Sacramento Kings' Rebuild Faces Tough Challenges

By Karim Akbar
Rocky Widner - NBAE via Getty Images
Rocky Widner – NBAE via Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings are proving to be a tedious fixer-upper for owner Vivek Ranadive. The renovations are on-going, but the work is far from complete. That’s due to a 28-54 record that has landed Sacramento in the lottery yet again. And this offseason, their future will be determined by more than what happens at the draft.

Sacramento must first take the training wheels off and make some concrete moves. Trading for Rudy Gay midseason worked out for both teams involved, but it was just a rental. It’s apparent that Gay would be open to staying, but he easily could bolt the rebuild and join a contender.

Rudy Gay recently talked about being 28 at the start of next training camp and on a team that just finished at or very near the bottom of the Western Conference.

“I’m not the age right now where I just have to be on a championship team,” Gay said. “Right now, I’m at the age where I can still make a good team great. Rebuilding, I possibly could do that too. Those are the things I have to weigh. Do I want to be on the rebuilding side? Do I want to make a good team great?

“These people have been so great to me. They’ve been really great to me, to my family. They’ve been great. The coaches have all welcomed with me with open arms. Everybody in the organization. Vivek (Ranadive), he’s a great owner. I think this team will be good in the future. I do think so. I’m not throwing out the notion that I will be here. They know that they have a chance of me being here.”

True enough, they could be good without Gay or they could just implode which is also possible. If Gay ends up packing his bags, that would leave Sacramento to fend for themselves with franchise center DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas, who may have to fight for his starting job yet again.

And this is all before deciding what to do with Jason Thompson, who has beat out every player sent to replace him including J.J. Hickson, Carl Landry (twice), Patrick Patterson and Thomas Robinson. Yet J.T.  finds himself  frustrated with his role on the team.

“Just for the amount of shots, the type of rotations that we had – offensively and defensively. It just wasn’t a fun year for me,” Thompson said.

That fun year turned into a bummer for the Kings’ players and management. Cousins had a career year and Thomas was a revelation, but there wasn’t much else to talk about. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on Ben McLemore. The Kings’ brass is backing him heading into his sophomore season. For now, McLemore is likely to stay, but they will want to see progression.

Yes, the Kings were active, but every trade partner they found last year made it to the playoffs. Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro can’t go another year in rebuild mode. This team has to age quickly.

With a new arena on track for a 2016 opening, this team has to produce a winning attitude now. That starts with a solid offseason and credible defensive help. And there are plenty of players the Kings could sign who won’t break the bank.

Whatever Sacramento decides to do this summer, it must be a setup for the future. It has to be concrete. No more band-aids.

Karim Akbar is a Sacramento Kings columnist for Rant Sports  For More Sacramento Kings News “Like” his page on Facebook Follow him on Twitter @Kuhreem  Or add him to your network on Google+.

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