The Boston Celtics play host to the Sacramento Kings today as trade rumors and smoke screens swirl about. Will anything come of it? Probably not. Will this game be good? Probably not. Did I write anything below the fold about what's about to take place on the court? Yeah, no. Let's talk Kings basketball!
When: Friday, March 19th, 4:30 PM PST
Where: CTD Garden, Boston, MA
TV: NBCSCA - Mark Jones on the call.
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
"Hey ramblin' (owner) now wontcha settle down?": The Kings are 2-2 since coming back from the All-Star Break - a fact that can't be celebrated or lamented too hard because well, they're too bad for the wins to mean much and they aren't bad enough for those losses to really move the franchise into a position for a truly game changing player in this upcoming draft. Sacramento isn't basketball hell, it's basketball purgatory and your only hope of leaving is to give up all hope in the first place and just let the waves of acceptance wash over you - this team is more likely to spend another fifteen years out of the playoff race than win a championship in the next thirty. That isn't a knock on Monte McNair - I think he's a fine choice and probably an intelligent man with a solid knack for this stuff. But the current ownership cannot, under any circumstances, get the hell out of their own way.
I wish I had the drive left in me to look up previous seasons, but just yesterday Howard Beck went on local radio host Matt George's Locked on Kings podcast and is quoted as saying "One of the things I heard, (Kings are) only going to trade Barnes & Hield if they're blown away by an offer. Not because they over-value them, but because Vivek Ranadive wants to be competitive, doesn't want to tank, he values those two guys".
With other reports from Sam Amick and James Ham that Vivek isn't willing to cut the legs from the team in the hopes of getting a player impactful today and that the Kings as an entity aren't looking to swap vets like Barnes and Buddy for young players and future draft assets like many fans had hoped... it is truly just a goddamn Groundhog Day scenario for us here sitting around waiting for a new day to dawn. It's amazing how perspective changes over time isn't it? Once, I felt impressed with Vivek saying he surrounded himself with people much smarter than he was. It was billionaire speak, sure, but with us all coming off of the Maloofs, there was a humble charm to it. Now, I'd venture to guess that when it comes to the operation of a professional basketball team, Vivek could walk into his empty team store and not be in the top tier of basketball minds.
Obviously, money is a big motivating factor. It always has been and always will be in a small market like Sacramento. He's gushing money downtown because of the pandemic and I'm sure to someone who has always seemed a little illiquid, a playoff race with COVID-19 restrictions easing up sounds like just the ticket to turn those red months in the ledger to green.
You know what else would? A true goddamn superstar. Not, De'Aaron Fox, whose ceiling is begging for an All-Star Game when the Kings are finally at .500 at the season's break - I'm talking a guy who steps on the court in an opposing arena and an obnoxious amount of kids are rocking his jersey. Someone who can be the engine to 8 years of playoff appearances. Vivek likes to quote his old friend Steve Jobs about "putting a dent in the universe". He's been here seven season and can't even put a dent in the Pacific Division. How much money does a guy like Luka make Mark Cuban? How many more seats get filled, jerseys get bought, beers are drank if the Kings just picked the consensus year after year - if Vivek Ranadive picked someone willing to just pick the consensus and then stayed the hell out of his way? This isn't even about a single player on Mavs. This is about the consistent refusal from the top to just realize the hole they've dug, then stop. fucking. digging.
Make no mistake, he IS the guy I put this on. After three general managers, a near half dozen coaches and as many off-seasons and trade deadlines of "Ownership is afraid to do this" or "ownership is always a factor when it comes to deals in Sacramento", Vivek is the lone guy there. No more Chris Mullins or Brandon Williams cop outs. This team is destined to top out a three years of clawing at the eighth seed then bottoming out again because Vivek Ranadive can't just stay all the way out of it. Sure, the first run to the playoffs will be fun, even if the Kings are crushed into dust by teams with good owners who listen to the management they hired. Vivek will stand at center court and talk about promised kept looking like George Bush on an aircraft carrier with a "Mission Accomplished" sign waving proudly in the background. He'll get some short term gains from it and be happy, never knowing that he went about his entire tenure with the Kings in the hardest, most difficult way possible and wound up with less than if he'd have just said nothing at all and let a competent GM work.
Is there a possibility that this is all a smokescreen and wowee, lookie there Barnes and Buddy got traded before the deadline? Sure. But it won't do much to ease the anxiety and general malaise that is setting in. He's done it once, he's done it a thousand times and he's worry-warted and affected who knows how many deals that would have improved this team, pressured his pick in the draft who knows how many times. He doesn't even have to be successful in his attempts to have a negative effect on the totality of the franchise. Just constant pressure, constant micromanaging, constant worrying to the press about how long it's going to take to be a winner.
Sad part is, one playoff appearance isn't going to excite me too much. That ship has sailed. 14 seasons without a playoff appearance I want a squad built for a championship run, that has a ceiling with a Larry O'Brien hanging from the chandelier. I'm not saying this current squad isn't the start of that. I'm saying that if Vivek can't change, they're never ever going to do anything but step out of the basement and onto the first floor for a while. Don't put a dent in the universe, man. Just put a sock in it.
The Kings Herald staff have ordered padding and wall mounts. They've started a text thread asking if anyone can figure out what size jacket I am, you know. Just in case, Will needs it.
Kings: 124, Celtics: 119