Column: Kings aren’t staying kings, and that is a good thing

The Sacramento Kings haven’t made the playoffs since 2006 and have been in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons. (Creative Commons/Michael Tipton)

After dealing DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans, the NBA’s most turbulent franchise is trying to undergo a major reboot.

The Sacramento Kings haven’t made the playoffs since 2006 and have been in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons. A rotating door of ineffective head coaches and rumors of relocation have plagued the Kings for the better part of a decade.

But quietly, the Kings have been making all the right moves this offseason. Moves that aren’t going to make the Kings championship contenders overnight but give the franchise a sense of direction that it has lacked over the years.

Any successful rebuild needs stability in the head coaching position and the Kings seem to have finally found their man. Dave Joerger is one of the most underrated head coaches in the league and is back at the helm for his second season with the Kings. Before coming to Sacramento, Joerger spent nine years with the Memphis Grizzlies and became head coach in 2013. Memphis made the playoffs in each of Joerger’s three years as head coach. This includes the 2015-16 season where the Grizzlies were forced to dress 28 different players due to injury.

He is a coach who gets the most out of his players and does such a good job of it, he would probably still be in Memphis if he didn’t manipulate his way out of town. Despite officially being “fired,” the Grizzlies didn’t want to lose him. After Joerger asked the Grizzlies’ front office for permission to interview for other positions, general manager Chris Wallace’s hand was forced and Wallace fired him, citing a lack of commitment to the future.

Joerger eventually signed with Sacramento and, while it hasn’t paid immediate dividends, the pairing still has a chance to be a match made in heaven. Joerger has the chance to help mold something of his own creation and the Kings finally have some stability on the bench after having five different head coaches since 2012.

That stability is going to be crucial for Sacramento because this roster has some very young pieces.

The Kings are bringing in the best Rookie class out of anyone in the NBA this season. De’Aaron Fox has a chance to be an elite point guard in this league. Fox is lightning fast and seems to have a competitive fire that Joerger was able to help harness so effectively in Memphis. He ate up other top prospects like Lonzo Ball defensively, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up having a better NBA career than most of them too.

The Kings also received great value for trading back to 15 and 20 in the first round. Justin Jackson, the 15th pick, has the long range shooting potential scouts go crazy for and Harry Giles, the 20th pick, has injury concerns but his potential is more than worth it for the Kings. If Giles stays healthy, we will probably look back on Giles as the steal of the 2017 draft.

Bogdan Bogdanović is coming over for his first NBA season but an All-Euroleague First team selection in 2017 gives hope that he can contribute in some role immediately.

While everyone was so quick to pencil in New Orleans as the winners of the DeMarcus Cousins trade, Buddy Hield more than deserved his spot on the All-Rookie team. After the all-star break, Hield shot .480 percent from the field, up the .392 percent he shot while with in New Orleans.

Sacramento has also done a fantastic job of bringing in veterans to help manage the locker-room and support Joerger.

Zach Randolph was one of the patron saints of grit and grind in Memphis. Randolph will likely set the example for the kind of hard-nosed play the Kings will want to instill going forward.

Vince Carter signed with the Kings for a hefty price tag, but his influence in the locker room might be priceless. These young players grew up worshipping Vin Sanity. If Vince Carter is still playing hard at age 40, they aren’t going to think about his $8 million contract. They’re going to try their hardest to not disappoint their boyhood heroes.

George Hill is also going to be the perfect tutor to help Fox adapt his game to the NBA. Hill is still a very capable point guard, helping guide the Utah Jazz to 51 wins last season. Fox and the King’s second round pick, Frank Mason, should split time sharing the backcourt with Hill.

The Kings aren’t going to be world-beaters in 2017. There’s still going to be bumpy stretches and they’re almost certainly going to lose a lot of games. But that’s okay. It’s better than throwing new head coaches at the wall every season to appease your superstar and see what sticks.



Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at bryan.lambert@uconn.edu. He tweets @OfficialBrett.