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Closing the door on another season

Thank you for sharing the ride with us.
By | 48 Comments | Apr 21, 2024

Feb 3, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (5) celebrates with forward Domantas Sabonis (10) after scoring against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the hardest parts of the Play-In Tournament is the suddenness of it all. That’s also the appeal, and I’m certainly not advocating for any changes to the play-in structure, but being eliminated in a single game situation just hits a little different than losing in a first round series, even in a series that went 7 games leading to the same sort of sudden death environment. I’m still going over all the way things could have gone differently, and yet it’s hard to imagine any different outcome. As long as the Pelicans showed up for the game, they were going to win. They were Sacramento’s kryptonite the entire season, and proved that it wasn’t a fluke.

Before we begin looking ahead, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect back on the season. The Kings entered this season with a bit of a hangover. The meteoric rise to the third seed last season, coupled with a lack of significant offseason roster changes, led to an odd combination of continuity and expectations leading to disappointment. Last season the Kings had a 118.6 (1st) ORTG, a 116.0 (24th) DRTG, and a 2.6 (8th) Net Rating. The Kings ended this year with a 116.2 (13th) ORTG, 114.4 (14th) DRTG, and a 1.8 (16th) Net Rating. And those numbers line up with eye test. The defense was better, especially down the end stretch of the season. The offense was worse, just lacking that same firepower that they displayed last season. And the coaching staff and front office have openly discussed these same trends.

One thing missing from those numbers is the larger context that the league as a whole, and especially the Western Conference, were much tougher this season. The Kings lost just two more games than last season, and yet they landed 9th instead of 3rd in the West. Prior to this season, 7 teams in NBA history missed the playoffs despite winning 45 games or more. This season that happened to both the Kings and the Warriors. The Western Conference was absolutely brutal this season.

Of course, with the West being so tough, it’s important to remember the self-inflicted wounds from this season. The Kings lost too many games to the league’s cellar dwellers. The Kings lost a game each to the Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons, and Charlotte Hornets. Those are the bottom four teams in the league. Flip those four losses to wins and the Kings would have had a 50 win season, and wouldn’t have needed to worry about the play-in at all. That doesn’t even account for all the blow leads and other missed opportunities. The Bucks loss, the Suns loss, losing to Indiana without Haliburton and Siakam. The list goes on. It was a frustrating and baffling season.

Yet despite all that, there’s plenty of reason for optimism moving forward. The Kings lost Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk down the stretch, having a huge impact on the team. But those losses opened the door for Keon Ellis to emerge as another key piece of the team’s future. Keegan Murray expanded his offensive arsenal and become a defensive force. Domantas Sabonis treated us to 61 straight games of double doubles. And we ended the Golden State Warriors season. Yes, there are concerns about this squad going into the summer, especially with the free agency of Malik Monk, but the future remains bright for the Kings.

And we’ll be here to cover it all. We’ll begin our Season Review series soon, we’ll track the upcoming NBA Draft, we’ll anxiously watch free agency and trades and see how Monte McNair and Co. can improve this squad. Until then, thank you for spending another season of Kings basketball with us.

 

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krswin
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April 21, 2024 3:52 pm

Thank you for all the information throughout this exciting but ultimately disappointing season.
Looking forward to next year.

Hobby916
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April 21, 2024 4:27 pm

The Kings Herald continues to impress. Looking forward to the offseason articles and discussions on how to improve the team.

kingofjapan
April 21, 2024 4:44 pm

Greg and all:

First-time post. Born and raised (through HS) in Sacramento more than a half-century ago, now living in Tokyo these past 7 years. Being so far away from Sac for so long now, TKH is my main conduit to the Kings. And what an amazing conduit you are! When I compare the quality of writing – information, humor, and warmth – to other sports blogs, I am reminded just how much intelligence and effort you put into this. From across the Pacific, I thank you all!

Yeah, it was a weird season. The thing I will remember most is just how many inexplicable losses to terrible teams we suffered (usually right before upending some title contender). Just bizarre. But just like playing golf, it’s more entertaining to be alternately meteoric and pathetic than it is to be endlessly mediocre. Are you not entertained??!! 笑

I think we’ve got a path to greatness here. Sabonis is a rock. Fox still has room to grow. Spock is on his way. Keon was a revelation. The base is there – we can compete with the best. We need one or two more pieces, and MM has pulled rabbits out of the hat before. And we need continued development from the core. I believe in the guys on the team to hold up their end of that deal. Next year we’ll be back to the #3~5 seed range. And then, anything can happen.

Anyway, what I want to say is: Thanks to TKH team for doing what you do. And thanks to the rest of you in the comments section for your often-hilarious takes. Onward and upward!!

Last edited 1 month ago by kingofjapan
eddie41
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April 21, 2024 6:08 pm
Reply to  kingofjapan

word

Bluejohn
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April 21, 2024 7:57 pm
Reply to  kingofjapan

Where have you been? I hope you comment more next season despite the time difference

RikSmits
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April 21, 2024 10:30 pm
Reply to  Bluejohn

Time difference is only an excuse if you want it to be.

andy_sims
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April 22, 2024 9:31 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Give ’em hell, Dutch.

RikSmits
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April 22, 2024 9:59 am
Reply to  andy_sims

comment image

RikSmits
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April 21, 2024 10:27 pm
Reply to  kingofjapan

Welcome!

kingofjapan
April 22, 2024 6:35 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Hey everyone. Thanks for the warm welcome – really appreciate it. That Sac vibe comin’ through. Nice!

I’ve been right here (in Tokyo) since 2017. Left Sac after high school, lived various places in the US (east coast, rocky mountain states, back to Cali, up to PDX), then finally off to Japan. It’s been a great ride. The Kings are my way of staying connected in some small way to my birthplace.

I wasn’t much interested in the NBA until the Kings came to Sacramento in 1985. Even though I had left already, I couldn’t believe my city had a team! And what a bizarre journey it’s been. I watched Horry’s shot at a bar in Utah, and I seriously doubt I will ever suffer a sports heartbreak that remotely compares. And then… the almost-move to Seattle, the Maloofs, the draft gaffe, Luke Walton, and more. It’s amazing we could survive all that and still be the team we are today. But life is like that too, yeah?

The current team is easy to root for, talented, and with some adjustments has a higher ceiling than some give us credit for. I find myself really pulling for these guys. And TKH makes it so much more fun.

Time zone is no problem. When they tip it off next year, I’ll be back, maybe slightly more visible this time. See you then!

RPO
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RPO
April 22, 2024 10:21 am
Reply to  kingofjapan

the draft gaffe

Which one(s)?

RikSmits
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April 22, 2024 10:27 am
Reply to  RPO

comment image

Last edited 1 month ago by RikSmits
kingofjapan
April 22, 2024 5:38 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

Yeah, but one sort of towers over all the rest, doesn’t it? I don’t think that’s only recency bias.

But I’m observing the sometimes-written TKH rule that does not allow specification or discussion of that debacle. Actually I think it’s a good rule! 笑

(if you’re not aware, the last character signifies laughter in Japanese… it will show up from time to time without further explanation! 笑)

Mike120
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April 22, 2024 1:45 pm
Reply to  kingofjapan

I spent two years on Japan in the early 70’s as a military brat and 6+ years in the 90’s in Yokosuka as a Navy officer. Loved my time there.

kingofjapan
April 22, 2024 5:42 pm
Reply to  Mike120

M120 — Yep, it’s a great place to live! I had worked with Japanese companies for some time before moving here in 2017, so I had visited Japan countless times already. But living here is different (as you know), really enjoyable in so many ways. I may go back to the US in 2025… or maybe not… we’ll see!

UpgradedToQuestionable
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April 21, 2024 5:26 pm

Playing with House Money was the general feeling for me and many (most?) others last season.

That wonderful season fueled hope for more and better this season fanning the flames of expectation.

Attaining 50 wins and getting out of the 1st round of the playoffs seemed reachable and reasonable goals.

It wasn’t good enough as those marks were visible by binoculars and never close enough to hold or even touch, remaining always just beyond resch.

For me the disappointment of the season was that this team was purposefully cemented together to become a more reliable and well oiled machine.

Instead what we saw were coughs, slips and breakdowns. A team not characterized by solid performances, but that was predictably unpredictable and consistently inconsistent.

For me, this season, had many, many positives as well. But how will you all remember this last 83?

When the situation demanded that the Kings rise to the occasion, with the exception of a marvelous Play-In punch to the Warriors gut, they came up short. Dallas. Dallas again. New Orleans, Phoenix. And to end the season – New Orleans.

Last edited 1 month ago by UpgradedToQuestionable
ForKingsandCountry
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April 21, 2024 5:42 pm

As always, no matter how much the Kings may try our patience and test our fortitude, this site continues to be incredible. Kudos to all the people who keep this community rolling year in and year out! You’re the best.

Klam
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April 21, 2024 5:56 pm

This site is the only thing that kept me sane during all those losing seasons. Whatever happens to the team, at least I know I can go here for great analysis and jokes.

ForKingsandCountry
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April 22, 2024 8:07 am
Reply to  Klam

Same here. I would have checked out long ago if not for TKH (and the other site before that).

NowLoveThemOnceAgain
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April 21, 2024 6:17 pm

Thanks for the coverage, Kings Herald. It’s a big part of the fun of being a Kings fan, even in this new era of early playoff/in contention. Just a few years ago we would not be talking about anything other than a draft pick!

NowLoveThemOnceAgain
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April 21, 2024 6:18 pm

PS I’m a NV fan–my biggest regret is losing the Bighorns a few years ago. That was my main connection to the Kings and I loved going to the games.

rockbottom
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April 21, 2024 6:45 pm

Enjoyable season and team . Yes , a bit disappointed in overall record and roster . It will be a tough go for Monte to improve this team enough to make any significant jump in the West . Rockets and Spurs are likely to be much stronger as well. Oh well, that is his job and wish him well .

Kings-Rebuild
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April 21, 2024 8:28 pm
Reply to  rockbottom

You made the most important point. I always thought the Kings would improve on a sugar high and then level off after the Sabonis and Huerter deals. It’s very doable to move from the bottom to decent but getting from decent to championship competitive or even deep play-off competitive is much more difficult. The Kings need another big who can stretch the floor and help control the glass. What they need is someone like KAT but how do you get that is the question you asked. I personally didn’t like the Haliburton trade nor the Huerter move although I really like Sabonis. Those moves kind of catapulted the Kings to decent but put us in a difficult position to move forward from there.

What to do now. Sign Monk hopefully with a fairly friendly team deal and then perhaps find an aging veteran with remaining mileage. Not realistic but Draymond Green or KAT would be the perfect fits for this team. Maybe you package Murray, Huerter and a draft pick for another impact player like KAT. The problem is there doesn’t seem to be a deal out there like that but Monte desperately has to find one or the Kings we be relegated to purgatory for the foreseeable future.

Bluejohn
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April 21, 2024 7:40 pm

Greg…thank you for a hell of a season covering the Kings. Yeah, the way the season ended was disappointing but sending the dubs home earlier took some of the sting out of our loss to the Pels.

You know we’ll all be here for the off season and next season as well. I think the way the season ended may actually serve as a catalyst for the FO to get to work improving our roster and for our roster to take next season understanding that there is no such thing as a gimme in the NBA regular season.

ajonez81
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April 21, 2024 8:10 pm

I still can’t read any of the comments in pink boxes, no idea what that is but it’s terrible. Other than that great job guys we appreciate you. My prediction is the basketball Gods are going to bless us with success soon hopefully the next few years, something good has to happen to this franchise eventually after all the suffering lol

Gabriel_Bonito
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April 21, 2024 8:42 pm
Reply to  ajonez81

Switch from night mode to day mode. If you’re using your phone, their should be an oval shaped button on the bottom right corner of the screen. If you tap the button it should switch the background color to white and text color to black which should make text in the highlighted boxes legible.

RikSmits
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April 21, 2024 10:26 pm

Thanks TKH.

Another good season with great articles and discussion and the wonderful only podcast I listen to on a regular basis.

(P.S. Can you please fix the login issues?)

UpgradedToQuestionable
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April 22, 2024 1:28 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

First, can you please honestly answer the following question:

Are you a robot?

Rickyflip
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April 22, 2024 2:22 am

Disappointing? No. Not as good as last season? Sure.

I was here for Kevin Martin. I was here for Ron Artest. I was here for Tyreke. I was here for Boogie. I was here for Maloofs. I was here for K9. I was here for Derrick Williams. I was here for Willie. I was here for Jimmer. I was here for Quincy Douby.

And they were ALL disappointing.

I think everyone got amnesia after last year and forgot just how meteoric our rise was. Despite the ups and downs, this was a GREAT season by the standards of the last 20 years. I for one am grateful to have seen every game of a winning team this season, and I look forward to more.

rockbottom
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April 22, 2024 6:21 am
Reply to  Rickyflip

Great points and I have not forgotten all those teams and players . Last two seasons very special and enjoyable .

VAking
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April 22, 2024 5:55 am

Thanks for the amazing work, KH!

LurkMcGurk
April 22, 2024 9:22 am

Many thanks to the Kings Herald staff. I thoroughly enjoyed your coverage throughout the season. You were consistently great all the way through. Fingers crossed that next year the team will be, too!

SavageBeast
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April 22, 2024 9:32 am

TKH team,

Thanks for another amazing year of coverage and community. I don’t post near as much as I did back in the day, mostly because I’m older and less cantankerous. But I love seeing all the familiar names and new faces hanging out here. After seeing how many great community sports sites got sucked up by Vox and then absolutely destroyed, my hat is off to you guys for picking up the STR pieces and not only making it just as good, but better. Amazing job!!!

RobHessing
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April 22, 2024 10:07 am

An entertaining but disappointing season – I’m glad that I spent so much time following the team this year (no snark).

It is jarring how suddenly the season just stopped. Until the last month or so, I had not even considered this team missing the playoffs, and had not spent even a minute looking at the draft prospects that might be available in the 13-14 range.

It will be an interesting off-season. The Kings can exceed the cap to re-sign Monk, offering as much as 4/$72m. My hope is that it is enough, as this is money that the Kings cannot really spend elsewhere. Historically, this type of contract is pretty good (when compared to market average) for a 6th man, and I don’t know that Monk projects to a starting role in a lot of places. That said, it just takes one team to blow 4/$72m out of the water. With or without Monk, I believe that the Kings also have an MLE slot, which hopefully they use to get longer at the 3-4.

I thank not only the TKH staff for their absolutely stunning coverage all season long, but also the vast majority of the thread participants. I got a lot of perspective, information and laughs from the TKH members that took part in the threads, and your intelligence, humor and decorum make this a community unlike any other. Looking forward to spending next season with all of you sick and twisted Kings fans (I know: redundant).

Go Kings!

Hobby916
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April 22, 2024 11:03 am
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Go put some pants on!

UpgradedToQuestionable
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April 22, 2024 1:31 pm
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$78M/4 years (according to The Bee)

BeTheBall
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April 22, 2024 11:06 am

As we move into the offseason, my one big hope for this team is that if Mike Brown isn’t going to adjust the “all 3s all day” offense to better reflect the skill set of the players he has, then McNair hopefully will be looking to add at least 2 or 3 above-average 3pt shooters to the roster.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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April 22, 2024 12:32 pm

Well, the season ended rather abruptly on an emotional rollercoaster with an awesome win against the Dubs then an thumping by the Pels. I’m little worn on the game right now and am likely not going to be watching much of the playoffs, at least not the first few rounds. I’ve got no second dog in the race and really only care about who gets knocked out. I’m rooting for all Pacific division teams to get knocked out early.

On to the offseason!!

I’m currently constructing a Cody Williams bandwagon if anyone wants on. I doubt he’ll be there at the end of the lottery, but maybe Monte can pull something out of his hat.

RobHessing
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April 22, 2024 12:37 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I’m kind of a DaRon Holmes fanboy at 13-14, but would also be fine with Ron Holland or Tyler Smith. I like Williams, but I’ll be shocked if the Kings keep the pick and wind up spending it on anyone under 21 years old (Holland and Smith are both under 20 as well).

Adamsite
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April 22, 2024 12:45 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

The idea of Holmes is intriguing, but he could even be there in the 2nd round. I’ve seen him mocked all over the place. My only issue with him is I get Bagley vibes from his game, but I do like his length.

AnybodyButBagley
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April 22, 2024 4:17 pm
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Bagley vibes from a game is a tough situation.

He actually plays enough to get a vibe or you have only seen him in street clothes or on X?

eddie41
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April 22, 2024 1:37 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Haven’t looked at the Ignite players yet. Thus far, I’ve been looking mostly at Tristan Da Silva, Kyle Filipowski and Jaylon Tyson.

BuffaloDiaspora
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April 22, 2024 1:04 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I am hoping the FO has at least some idea of what’s going on with Monk before the draft. If it looks like Monk is going to stay, I’m down for drafting a player and hoping for the best. If Monk is going to walk, though, getting some playmaking in the guard depth becomes absolutely imperative and if the pick has to be used as part of a trade to get there, then so be it.

If Atlanta is looking to blow it all up I wonder if they would be interested in getting their pick conveyed now + Huerter for Bogie to complete the circle of life.

Adamsite
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April 22, 2024 1:22 pm

I would hope that Monte and Monk’s camp had discussions prior to the deadline. If Monte is going into summer completely clueless as to Monk’s mindset then the team has bigger problems.

Mike120
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April 22, 2024 1:40 pm

Thank You Greg to you and your staff for the virtual lifeline to the Kings. Have thoroughly enjoyed the write up and game threads. I don’t how much you guys get paid if at all, but the content was excellent. Weirdly, I’m kind of relieved. The past month was full of excitement, anticipation, and angst. It’s all gone now. Not sure if we’re keeping the pick or if it can be conveyed to ATL, but will look forward to draft previews and trade/signing reports. It will slow down for us Kings fans for a while but as long at the Lakers don’t go too far, and the Celtics win it all, I’ll be good.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mike120
Corneroffense
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April 22, 2024 3:47 pm

Thanks Greg and company for all you do. It’s so great to read your insights, hear from the real die-hard community, and vent and play armchair GM ourselves. Really interested to see if Monte can get the ideal role players around Fox, Sabonis and Murray. Good article in The Ringer today on that. Denver took off when ‘they shored up their defense with Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell Pope’ to get ‘more physical and athletic’. An NBA scout said they should have a better passer at the 2 to free up Fox to score. I agree. Let’s hope this off season starts that ‘next step’.

BetweenAMitch_AHardPlace
April 22, 2024 4:58 pm
Reply to  Corneroffense

Didn’t Keon start at the 1 during pre-season? His ball-handling and passing can take another (big, hopefully) step next season, like he did w his defense.

BetweenAMitch_AHardPlace
April 22, 2024 5:09 pm

Wishlist for next season (in no order)

1) replace Barnes as starter w an athletic big body. Keegan’s great as a 3 & D (and some) player, but we still need that 4/5 new “tweener” type. Think Keon, but taller. And the D can take some more steps to being a top 10 unit.

2) Keep Keon as a starter. Please, for the love of all things Jerry.

3) No more McGee. Duarte can kick rocks too, but wouldn’t mind him around on a minimum to be an occasional nuisance to the other team.

4) Domas gain more weight. If you’re gonna play slow, might as well have a body to match it. Be the tank you are truly meant to be. Keep your conditioning, motor and consistency tho.

5) Fox, attack the rim more.

6) Keegan, do more of everything.

7) hope for this team to find a killer mentality. To avoid awful losses to awful teams, and to mind-boggling losses to good teams.

There’s more, but I’m done writing for now. Next season is a long time away, but the work never ends.

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