With the promise of (hopefully) another high lottery pick for the Sacramento Kings today at 5 p.m., it seemed appropriate to take a look at the track record of their President of Basketball Operations, Geoff Petrie.
Since their last playoff appearance in 2006, watching Kings basketball has been brutal, to say the very least.
In that six year drought, the Kings have have not had a winning season. In the last three, their combined record is 71-159, and one season prior to that set a franchise low in wins with 17. To call their cellar dwelling a fall from grace doesn't seem to fit. It's felt more like having a knife plunged into my chest while being told it's alright, things will get better.
Things are clearly not getting better, that knife keeps going deeper in my chest.
Perhaps that hyperbole is a little over-dramatic. Overblown or not, the fact remains that the Kings are still a mediocre team at best, and a team that firmly sits in the bottom third of the league.
Through all the personnel changes on and off the court, one constant remains outside of the buffoons owning the team. The constant being the brains of the front office, Petrie.
His two accomplishments that were indicative of his abilities came over a decade ago, winning Executive of the Year in 1999 and 2001, since then the product on the court has only declined steadily.
Through it all, their have been questionable trades and signings that could be their own articles, but one area Petrie always appeared to have it together was in the way he evaluated talent.
However, since drafting a number solid players, including Peja Stojakovic, Jason Williams, Hedo Turkoglu, Gerald Wallace and Kevin Martin to name a few, the decision making has become questionable.
Anybody will admit that Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins have boundless potential, but there are some other directions the Kings could have, and perhaps should have gone in those drafts and years prior. We'll start from when they began missing the playoffs, with the 2006 draft.
To be fair, no one was sure how good either of these players would be.
Of the three mentioned above, one is currently out of the league.
Douby had a big NCAA tournament and was drafted with the thought of becoming a Gilbert Arenas-type—someone who was a shooting guard in college but can learn to run the point.
Douby fizzled out after three seasons, being traded to Toronto before jumping overseas. While the Rutgers product at No. 19 didn't work out for Sacramento, Rondo at No. 21 eventually would become an All-Star in Boston.
Lowry at No. 24 has improved by leaps and bounds with the Houston Rockets in the past two seasons.
It's debatable how good either could have been on the Kings, but it may be safe to assume either would have been better than Douby was in his stint.
It's hard to criticize Petrie for taking Spencer Hawes, as he really wanted to select Joakim Noah.
Noah was picked by the Chicago Bulls just one spot before Sacramento. Giving up on Spencer Hawes and the subsequent handling of Samuel Dalembert were major mistakes.
There were other players who could have been had, like Wilson Chanlder or Aaron Afflalo, but neither were very high draft picks. Thaddeus Young wouldn't have been a bad pick either, but the Hawes pick could have still worked out.
At the time the Dalembert trade made a lot of sense, as the Kings improved their defense by trading a fledgling player for an established one.
Sacramento now has nothing to show for that trade.
This past winter, Dalembert spurned the Kings by signing with Houston, using Sacramento as leverage against the Rockets in the process.
While in Philly, Hawes has developed into a serviceable center for the Sixers. He may even be a fringe all-star in the next few years if he stays healthy.
At the time I fully supported the move but, by sitting on Dalembert and not moving him at the trade deadline, the Kings lost out on getting at least something in return for the big man and allowed him to walk.
Thinking about how the Kings could have had Roy Hibbert is something that SactownRoyalty.com brought up in a recent article, which partially influenced the article you're reading.
Thompson still is showing growth and potential to be a legitimate starting power forward in the NBA. At No. 17, the Indiana Pacers snagged Hibbert, a member of the 2012 Eastern Conference All-Star Team.
At Georgetown, the 7'2" big man was a force, but some were skeptical of his ability to adapt to the athletic up-and-down tempo the NBA has shifted toward.
After a few years adjusting, Hibbert has stepped up and become a pillar for a developing Pacers team.
It is hard to not at least think about how Sacramento would be with a player like Hibbert on the team instead of Thompson. One is currently better than the other, however you split it.
In the second round, the Kings also picked Patrick Ewing Jr. over Goran Dragic.
Beno Udrih could have been the perfect mentor.
Wait, never mind. Steve Nash was a pretty good one.
But, the thought of having two incredibly similar players on the same team is mind- numbing.
Back in 2009, assuming the Kings would be getting the first pick after being unbelievably bad, I was torn as to who they should take.
The question looming was this: Blake Griffin or Ricky Rubio?
Both were considered to be future stars, one looking to be be something between Karl Malone and Charles Barkley. The other was somewhat reminiscent of Pistol Pete's flair and floor vision of someone like Magic Johnson—two things rarely seen.
But, the Kings didn't get the first pick.
Or the second.
Or the third.
They landed No. 4, the lowest possible pick.
With it, they took a player who I was convinced was their future after seeing one two-to-three minute workout video the Kings had uploaded to YouTube.
Evans looked big. Physical, yet agile and graceful. He was truly an enigma.
Rubio, who had been the consensus No. 2 pick for months, fell out of the top three.
This was my dream scenario: the Kings get to choose between Tyreke Evans and Ricky Rubio.
After vehemently supporting Rubio, I changed my tune and got on the Evans bandwagon a few weeks before the draft. The decision itself split the Kings front office and led to Jason Levien's somewhat forced exit, as speculated by Sactown Royalty.
After he won Rookie of the Year, it appeared things had worked out well. Since then, Evans' development has been minimal.
Teams have learned to pack the paint, forcing him to rely on his at best jump shot more often or drive into a crowd of defenders.
Rubio just finished his rookie season and showed why there was so much hype around him. While I can't say the Kings should have taken Rubio over Evans just yet, there appears to be some question as to whether Evans was the right choice.
Let us not forget Stephen Curry, the Davidson darling who, early in the 2008-2009 season, looked to be a Top Five pick as well. While Evans and Curry have both struggled with injuries, Curry still has been the better player overall than Evans.
Casspi was one of the best rookies for the first half of the season and appeared to have shored up the Kings woes at small forward.
After hitting the rookie wall, Casspi never really recovered. He was shipped out this past offseason for the failed J.J. Hickson experiment.
Rebound machine Taj Gibson was picked a few slots later than Casspi by, yet again, the Bulls.
Had they not signed Carlos Boozer two years ago, Gibson would most likely be the starting power forward for that team. He probably should be starting now.
Again, the Kings have nothing to show for the player they drafted, and also owe the Cavaliers a pick in the future.
On the surface there is nothing inherently wrong with this pick.
Cousins had a shaky rookie year, but showed promise. This past season he showed improvement on the foundation laid and looks to have matured mentally.
It's hard to not to at least entertain the thought of the Kings going after a safe product, like Greg Monroe. Or filling a need the team still had and reaching a for a potential star, like Paul George.
George would most certainly be the starting small forward for Sacramento, and Monroe's productions is similar to Cousins. He is likely a more manageable personality.
I don't want to overthink this idea, as Cousins is a player I think has the potential to be the best big man in the league.
Conversely, Cousins could be the next Derrick Coleman, a very good big man who never got over conditioning issues. He never pushed himself to get better.
The jury on Cousins is still out, and it would be a bit shortsighted to say the Kings should have taken someone else over a player with a ceiling as high as Cousins.
Hassan Whiteside, who played one minute his rookie season, played fairly well in limited minutes for the Kings this season.
While it seems unlikely he'll amount to much in the NBA, he still has the height, athleticism and blocking ability to potentially be a decent third or fourth big man in a rotation.
However, Landry Fields has carved out a nice niche in New York as a hard-nosed and high-character type of player for the Knicks.
At the time of the trade, I drank the Kool-Aid and believed the move Petrie made was right.
Despite the fact that weeks, if not months, leading up to the draft, I felt that Jimmer had Petrie written all over him—an undersized offensive-minded guard.
It wasn't just the act of drafting Jimmer where the Kings failed. It was the fact that they traded down when they could have picked two players that actually played the position they're hoping Fredette can eventually play.
Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker made much more sense with this pick than the trade they made.
Drafting someone like Kawhi Leonard could have even been a better pick. He would have likely been the starting small forward by the end of the season, at the least.
He starts for the Spurs, a team currently in the Western Conference Finals.
The Kings traded down in the draft for an older, less productive player with a larger contract.
Where does this trade make sense?
I'm not going to completely poo-poo on Jimmer though. He had a mediocre rookie season, but that doesn't mean he still can't be a legitimate rotation player in the league.
Petrie's saving grace from this whole debacle was the Isaiah Thomas pick at No. 60. That pick was lucky, though, and how Thomas responds in his second season will show whether he is a legitimate starting point guard in the NBA.
Tyler Honeycutt barely played this past season, and when he did looked mostly confused and lost on the court.
However, he did come out after two mediocre seasons at UCLA after being a top recruit out of high school. He has potential to be another Francisco Garcia type—a long, lanky wing defender and spot shooter.
Someone who showed more in his rookie campaign was Chandler Parsons, who was snagged a few picks after Honeycutt. Out of Florida, he displayed his versatility on the Houston Rockets.
While I am very happy with Isaiah Thomas, this draft could have turned out better than what Petrie was able to do with it.
Aside from the fact that hindsight is 20/20 and Petrie missed the boat on a number of players who have turned out to be better than some of the players he's picked, being a general manager is hard.
While Petrie hasn't been able to bottle that same lightning he caught at the early part of the past decade, he hasn't exactly made his own luck either.
Many of the trades made appeared to be for the purpose of cutting costs. Other moves included over-paying for players, undervaluing players or just a general mismanage of this rebuild.
While a Vlade Divac type is very unlikely to come in and be the catalyst like he was for the Kings in 1999, something has to give. Eventually these pieces all need to fit.
Whether that means swapping certain pieces with ones that fitter better, or figuring out how to squeeze them in, the Kings have come to a tipping point.
They may begin to improve this next season, after having their best winning percentage since 2008. Or, they will continue to hang amongst the slop of the bottom-tier teams and be lottery bound until adequate management and owners can come in and help make this team as competitive as it is capable of being.
It also means that the Kings could have had a team that looked something like this:
SG-Kevin Martin—assuming Evans is out, there is no issue at SG
Sixth-Ricky Rubio/Stephen Curry
Seventh-Spencer Hawes—and they don't give up on him
While this team isn't fantastic, assuming all these players progress similarly to how they have in real life, or close to how they have, the Kings have a good team on paper.
That is a playoff team, at least. Even with this model, all the pieces don't fit.
A slight tweak via a trade could make this fake team a contender.