Clock is ticking on Sacramento Kings’ season

CollisonCelebrating

It seems like just yesterday that the Sacramento Kings were 9-6.  They were the talk of the league and for very good reasons.  They were a young, exciting team with serious swagger and an identity of smashmouth defensive team.

They are still making headlines, but now it’s for the wrong reasons.

Sadly, the wheels have fallen off the Kings’ bus.  Michael Malone was relieved of his duties.  The locker room has clearly taken a turn and persistent rumors of coaching changes, roster remakes and quirky additions have this team running on fumes.

Josh Smith signed with the Houston Rockets on Christmas Eve, George Karl is in limbo and the potential trade with the Brooklyn Nets for former All-Star point guard Deron Williams now on life support.  Is it time for the Kings to step back, regroup and take a realistic view at the 2014-15 season?

But what is realistic?   At 12-16, Sacramento is just two games behind Denver for the ninth spot in the West and three games behind Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff spot.  They are one really good stretch away from being back in the conversation, which is why Malone’s departure is so dumbfounding.

The Kings are 3-11 over their last 14 games.  The season is slipping away.  It is time to either swing for the fences or brace for another sub-.500 campaign.

Two weeks ago, we would have pushed for the team to forge forward.  But two weeks is a long time in NBA standards.  Eons even.

Where does the team go from here?  Do they reignite talks with the Nets for Williams?  Should they hire George Karl and pray he has another fix hiding in his bag?  Should they try for another blockbuster deal or should they just stand pat and let interim head coach Tyrone Corbin try to rescue the team from the spiraling drain?

There are two major items sitting on the table.  Williams was a star once before, and Karl has Hall of Fame credentials, but are either one of them enough to change the Kings current course?

Deron Williams

Williams was a nice player three seasons ago.  Now 30-years-old and with a history of injury, the former All-Star is still owed another $43 million after this season.  He’s not a gamble as much as he is an all-in bet with a pair of six’s.

Maybe a bigger issue is that Williams isn’t a player known for pushing the pace.  During his time with the Nets, the team has never ranked above 23rd in the league in pace. The team is typically in the bottom five in the league.

Adding Miles Plumlee makes the trade idea interesting, but the Kings have nothing to sweeten the deal, nor should they.  The Nets would save millions in a deal like this and no one else is going to take on Williams’ contract.

Prediction: Making this trade puts all of Sacramento’s eggs in the Williams, DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay basket.  The trio would take up the majority of the Kings’ cap for the next two and a half seasons.

The Kings continue to mull this deal over and wait for the Nets to break on Plumlee.  The potential of adding the former Duke big man alongside Cousins makes perfect sense for a team that wants to run.

A lineup of Williams, Ben McLemore, Gay, Plumlee and Cousins is intriguing under the right coach, but is it better than Darren Collison, McLemore, Gay, Jason Thompson and Cousins?

If Plumlee is added to the deal, the Kings pull the trigger.  If not, the Kings should walk away quickly.

George Karl

The fans are clamouring for Karl to take over the team and for good reason.  The 25-year coaching veteran has everything you are looking for in a head coach, except a championship ring.  After leading the Nuggets to a 57-25 record during the 2012-13 season, the 63-year-old Karl wants one more shot and he is more than willing to make Sacramento his landing spot.

Karl has a big personality, which has put him in hot water with management in the past, but this team needs a proven winner now or this season is over.  Karl makes too much sense.  Almost too much.

Is the Kings management ready to relinquish a bit of control?  Are they willing to drop $5 million or more after already spending millions to send Malone packing, despite running an eight-figure deficit as a franchise this season?

Prediction: Kings balk at the price tag.  Despite Vivek Ranadivé saying this season was about wins and losses, the team threw that out the window when they canned Malone.  Karl would have to be a miracle worker to reboot this team and get it moving in the right direction.  Add to the equation the likelihood more tinkering with the roster is coming and how much could Karl help?

Conclusion

Tyrone Corbin is a very solid coach that can at least get this team to the end of the season.  The same can be said about Collison as a point guard and Thompson in the paint.

But solid isn’t what the Sacramento Kings are looking for.  Solid isn’t what sells tickets or gets this team out of the lottery.

When the team decided to let go of Malone, they took solid out of the equation, and now we have chaos and a team falling apart at the seams.

Clearly there was no plan in place.  And now the ownership and front office have put themselves in a pickle.  They have potentially thrown away a season, the fans are upset and a Hail Mary or two is in order.

Maybe Karl is the right guy.  Maybe Deron Williams can move the needle.  Something is needed.  Big or small, this team needs a shake up.  The clock on this season is ticking.

comments

Tags

About: James Ham

James Ham is the senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news since 2010. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also contributes to ESPN.com and is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary film "Small Market, Big Heart".