The writing was on the wall when the Kings dropped an overtime thriller to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. When Sacramento fell flat on their face against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, elimination was just a matter of time.
Before the Kings could get to halftime in Sunday’s matchup against the Houston Rockets, the news hit that the Portland Trail Blazers had officially knocked both Sacramento and the New Orleans Pelicans out of NBA playoff contention.
This is what happens when you don’t come out and play with intensity and force in each and every game. The Kings stumbled out of the gate against a beatable Spurs team to open the NBA restart. They didn’t show up at all in Game 2 against the Orlando Magic.
By the time the Kings found their rhythm in their lone victory against the Pelicans, they were already teetering on the edge of elimination.
Fans are angry over their team’s performance. They have been turning to social media calling for the replacement of both general manager Vlade Divac and head coach Luke Walton.
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Is an overhaul in the works? Not the last time we checked in, but that was before a complete collapse in Orlando.
Divac signed an extension last summer, which coincides with the four-year contract the team signed with Walton. In a normal summer, there would be time to potentially replace both, but this isn’t normal.
The NBA Draft lottery, where the Kings currently sit in 12th place, is set for August 20. Teams will have less than two months to prepare for the Oct. 16 NBA draft, but also free agency, which begins on Oct. 18.
Teams will have to assemble their rosters on the fly because training camps start in early November for a December 1 2020-21 season start.
In addition to a tight time frame, there is also the issue that the Kings, like every other franchise in the NBA, is hemorrhaging money. It’s not just that fans aren’t allowed in for games. There hasn’t been a concert at Golden 1 Center since March 11. The losses are in the tens, if not, hundreds of millions at this point.
Should the Kings pay out three plus years on both Divac and Walton’s contracts? That’s a heavy question.
The team was playing very well when the season went on hiatus. While the performance in the bubble has been nothing short of embarrassing, Sacramento isn’t the only team to struggle.
Can you trust Divac to handle extensions for Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox? Can he retain Kent Bazemore, Alex Len or Harry Giles in free agency? Can he pull off a trade that makes the team better and clears up some of the contract log jam the Kings now created?
Will Walton’s system look better with a regular training camp and his team already understanding not only his terminology, but his playbook after a second year on the job?
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There are no easy answer to these questions, just like there are no quick fixes that magically make this team considerably better between now and December 1.
Sacramento has chosen a path. Deviating from that path with so little time is a huge gamble. Staying the course might be as well.
The future is uncertain. The only thing we know for sure is that the Sacramento Kings will miss the playoffs for the 14th consecutive season.