence for a rook out of Rider, but at 6-11 and 250 pounds, the Kings may have found a diamond in the rough. But don’t think this happened overnight. Kings GM Geoff Petrie has drafted well for years. Look at some of the talent : Thompson (2008), Hawes (2007), Garcia (2005), Martin (2004), Gerald Wallace (2001), Hedo Turkoglu (2000), Jason Williams (1998) and Peja Stojakovic (1996). It’s no surprise that he’s won the NBA Executive of the Year Award twice.
But what now? Beno Udrih has proven himself to be an NBA point guard (when he’s healthy), but I’d like him more as a backup, as expensive as that may be. The Kings need a Rajon Rondo or a Russell Westbrook or even a Jerryd Bayless type of player to really take them to the next level and run the offense to its maximum potential. I’m sorry, but Bobby Jackson just isn’t that guy. In the Draft, I’m thinking St. Mary’s Patty Mills (he’s already got local fans) or VCU’s Eric Maynor (if he’s still around). Either one would be a classic Petrie pick.
Also, I like the additions of Andres Nocioni, Rashad McCants, Will Solomon and Ike Diogu. All hard-nosed guys who really just needed a new situation to get back on track. Of all four, Nocioni will get the most PT, but if McCants can somehow channel his days at UNC, look for him to be a solid contributor.
In the end though, it all hinges on their next coach. While Kenny Natt has done a good job with what he’s had to work with, I don’t necessarily know if he’s the right coach for the future. At the same time, I don’t really know who is. The Kings are just 7-30 since he took over for Reggie Theus in mid-December, but according to the Sacramento Bee, they have already secured the option of keeping Natt next season for just under $2 million on a one-year contract, and have until May 1 to decide whether or not to pick it up.
What are you thoughts on the future of the Kings?