No one was ever going to hand the Kings a playoff berth. No one feels bad for Sacramento that their team hasn’t made the postseason in 13 years. No one is going to feel bad if that streak hits 14.
This is the NBA and the summer of 2019 has digressed into one giant game of musical chairs. If the Kings are going to grab one of the coveted seats at the table, it will be due to the evolution of their young players.
Nothing has changed from the moment the season ended and nothing really changed late Friday evening when the Los Angeles Clippers made a huge power move to steal Kawhi Leonard from the Toronto Raptors and then add Paul George as his wingman.
In a league filled with stars, the Kings have to build the old fashion way - through the draft. They don’t have the ability to land a Leonard or an Anthony Davis on the open market. They didn’t even get to the finish line with a 33-year-old Al Horford.
Despite measures to even the playing field, being a small market team in the NBA still has its limitations. The Kings have done their best to create a culture where players would like to play and they have attracted quality veterans to support their developing team.
There still is a value in growing from the ground up. Continuity is key in the league and it appears the Kings are on an upward arc. After posting 39 wins a season ago, they have a vision for what is next and they shouldn’t be deterred by the improvements of others.
For every Clippers club making a giant move, there is an Oklahoma City team that just hit the reset button and now is looking to the future.
For every Lakers team, there is a Golden State Warriors franchise that will walk into next season without Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, DeMarcus Cousins and Klay Thompson.
If anyone believes the Warriors will be just fine with D’Angelo Russell and Willie Cauley-Stein as replacements, they aren’t being honest with themselves.
Superteams will rise and fall. The real danger to a team like the Kings comes from the improvements of the young teams around them.
The Dallas Mavericks have an opportunity to be better this season. Eventually, the New Orleans Pelicans will get there as well. These are the teams the Kings need to stay ahead in the chase for the postseason.
There is a window that is coming when a 34-year-old LeBron James won’t be able to dominate as he has for the last decade and a half. The time is also coming for the Warriors and the Thunder and it’s already consuming the San Antonio Spurs.
This is the nature of professional sports. The swapping of pieces at the top should never matter for a team like the Kings, just like it doesn’t for the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers or Utah Jazz.
These are franchises that have to look at the long game and focus on the development from within. Finding a star always is a possibility, but creating an environment where they can retain these players is paramount.
In the NBA July 5 had more fireworks than Independence Day. But eventually, the bright flashes fade and every team is faced with the totality of their roster and where they sit in the pecking order of the league.
No one is going to win 82 games. It’s extremely unlikely that one of these star-ladened teams even will chase the Warriors' record of 73.
The key for a team like the Kings is to stay the course and pray that their young core continues to trend upwards. The rest is just a lot of noise from the outside.