2013 Sacramento Kings

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Sacramento Kings (Last Year: 28-54)

2012-13 Season Summary:
The Sacramento Kings were one of the more fascinating teams to follow in the NBA this past season … and not because of anything that happened on the floor. Mayor Kevin Johnson’s hard work paid off immensely as the franchise remains in Sacramento rather than heading north to Seattle. The team also has new ownership and a needed breath of fresh air as the Maloof Brothers finally sold the organization.

It is kind of depressing that the Kings won just 28 games this season yet it was their highest win total in five years. So what did we learn about one of the league’s most dysfunctional franchises that we didn’t already know? Not much.

DeMarcus Cousins is one of the more skilled big men in the league, but he still has maturity and selfishness issues that are preventing him from becoming an elite player. Tyreke Evans continues to regress after a phenomenal first year in the NBA. Isaiah Thomas was one of the biggest second-round steals of recent drafts, but is not a starting-caliber point guard on a playoff team. Nobody else on the roster is a long-term solution to help this franchise change course. The Spurs even gave up on their 2012 first-round pick, Thomas Robinson, who was selected fifth overall a year ago, by trading him away to Houston after just 51 games in Sacramento.

Most importantly though, the Sacramento Kings are remaining the Sacramento Kings and not becoming the Seattle SuperSonics. That is a monumental enough victory to make the Kings’ fan base forget about another abysmal season. Maybe?

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

C: DeMarcus Cousins/Chuck Hayes/Cole Aldrich

PF: Jason Thompson/Patrick Patterson

SF: John Salmons/^James Johnson/Travis Outlaw

SG: *Tyreke Evans/Marcus Thornton

PG: &Isaiah Thomas/Jimmer Fredette/#Toney Douglas

NBA Free Agents:

&PG-Isaiah Thomas (TO)

*SG-Tyreke Evans (RFA)

#PG-Toney Douglas (RFA)

^F-James Johnson (RFA)

PG-Aaron Brooks (UFA)

2013-14 Team Salary: Approximately $40.7 million

NBA Offseason Team Needs:

1. Leadership: It all starts at the top with the new owners and trickles down to team president and general manager Geoff Petrie, whose contract expires at the end of June and likely won’t be renewed. New head coach Mike Malone replaces Keith Smart and becomes the Kings third head coach in as many years.

All aspects must also improve on the court and in the locker room where the relatively young roster has yet to find any true chemistry or person able to become the undeniable leader. This typically takes some time with a young team, but guys like Evans or Cousins – the two best players on the roster – are nowhere near ready assuming these responsibilities.

2. Tyreke’s Future: After an outstanding rookie campaign, Tyreke Evans has taken a step back in each of the past three seasons. Once considered the future face of the franchise, the new ownership must now decide whether or not he is worth a long-term extension. With Evans being a restricted free agent, it does work in the Kings’ favor that some other team will have to sign him to an offer sheet first. At this point, I can’t see any franchise opening up its wallets to sign Evans to a huge deal. The likely scenario would involve him taking the nearly 7-million-dollar qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

3. Small Forward: The Kings haven’t had a true answer small forward since Ron Artest. They’ve juggled several different players into that position including Andres Nocioni, Omri Casspi, Donte Greene, Francisco Garcia, and more recently Evans and John Salmons. Nobody on Sacramento’s current roster plugs that hole for the long term, so the team should try to find a better option at the three.

4. True Point Guard: With Isaiah Thomas, Evans, and Jimmer Fredette; the Kings have plenty of guys capable of scoring from the point guard position, but no true distributor who creates for his teammates. Thomas led the team with a measly four assists per game and Sacramento ranked 25th in the league in team assists. Finding a point guard who can create for others and worry less about himself getting buckets should help the cause.

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