It’s no secret that the Sacramento Kings have fallen on hard times. There was a moment- May 8, 2003. That is the moment where the Kings went from title contenders to something different. As Chris Webber lay writhing on the floor, grasping at his knee, a door closed but nobody heard it. For the last half decade, the Kings have tried everything to remain relevant but Humpty no longer sat on the wall.
It happens. Maybe there was no one to blame, or maybe there was enough blame to go around the entire organization. Either way, Humpty had a great fall.
Webber never recovered. Divac retired (as a Laker to make it worse) and Brad Miller never quite turned into the Vlade Divac clone the Kings had hoped for. Stojakovic never took to leading. Bibby never played defense. Artest didn’t feed his dog. And then there was this whole MLE player phase- Shareef Abdur-Rahim, John Salmons, MIKKI MOORE!- followed by questionable MLE-type extensions to the Kings’ own players, Francisco Garcia and Beno Udrih. Rick Adelman left after posting a 395-229 record with 8 playoff appearances in 8 chances. Eric Musselman, Reggie Theus and Kenny Natt proved to be no Rick Adelman. Geoff Petrie, the consummate pro, seemed to bow to the whimsical Maloof brothers in both trade discussions and coaching choices. The Maloofs had only known success as owners of the Kings, not the failures of the previous ownership group. They had never seen something broken and unfortunately, hammers don’t help to fix a broken egg.
Again, these things happen.
Now, here we stand, the broken pieces of Humpty lying in the Natomas flood plain. Except for the bloated (but manageable) contracts of Garcia and Udrih, the bad contracts are gone. The Kings currently sit some 15+ million under the salary cap (only a few hundred dollars more than cap leading Minnesota). Paul Westphal, a qualified, stable veteran coach, begins his second season with the team. A new group of players led by last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, Tyreke Evans, begins anew with two goals: win and bring back the 5 or 6 thousand fans missing from the once ruckus and always full Arco Arena.
Over the next few weeks, while we await the beginning of training camp, The Purple Panjandrum will break down the 2010-11 Sacramento Kings roster player by player and try to answer this glaring question: How far away is this current rendition of the Kings from competing for one of the eight, highly competitive Western Conference playoff spots? Through this analysis, an opinion will be formed as to whether Geoff Petrie, Wayne Cooper, Jerry Reynolds, Joe and Gavin Maloof and the departed Jason Levien have done enough to turn around the fortunes of the Sacramento Kings.
Have these men collected enough pieces to put Humpty back together again?