There has been no team more dysfunctional and unintentionally self-harmful than the Sacramento Kings in the past half decade.
Bad draft picks, the DeMarcus Cousins saga, five different coaches since 2012, owner Vivek Ranadive’s constant meddling (STAUSKAS?), a new arena plus new expectations, and 250+ losses combined over five seasons caused consistent chaos and calamity in California. But those days might be over, as the Kings have been having one hell of a culture changing offseason thus far.
On Tuesday, Shams Charania of The Vertical reported the Kings agreed to a three-year deal with much-coveted point guard George Hill, worth $57 million. Minutes later, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reported Sacramento agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal to bring in power forward Zach Randolph – an old favorite of Kings coach David Joerger during his time with the Memphis Grizzlies.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 4, 2017
Signing Hill gives the Kings instant stability at the point guard position. Sacramento was flush with cap room, so using it to bring in Hill is a home run. The 31-year old is an excellent two-way guard who averaged 16.9 points per game, 4.2 assists, and 3.2 rebounds while shooting 40 percent from the three with the Utah Jazz in 2016-17. While not an amazing distributor, Hill is above average on offense and can lock down opposing guards on D.
Sacramento also wisely drafted Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox fifth overall two weeks ago, but signing Hill allows Joerger to slowly develop Fox while allowing him to learn from a standup vet. Heck, if Fox shows NBA readiness right away, there’s nothing stopping from playing the duo together.
Randolph brings another steady veteran presence who can start immediately while second-year power forward Skal Labissiere is groomed into the role. The 35-year-old is the personification of the Grizzlies “Grit and Grind” mentality. Despite his age, he’s still an effective scorer and rebounder who has some range. At $12 million per season over just two years, the Kings aren’t locked into Randolph for a significant period of time.
The moves aren’t going to turn Sacramento into overnight contenders, but are somewhat indicative of a changing culture. Smartly, Kings VP Vlade Divac moved away from vets like Rudy Gay, Anthony Tolliver, and Darren Collison, and brought in more established, talented guys to fill the void until the youth movement is ready to take over. With Buddy Hield, Willie Caley-Stein, Georgios Papagiannis (he can ball), Malachi Richardson, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, and Fox, the team’s foundation in the future is set. Adding Hill and Randolph gives those players mentors while re-establishing a culture in desperate need of a new look.
Giving Hill and Randolph $30+ million combined might be a lot in the present, but with so many rookie contracts on the roster, they’re a logical move to make for the Kings. Again, don’t expect Sacramento to contend – or even qualify for the playoffs in the stacked West – in 2017-18, but for the first time in a hell of a long time, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. There’s always the risk of Ranadive injecting his bad takes on the roster, but for now, at least on the surface, being a Kings fan might not be so bad. Enjoy it.