The Sacramento Kings, whose owners want to sell them to a group that will move the team to Seattle, are struggling this season — again.
After Sacramento blew a 17-point lead and lost at home in overtime to Dallas two weeks ago, a Western Conference scout offered a remedy for the struggling NBA franchise that looks now like it will be moving to Seattle.
“Blow ‘em up,” he said. “Everybody goes.”
If this were a normal season, the Kings would consider shopping Tyreke Evans, the 2010 rookie of the year, and they would entertain offers for big man DeMarcus Cousins, their most prized asset, with the Feb. 21 NBA trade deadline approaching.
But this season is far from normal for the Kings.
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Pending NBA approval of a sale that transfers controlling interest to an investment group with plans to relocate the team to Seattle next season, it appears to be the last days for the Kings in Sacramento.
Everything about the team could change next season. New location. New nickname. And new players.
“This situation is a little bit different because of everything that’s going on, but you never know from year to year what team you’re going to be playing with,” said fourth-year guard Aaron Brooks, a Franklin High School graduate who has played with three NBA teams. “You just have to be professional. Do your job.
“We’ll see what happens next season, next season. Right now, we’ve got to worry about this season, trying to play better and win some games.”
Sacramento coach Keith Smart said the games offer a “two-hour break from reality” and the off-court distractions haven’t had an impact on the court.
However, on Monday when the Maloofs announced they were selling their stake in the Kings to investor Chris Hansen’s group, the Kings had perhaps their worst performance of the season. They trailed by 27 points in the second quarter at New Orleans and lost 114-105.
The defeat dropped Sacramento to 16-26. It’s 13th in the Western Conference and headed for another trip to the NBA draft lottery.
The Kings haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, the second-longest playoff drought in the NBA.
During that time, they’ve had mediocre drafts, aside from selecting Evans in 2009 and Cousins in 2010.
Due to the possible change in ownership, the Kings are in limbo as it pertains to personnel decisions.
It’s unlikely 64-year-old general manager Geoff Petrie, who is in the last year of his contract, will trade Sacramento’s leading scorers. Cousins and Evans.
The Kings could move veterans such as John Salmons, Jason Thompson, Marcus Thornton and Chuck Hayes to free up salary-cap space.
Salmons is the highest-paid player on the team, making $8 million. Thompson is scheduled to make $24.8 million the next four seasons. Thornton is due $16.7 million the next two seasons and Sacramento will pay Hayes $11.6 million over two seasons.
The Kings have $58.1 million invested in the payroll this season, slightly more than the $58 million salary cap. They’re committed to about $45 million next season, not including a $6.9 million qualifying offer needed to retain Evans.
At some point, whoever leads the team will need to decide if Evans can coexist with Cousins. In three seasons, the Kings have won fewer than a third of their games with their two best players.
At 6-foot-6, Evans isn’t a prototypical point guard. He averaged 20.1 points as a rookie, but his scoring has decreased in each of the next three seasons, down to 14.7.
Cousins, a 6-11, 270-pound center, is averaging 17.8 points and 10.4 rebounds. He’s a future All-Star candidate who has been suspended three times this season for outbursts against players, coaches, referees and media.
Aside from the Evans-Cousins decision, the Kings haven’t decided on a point guard, rotating Evans, Brooks and former Washington star Isaiah Thomas.
“Our biggest thing is finding our roles,” Brooks said. “When you don’t have a set identity that’s a problem.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @percyallen.