When you look at the Kings’ seven losses in eight games to start the season, they all have reasonable explanations. Four of the losses came with DeMarcus Cousins sidelined, and for years the Kings have sucked when he is not in the lineup. The other three losses were to the Warriors and Clippers (twice), two of the NBA’s elite.
Still, a 1-7 start for a team that had playoff aspirations is brutal, and it led to a team meeting just a couple weeks into the season. Out of that meeting most of the quotes were pabulum in the vein of “we had a frank talk and are in a better place,” the stuff heard after every team meeting. For example, there is this one from Kings GM Vlade Divac, via James Ham of CSNBayArea.com.
“It was good I think,” Divac said. “Going 1-7, you expect much better things. There’s a lot of frustrations among the group and it was pretty good and active. We addressed some issues and the most important thing is we are on the same page after that meeting.”
But Divac dropped one line that seemed to get at the heart of the problem.
“I’m not saying they don’t like the system,” Divac said. “They just aren’t buying in yet.”
The coaches and players are not on the same page. Things are messy. Cousins and other players like Mike Malone’s slower, more defensive system, but owner Vivek Ranadive did not — he wants an up-tempo team to open his new arena in downtown Sacramento next season. So enter George Karl. Who had a rocky summer with Cousins. They have said things are patched up, but plenty of people around the league question the stability of that relationship. That may be part of it.
This is going to be a big 48 hours for the Kings — how do they come out Wednesday night against a good Detroit team? Sacramento faces Brooklyn and Toronto after that, can they string some wins together, or do the losses keep piling up, putting pressure on the entire Kings’ organization.