Sunday Musings: Kings primed for team, personal improvement?

Is this finally the Kings' year?

Hope springs eternal during every offseason. Until a team falters, there is always that smidgen of possibility that things will be different, even for a franchise like Sacramento that has put on a masters class in futility over the last 16 years.

Maybe this time they got it right. Maybe the basketball gods will finally shine down upon a fanbase that is long overdue for some good news. Maybe…just maybe.

There is no question that general manager Monte McNair has put together a strong summer. Landing a seasoned, successful coach in Mike Brown was the first domino to fall, but it was just one in a string of positive moves for the Kings.

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The lottery balls were kind, which gave the Kings a shot at a franchise altering player at No. 4. A trade for Kevin Huerter gave Brown some much needed size and shooting at the two. The fact that Red Velvet is at the beginning of a four-year contract is a positive as well.

Landing Malik Monk in free agency, a long time friend of De’Aaron Fox and another scorer, could give the Kings an element that they lacked last season.

When Keegan Murray stepped on the floor during summer league, both in Sacramento and in Las Vegas, he was better than expected. His maturity on the court and all around play earned him the Vegas MVP award and should equate to major minutes early in his career.

Now in the dog days of summer, the positivity continues. Despite tough losses to Slovenia, France and Germany, Domantas Sabonis is playing extremely well for the Lithuanian National team. His countrymen don’t seem to know how to capitalize on his skill set, but that won’t be an issue in Sacramento.

Sabonis looks like he’s in great shape, although he hasn’t shown off his 3-point shooting in EuroBasket, which is something he’s focused on this summer. Brown and owner Vivek Ranadivé were in attendance Saturday to watch their prize center battle against Rudy Gobert and team France.

While Sabonis is getting some bonus summer basketball in, players are already in Sacramento preparing for the upcoming season, including Fox, Monk, Huerter, Terence Davis, Richaun Holmes, Keon Ellis, Matthew Delevadova and Chima Moneke. Many of these players have been battling the sweltering heat in the Capital City for the last week or more.

Early arrivals are a welcomed sight at the Kings’ practice facility. The smile on Fox’s face is also something to note. A group of players even took in the Kendrick Lamar concert together this week.

There is a lot riding on this season for Sacramento and having Fox in the right frame of mind is imperative. Entering his sixth NBA season, this is the deepest team that Fox has played with and Sabonis is the best player he’s suited up alongside.

Adding to the excitement of the season is that a couple of teams that have historically competed for playoff contention have decided to take a step backward this offseason, including San Antonio and Utah. There are also some teams at the bottom of the Western Conference that appear to have no desire to compete for the postseason in Houston and Oklahoma City.

By default, the Kings should be in the top 11 and with the league keeping the play-in tournament around this season, Sacramento should at least have a shot to compete for one of the top 10 spots.

If the Kings somehow find a way to be in the playoff conversation at the midpoint of the season, that could open the door for individual accolades as well.

With the Spurs' decision to trade away All-Star guard DeJounte Murray, an All-Star spot opened up. When the Jazz dealt both of their All-Stars in Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, two more became available.

There are veterans who could return to form and compete for a few of these spots in Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. But a strong team performance mixed with a strong showing from Fox or Sabonis could land the Kings their first All-Star since 2017 when DeMarcus Cousins got the call…and then was traded during the game.

We are just three weeks away from media day and the start of training camp. The Kings have a lot to prove, both individually and as a franchise, but the vibe around the team is about as positive as it has been in the last decade or more.

Hope springs eternal, Kings fans. You have a really good coach, a promising rookie, rotational additions that fit needs, two players with All-Star potential and teams around you that aren’t looking to compete.

Nothing is going to be handed to this group. They have a major challenge ahead, but at least they are starting in the middle of the pack with an opportunity to make some noise.

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