Kings

Kings still have path to NBA playoffs, if all these things happen

Kings still have path to NBA playoffs, if all these things happen

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings were never going to go 20-0. Every team loses games down the stretch. It’s the way the schedule works. It’s the way the NBA works.

With another heartbreaking loss Wednesday evening, the Kings’ chances of making the postseason took a hit, but more like a knockdown in the third round of a 12-round fight than a KO.

Sacramento wasn’t expected to beat the Celtics, even with Kyrie Irving sitting out. Just like they weren’t expected to beat the Nuggets, Warriors, Bucks and Clippers.

If they are going to make up ground on the San Antonio Spurs, they need to steal a game or two from the tough-game category. But with 18 games remaining on the schedule, there is still a path to the postseason for Sacramento.

The Next Four Games

The Kings hit the road for a four-game trip beginning Saturday in New York. While they beat the Knicks on Monday, this game has a scheduling challenge the Kings will need to overcome. The game is slated for a 9 a.m. PT start. Regardless of time, it’s a must-win for Sacramento.

Following the battle at Madison Square Garden, the Kings hop on a short flight to Washington where they’ll face a struggling Wizards team. Like New York, this is a must-win game against a team that currently sits 10 games under .500.

After two days off, the Kings play a difficult back-to-back against the Celtics and 76ers on the road. They’ve shown the ability to bring the Celtics to the brink. With time to prepare, they need to find a way to get over the hump.

In their only other matchup with the Sixers this season, the Kings came away with a 115-108 victory at Golden 1 Center. This is the second night of a back-to-back and Philly looks like a team ready to make a run in the postseason.

For a successful trip, the Kings need to win three out of four and at worst split the trip.

Potential Record: 35-33

The Magnificent 7

Following the four-game road trip, the Kings enter a lull in the schedule. While plenty of these teams are playing better than their record, we are about to hit the chase for lottery balls. Beginning with a four-game homestand, Sacramento faces the Bulls, Nets, Mavericks and Suns. Only the Nets have a winning record and they are just a game over .500.

Chicago is 6-4 over their previous 10 games and the addition of Otto Porter is a good fit, but this is a stretch where the Kings need to ride the home crowd and come away with four victories.

Following the game against the Suns, the Kings play the next night in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Two weeks ago, this game would have had major implications for both teams. Now the Lakers have fallen in the pit of despair.

Sacramento travels to Dallas and then New Orleans. Both of these are winnable games against sub-.500 teams.

If ever there was a chance for a late season, seven-game win streak, this is it. If the Kings falter in even one of these games, the road to the playoffs becomes treacherous at best.

Potential Record: 42-33/41-34

The Stretch

Following the seven crucial winnable games, coach Dave Joerger and his staff will face an impossible decision. They’ll hit Houston, followed by a back-to-back in San Antonio. Sacramento’s lost both matchups this season to the Rockets by a combined 46 points. It’s a tough matchup to say the least.

Joerger could see how his team comes out early and if it goes south in the first 24 minutes, pull the plug. He could also rest his starters for the next night in what could prove to be the biggest game of the season. With the Kings chasing the Spurs in the standings, a win in San Antonio is the only option for Sacramento.

The Kings return from their five game trip to face the Rockets again, followed by the Cavaliers. If they want to lay it all on the line against Houston, the second matchup is a better option. Cleveland is 16-49 on the season and staring dreamily at the Duke Blue Devils roster for salvation.

Sacramento finishes out the final three games of the season in Utah, at home against the Pelicans and on the road in Portland. The Kings are 1-2 against the Jazz and 1-1 versus the Blazers this season. With playoff positioning coming to a conclusion, they may catch one or both of these teams resting players.

The Kings need to beat the Spurs, Cavs and Pelicans and sneak out at least one win from the Rockets, Jazz and Trail Blazers.

Potential Record: 46-36/45-37

Conclusion

The Kings have been living by the “one game at a time” mentality for most of the season. With their margin of error almost completely gone, that theme must carry through the final 18 games.

Sacramento has one of the easiest remaining schedules with a win percentage of .460. They currently trail the Spurs by four games, but San Antonio has played two more games than Sacramento. The Kings trail by just three games in the loss column with the tie breaker already clinched.  

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It won’t be easy, but if the Kings take care of the games they should win, beat the Spurs in San Antonio and steal a game or two from other playoff bound teams, they still have a shot to make the postseason.

They could use a little help from the Spurs, who have rattled off four straight wins. The Clippers could fall on hard times as well, but they hold a tiebreaker over the Kings, so Sacramento would need to finish with a better record.

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.