SACRAMENTO -- The 2016-17 NBA season ended the same way the previous 10 had for the Sacramento Kings - 82 games and nothing more. Following the Kings' 115-95 loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles Wednesday night, both head coach Dave Joerger and vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac held a formal press conference at Golden 1 Center to wrap up the campaign.
Despite the drama of the season, including the All-Star weekend trade of center DeMarcus Cousins, Joerger and Divac presented a united front as cameras rolled.
“I thought we were pretty tight anyway,” Joerger said of his relationship with Divac. “You’re going to go through things and us being together and rock solid from day one has been very good.”
Divac was asked specifically about the Cousins trade and whether or not he had any regrets after the Kings 32-50 finish to the season.
“I was very confident with what I’m doing and a lot of people saw it in the last 20 games, we’re in the direction we really want to be,” Divac said. “Excitement. A young team that develops every day, every game moving forward. It’s a bright future.”
The focus of the conversation was mostly on the youth movement the Kings are currently undergoing. With four 2016 first-round selections on the roster and as many as four rookies scheduled to come aboard this summer, Joerger had to shift his priorities from a coach to a teacher.
“Coach did a great job, I’m so happy and so proud of him the way he coached those kids,” Divac said. “See them everyday improve a little bit, we just had exit interviews with those guys and it’s so exciting there.”
After setting expectations high with playoff talk the previous three seasons, only to come up short, the team is taking a realistic approach as they bring along the young core.
“I want to measure how they improve, obviously, I can say in the last 20 games, our kids improved so much,” Divac said. “We want to continue to do that. We know this is a process and we are going in the right direction.”
Neither Divac, nor Joerger would talk about draft, free agency or the fate of veteran players. They spoke glowingly about the youth of the team. Both were clear that they and they wouldn’t mind seeing Rudy Gay return and the door is open to plenty of the team’s other veteran free agent players.
As far as the front office goes, Divac is in control, but he is willing to add more pieces in the right situation.
“We’re open always to improve - the team, the front office, everything is open for improvement,” Divac said. “I’m very happy and confident in what we have right now, but like I said, we should be open if something can make you better.”
The Kings will now turn all of their attention to the NBA Draft. They will attend the draft combine in Chicago in May and there are plans to bring prospects through Sacramento closer to the draft in June.
It’s another season in the books in Sacramento. The mood around the team is positive and the early returns on their youth movement is solid. Expect the team to be extremely active as they try to reshape the roster from the ground up.