Oh man, the Kings. Has any team had a more confusing and ridiculous 18 months? They went from almost firing George Karl, to fining and suspending their malcontent star player DeMarcus Cousins, to almost firing George Karl again, to finally ending their season and- firing George Karl.
There has been no stability in Sacramento for far too many years now. They’ve landed an objectively great player in Cousins and have done absolutely nothing to help him succeed.
Perhaps this summer will bring the beginnings of change. The Kings have a new, young head coach in Dave Joerger who has a proven track record of success. If Joerger can get players to buy in the way he did in Memphis Sacramento will be well on its way to turning it around.
Outside of Cousins, though, there isn’t a whole lot to like about this roster. Willie Cauley-Stein, last year’s first round pick, showed flashes of elite roll-man potential and his defense was solid, but it will likely only get harder to play him with Cousins in the modern NBA. The Rajon Rondo experiment was largely a failure- Rondo spent the entire season chasing as many assists as possible and doing whatever he wanted (nothing, most of the time) on defense. That kind of poor effort from a point guard can trickle down the roster. The Kings need to find tough, team-first players who will commit to Joerger’s strategies and execute them well.
The Kings do have a relatively clean cap sheet and it could get even cleaner if they manage to move either of Kosta Koufos or Rudy Gay. They can’t give up a future asset to do so, however, so it may be harder. Though they do have max cap space, it’s hard to see the Kings being a real player in free agency thanks to their front office turmoil the past couple seasons.
Picking 9th in the draft, the Kings will get another young player, but it’s unlikely to be someone who really moves the needle. Sacramento definitely needs to find its point guard of the future, but Kris Dunn is likely to be gone and they may not want to reach. A young raw prospect like Marqueese Chris would be intriguing, but the Kings probably need more help on the wing than in the front court.
Ultimately, though, the future of the Kings depends on Boogie Cousins. Cousins is a phenomenally talented player who has been placed in a terrible situation. Granted some, if not many, of his own actions have made that situation terrible, but the Kings’ brass has done little to help him. Old habits die hard; can Cousins break his and turn his career and the Sacramento franchise around?