A gargantuan crisis. The Kings are immersed in it, desperately searching for a lost identity that no one remembers anymore, and they have chained one failure after another since, in 2006, they played the playoffs for the last time in their history. The Sacramento team, a city that understands basketball, has not returned to the finals since., and lives the biggest active drought, one in which they have been left alone after the Wolves sneaked into the playoffs in 2018 in extremis, to achieve a small success that served alone (the sports dynamic, with Tom Thibodeau at the fore , changed little or nothing) to end a 13-year drought with no playoffs (since 2004, with Kevin Garnett leading). The Kings already have 15; and they add, add, add … they do not stop collecting absences, as if they were paid for it. Last year they were left out up to two times (metaphorically): one pre-covid, in which they were more out than in, and another in the bubble, with five defeats in six games despite that play-in invention, which It gave everyone options except a few Kings who fail no matter how many possibilities they have.
In 2006, the last year that the Kings played the playoffs, Rick Adelman was the coach and Mike Bibby the last redoubt of that team that dreamed of the ring from 2001 to 2004, but could not, nor in his most glorious stage, win a seventh game that he lost three consecutive times. In 2002, in the West finals against the Lakers, in one of the best series in history; in 2003 and 2004, in the semifinals, against the Mavericks and Timberwolves respectively. The project was diluted as the old glories were distributed to other teams (Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Doug Christie, Bobby Jackson, Pedja Stojakovic …) and Bibby lasted until 2006 together with Adelman, the maker of a revolutionary system that used tall men as distributors and it was based on a suffocating attack and an absolutely attractive game that became the birthplace of basketball. The Greatest Show On The Court, defined like this with Jason Williams, survived the departure of White Chocolate and remained with a Bibby who was the soul of a team remembered with an especially great affection for the few rings that he conquered.
Not a trace remains of that template; nor about the feelings he produced in a hobby that had an extraordinary connection with its players. The Kings got it all but the ring, but they couldn’t rebuild and they’ve been drowning in a bit they’re unable to get out of 15 years after being eliminated against the Spurs in six tough meetings. Adelman then went underground and then the Rockets; Bibby held out until 2007-08 and went to Atlanta, but did not regain the level that led him to be one of the best players in history to never play the All Star. And Brad Miller, Ron Artest and all those players who lived their moments of glory in Sacramento left or they reissued them later in the future, as is the case of Artest, who played glory in the Lakers. And after farewell to the project, came the salute to the dubious honor that will culminate this season, when their non-dispute of the playoffs becomes effective: 15 seasons without contesting the final phase, a record held by some Clippers who achieved it from 1976 to 1991. They opened it as Buffalo Braves, went through San Diego and closed it in Los Angeles, with the tight-fisted Donald Sterling and his nefarious management at the helm.
That’s the Kings’ record, a dubious honor that’s actually a disaster. The Wolves stayed at 13 and the Suns are going to break a streak that has reached double digits this year. Everyone, sooner or later, has dodged the summit that the Clippers conquered. When Adelman announced his departure that distant May 19, 2006, the Kings had two first-round eliminations. and eight consecutive years stepping into the playoffs, all with him at the helm. In between, five records that exceeded 50 victories, all in a row, and one, that of 2001-02 (the great opportunity), with 61, the record in the history of the franchise. After his departure (and that of his figure and everything he represented) 15 seasons have arrived, not only without the absence of qualifying rounds for the title, but also with negative records. Total, 10 coaches have passed through the Californian benches, and not even big names like George Karl They have managed to straighten out a franchise that has experienced bad players, but also good ones: DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Rajon Rondo or Rudy Gay are just a few examples. The other, in this course, is that of a better squad, a priori, than many of those in front of them.
From the bench to the offices: everything wrong with the Kings
The Kings have weighed on two things in recent years. The first, the choice of Marvin Bagley II (who does not defend, or post … or anything) ahead of Luka Doncic in the draft, something that was never forgiven a Vlade Divac who has been in the offices the opposite of what he represented on the track as a reference. The manager left last summer with a very great responsibility, but the new tricks have been for nothing despite the promising team they have in Sacramento: De’Aaron Fox is homeless, Buddy Hield does everything and people like Harrison Barnes, that scapegoat for the Warriors defeat in 2016, contributes less than what his bulky contract says … but contributes. That is to say, there is a squad, but the disaster is constant and the Kings cannot find a regularity that brings them closer, not only to that once unattainable eighth place, but simply to the tenth. Not even there can a team that has been left out of the play-in (12th) with two games to go.. Behind, Timberwolves, Thunder and Rockets. I mean, the worst of the worst. And there they are.
The other big problem is, of course, on the bench. Dave Joerger, a good coach without aura, left after three seasons with a record of 98-148 (39-43 in his last season with wilts for the future). Luke Walton came up with an identical one, the same wins and losses, after three years lurching through the worst stage in the entire history (yes) of the Lakers. If your first year in Sacramento you had to show whether you were a victim or part of the problem in LA., the x in the equation was quickly cleared. And in his second attempt, things have gotten worse: almost always outmatched by the rival coach, he has tried game rhythms and rotations, often without continuity or meaning. Nothing he has done has seemed to help, build or add. And he’s also already exhausted lives as a player coach, the tag he earned alongside Steve Kerr on the pre-Durant Warriors. The Kings have managed to add nine consecutive defeats up to two occasions and the few times they have given the impression of being something similar to a team have been so short-lived in their duration and quantity. And all this has caused that, after the departure of Jim Boylen from the Bulls last year, Walton has become the worst coach, right now, in the NBA. A disaster.
The only virtue of the Kings is in the annotation, a statistic in which they occupy the ninth position of the competition. The rest, all bad: they are last in rebounds, fourth down the tail in free throw percentage and 16th team in 3 point percentage. They have the worst offensive rating in the NBA, the sixth worst net rating, and a 31-39 record., again very far from that 50% that they have not reached since, again, 2006. They have players for the future and transfer material, but they have to change the dynamics and remove Walton from the benches to be able to end a crisis that does not It has an expiration date in an always competitive West where it is very difficult to win games without real teams unless your name is Gregg Popovich and you manage the Spurs. The crisis is sporting, structural, moral and affects a city that longs for past times who were better, but he also wants to see something like a community on the track and a project in the franchise. The Kings, one more year, and they are already 15, without playoffs. Historical record that they can fly solo within a season. Reacting is in your hand. Until then, the disaster does not stop.