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NBA / Mar 3, 2009 / 12:28 pm

The Kings Are The Next Western Conference Power

Sacramento Kings

After the trade deadline, once all the dust settled, there was one team more than the rest that I was excited about: the Sacramento Kings. I know what you’re thinking, but I’m not crazy. Despite Sacramento’s 13-48 record in the Western Conference, there is more than Kevin Johnson to be excited about in Sac-Town.

Think about it. Just weeks ago this team was miserable with a couple big salaries on the roster of players they had no desire to have, and now the forever documented “youth movement” is on in full effect and the Kings are primed to become players once again. If I had to find one team to compare them to, it would be Miami.

While the Heat used to be dominant and won the ‘chip back in 2006, they basically had to start over around D-Wade and find working pieces that could go around him. Last year they lucked out in the draft by picking up Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers, too key contributors to a team that sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, while many believed the Heat wouldn’t even make the playoffs.

For the Kings, the Draft this June has the potential to add a couple key components much like Miami did last year. Slated to have the No. 1, No. 24 and No. 31 picks, the Kings can address many issues and potentially trade one pick for a more well-established player that fits their system.

With a core of Kevin Martin, Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes, the Ws seem closer than many think. Plus, after buying out Drew Gooden on Sunday, the Kings clearly want their young bigs (Thompson, Francisco Garcia and Donte Greene) to get as much PT as possible. Don’t believe me? According to the Sacramento Bee, “Thompson’s name was mentioned in trade rumors last month in talks with the Suns for Amar’e Stoudemire, but Sacramento reportedly wasn’t interested in moving the rookie averaging 10.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season.”

Wow. That’s a lot of confidence for a rook out of Rider, but at 6-11 and 250 pounds, the Kings may have found a diamond in the rough. But don’t think this happened overnight. Kings GM Geoff Petrie has drafted well for years. Look at some of the talent : Thompson (2008), Hawes (2007), Garcia (2005), Martin (2004), Gerald Wallace (2001), Hedo Turkoglu (2000), Jason Williams (1998) and Peja Stojakovic (1996). It’s no surprise that he’s won the NBA Executive of the Year Award twice.

But what now? Beno Udrih has proven himself to be an NBA point guard (when he’s healthy), but I’d like him more as a backup, as expensive as that may be. The Kings need a Rajon Rondo or a Russell Westbrook or even a Jerryd Bayless type of player to really take them to the next level and run the offense to its maximum potential. I’m sorry, but Bobby Jackson just isn’t that guy. In the Draft, I’m thinking St. Mary’s Patty Mills (he’s already got local fans) or VCU’s Eric Maynor (if he’s still around). Either one would be a classic Petrie pick.

Also, I like the additions of Andres Nocioni, Rashad McCants, Will Solomon and Ike Diogu. All hard-nosed guys who really just needed a new situation to get back on track. Of all four, Nocioni will get the most PT, but if McCants can somehow channel his days at UNC, look for him to be a solid contributor.

In the end though, it all hinges on their next coach. While Kenny Natt has done a good job with what he’s had to work with, I don’t necessarily know if he’s the right coach for the future. At the same time, I don’t really know who is. The Kings are just 7-30 since he took over for Reggie Theus in mid-December, but according to the Sacramento Bee, they have already secured the option of keeping Natt next season for just under $2 million on a one-year contract, and have until May 1 to decide whether or not to pick it up.

What are you thoughts on the future of the Kings?

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  • Anthony

    Are you sure Garcia’s a big?

  • Moofty

    Rondo, Westbrook, Bayless over Udrih? Are you smoking crack?

  • David Brandon

    in our system…yes, he’s a big. lol

  • Scott

    They definitely need a strong lead gaurd, with Martin being finesse all the way, a more dominant physical PG would be ideal ala Bayless.

    I agree fully that this is a team to watch, and with the experience of building the first real Kings squad that competed, I have a feeling Petrie will be that much better at building this squad with that experience under his belt.

    If Thompson can build his skill set on the block, Hawes is the ideal high-post guy.

    Once their bigs develop, they’ll really be a PG away, so long as Nocioni works out.

    Either way, they’re definitely a team to keep an eye on.

  • pig

    They have long way to go..but i have to admit that i have missed pacers and kings

  • d

    finally some optimism. All I read about in the Sac Bee is that the Kings are getting ready to move (although the most recent news says they’re there for another year)and it bums me out to think about them in any place but Sacto.

    We’ll have to see how this all turns out. I’m worried about what we do with a top draft pick. We really need a point guard. I think that’s been the most glaring deficiency. We used to get by with big men who were good at passing (Webber, Vlade, Miller) and a mediocre shoot-first PG in Bibby (still love the dude, but he’s not a true PG) and a SG who passed more than the PG (Doug Christie). Beno was a questionable contract; and really he should have just remained as a bandaid for Bibby. He hasn’t done much this year. And Bobby Jackson has more nostalgia than anything else.

    I loved the moves Petrie made to clear everyone out. Bounced Gooden, Miller, Salmons, Moore, Douby – stripped the whole roster down to start at the beginning. That’s where this team needs to be. Give the youngins some minutes and let them get better.

    So, if we land a top-3 pick, do we trade down and position ourselves for the best PG out there? Or do we take the best player on the board. I keep thinking that we take someone like Thabeet, which would actually kill me because he’s the next big bust in my opinion. We have enough swingmen, we need a floor leading point guard.

    Petrie generally has an eye for talent (let’s try and forget about Quincy Douby). So, for now, in Petrie we trust. If he can bring back the excitement of the early millenium, I’d be thrilled and I’d be rockin the leage pass down here in Houston in a heart beat.

    Honestly, I feel like the best comparison is really Atlanta. Missing some parts, but we have the youth and the talent. Just need to get some experience (and a PG).

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    The best case scenario is that the Kings get the top pick in the draft and take Blake Griffin. Then they should also be able to land a good point guard with the #24 pick. (Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor, Darren Collison, and possibly Stephen Curry might still be available).

    If they don’t get the top pick you have to assume they’ll at least get a top 5 pick and they can get the best point guard available. Most likely Jennings or Jeff Teague.

    Either way this team can go no where but up.

  • CHI-C

    They won the lotto already?

  • David Brandon

    i wanted the kings to make a trade to get bayless bad. or even in the draft i was hoping they woulda got westbrook. they never pick point guards…i dont get it.

    they’re looking ok for the future. there’s a lack of a real veteran presence tho. yes, that DOES mean i’m overlooking kenny “i dont wanna be here” thomas. once thompson stops looking like a baby duck in the paint, he’ll be nice. spencer will be ok. not great, but ok. kevin martin still needs to contribute more than just ssoring and he’s been doing a bit more recently. action jackson…man, he’s a fan favorite, but yeah…its time, my man. at least w/ this team. i liked the pick up of solomon and mccants too. and NOC!!! lol you hate havin him on the other team, but love him on yours. he’s a good pseduo-replacement for artest basically sans the locker room chemistry and ball stopping.

    so yeah, we look good for the future, but until the kings make a seriously big move to get some true talent, they’ll just be what the celtics were three years ago w/o paul pierce: good in theory, bad in practice.
    everyone knows you need at LEAST a Big Two to make any serious noise, esp in the west. we’ll see…the jury’s still out on this one.

  • Kobeef

    K-Mart2, Noc, Beno and Gracia are the only guaranteed contracts the Kings have in 2010 and they only total $30Million. That is enough cap space to sign (almost) two max players.

    They are set at the SG position with K-Mart and at the SF with Noc who is not a superstar but is the type of gritty player who fits in perfectly alongside a cast of stars. Thompson could be the solution at the 4 spot for the Kings if they use their money to sign an elite PG or C. Gracia and Beno are role players.

    Sadly for the Kings, the next two drafts are not particularly promising with no clear cut superstars on the way.

  • Patrick

    They are the reicarnation of the 2002 bulls. The idea of talent is there, but they are going to continue to lose big.

  • http://hornetshype.com ticktock6

    I dunno, the Thunder kind of scare me more. I do envy these young teams their good drafting. It seems like it’s always the same team GMs/scouts that are grabbing up these sneaky picks. Not a coincidence.

  • flavur

    I would trade beno to the bobcats for raymond or augustin

  • nola

    i prefer the thunder.

  • fallinup

    I dunno. Good drafting but when I saw Petrie’s past drafts I instantly thought,

    Wallace: Petrie dumped him. Bobcats picked up the gem. Wallace showed flashes in Sactown but not what he was in Charlotte.

    Hedo: Essentially. Traded for Brad Miller. Brad Miller turned into Nocioni. Hedo definitely isn’t the player he was in Sactown.

    Williams: Traded for Bibby. Bibby turned into essentially a second round draft pick now.

    Peja: Traded for Artest. Artest traded for essentially a 1st round draft pick. (Houston’s?)

    Like I saw before. This isn’t really a big time draft class coming up. All I know is that Petrie can put together a good team, but can also make some bad decisions as well.

    He’s got an awesome player in Martin. And has a solid foundation. If they can score a supreme free agent in the next two years…Sactown will be looking good.

    A badass PG. A dominant big man. And they could make noise.

  • money

    I believe Beasley and Chalmers are “Two” key contributors, not “too.”
    Oh, and this article isn’t very good. Not for the typo, but for thinking that the Kings are going to be a power. I don’t see it happening for at least three years, if not longer. There’s not enough talent, plus all the rumors of them moving isn’t healthy for a franchise and distracts players.

  • Kobeef

    @Money, TickToc and Flavur

    I agree. The Thunder have a much brighter future than the Kings at this point. Durant is a one-in-a-generation player who will be better than T-Mac in his prime and a Dwayne Wade/Chris Paul hybrid in Westbrook to build the team around.

    There are no players as good as Durant and Wetbrook in the 2009 draft and I don’t see any coming along for 2010 either. It is really too bad the Thunder backed out on the Chandler trade.

  • Steve A

    The Kings need a great player. They don’t have one. You can’t seriously compete with that roster. There is a difference between getting to the playoffs and competing for ‘Chips.

  • AY

    They’re one lebron james from having hope to turn this around so no, they won’t be close to turning this around for a while.

  • Notorious

    Are we forgetting how big a financial hit the Maloof’s took from this recession? That is why they passed on Amare for Thompson, not because they believe in the rook, cause they couldn’t pay Amare.

    Sure they got a crapload of cap room, but they sure as hell aren’t going to use it. The Kings are the new Grizzlies, playing it super cheap and waiting for luxury tax kickbacks from the League.

    Keep up the optimism, but keep it in check with some reality, a financially strapped ownership group looking to move out of Sac-town, playing it cheap until things get sorted out. You got some nice pieces, and if done right, they can do some things in the future.

  • vince

    garcia isnt a big. that leaves ‘too

  • Heckler…formerly ‘Yallallreadyknow’

    your reaching.
    Sacto sucks now….and Sacto will still suck 6yrs from now…

  • Kobeef

    When are the kings finally going to move to Las Vegas?
    Wouldn’t it be easier to make money on a team in Vegas? besides, the Kings is a perfect name for a team in a gambling town

  • rob

    draft Griffin and Collison…we will make the playoffs. is it just me but i think JT could play some 3..how bout collison, kmartII, jt, griffin and hawes. I think that makes the playoffs.

    secretly hoping for ricky rubio to somehow make his way to sactown.

  • kennypayne

    the kings are gonna be the laughing stock of the league for awhile ala pre mitch richmond era. i mean they got Reggie Theus as their coach, they should hire Kenny Smith as their assistant or GM. seriously the maloof brothers will be partying away their pain at the Palms for years. there is no upcoming talent like a D-Wade to save the franchise coming up.

  • BEdger

    Has everyone already decided that Portland wont end up being good? They have the 2nd youngest playing rotation in the league and are right in the thick of the playoff push, and you have the Kings as the next western conference power?

    Please pass whatever you are smoking, you need to get off the pipe

  • Michorizo

    Kings dont draft dark players …they go for white guys (Spencer Hawes), light skinned brothas (Kevin martin) or european or foreign players (peja, hedo)….so Griffen is a possibility but Ricky Rubio would be the wiser choice.

  • David Brandon

    @michorizo,

    hahaha yo man, i noticed that awhile back too…they’ll look like a all euro team soon.

  • http://www.kingsfans.com Willis

    Haha I appreciate the optimism, Arron, but I watch this team every game, they just don’t believe they can win. Sure, every game they play is close, but in crunch time any semblance of execution flies out the window. So if this is the same core thats going to carry us to glory, I don’t see it.

    If they get the first pick, draft Blake Griffin and trade it to OK City for their two picks. Get Thabeet and Mills, and maybe try to trade up w/ the rockets pick and snatch Teague.

    Let all the free agents go except Cedric Simmons cuz he is a sick dunker. ha.

  • srb

    comparing the future of the kings to this year’s heat isn’t going to convince me that they are in good shape.

    a team that needs an insane night from its best player to even have a shot at winning, and has no center, doesn’t have a future.

  • AB_40

    I am also more scared of the OKC thunder if they get a nice draft pick this summer sign some expeierienced free agents they’ll thump dallas and phoenix out of that playoff picture.

    But besides the clippers and the warriors with don nelson those bottom three teams minnesota, oklohoma city and sacramento look preaty good to me. I thought minnesota would make that pre playoffs portland jump this season and they were going for it and then al jefferson got injured.

  • Steve Gomez 10a-2p on Hot 104.7 Modesto, CA

    “Michorizo says:

    Kings dont draft dark players …they go for white guys (Spencer Hawes), light skinned brothas (Kevin martin) or european or foreign players (peja, hedo)….so Griffen is a possibility but Ricky Rubio would be the wiser choice.”

    Ummmm…Jason Thompson??

  • doc

    Trade for Kobe Wade Bron or CP3

  • http://www.layupdrill.com LayupDrill

    This is a reach…I can name two teams off the top(OKC, Memphis) that I believe will be better sooner.

  • CP3DaMan

    Ricky Rubio is the king. Draft his ass

    Btw Doc is a genius

  • SwedishMooze

    Keep in mind that there was a time when Billy Owens refused to report to Sacramento (the original “Franchise”) and the Kings couldn’t sign a quality free agent to save their lives. One thing changed that… Richmond for Webber… and the subsequent successes. This was supported by lavish spending by the Maloofs… not just on players, but allowing players to enjoy the Palms in Vegas, tons of national exposure, an exciting system under Adelman, etc.

    As a fan since the move from KC, the one thing that bothers me most is whether the Kings can keep the talent they have and recruit strong free agents to Sacramento. New arena or not, Sacramento is what it is as a city. Webber was never happy there and any player with an appetite for big city and bling will dodge Sacramento if given other choices.

    One can hope that the Kings will be players in 2010 and by luring two stars can bring back the magic to Sacramento. In reality, you have to have players willing to live in a town who’s best trait is being equi-distant from the mountains and the Bay (I was raised there, polish that terd all you want but Sacramento’s not a Playa’s town). There are certainly players who want a smaller city lifestyle for their family, but it’s simply hard to sell Sacramento’s high-end lifestyle to young millionaires, Granite Bay just can compare with Gold Coast, Manhattan or Miami Beach.

    What they need in this draft (or next) is to get Ricky Rubio… there may be better players out there, but Rubio is going to give the franchise exposure in much the same way Jason Williams did. Brandon Jennings might also be that type of player, but Rubio’s got built-in PR. Griffin is clearly the better player, but if we’re serious about Shock and Hawes, there’s no point creating that log jam and this team, in this market, needs exposure to survive.

  • walk

    While I am a huge kings fan but I think OKC is much closer to being a power than sacramento is right now. Yeah we cut salaries but thats because the team was losing tons of money and needed to.

    If the Kings can get a decent coach and make out alright in the draft this year things will be a lot brighter. At least the team realizes and admits that they should have started this two years ago. Nice to see some optimism for the team though because this reason has been rough

  • JJ

    The Kings will be big time contenders again within 2 yrs or so. They are going to be below the cap after this season and more bad contracts are coming off (Kenny Thomas). They have a top 3 pick for sure and 2 more decent picks. Another yr for JT and Hawes will allow them to be solid players. If Rubio is able to get a buy-out worked out to get in this yr’s draft, imagine a team with Kevin Martin, Thompson, Hawes, Garcia, Rubio. Off the bench comes McCants, Nocioni, Greene etc.

  • KJ-Mart

    Wait a minute now, if we get the 1st round draft pick. Stephen Curry should be at the top of our list!!!!

  • Aaron McCants

    I think that this summer, the Kings will find what they need within them to not only come alive, but to make their style of play, custom (like how the Chicago bulls did by the 4th courter when they had Jordan) to win games.
    I see Kevin Martin and Rashad McCants making moves over the summer, to set the Kings back in motion. It’s going to be live.