George Karl hasn’t wasted anytime smearing his fingerprints all over the Sacramento Kings. He’s been actively trying to trade DeMarcus Cousins, one of maybe a handful of supremely talented centers around the NBA. But he isn’t stopping there. Karl is apparently anxious to retrofit his entire roster, and swingman Rudy Gay is next up on the chopping block, despite just signing a three-year, $40 million extension that kicks in next season.
On the one hand, moving Gay could make sense. It’s a relatively modest contract — especially given the way the salary cap will increase once the TV money kicks in after next season — that could help the Kings get what they want, i.e. cap space to sign the veterans Karl apparently wants to bring on. One of those appears to be Rajon Rondo who, according to a report from Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, shares a mutual interest with the Kings.
“Sacramento is motivated to find a way to create more salary-cap space with possible deals, something that the Kings will need to pursue Dallas Mavericks free-agent point guard Rajon Rondo, league sources said. The Kings and Rondo have a mutual interest, with Rondo intrigued with the idea of a potential one-year deal in Sacramento that could help to rebuild his league-wide value, sources said.”
The problem in Sacramento is that nobody seems to be on the same page. V.P. Vlade Divac and owner Vivek Ranadive have both said that Cousins isn’t available, but that flies in the face of numerous reports that Karl has insisted on moving Cousins out of town.
Even if it’s true that the front office wants to keep Cousins, their relationship would presumably be beyond repair at this point. The Kings promptly fired Mike Malone just 24 games into last season while Cousins was sidelined with viral meningitis, this despite the fact that Malone was the first coach to truly connect with the surly big man. To make matters worse, Cousins had to find out about it in the media.
He also had to find out from teammates that Karl has allegedly been back-channeling among them in an effort to form alliances against him. Keeping Cousins in town and forcing the two to work together is an endeavor that is destined to end badly for everyone involved. And bringing in Rondo — who had a very public falling out with Rick Carlisle in Dallas — adds a dangerous dose of volatility to the mix.
Karl is also apparently anxious to trade their number six pick in Thursday’s draft in an effort to bring on more veterans. This is yet another disconnect with the front office, as it’s been rumored that Divac wants to retain the pick and possibly draft 6-foot-5 point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who’ll likely still be available by that point. It’s a move that would make much more sense if the Kings want to look toward the future, but all evidence points to Karl stubbornly and shortsightedly wanting to win now.
And even if they do land Rondo, it’d likely be on a one-year deal that would ostensibly be little more than an effort to rehabilitate his sullied image around the league after things derailed so spectacularly in Dallas. They’d run the risk of losing him next summer, particularly if he doesn’t mesh well with Boogie, which isn’t a far-fetched idea. They would then find themselves back at square one. But then again, nothing the Kings have done lately makes a whole lot of sense.