First-year head coach Mike Malone has experienced a collection of challenges with the Sacramento Kings in 2013-14. Most recently, his team fell to 1-2 on the current seven-game road trip with a 104-89 loss against the Brooklyn Nets on March 9, which prompted him to call out players for selfish play.
“Right now, what I see on both ends of the floor is the disease of ‘me,’” Malone said, per The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones. “I think we’re becoming a selfish basketball team on both ends.”
After their second straight loss, the Kings continue to flounder near the bottom of the Western Conference standings at 22-41, just a half-game ahead of the lowly Los Angeles Lakers. And although Malone said that his guys are “becoming a selfish basketball team,” that fact has been relatively clear-cut all season. Sacramento ranks dead last in assists, dishing out 19.1 per game.
Their issues were on full display in the loss against Brooklyn, as Jones pointed out:
There was plenty of evidence to support (Malone’s claim of selfish play) in the Kings’ latest loss. ... The Kings matched their season low with 11 assists, were slow to help each other on defense and committed a season-high 24 turnovers.
Malone was not at all pleased with the heinously low assist total, saying, “Eleven assists in a 48-minute game is absurd.”
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who is averaging 22.4 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game—leading the team in all three categories—echoed his coach’s stance.
“The turnovers and selfish play is what’s hurting us right now,” he said, per Jones. “Coach is right, we’re not playing for one another right now. We’re playing for ourselves. We’re not going to win games playing that way.”
The Kings did manage to make a deal in December as an attempt to better the squad in the short term, but it hasn't changed the "bottom feeder" moniker.
Since acquiring small forward Rudy Gay from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, the Kings have compiled a disappointing 16-27 record in games the 27-year-old has appeared in.
This isn’t the first time that Malone has ripped into his roster. Following a Dec. 23 home loss against the New Orleans Pelicans, the coach told reporters, “We’re a bad basketball team. That’s the bottom line. We’re a bad basketball team right now,” per a News10 Sacramento video.
As the months have gone by, the Kings have done very little to remedy being a “bad basketball team.”
Sacramento hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2005-06 season, and Malone is the team’s sixth different coach since then. (The full list in order: Eric Musselman, Reggie Theus, Kenny Natt, Paul Westphal, Keith Smart and Malone.)
Unless the Kings manage to find a franchise-changing talent in the 2014 draft to slot beside “Boogie” Cousins, there’s no reason to believe this roster will change its losing fortunes in 2014-15.