Harsh reality facing Kings after another disappointing season

Is this really the best of all possible worlds?

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The reaction was universal. You could audibly hear the Sacramento Kings’ team, front office, and fanbase sigh in relief when it was announced that Domantas Sabonis sustained no structural damage to his left knee in the team’s loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

Sabonis will not travel with the team on their five game road trip, and barring some miraculous change in the standings over the next five games, his season is likely over.

The list of players set to miss all or most of the final nine games for the Kings is growing. Richaun Holmes has stepped away from the team due to personal reasons. De’Aaron Fox is nursing a sore right hand, which could potentially keep him out of the final nine games as well.

None of these injuries are considered serious, but with the team sitting at 25-48, this is a “best of all possible worlds” situation, to quote the great philosopher, Dr. Pangloss. 

This, of course, is not the best of all possible worlds, but for those who have watched this team over the last decade and a half, it feels like it is. A better outcome would be that the Kings were snapping their 15-year playoff drought and that would be a minimum.

Being optimistic about this franchise is difficult. It takes a certain amount of short term and long term memory loss. 

How is losing Sabonis, Fox and Holmes a good thing? The good folks who believe in tanking already had their GIFs locked and loaded on social media. The truly optimistic continuously hit the refresh button on Tankathon’s “Sim Lottery” button and post screenshots when the Kings land the top overall pick.

This is what being a Kings fan has come down to. It hasn’t been about wins and losses for a long time, that would be downright silly.

I could try to pitch you that this offseason might be different. That Fox and Sabonis are the pillars of a very strong foundation that general manager Monte McNair will build from. That a top 5 pick can change this franchise for the better and that the Kings have trade assets to work with and plenty of cap space. And lastly, that McNair will get to hire his own coach this summer.

All of these things could be true. I may even write a few road map pieces this offseason that break down how a roster could be assembled in Sacramento. 

This is the optimist in me. It’s the optimism that so many fans have every offseason. Hope springs eternal, until the Kings get to the final nine games of a season and are once again nothing more than a speck in the rearview mirror of NBA playoff teams. 

A realistic assessment of where the Kings are today is tough. The lottery gods might not shine down upon a team that has quite frankly blown 90 percent of its draft opportunities over the last 15 years. A top 2 pick can change this franchise. Selection from picks 3-8 are nothing more than a crapshoot that will take a couple of years to figure out.

Despite having nearly $40 million in expiring contracts and draft capital, McNair might not be able to find another franchise building block. He also might not be able to find a home for Holmes’ final three years’ worth of contract.

The Kings might land a middle of the road free agent, but not a game changer. Donte DiVincenzo could flat out tell the team that he doesn’t want to re-sign with the club after being relegated to the bench after coming over via trade. Ownership might mettle in basketball decisions once again and push a coach on McNair that doesn’t fit his vision. 

Until this franchise proves that they are on the right path, not a 25-48 path, then they don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. 

So go on, celebrate the tank in the last nine games and completely ignore that this team selected Jimmer Fredette, Thomas Robinson, Ben McLemore, Nik Stauskas, Willie Cauley-Stein, Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley in the first round since 2011.

Gloss over that these losses likely mean that rookie Davion Mitchell will play for his third NBA coach next season. Forget that Fox and Sabonis didn’t get more time to build chemistry or that Harrison Barnes is entering the final year of his contract.

Go get those losses, because this is clearly the best of all possible worlds Kings fans. 

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