Sacramento Kings: Where Do They Go From Here?

Apr 1, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) dribbles past Miami Heat forward Joe Johnson (2) in the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Miami won 112-106. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) dribbles past Miami Heat forward Joe Johnson (2) in the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Miami won 112-106. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /

The Sacramento Kings are about to close the books on another losing season, leaving many fans wondering — where do they go from here?

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The Sacramento Kings‘ 2015-2016 regular season was less than ideal. With inconsistent play on the floor and plenty of drama off of it, the Kings missed the playoffs for the 10th straight year. And the question going through the minds of fans every has to be — Now what?

This time last year, Kings fans were asking questions like, “What happened this year?” and “Where do we go from here?” and also, “Is that the best we can do?” And unfortunately for the fans, it seems as though they are right back at this same point once again.

This season was supposed to be fun. This season was supposed to be stable. This season was supposed to be different.

During the 2014-2015 campaign, the Kings were a mess. They fired coach Michael Malone less than two months into the season, promoted Tyrone Corbin for the rest of the year, and then canned him when they were able to bring George Karl on board around the All-Star break.

There wasn’t much roster shake-up during the season, yet the team underperformed at a wild rate. The team finished 29-53, barely ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference — which in and of itself, says a lot.

This year, however, things looked bright. During the off-season the Kings lost very little in terms of talent and acquired a lot. They added Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, Kosta Koufos, Quincy Acy, Caron Butler, and took a chance on Steph Curry’s brother, Seth Curry. Athletic big man from Kentucky Willie Cauley-Stein was drafted. They even kept the same coach through the offseason, something not seen all too often in Sacramento.

People were excited to see what the new-look Kings could do this year. Some people, who will remain unnamed, even picked the Kings to be the #8 seed in the playoffs.

"But with the talented roster they have, the legendary coach on the sidelines, and the passionate home crowd, 35 wins seems doable."

Well, that would have been nice. Even if the Kings win their last two road games, it will only be good enough for 34 wins on the year. The silver lining is that this is their first 30 win season in almost a decade — but after all the hype and hope of the offseason, does it even matter?

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The Kings played exciting, passionate basketball at times, and at others seemed to just not care. There was drama between George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins, and Coach Karl was a substantial disappointment to many fans who wanted to see more development from the young players.

Karl really only played the core starters and a few peripheral bench players for most of the year. Rookie Willie Cauley-Stein was seemingly forgotten about until the last month of the season, Seth Curry seemed like he hadn’t even been assigned a jersey until a few weeks ago (in which he is averaging 17 points a game on 58%  shooting from 3-point range), and young Ben McLemore was utterly forgotten about.

The most relevant criticism of George Karl, a Hall of Fame-bound coach, is that he doesn’t develop young players. And unfortunately, that seems to be too true for Sacramento.

Looking ahead to the offseason, there are a few things that need to be addressed. Most glaringly, Rajon Rondo. Rondo signed a one year, $9.5 million dollar contract last summer, as sort of trial for both sides. Rondo impressed early and often, facilitating the offense with a smooth flow and averaging over 11 assists a game on the year.

Compared to his best years in Boston, he either matched or bettered nearly all of his stats this season. However, backup and Sixth-Man of the Year candidate Darren Collison played extremely well off the bench for the Kings. And now Seth Curry seems to be showcasing talent similar to his MVP brother.

When it comes down to it, if the Kings hope to keep Rondo with the team, they will likely have to dangle a large, multiyear contract in front of him. And that may be something they balk at. The Kings are over three million dollars in the red in terms of cap space, so something’s gotta give this offseason.

Next: Seth Curry Taking Advantage of Opportunities

The team had their glory moment this past weekend as the closing of Sleep Train Arena saw the return of many legends and fan favorites. While the excitement of a new arena may distract some this coming fall, at some point in the not-so-distant future the Kings will need to step up and play like a team that actually wants to make the playoffs for a change.