NBA Obituaries: The 2015-16 Sacramento Kings


The story of the 2015-16 Sacramento Kings is mostly one of disappointment, here’s their obituary

Everyone knew going in that this would be the last season for the Sacramento Kings in their current arena, the Sleeptrain Arena before moving into the brand new Golden One Center in downtown Sacramento next year. In that sense alone, there was intrigue. (You can read the whole story of how the team ended up in the new arena here)

On the court, with the offseason additions of Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, Kosta Koufos and rookie Willie Cauley-Stein, the team (any many fans and media) felt like they had made significant improvement on a team that already featured franchise cornerstone DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.

I detailed the prospects for the team in my season preview that you can find here.

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To give more perspective on how myself and many other thought the Kings would do this year I direct you to my preseason NBA Podcast. Before the season started my friend and fellow writer Brian Rzeppa predicted NBA season over/unders on the Coldiron Podcast. On that show, we both successfully predicted that the team would win more than their Vegas odds of 31.5 wins. Not only did we both take the over, we both made it our ‘Western Conference Lock!’

You can listen to that podcast here. (Kings talk starts at 1:11:00)

The Kings had us (and many others) feeling good about the team early in the season. Rajon Rondo was on fire early in the first third of the season. Fellow SCIC writer Clevis Murray detailed Rondo’s early success with an article you can read here.

Rondo ended up leading the league in assists per game (11.7) in a season spent hunting for dimes and avoiding playing any defense, while establishing his value in the free-agency period to come this summer.

Things were going well for a while. About halfway through the Kings’ season I got a little carried away with their temporary success that had them on a five game winning streak, putting them in the 8th spot in the Western Conference with just over two months left in the season. You can read that one here.

As the season carried on and the team gradually started to slip, things were looking less and less hopeful, while drama swept through the City once again, as it seems to for the last few years. Rumors of turmoil, rumors of possible DeMarcus Cousins trades and George Karl firings went rampant. I detailed much of the second half in detail here.

A week later I debated their future with SCIC colleague John Armstrong. You can read how that went here. Once again, the team was in chaos and surrounded by drama.

As the season wound down it gradually became clear that the team would not make the playoffs. The last remaining drama was to see whether or not the Kings would finish higher than 10the in the league in losses (which would send the pick to Chicago if the team had finished too strongly).

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The team did a lot of resting players down the stretch of the season. The last big moment came on the Saturday night of April 9th, when the Kings played their last ever home game in an arena they’d played in for 28 years. It turned out to be a huge success.

The team won on the court and the franchise gave the place a proper sendoff with a sold out crowd, numerous former Kings players in attendance and a lot of opportunities for fan interaction with the organization. It was a night for Sacramento fans to remember for all time.

Unfortunately, after that night it was back to reality for the team on the court.

Seth (the other) Curry had a strong finish to the season after riding the bench for about the first three quarters of the season (one of many questionable George Karl decisions).

Willie Cauley-Stein had a formidable rookie campaign. After missing chunks of the early season, he went on to average seven points and five rebounds in 21 minutes per game along with impressive defense. He looks to be a bright spot in the Kings core for the future.

The bad news is that the day after the season the team jumped back into the news, announcing the long-expected firing of George Karl. The team will look to fill the vacancy as soon as possible and the rumor mill is already running on potential replacements.

The future will bring many questions for the Kings, including finding and hiring a new head coach and whether or not to trade franchise cornerstone DeMarcus Cousins (who finished the year fourth in the league in scoring (26.9ppg) and fifth in rebounding (11.5rpg), the only player in the NBA to be the the top five in both categories).

Those questions and many others will have to be decided this summer.

More sir charles in charge: NBA Playoffs: First Round Predictions

In the meantime, the Kings finish the season with an improvement of four games from last season’s 29, giving them a final record of 33-49.

Rest in Peace, the 2015-16 Sacramento Kings.