Kings' six defining moments of 2010s as emotional decade comes to end

Kings' six defining moments of 2010s as emotional decade comes to end

The decade is coming to a conclusion and it has been a crazy 10 years in Sacramento. In many instances, basketball took a back seat to events happening off the court. Two full-blown relocation attempts, an ownership change and a shiny new building highlight the 2010’s.

It was a wild ride. Here is a look at the six moments that standout the most for the Sacramento Kings as we close the decade.

The Shot

The Sacramento Kings have plenty of game winners during the decade. De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and even Skal Labissiere have won games in the final moments of games. While they were all big shots, nothing compares to the buzzer beater from Tyreke Evans on Dec. 29, 2010.

With 1.5 seconds remaining, O.J. Mayo hit an off-balance runner from 20-feet out to give Memphis a 98-97 lead. DeMarcus Cousins fired an inbounds pass to Evans who took one dribble and fired from 50-feet away. Donté Green walked onto the court with his hands raised while the ball was still in the air heading for the hoop. The fans went wild as Evans jumped up on the scorer's table before being mobbed by his teammates.

It was an incredible moment for the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year and helped ring in the decade with a 100-98 win over a very good Grizzlies team.

Last Game in Sacramento?

2011 marked the first of two full blown relocation attempts by the Maloof family. After ownership worked out a deal to move the team to Anaheim, Mayor Kevin Johnson, the business leaders of Sacramento and the fans rallied against the Maloofs in an attempt to keep the team in Sacramento.

With the fate of the franchise undecided, April 13, 2011 marked the final game of the regular season and perhaps the last game in Sacramento Kings history. The Kings trailed the Los Angeles Lakers by 18 heading to the fourth and all seemed lost. The team rallied in the final minutes on big shots from Evans, Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson. The Kings had a lead late, but Kobe Bryant tied the game with a 3-pointer with under five seconds remaining to force overtime and give Sacramento five more minutes of basketball.

The Kings lost in overtime, but it was the most emotional night in team history. Commissioner David Stern sided with Sacramento. 19 days later on May 2, 2011, it was announced that the team was staying. The initial relocation attempts fired up the fanbase and spawned the #HereWeStay and #HereWeBuild movements.

First and Goal at the 1

It all started with a tweet from Daina Falk, daughter of agent David Falk. “So I hear the Seattle Kings is officially a done deal! The Maloofs finally sold the ailing Sacramento team. #NBA”

Falk’s tweet was confirmed a day later by Adrian Wojnarowski and once again, the Kings franchise was thrust into full-blown relocation.

It was a wild up and down few months in Sacramento. Hedge fund manager Chris Hansen worked out a deal to purchase the Kings and relocate the team to Seattle. The back-and-forth between fan bases became contentious. The news cycle never went cold. From Ron Burkle to Mark Mastrov to Vivek Ranadivé, it was whale watching season in Sacramento as the city searched for a new ownership group.

It all came to a conclusion on May 15, 2013, when Commissioner Stern once again sided with Sacramento and was able to transfer the ownership of the team away from the Maloofs and into the hands of Ranadivé’s group.

Arco closes, Golden 1 Center opens

In April of 2016, the Kings officially said goodbye to Arco Arena. The team moved into the building in 1988 and it had outlived viability at least a decade before they finally shut the doors following the last home game of the season. Sacramento bested the Oklahoma City Thunder by a final of 114-112 to send “The Old Barn” off as a winner.

In October of 2016, Ranadivé and his ownership group opened Golden 1 Center in the heart of downtown Sacramento. The state of the art arena hosted legendary rocker, Paul McCartney to open the building. The Kings played their first official game at G1C on Oct. 27, 2016, losing to the San Antonio Spurs by a final of 102-94.

The area surrounding Golden 1 Center has quickly developed around the arena and the area is hardly recognizable. In addition to being a world class venue that sees over 300 events a year, the building came with a 30-year lease that keeps the Kings in Sacramento for at least another three decades.

Cousins traded

On Feb. 19, 2017, DeMarcus Cousins sat on a stool at the Smoothie Kings Center in New Orleans waiting to speak to the media after the All-Star Game. Moments before the first question was asked, Kings media director Chris Clark leaned in and informed the 6-foot-11 center that news broke during the game that he was being traded to the Pelicans.

In his six and a half seasons in a Kings uniform, Cousins had plenty of run-ins with coaches, management, teammates, media members, opponents and referees. He also was tremendous in the Sacramento community and beloved by many fans. He left the Kings officially on Feb. 20 along with Omri Casspi in exchange for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, as well as a first- and second-round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft.

During his time with the Kings, Cousins made three All-Star appearances and won an Olympic gold medal.

Lottery night 2017

At the time of the Cousins trade, the Kings were in contention for the playoffs, but they quickly fell out of the race, finishing the year at 32-50. By dropping out of playoff contention, the Kings retained their draft pick, which was on its way to Chicago as part of the J.J. Hickson deal from 2011. The pick was top 10 protected and the team finished with the eighth-worst record in the NBA.

On May 16, 2017, Sacramento moved up into the top 3 of the NBA Draft for the first time since 1989, when they landed No. 1 overall and selected Pervis Ellison. After moving up, the team then slid back two spots as part of a pick swap deal from 2015.

[RELATED: Tom Haberstroh's predictions for 2020 All-Decade Team]

With the selection, the Kings chose De’Aaron Fox out of Kentucky, who is considered a cornerstone building block to the franchise. After decades of bad lottery luck, the Kings moved up in the 2018 NBA Draft as well, selecting Marvin Bagley with the No. 2 overall pick.

Why Luke Walton should go young, pull Kings starters to end NBA bubble

Why Luke Walton should go young, pull Kings starters to end NBA bubble

Is it time for the Kings to pull the plug on the Orlando bubble experience?

No, they can’t just pack up and leave Florida, but after being eliminated from playoff contention Sunday afternoon, the Kings are faced with playing two completely meaningless games.

Sacramento’s medical staff already has ruled starters De’Aaron Fox (shoulder soreness) and Richaun Holmes (hip soreness) out for Tuesday’s matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, but it might be time to clear the bench.

With training camp set for November, and Dec. 1 still being discussed as the beginning of the 2020-21 season, the Kings, as well as the Pelicans, need to shift their approach to player safety for the future.

That means sitting players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Cory Joseph, Harrison Barnes and Nemanja Bjelica, at least for much of the game.

On Sunday, coach Luke Walton said his squad hoped to play out the final games, but that was when elimination was a possibility, not a reality.

“With so much uncertainty, we don’t know when we’ll be playing again and these last three games are a great chance for us to continue to grow and to push,” Walton said. “We need to look at it as any other game.

"This is a great chance for us.”

[RELATED: Walton says Kings must 'feel that pain' after playoff elimination]

After losing to the Houston Rockets, this approach probably isn't appropriate or necessary. The chance of a player getting injured might not be extremely high, but if somehow it costs a veteran part of next season for a basic exhibition game, then the decision will have been a complete disaster.

The Kings brought a full roster. Yogi Ferrell deserves to show NBA teams that he can still play, despite being out of the rotation for most of the season. Justin James needs time on the court to develop, as does two-way player Kyle Guy.

DaQuan Jeffries has been a breath of fresh air for Sacramento, but like Guy, he’s on a two-way contract. Let him play 48 minutes if need be. Every minute is crucial for evaluating and building his level of experience.

Walton will need a few minutes from some of his veterans just to get the party started, but this should be development time, especially when you consider that the NBA standings for non-playoff teams was set on March 11 and wins and losses will not change how many lottery balls the Kings get on Aug. 20.

This isn’t tanking. This is the reality of the final two games of the 2019-20 season. They have zero value and the possibility, no matter how remote, of a player getting injured, should outweigh any other priority.

NBA power rankings: Where 22 teams stand with seeding games concluding

NBA power rankings: Where 22 teams stand with seeding games concluding

We’re into the final week of the restart, which looks a lot like the final week of any other season. Teams locked into their seed are going easy on the regulars. Those still jockeying play roster games and watch scoreboards. Those going nowhere make vacation plans at halftime.

It’s where are, though, and it’s intriguing. Four very different teams are waging a fierce battle for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, and that’s the action we need while approaching the finish line.

With apologies to the eight teams not invited to the bubble, we present the Power Rankings of the 22 squads in attendance:

View NBA Power Rankings here