The Sacramento Kings took a step back in the win column in 2019-20, but with budding talent and a front-office shakeup, the team is looking to end a 14-year playoff slump. The Kings finished 31-41 with an appearance in the playoff bubble, landing 12th in the Western Conference standings and 4th in the Pacific Division.
Two key former players from the early 2000s Kings teams, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic, stepped down from their roles in the team’s front office in August; Divac as general manager and Stojakovic as assistant general manager. Former Detroit Pistons guard Joe Dumars was named interim vice president of basketball operations.
Luke Walton will reportedly remain the team’s head coach heading into the 2020-21 season. Walton is 129-189 in four seasons as a head coach, after coaching the Los Angeles Lakers from 2016-19.
The Kings franchise has one NBA title in its 72-year history, capturing a championship in 1951 as the Rochester Royals. The team defeated the New York Knicks 4-3.
They were then moved to Cincinnati, in 1957 and then to Kansas City in 1972. The then-Royals would remain in Kansas City until settling in Sacramento in 1985.
Sacramento made a bold roster move after losing in the 2001 Western Conference semifinals, trading young star point guard Jason Williams to Vancouver for Mike Bibby. A former NCAA champion at Arizona, Bibby proved to be the missing piece on an already strong roster. He joined Doug Christie in coach Rick Adelman’s backcourt and solidified an already strong team. Christie was an all-defensive team selection in 2001-02 and averaged a pair of steals per game while remaining a threat from three.
In the frontcourt, Chris Webber and Vlade Divac were widely regarded as two of the best passing bigs in the game. The renaissance of Divac, then in his 13th season, had as much to do with his on-court performance as his off-court leadership. Divac became a mentor to future All-Star Peja Stojakovic and 2008’s most improved player, Hedo Turkoglu. Stojakovic emerged as one of the most potent outside threats in the league, hitting 41 percent on threes that season.
The Kings reached the Western Conference Finals in 2001-02 but were edged out by the Los Angeles Lakers, who would go on to win the title.
Since Sacramento’s last playoff appearance in 2006, rumors have swirled about another possible relocation. Seattle was one targeted location after the city lost the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City in 2008. Many of these rumors came to rest in 2013 when Vivek Ranadive purchased the franchise from the Maloof family.
Oscar Robertson is the Kings’ all-time leading scoring having tallied 22,009 points. Jack Twyman scored 15,840 and Mitch Richmond has 12,070.
Robertson also leads the Kings in minutes played (33,088), assists (7,731), and triple-doubles (176).
Peja Stojakovic is the franchise’s leader in three-point shooting. Stojakovic hit 1,070 shots from deep, while Mitch Richmond poured in 993. Current Kings guard Buddy Hield is quickly climbing the three-point ladder. In his third full season with the team, Hield reached 784 threes this season, passing Mike Bibby for third in the team’s record books.
Sam Lacey has a franchise-record 9,353 rebounds, followed by Jerry Lucas with 8,876 and Robertson with 6,380. Lacey was with the team from 1970-81.
Tyreke Evans is the last player to nab an individual season award (not including All-NBA, All-Defensive, or All-Rookie teams), capturing Rookie of the Year honors in 2009-10.
Buddy Hield topped Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker in the 2019-20 Three-Point Shootout, part of All-Star weekend in Chicago. Hield scored 27 points in the finals to beat Booker by 1.
Oscar Robertson was named NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 1963-64 for the Royals. Robertson averaged 31.4 points, 11 assists, and 9.9 rebounds that season. He was also Rookie of the Year in 1960-61.
De’Aaron Fox led to 2019-20 Kings averaging 21.1 points, 6.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Fox shot 48 percent from the field but was just 29 percent from three and 70 percent at the line. While Fox has yet to develop a consistent jumper, he is regarded as one of the quickest players in the league with his ability to get to the basket. The former first-round pick’s contract expires at the end of the upcoming season.
Buddy Hield was second on the team in scoring with 19.2 ppg. He shot 43 percent from the field and 39 percent from three, and defended his position well. Hield holds the team’s largest guaranteed contract ($90.8 million through 2024).
Richaun Holmes led the team with 8.1 rpg. Marvin Bagley III had 7.5 rpg but only played 13 games due to thumb and foot injuries. Bagley, the second pick in the 2018 draft, was on track to return for play-in games in Orlando but suffered a setback during practice in July. Bagley averages 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game for his career but has only played 75 games total. He has shown flashes of prowess in the post, highlighted by a 32-point performance against Phoenix and a 17-rebound outing against Golden State last season. Time will tell if the former Duke Blue Devil can overcome the injury bug that has muddied the start of his NBA career.
Sacramento ranked 11th in the league in three-point percentage but was 25th in scoring. The team was also 7th in blocks.
Kent Bazemore, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Alex Len, Yogi Ferrell, Harry Giles, and Corey Brewer have contracts set to expire at the end of the current season.
The Kings hold four picks in the upcoming NBA Draft – which is being rescheduled to an undetermined date – including the 12th overall pick.
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