Sacramento Kings fans have every right to be sensitive and even skeptical when it comes to the owners of their team. The Maloof family pulled the plug on a new sports and entertainment complex earlier this year, leaving the team in limbo and everyone scratching their heads.
The rumors of financial instability are well documented and the fact that the Kings have had the NBA’s lowest payroll in back-to-back seasons does nothing but feed the chatter.
Thursday night should have been a complete celebration. Thomas Robinson, a player many believed was the second-best player in the 2012 NBA Draft, slid to the Kings at pick No. 5. Sportswriters across the country are giving the Kings an “A” grade for their selection and some are even predicting the Kings to end their six-season playoff drought.
All of this excitement and buzz, but many fans are still over the moon upset over that second-round pick.
The Kings entered the draft with two selections. Robinson went fifth, but as I predicted here at Cowbell Kingdom nearly a week before the draft, the Kings sold their second rounder for cash considerations, leaving fans not the least bit happy.
Whether on Twitter or elsewhere, the conversation has turned ugly. The Maloofs are being called broke, cheap and a few other words I’m not willing to write on our G-rated site. While the Maloofs have made plenty of questionable decisions over the last couple of seasons, I believe that fans are a little off base from a pure basketball standpoint.
The noise has gotten so loud, that we asked Gavin Maloof today about why the Kings made this move and he had a perfectly logical answer.
“Well first of all, we only have two roster spots,” said Maloof after Robinson’s introductory press conference at Power Balance Pavilion. “So, we’re trying to sign Jason (Thompson) and we want to keep another one for a free agent, someone that we could sign. That’s it.”
Don’t buy it? You should. The Sacramento Kings hope to re-sign Jason Thompson when free agency begins later tonight. That puts the Kings at 13 players under contract, leaving only a single roster spot open for other potential free agents.
Last season, Geoff Petrie, Kings President of Basketball Operations, hit a home run with his addition of Isaiah Thomas with the last pick of the NBA Draft. Kings fans wanted to see Petrie take another hack, which is understandable, but the big picture suggests that move would have been foolish.
The Kings have four players with a season or less under their belts and another two players who are just now entering their third year. While Thomas and big man DeMarcus Cousins are already rotational players, Hassan Whiteside, Jimmer Fredette, Tyler Honeycutt and now Robinson are going to need time on and off the floor to develop.
More to Maloof’s point, the Kings have a glaring need for another perimeter shooter and the roster spot that would have gone to a second-rounder needs to be used on a veteran that can help today.
The going rate for an early second-round pick is around $2 million. If you consider that the Kings would also have to pay that player, you are looking at close to a $3.5 million commitment over two seasons.
I understand that fans are leery about the Maloofs’ motives and whether they’ll actually reinvest that money into the team, but they are going to have to fill the roster spot one way or another.
There’s plenty to be upset about in Sacramento. But, I just don’t think that selling the No. 36 pick in the draft should be added to that list. Instead, take a minute to celebrate Robinson. He has a great story and will be an incredible addition to the Kings roster. That 14th roster spot will figure itself out soon enough.
Video: Kings owner Gavin Maloof on the selection of Thomas Robinson, DeMarcus Cousins’ Olympic hopes and the sale of their second-round pick