Kings

How Kings went from NBA playoffs in 2006 to possible return in 2019

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AP/USATSI

How Kings went from NBA playoffs in 2006 to possible return in 2019

The golden age of Kings basketball began in the strike-shortened 1998 season, with Geoff Petrie using every option at his disposal to build something special.

It all began with the hiring of coach Rick Adelman. After landing his longtime friend and former teammate, Petrie set his sights on rebuilding a franchise that had very limited success since moving to Sacramento before the 1985-86 season.

Petrie’s first move was to trade for talented but underachieving Chris Webber in May 1998. He followed that move with a series of transactions that set the Kings on a new path.

In that elongated offseason, Petrie drafted Jason Williams; talked Vlade Divac, Jon Berry and Vernon Maxwell into signing as free agents; grabbed Scot Pollard off the scrap heap and brought Peja Stojakovic over from Europe.

It was a complex grouping of moves that led to eight years of beautiful basketball. Not every transaction was for the long term. Petrie morphed the roster year by year to stay competitive, culminating in one final playoff run during the 2005-06 season.

Only one player remained from the original squad when the '05-06 season began, but even he wouldn’t make it through the season. After setting the career mark for most games played in a Sacramento uniform, Stojakovic was dealt to the Indiana Pacers for Ron Artest.

It was Petrie’s last ditch effort to keep the run alive, and like so many other moves by the former Princeton star, it worked out one last time.

When Petrie traded for Artest, the Kings were just 17-24 on the season. They went to win that night in a double-overtime thriller over the New York Knicks, despite playing short-handed.

In his final hurrah as Kings coach, Adelman pieced together an incredible second half run. Led by Artest and a bizarre mix, Adelman’s group went 27-14 after the trade to finish the season 44-37.

Sacramento squeezed into the playoffs as the eighth seed. Led by Bonzi Wells’ incredible play and strong performances from Artest, Mike Bibby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Brad Miller and second-year guard Kevin Martin, the Kings gave the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs all they could handle in a wild six-game series.

In a dispute with ownership, Adelman walked away following the season, joining the Houston Rockets over the summer of 2006 where he pushed his personal playoff streak to 10 in a row.

His departure marked the end of an incredible run for Sacramento. The franchise hasn’t made it back to the playoffs since, a stretch of 12 seasons coming into this one.

When it all falls down

It all fell apart quickly for the Kings. Wells turned down a massive contract extension offer from Petrie over the summer and was out of the league two years later. Bibby was dealt at the '07-08 trade deadline, and the Artest experiment lasted another two seasons in Sacramento before he was shipped to Houston.

Petrie continued to gamble on mid-level players trying to keep the run going, but without Adelman running the squad, the team fell to 33 wins in '06-07 under Eric Musselman. Reggie Theus took over the team for the '07-08 season, posting 38 wins, but he was replaced in his second season after compiling a 6-18 record to start the year.

Kenny Natt, Paul Westphal, Keith Smart, Michael Malone, Tyrone Corbin and George Karl all held the head coach position in Sacramento before the team finally settled in on Dave Joerger before the '16-17 season.

Where are they now?

All remnants are gone from the '05-06 season.

The Maloof family sold its ownership stake to Vivek Ranadivé following the '12-13 season. Petrie was replaced by Pete D’Alesandro before the 2013 NBA Draft and hasn’t returned to the game since.

Not a single player from the team still is in the league, although a few of them make their way through Sacramento on occasion.

Stojakovic currently works as an assistant general manager for the Kings under Divac. He’s part of the group that’s helped revitalize the franchise.

Miller can be seen sitting courtside a few times per year wearing his signature Chicago Cubs hat. Kenny Thomas is a restaurateur in the revitalized area surrounding Golden 1 Center.

Bibby has found success coaching high school basketball in Arizona. Corliss Williamson is on the coaching staff of the Phoenix Suns, and Vitaly Potapenko is an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After a stint in the Kings' front office and stops in Atlanta and with the NBA, Abdur-Rahim is the president of the G League.

Artest, who repeatedly has changed his name, now goes by Metta World Peace and works as a development coach for the South Bay Lakers of the G League.

Wells has had struggles with heart issues, but he can be seen playing in the Big3.

Martin retired as a Spur following the 2015-16 season at just 32 years old and, like former teammate Francisco Garcia, has laid low in his post-basketball life.

Even Adelman stepped away from the game following an incredible 23-year career as an NBA coach following the 2013-14 season. He tallied a career 1,042-749 record in stops in Portland, Golden State, Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota.

Push for the playoffs

It’s been a brutal 12-season stretch for the Kings. Theus' 38 wins is the pinnacle, with a low of 17 wins coming the following season. Including this season, the team is just 366-659 (35.7 win percentage) since the '05-06, and it hasn't even come close to a playoff berth.

With the team sitting at 30-27 coming out of the All-Star break, and just one game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings, there is a renewed hope for the future in Sacramento.

This might be the squad to break the dubious streak and move the Kings into a new era of success. Unlike Petrie’s renditions, this is a team filled with top-tier draft picks and a light sprinkling of veterans.

[RELATED: NBA Power Rankings 2019: Standing of every team at All-Star break]

Divac's decisions to add Harrison Barnes and Alec Burks at the deadline tell the team and everyone involved that the franchise is focused on one objective -- winning.

If anything, these Kings have the feel of a team on the rise, not some mystical group plucked from the sky like the '98-99 squad, and certainly unlike the one taped together for one last run like in '05-06.

What does Anthony Davis trade mean for Sacramento Kings offseason plan?

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USATI

What does Anthony Davis trade mean for Sacramento Kings offseason plan?

SACRAMENTO -- The wild wild west.

With the strong smell of the Golden State Warriors’ blood fresh in the water, at least one team is shooting their shot.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired star center Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans Saturday evening for a package of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and three first round picks, including the third overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft.

It’s an interesting package for Davis, who has missed plenty of time over his NBA career due to a myriad of physical ailments. The six-time All-Star played just 55 games this season, although it was more a precautionary move by the Pelicans after Davis’ representation made a trade demand prior to the All-Star break.

Ball has yet to established himself in the league after being selected by the Lakers with the second overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. He’s missed a total of 63 games in two seasons and his shooting woes are monumental.

Hart is a solid rotational player with upside, but he’ll likely be lost in a crowded backcourt in New Orleans with Ball, Ingram and veteran Jrue Holiday. His addition in the deal also puts Elfrid Payton’s return in question after a solid season for the Pelicans.

Ingram is a wild card. He had a breakout 2018-19 season, posting 18.3 points and 5.1 rebounds for the Lakers. But a late season blood clot cost him time and is a concern moving forward.

What does this all mean for the Sacramento Kings?

The Pelicans are starting over with a young core, which includes Zion Williamson, the top overall selection in the upcoming draft. They lose a star, but they can reload quickly, especially if they can move the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft for another major piece.

After winning 33 games last season, there is a good chance the Pelicans take a step backwards next year. They have a young core to build around and a veteran in Holiday, but contending for a playoff spot won’t be easy next season.

Los Angeles is swinging for the fences. At 34 years old, LeBron James is getting long in the tooth by NBA standards. By adding Davis, while retaining Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers put themselves back on the map and changed their age arc considerably.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka also has somewhere between $27-32 million to play with in free agency, which is a good thing because his roster is filled with holes.

Expect LA to add substantial peices around James, Davis and Kuzma. They will come into the season as championship contenders and a tough divisional matchup for the Kings.

The Pacific Division just became a lot more difficult, which isn’t good news for Sacramento, although the Warriors are likely to slip from their perch.

Golden State has two major free agent pieces in Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. Thompson is likely to return on a max money contract, but an ACL injury in Game 6 has him missing most, if not all of the season.

Durant is out for next season with a ruptured Achilles. He could still opt in for $31.5 million next season while he rehabs. Whether Durant returns or not, the Warriors are still over the cap and are likely to take a substantial step backward, at least next season.

Sacramento has a young core in place and a $38 million to spend in free agency. There is an opportunity to improve their roster greatly with the right move this summer, but their rise in the standings still depends on the growth of players like De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley.

This group needs more help and this isn’t an offseason for the Kings to sit on their hands. Even before the Davis trade, Vlade Divac hoped to upgrade the center position. Now that the Kings play against the Lakers and their new star big four times a year, the position becomes even more important.

The Kings have high hopes for this season, including playoff aspirations. They can’t completely base their summer plans off of what happens with the Warriors or Lakers or any other team, but it’s clear one team in the Pacific Division just became a major player and Sacramento needs to do the same.

Former NBA player turned Kings scout Predrag Drobnjak stops by Sacramento

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AP

Former NBA player turned Kings scout Predrag Drobnjak stops by Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- The NBA draft process is entering its final week, and that means it’s time for the Kings to call all of their scouts back from afar and whittle the list to a handful of prospects for pick Nos. 40, 47 and 60.

During Wednesday’s workout, former player-turned-European scout Predrag Drobnjak was seated courtside next to longtime friends Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic. Following the workout, he hit the floor, took some shots and showed off some of his old moves.

In his playing days, Drobnjak was known for his ability to knock down a long-range shot, and in Seattle, he became a bit of a cult hero for his television ads, which still can be found hidden deep on the internet.

There used to be an entire website devoted to Drobnjak and the Drobnjak Manjaks. Unfortunately, it no longer is available.