When looking at the Kings' 2008-09 roster, you can only imagine what kind of damage they could do with only one or two veteran impact players. The million dollar question is always, how can we get them and what do we need to do?
How much easier would be it for Coach Theus and franchise player Kevin Martin to get their team to the playoffs with one or two experienced veterans? Although Martin has proven to be the go-to guy, he has not proven to be a team leader. It is difficult to guide a ship with a full crew to the correct destination without experience and strong leadership.
With Shareef Abdur-Rahim retiring due to reoccurring knee problems, the Kings are dependant on 10-year veteran Brad Miller, second-year center Spencer Hawes, and rookies Donte Green and Jason Thompson. Theus always has a game plan in place and excels at getting every drop of talent out of his young players. However to get into the playoffs it takes experience and leadership—which young players often lack.
Maybe the Kings should go ahead and grab free agent Bonzi Wells to join 10-year veteran Bobby Jackson, who returned to the Kings from Minnesota. Or how about adding Alonzo Mourning or P.J. Brown, both of whom are free agents? All of these players are on the decline but they do top the list of the available free agents.
The problem is the Kings have luxury tax issues. Shareef Abdur-Rahim will work as an assistant coach for the Kings probably because he has two years remaining on his contract. He will be paid $6.2 million and $6.6 million, respectively. So grabbing a couple veterans may be a difficult proposition when the team is only approximately $1.7 million below the luxury tax cap.
So what is the solution for this year? General Manager Geoff Petrie will have to allow Coach Theus to build up those young players capable of improving quickly and assisting Martin, Miller, Hawes, Salmons, Garcia, and Moore. This means allowing players to play through their mistakes and finding the right chemistry for proven players.
If no improvements are shown, Petrie should start trading because the Pacific Division has not gotten any weaker—especially when examining offseason changes throughout the division.
With last year arguably being the most competitive Western Conference playoff race in the NBA’s history, and don’t expect this year to be any different. The Kings can only hope to get maximum performance out of this years draft class and new acquisitions.
If not, prepare for another bumpy ride.