The last time the Sacramento Kings made the playoffs, George W. Bush was president, Lady Bird was 11 years away from romanticizing the city, and De’Aaron Fox was eight years old. In the 13 seasons since then, the franchise has done a whole lot of stuff, and unless it involved DeMarcus Cousins, rarely has it ever turned out to be good.
Mercifully, things have stabilized in Sac Town of late. After trading Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans in 2017 for Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans, and the Pelicans’ first-round pick in 2017, triggering an honest-to-god rebuild, the Kings have risen from the ashes of mediocrity to resemble a fairly enjoyable basketball team. That Pelicans first rounder landed at No. 10, which the Kings promptly traded out of for No. 15 and No. 20, which they used on Justin Jackson and Harry Giles, respectively. The two have become solid contributors off the bench. Hield led the Kings in scoring last season, averaging 20.7 points per game while shooting nearly 43 percent from deep. And Fox and Marvin Bagley III, the Kings successive lottery picks in 2017 and 2018, look to be franchise cornerstones for the foreseeable future.
The Kings finished 39-43 last season, and were in a legitimate race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference up until the final month of the season. They now find themselves in a strangely positive place, with close to $60 million in cap space and a roster a player or two away from making the playoffs for the first time since 2006. While Sacramento won’t be a player for any of the major free agents like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard, they have emerged as a sneaky suitor for a player that would fit seamlessly into their lineup: Al Horford.