How Kings can make history making playoffs when NBA restarts season

How Kings can make history making playoffs when NBA restarts season

The Kings enter the restarted NBA season looking to make the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. No matter how odd the circumstances are, they'll take ending a 13-year drought.

If Sacramento does sneak into the postseason, history will be made.

As NBC Sports' NBA insider Tom Haberstroh explained in his latest "Haberstat," no team has reached the playoffs when trailing the No. 8 seed by more than 3.0 games after 65 regular-season games. Well, the Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns all are at least 3.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference. In the East, the Washington Wizards are 5.5 games back of the Orlando Magic. All six teams will be participating in the Orlando bubble.

Sine 2000, there were 44 teams between 3.5 and 6.0 games back of the No. 8 seed through 65 games. None made the playoffs. 

The Kings must either jump the Grizzlies or finish within 3 1/2 games of the final overall seed to force a play-in round with that team. Below is the Kings' eight-game schedule at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, starting July 31. 

Game No. 1 vs. San Antonio Spurs on Friday, July 31 at 5 p.m. PT
Game No. 2 vs. Orlando Magic on Sunday, Aug. 2 at 3 p.m. PT
Game No. 3 vs. Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, Aug 4 at 11:30 a.m. PT
Game No. 4 vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, Aug. 6 at 10:30 a.m. PT
Game No. 5 vs. Brooklyn Nets on Friday, Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. PT
Game No. 6 vs. Houston Rockets on Sunday, Aug. 9 at 5 p.m. PT
Game No. 7 vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. PT
Game No. 8 vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, Aug. 13 -- Time TBD

All Kings games will be broadcast in the Sacramento area, subject to territorial restrictions, on NBC Sports California.

The Blazers already have a leg up on the Kings, too. The NBA will use winning percentage to determine seeding, and Portland has played two more games than Sacramento. 

[RELATED: Where Kings' roster stands heading into Orlando restart]

Kings fans are hoping to party like it's 2006, which was the last time they made the playoffs. They're hoping for a better result, as the Kings lost to the Spurs in the first round that year. 

The Kings will have to get off to a hot start, but they soon can make history in the Most Magical Place On Earth. 

NBA rumors: Kings' Vlade Divac rejected shared role with Joe Dumars

NBA rumors: Kings' Vlade Divac rejected shared role with Joe Dumars

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive reportedly wanted a new voice to help Vlade Divac make roster decisions.

The now-former Kings general manager didn't like that idea, so he resigned from the position Friday.

The Athletic's Sam Amick reported Friday, citing sources, that Ranadive told Divac he wanted advisor Joe Dumars to share in the responsibilities of roster decisions for the Kings.

Divac, according to Amick's sources, had "zero interest" in a power share. He wanted full control of the roster decisions.

So, a day after the Kings returned from a disappointing eight-game NBA restart in Orlando, Fla., Divac stepped down.

Dumars will step in as the interim executive vice president of basketball operations, and spearhead the search for a new general manager of the Kings.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

But Dumars might not hire a new general manager right away.

Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill reported Friday, citing sources, that Dumars could use the 2020-21 NBA season to evaluate prospective candidates, meaning the Kings would go one year without an official GM.

The Kings, led by Dumars, now head into an offseason of uncertainty. Bogdan Bogdanovic is a restricted free agent. Kent Bazemore, Harry Giles, Alex Len, Yogi Ferrell and Corey Brewer are unrestricted free agents. Marvin Bagley just finished off an injury-riddled second NBA season. Buddy Hield signed a lucrative contract last year, but was moved to the second unit before the season was shut down in March.

[RELATED: Source: Walton safe as Kings coach for 2020-21 season]

And the Kings also have a lottery pick in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft.

So with no new GM reportedly coming for a while, all these decisions rest on Dumars, who Ranadivé wanted to have a voice in the room anyway.

Vlade Divac's Luka Doncic miss not only reason he's out as Kings GM

Vlade Divac's Luka Doncic miss not only reason he's out as Kings GM

Did the decision to not draft Luke Doncic in 2018 cost Vlade Divac his job as the Sacramento Kings' general manager?

The easy answer might be yes. But it’s a lot more complex than that.

There was a list of missteps and mistakes, dating to his first few months on the job, that Divac had been able to overcome until Friday, when he resigned.

His initial trade that sent Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry to the Philadelphia 76ers cost the Kings two draft swaps and their 2019 first-round pick. The payoff was a one-season rental of Rajon Rondo.

From that moment on, Divac made a series of decisions, most of which did not work out in his favor. His free-agent signings of players such as George Hill, Zach Randolph, Dewayne Dedmon and Trevor Ariza all were busts, but Divac was able to Houdini his way out of each of those deals.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Divac picking De’Aaron Fox No. 5 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft provided the Kings with a young star to build around, but he also selected Willie Cauley-Stein, Georgious Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissiere, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles in the first round.

The only player remaining on the team from that group is Giles, and even his time with the team likely is up after Divac decided not to pick up the big man's fourth-year option for next season.

For a small-market team like the Kings to succeed, it needs to hit home runs in the draft, make savvy moves in free agency and get lucky.

Divac found success in free agency with undervalued players such as Nemanja Bjelica and Richaun Holmes. His trades that landed players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Iman Shumpert, Kent Bazemore and Alex Len all worked out to some degree.

And even with all of these issues, the Kings, under Divac and coach Dave Joerger, were better than they'd been in over a decade last season. They ran teams off the court and were a joy to watch.

The Kings missed the playoffs, but their 39-43 record had them on the right path, although personality conflicts between Joerger and assistant GM Brandon Williams caused a rift behind the scenes.

Known for his ability to bring people together, Divac wasn’t able to mend fences. Instead of making a midseason move to separate one or the other, Divac allowed the situation to become cantankerous.

By season’s end, Divac decided to fire both, but in doing so, he set himself up for the situation the Kings are in now. Divac hired Luke Walton to replace Joerger without interviewing another candidate.

Walton might be a very good coach, but in having him teach a new system, with new terminology, the Kings lost their momentum from the previous season, and the identity of the team went out the window.

Now the Kings sit in a situation where the Memphis Grizzlies have passed them in the incredibly tough Western Conference. The Phoenix Suns also went 8-0 in the NBA bubble this month and look like a team on the rise.

It’s possible that the Kings will improve next season and take a leap in standings, but the road to snapping a 14-year NBA playoff drought looks even more difficult than ever.

All of these items added up, but at the end of the day, there's still that issue that Divac passed on Doncic.

Allowing Doncic to slip through the franchise’s fingers -- regardless of whom the Kings selected instead -- was a catastrophic move for a team that's always had a difficult time bringing in top-tier talent.

Divac had concerns about Doncic’s ability to play with Fox and also his position in the NBA.

His position doesn’t matter: Doncic is a flat-out superstar. Also, Fox would have figured out how to work with him, and the Kings would've had two young stars to build around.

[RELATED: Divac kept his word after Cousins trade, give or take 18 months]

The Kings still don’t know what they have in Marvin Bagley, the player Divac selected over Doncic, but that doesn’t matter. Doncic is a generational talent who just destroyed team after team in the bubble, and has his Dallas Mavericks set for a deep playoff run.

Divac is an exceptional human being. He’s funny and gregarious. He meant well, and there's no question the Kings are in a better place than when Divac took over five years ago.

in the end, that wasn’t enough.