Remember when the Mavericks and the Kings were actually referred to as rivals?
Things have changed a bit over the last few years. After the Kings discarded the Mavericks in the 2004 playoffs by way of a 4-1 series drubbing, the Kings underwent quite an overhaul. With a core of Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Peja Stojakovic, Chris Webber, Brad Miller and Bobby Jackson, (who had aptly replaced Vlade Divac), the Kings had just suffered a heartbreaking seventh-game playoff loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Instead of making slight changes and making a run at it again, they slowly traded out each member of that old-guard Kings squad, leaving Mike Bibby the only true holdover remaining (Miller came in too late to really count). Check out the staggering amount of change they underwent from 2004-2006 (abridged for mercy's sake)
- June 2004: Drafted Kevin Martin
- July 2004: Signed Greg Ostertag
- October 2004: Signed Matt Barnes, Maurice Evans
- January 2005: Traded Doug Christie (first of the old guard to leave town) to Orlando for Cuttino Mobley and Michael Bradley
- February 2005: Traded Chris Webber, Matt Barnes and Michael Bradley to Philadelphia for Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson and Brian Skinner
- August 2005: Traded Bobby Jackson, Greg Ostertag to Memphis for Bonzi Wells
- January 2006: Traded Peja Stojakovic (last of the old guard to go) to Indiana for Ron Artest
To cap all of that, they hired Eric Musselman to be their coach in June 2006, running out Rick Adelman, the man who helped direct the run-and-gun circus that made those Kings teams so entertaining. Now they have no true identity. Bibby's scoring average, assists and shooting percentage fell significantly from 2005-06 to 2006-07 and just isn't what he used to be. Something is wrong with Miller who missed 19 games with injury last year and posted very poor numbers otherwise. Artest has been good when he plays, but can't seem to play an entire season without getting suspended or offering some kind of knucklehead distraction. Martin is their best player, but nobody seems to want to give him much help. They lack depth and focus, something that new coach Reggie Theus will try his hardest to fix. Good luck.
So, the question remains...what is the identity of this Kings team? Are they a rebuilding team with young players that should pan out in a couple of years? Not really. Are they a veteran squad who could put something together if they could stay healthy? Probably not. Are they a good trade away from coming close to the playoffs. Possibly. It's really hard to say what they are, other than bad. It's unfortunate too, those rabid fans in Sacramento deserve more. And those memories of a rabid run-and-gun rivalry between the league's two preeminent offensive floor shows is a distant memory for Mavs and Kings fans alike.
-Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd