The NBA has a new king (pun intended) of futility.
The Sacramento Kings were officially eliminated from playoff contention with Sunday's loss to the Golden State Warriors, marking the 16th consecutive season they have missed the postseason. That breaks a record previously held by the Los Angeles Clippers, who missed the playoffs 15 years straight from 1977 to 1991.
The Kings last made the playoffs in 2005-06. To put that in perspective, Metta Sandiford-Artest, then known as Ron Artest, was on that roster in his first on-court action since the Malice at the Palace. Carrie Underwood won Best New Artist at the Grammy's.
It was a very long time ago.
Making matters even worse: The Kings haven't even been particularly close to making the playoffs at any point over this historic run. They haven't won 40 games in any season since 2005-06 and have topped 35 wins only twice.
Sacramento hasn't so much as even reached the play-in tournament in any of the last three seasons, which has given playoff chances to 10 teams per 15-team conference.
“I’ve been here the last two years, and I can tell you, in my opinion, things are heading the right way,” interim Kings coach Alvin Gentry told reporters. “You’ve got to be good, but also you’ve got to be lucky from the standpoint of some of the injuries that we’ve had that really affected us.
“I will say we have to be a better home team. That’s one of the things you have to establish first and I’ve said this all along. You have to be a good team at home and establish a homecourt advantage, and then you’ve got to find a way to go on the road and play well, as we did last week. I think everybody here wants that. I think everybody here is on the same program as far as no one wants to miss the playoffs for 16 straight years.”
From an outside perspective, it's hard to see where the Kings are headed in the right direction. Their biggest in-season move in 2021-22 was trading their best young player, Tyrese Haliburton, in a widely derided deal that brought back Domantas Sabonis.
Haliburton has thrived since taking the keys to the Pacers offense, while Sabonis has produced consistently solid but wholly unspectacular numbers since arriving in Sacramento.