While experts and fans are busy considering their NBA 2016 playoff predictions, NBA owners and coaches are still busy with the task of running professional sports organizations. For teams that won’t be continuing on into the playoffs this season, team officials are already making player important decisions and trying to come up with a plan to make sure their respective teams will make it into the playoffs during the 2016-17 season.
With only two games remaining on the schedule, the Sacramento Kings have decided it’s time to let F/C Demarcus Cousins call it a season, allowing him to sit out the final two games of the season. The announcement came after the Kings closed out a glorious 28-year run at the old Sleep Train Arena with a surprising 114-112 victory over Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Next year, the team will be playing its home games at the new state-of-the-art Golden 1 Center.
The announcement really wasn’t much of a surprise given the fact Cousins has been playing the last few weeks with foot tendinitis. While the season has been nothing more than another episode in futility, Cousins has had a remarkable year on the floor where he averaged 26.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. He even managed to improve his deep outside shooting by hitting from beyond the 3-point line at better than a 30% clip, which represents a career high.
Of course, Cousins’ on the court performances were often overshadowed by what was taking place off the court. During the season, he often found himself locked in verbal battles with Head Coach George Karl as well as with other players such as PG Rajon Rondo. It will be interesting to see how team owner Vivek Ranadivé and General Manager Vlade Divac handle these personnel issues as they head into the new arena next year.
With two games remaining the 2015-16 season, the Kings have a record of 32-48. This marks the 10th straight years the team has failed to make it into the playoffs and the 8th straight year they have failed to win at least 35 games. The hope for next season is that the change of venue might breathe new life into the franchise and light a fire under the players and fans.
There is little doubt the Cousins in the centerpiece of the franchise at this point in time. While both Ranadivé and Divac have shown continual support for Karl, it remains to be seen whether or not the issues between the coach and his players can be resolved. If not, there is a good chance Karl could be gone before the beginning of next season.
For Kings fans, the question remains, “what is it going to take to put an end to the futility and get this team back into the playoffs?” From a personnel standpoint, they seem to have a very strong core of players to build around with Cousin, Rondo and SF Rudy Gay all being excellent players. Aside from better team chemistry, they would seem to be just one major piece away from the promised land. A new arena and Kevin Durant anyone?
It’s been a remarkable NBA regular season with the Golden State Warriors on the verge of setting the all-time record for wins in a season with 73. The current NBA playoff odds certainly reflect the dominance the Warriors and San Antonio Spurs have had over the rest of the league, but some NBA 2016 playoff predictions have pointed out potential upsetters like the Toronto Raptors and LA Clippers with Blake Griffin back in the fold. With the NBA playoff odds set, the excitement is building as the playoffs get underway next week.
Photo by Steve Martarano