The last time the Sacramento Kings made the playoffs was the 2005-06 season. That was 16 years ago. The Kings haven’t finished a season remotely close to .500 in that same timespan. Sacramento has had Demarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Isaiah Thomas, De’Aaron Fox as key players during that time frame, and yet has failed to make a significant impact on the NBA landscape. Don’t even get yourself started on their missed draft picks. You’ll drive yourself mad.
The Haliburton/Sabonis Trade: Another Sacramento Kings failure?
One draft pick that didn’t flop was Tyrese Haliburton. Haliburton is one of the most exciting young players across the league. With Haliburton and Fox, and a solid group of role players around them, for the first time in a very, very long time, the future looked bright in California’s capital.
Then, in a trade that rocked the NBA landscape, the Kings shipped him off to Indiana at last year’s trade deadline. The Kings sent Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson to the Pacers in exchange for Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday and a 2027 second round pick.
The trade at the time was seen as horrid for the Kings, which is in part justified. Sacramento was 20-35 at the time of the trade. Trading a young star for a proven veteran isn’t necesarily the type of a trade a team of that caliber should make. Fortunately, it’s been a bit better than that.
Sacramento didn’t make any major moves this offseason, but the ones they did make were very important. The Kings lost Donte DiVincenzo, but that was the only real loss they had.
The Kings were fortunate enough to land the fourth overall pick, and they used that to select Keegan Murray, a small forward out of Iowa. Murray didn’t have as much potential, but he was undoubtedly the most NBA-ready pick in the draft, with a very well-rounded skillset. Since the trade sent Sacramento into win-now territory, this trade makes sense.
Sac also swung a trade for Kevin Huerter. Huerter was acquired for Maurice Harkless, Justin Holiday, and a second round pick. That trade turned out to be a steal, with Huerter being a crucial cog in the Kings’ offense. Finally, the Kings signed Malik Monk, reuniting him with his college teammate De’Aaron Fox.
The Evolution of a Playoff Team
At the time of the Sabonis trade, the Sacramento Kings seemed to be a bad team with no direction. Kind of sounds like the Kings for the past 16 years, huh?
Well, Monte McNair and Mike Brown have completely turned things around. The Kings are six games above .500 for the first time since… who knows when? They have two All-Star caliber players in Sabonis and Fox. Sacramento is one game out of the third seed, and looks like a true playoff contender. The Kings are one of the most entertaining stories in the league, and have built themselves a very bright future.
Light the beam!