By DeArbea Walker
Though Willie Cauley-Stein was the sixth over all pick in this year’s NBA draft, his performance should be the last concern on Sacramento Kings’ fans minds heading into training Camp.
Division between head coach George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins combined with a divided front office was the endnote to the Sacramento Kings season. Yes, the draft happened and yes, the Kings had the 6th overall pick, but because of a wild end to the regular season and crazy free agency period, Kings’ pick, Cauley-Stein, was forgotten.Embed from Getty Images
Free agency was the main focus for the Kings this off-season. The Kings were able to acquire former NBA champions, Rajon Rondo and Marco Belinelli, along with Seth Curry, to address the struggles in their backcourt. Rajon Rondo, normally a very quiet, mellow guy, hasn’t looked the same mentally or physically since his return from an ACL tear in 2013. When it comes to communicating with the media, Rondo is very snappy and defensive. His behavior on the court and in the locker room with coaches and teammates began to mirror his attitude to the press. After his trade to Dallas on December 18, 2014, the public was exposed to another side of Rondo the media knew was there all along. Throughout his time with the Mavericks leading up to the playoffs, coach Rick Carlisle and Rajon Rondo had their disagreements. It was not until a first round match-up against the Houston Rockets, that their relationship be put on display for every basketball fan to analyze. Rondo’s behavior as he walked off the court during the middle of game two against the Rockets showed his immaturity and lack of leadership as a veteran.
Adding to the wishy-washy Rondo behavior and uncertainty of the team’s communication within the locker room, this organization has been in the NBA lottery nine of the last nine seasons. With a starved fan base, Kings’ fans want to know, what will make this season any different then the past nine? Is this the year, they will get what they have been starved of the past decade…a playoff team?
Over the past two weeks, the team has spent time bonding and trying to change the losing face of the franchise through team dinners and even MMA kick boxing training.Embed from Getty Images
Caron Butler, Sacramento Kings forward, explained the importance of clearing the air and building a strong foundation heading into the regular season.
“We just talked about laying a foundation about how we want to move forward,” Butler told the Sacramento Bee. “And guys said all the right things and kind of aired out some issues that they had. And the participation in the voluntary workouts, we’ve been getting to know each other. I feel like it’s going to be a really good year for us and guys are just buying into winning and that’s what we need.”
Butler continued to touch on a few subjects concerning the team but most notable were his comments about coach Karl ‘s leadership and confrontation between players in the locker room.
“We’ve got a Hall of Fame coach but there’s only so much a coach can do,” Butler said. “Us as players have got to police our locker room and police the situation as much as possible to challenge each other and make each other better. Each one teach one, that’s the way we go about it. If we see one not doing the right thing we’ve got to talk about it because we’re men and the results affect all of us. So we’ve got to rally together and make each other better.” (Via Sacramento Bee)
While free agency looks to address some of the Kings’ issues on both ends of the court through experience, the losing mentally is the primary concern of Kings’ fans. This years Kings’ roster is looked at by many as the most talented roster they have had in at least a decade. This means this team needs to produce on the court. With the confrontation between Coach Karl and DeMarcus Cousins added to Rajon Rondo’s unpredictable attitude, this season will either be a testament to the presence of patience or the ticking time bomb will have its due date.