Sacramento is fighting for a new arena, and the lack of basketball games will stifle fan interest. The lack of practice opportunity will only hamper the ability for the team to grow some chemistry. And finally, the Kings would, under nearly any CBA, have a good amount of cap room that the Maloof brothers said last season they were ready and willing to spend.
But no matter how long it takes (and it could take until next season, according to the most pessimistic reports), the NBA will eventually return. And if that return happens this season, the Kings will have a good chance at signing a free agent or two.
Let's take a look at the top free agents the Sacramento Kings should sign.
Marcus Thornton was the under-appreciated hero of last season for Sacramento.
Kings fans didn’t pay enough attention to Thornton with such distractions as Tyreke Evans’ struggles and DeMarcus Cousins’ hijinks. And the selection of Jimmer Fredette in the draft made fans forget that they already had a jump-shooting wingman.
But re-signing Thornton must be the team's top priority when the lockout ends. Thornton averaged 20.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals after being acquired from New Orleans in a deadline deal. No matter the expectations for the incoming Jimmer, Thornton is a huge part of the Kings' future.
The Kings have a bit of a logjam at small forward, with John Salmons the favorite to win the starting spot. Francisco Garcia, Donte Greene and rookie Tyler Honeycutt are expected to be the backups.
Still, the Kings should look to add another wingman, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute would be a very solid addition.
He's not a big-time scorer, averaging just 6.7 points a contest, but he's an excellent wing defender, a very solid rebounder and would be an exceptionally good role player.
The Kings don't need any more big-time scorers, they need to figure out how to build around the scorers they have. And role players like Moute would be a huge help.
Grant Hill is at the tail end of his career and will likely seek to sign with a contender. But the longtime NBA veteran could be a huge help in Sacramento.
The Kings need vocal leaders to help build up the team's chemistry, and the 13-year veteran would be a significant help to Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins as they put their team together.
He did average 13.8 points and 4.2 rebounds last season, so he isn't exactly washed up as a player either.
Marc Gasol is the biggest name in NBA free agency, and Memphis will likely overpay to keep him.
But just imagine the possibility if Sacramento could sign him. The Kings would have incredible depth and flexibility in the paint with Gasol, DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson and newly acquired JJ Hickson.
The Lakers won their last two championships with size, and if the Kings could nab Gasol they'd undoubtedly be one of the biggest and most intimidating post teams in the league.
Gasol averaged 11.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks for the Grizzlies and was excellent alongside Zack Randolph. Here's hoping he could be that perfect fit alongside DeMarcus Cousins as well.
Mike Bibby wouldn't really be signed for his talent alone but mainly as a mentor to the current Kings lineup. He'd also bring in a ton of fan interest if he returned and Sacramento will need that after this long lockout.
A lot of fans see a similarity between Bibby and the team's draft selection, Jimmer Fredette. Bibby could be an excellent mentor for Fredette's transition into the NBA game and would be a great bench guard for Sacramento.
Interest in Bibby will likely be low after his disastrous time in Miami last season, but in Sacramento he'd be welcomed with open arms.
The Kings could use a spark plug off the bench, and Patrick Mills fits that bill perfectly.
The two-year veteran from Saint Mary's College had been a great sixth man for the Portland Trail Blazers. He's a bit short to play the point but he's a good scorer, a good point guard and a good defender. He could come off the bench like Bobby Jackson did in the glory years for the Kings and provide an excellent scoring punch.
He's kept himself busy this season playing in his home country of Australia, dominating with his lightning-quick speed and all-around sharp skills.
Mills seems very connected to the Portland community, however, so you have to question if he'll leave.
Tayshaun Prince's hard-nosed defense and shooting abilities would make him an instant starter in Sacramento even with incumbent John Salmons.
With all the turbulence in Detroit over the past few seasons, he's likely to leave and test his skills elsewhere. If Sacramento could convince him his future is with the Kings, his abilities as a defensive role player could help propel the team's hopes of a playoff berth.
There have been concerns with Prince over the past few years being a locker-room problem, which wouldn't help Sacramento in the slightest, but his skills are worth the risk.
The reasons to sign Nene are the same as they'd be for Gasol. He'd bring height and a determination on the glass and defensive end that the Kings lack, and together with Cousins, Thompson and Hickson, would make Sacramento a truly dominant inside presence.
He averaged 14.5 points, 7.6 boards and a block per contest for the Nuggets last year but with Denver's future up in the air, it's a good possibility he'll sign elsewhere.
The reasons against: He'd likely need to be vastly overpaid in order to entice him with Sacramento, and the Kings shouldn't overpay anyone with a new CBA hampering costs.
He may be short, but Earl Boykins could teach the Kings guards a thing or two about defending on the wing.
In terms of bench depth, there are not a lot of guards out there who could provide the Kings with the second- or third-string point guard they need to fit with Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette and hopefully a re-signed Marcus Thornton.
Boykins only averaged 15 minutes a game last season, but averaged seven points and three assists a contest while shooting 38 percent from three-point territory. He is one of the game's smartest players, able to make it in the NBA while standing just 5'5", and that grit and determination would be an excellent addition for Sacramento.
In terms of fulfilling a need for the Kings, there may not be a better fit than Shane Battier.
Battier, a 10-year veteran, could bring a defensive intensity that the team as a whole lacks. He's an excellent leader and could fit that role well and is a fine shooter to help draw attention away from the Kings' bigger-name scorers.
While Battier is likely to test the free-agent waters for contenders, Sacramento should seriously make a move for the wingman. He'd be the perfect fit thanks to his leadership and his hard-nosed defense.