The Kings may have blown it. Their Mighty Pacific Division Dynasty may be crumbling before our eyes.
Over the past 4 seasons….they have won two Pacific Division titles and let a third one get away with a Kobe Bryant Hail Mary in Portland. They were winning in the 4th quarter of Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. They currently house the NBA’s second leading scorer. Yet, this franchise is at a cross roads.
The thing that the Sacramento Kings have hung their hat on over the past 5 years is their “team chemistry”. These guys love each other. The fans love them. They love the fans. Everyone is in love. Well, a breakup is looming. No one likes each other…and just as the Lakers are in a state of transition after their 4-Finals-in-5-years Era….the Kings and their role as the Wile E. Coyote are nearing the cliff as well.
The Maloofs, the Sigfreid and Roy look-a-likes who own the Kings, walked out of a stadium deal [btw, this would be their 3rd arena in 20 years in Sacramento]. I don’t care how much a city loves it’s team’s owners….stadium deals tend to get ugly and feelings tend to get hurt. Just ask Art Modell, George Shinn, Georgia Frontiere, etc. There is some speculation that they may be shopping around the other cities. Hmm…Vegas anyone?? Also, it seems that they aren’t willing to pony up money to keep their “deep bench” together. They let Jimmy Jackson walk….dealt Hedo…and let Vlade go. They have made it known they want NO part of the luxury tax…so scaling back payroll is on their minds.
Now the guys who actually wear the uniforms. Chris Webber ripped into the team after having one of his worst years in his career. It is someone else’s fault….but he’s not naming names. Webber was himself ripped when he came back from injury….since the Kings were a lot better record-wise with him out. Of course, C-Webb always goes on this kind of tirade every few years…and the seeds for this were planted when he actually wanted out in free agency a few years back but no one else would pay him top dollar.
C-Webb likes Mike Bibby……but wasn’t too cool with the Euros. Many feel Webber’s remarks are directed at Peja. Vlade Divac got out of town to the Hated Lakers. Yeah…the Lakers, to Vlade, seemed like a more stable situation than the Kings. Wow. Now, with Vlade out, Peja wants out too.
Peja is going no where….since he is the future of that franchise and a relatively cheap superstar. The fact of the matter is….Webber is more likely to be dealt, but the Kings aren’t going to get what they think they should get in any Webber deal. The guy is very injury-prone….and attitude. Damaged goods. But, hard feelings are hard feelings….and the team he knows may not be the same over the next few years. So the team may be better off breaking him off now than later when he absolutely alienates himself.
And then there is Bobby Jackson. Many felt that B-Jax should have tried to play in the playoffs instead of sitting out with his injury. And in all of this Peja mud-slinging….he’s taken the “deal Peja” stance. Odd…since there are rumors he wants out as well.
Rick Adelman held onto his job…..barely. Most people after the season believed some new leadership was needed. He did one heck of a job having the team in the position they were in for 2/3 of the season….until his decision to let Webber back in to get ready for a playoff run. Of course, the funny thing is Mrs. Doug Christie is all of the sudden unhappy in Sacto…which means Mr. Mrs. Christie is unhappy then, too. Plus he is aging and may not have too much left. Gerald Wallace, a bright young player that just was caught in a logjam in Sacramento…was picked up by the Charlotte Bobcats in the expansion draft.
And the sad thing is [well, not to me] that for all of this that the team has been over the past seasons in the Kings Dynasty….they never won a title….they never won the Western Conference….they’ve only BEEN to ONE Western Conference Finals. And if the team starts to trend downward….what will happen with their fan base? I’m sorry…but in sports history….usually a new fan base that has its first success tends to back off when the team starts heading downward. Look at Miami. Look at Charlotte. Maybe Sacto is like Salt Lake….and they’ll be there no matter what the team does because that’s all they got. Maybe they’ll get a little heartbroken and won’t be so hot-and-heavy for the Kings anymore. I don’t see the Kings totally imploding their team and starting over. But, there needs to be some pretty large changes for the team to get back to elite status.
Heck, the Kings may be in Las Vegas by then.