I say this as a fellow Kings fan, but my years of following the NBA tell me that the team’s chances of reaching the playoffs this coming year is slim to none, with slim being a 100-1 long shot. (Hmmm, in the face of the semi-resolved Tim Donaghy scandal maybe quoting odds isn’t the best choice,)
Now the team has finally traded away its second-best player, Ron Artest. I will miss the good things he brought to the table, namely a never-say-die attitude on the court, a presence in the post, and, of course, most of all, his defensive intensity. But, I will happily wave goodbye to his penchant for off-the-cuff, contradictory statements to the press, which grated on Kings fans’ nerves after awhile. And, on the court, his self-delusion he could create offensively like a Kobe Bryant proved ill-founded and would lead to a poor offensive possessions on a team that could not afford very many of those.
However, let’s be honest. Even with Artest, the Kings were probably going to miss the playoffs, just like last year. Let’s also be honest and admit that the talent level of the 2007 Kings was a long way from the talent level they had in 2003. However, that said, I think there is reason to be optimistic that they will be back in the playoff hunt in 2-3 years. In a couple years, players like Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson and Donte Green will be coming into their own. Add to that mix a probable mid-range first rounder next year and two first rounders the following year, plus some added salary cap room once some of the bloated contracts they now have come off the books, and you are looking at some real potential.
I just hope Kings fans who got spoiled by a run of very good playoff years will stick with them and keep their eyes focused down the road a season or two. By then, we’ll be seeing a team that’s a contender.