Obviously, this is a season in which the Kings are more focused on building the team for the future. I don't want to say that the team is tanking because they can sometimes jump all over their opponents. They aren't guaranteed a great draft pick but that depends on how the balls bounce. What position are the Kings most interested in drafting?
The Kings are in a very interesting spot because two of their three best players face uncertain futures with the team. Rudy Gay has a player option this summer that nobody ever thought he would opt out of, but since coming to Sacramento that's changed as he's having the best year of his career. There's also Isaiah Thomas, who while he will be a restricted free agent, may command a salary higher than the Kings would be willing to match. That happened last season with the Kings and Tyreke Evans. That being said, the Kings current biggest needs are defense, shooting, ballhandling and shotblocking. If the Kings are drafting somewhere in the 6-8 range, I think the guys they take a serious look at include Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon, and Noah Vonleh.
Rudy Gay is currently on the books for $17+ million. He has a player option for the 2014-15 season. What is his future with the Kings?
Like I discussed above, Rudy has a player option for next season and it's for $19.3 million. Common sense would seem to indicate that there is no way in hell that someone would turn down a guaranteed $19.3 million a year, and I'm still of the mind that I'll believe it when I see it. Then again, he's played so well this season for the Kings that should he opt out, he'll likely command a hefty salary in Free Agency that will allow him to have more guaranteed money over a longer period of time, which is good insurance in case of a career-ending injury. The Kings love Rudy and would very much like him to stay. In games where he, Cousins and Thomas have all played 30 minutes or more, the team's record is 16-13, and it's at or slightly below .500 when they're together at all. Gay seems to thrive with a low post presence, as he did in Memphis with Z-Bo and Marc, and now in Sacramento with Cousins, so hopefully he feels that the Kings are a team that has a bright future and one he can be a part of.
Injuries have certainly hampered the Kings' success. What player has missed the most time that you feel would have contributed most to improving the the team and their record?
Carl Landry was signed this season to a 4 year, $26 million deal to add some scoring punch and veteran leadership on our bench. However he only managed to play 18 games this season after first tearing his hip flexor in training camp and then tearing his meniscus once he did come back. Landry was never his old self in the few games he did play. The Kings bench has been relatively weak all season, and without Carl (who was a legitimate 6th man of the year candidate last year in Golden State), production has been lacking even more.
Sacramento's also seen Cousins miss a fair amount of time, and they're 0-10 in games that he hasn't played.
I haven't looked into the new arena details in a while. How is that coming along?
The new arena is full steam ahead. Almost every hurdle has been cleared, with the only things really remaining being an environmental review scheduled for this summer. Should everything go well, demolition of the arena site could begin in May and construction will start in September. The arena itself will hopefully be ready for the start of the 2016-17 season. You can check out some of the arena renderings here.
So, what's the deal with Royce White?
The Kings signed White to two 10-day deals, with the first taking place entirely in the D-League with the Reno Bighorns where he played limited minutes. In Sacramento he saw action in just three games, with the only real meaningful stint coming against the Knicks on Wednesday. He faced the tough task of being matched up against Carmelo Anthony, and was soon pulled after getting burned repeatedly on defense. The Kings reportedly like how he fits with the team in practice and on the bench, but as of the time I'm writing this, they haven't signed him to another deal. Since he's already signed two 10-days, any other deal would have to be for the remainder of the season.