Domantas Sabonis and CJ McCollum are the two best players traded yesterday in large, complex trade packages. Alas, since the moment the Kings-Pacers trade was announced, the only thing everyone is talking about could be summed up into "WHAT THE F**K ARE THE KINGS DOING?!?!?" Yet again, we are reminded that there's no cure for bad ownership.
Simmons slams the Kings
In case you didn't catch the exact details of the trade, here's the framework.
Kings receive: Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday, and a 2027 second-round pick
Pacers receive: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Tristan Thompson
Not to drown you in twitter reactions, but trust me when I say everyone reacted the same way - Haliburton was supposed to be the only untouchable player on the Kings roster. No wonder Kevin Pelton gave the Kings a D+ and the Pacers an A for this deal. If you want a more focused analysis of the trade, I suggest you go check out Pelton, Hollinger on The Athletic, or J. Kyle Man and Jonathan Tjarks breaking it down on The Ringer.
But the main point in this story was made by The Ringer's founder and chronicler of King's incompetence, Bill Simmons. Here's the Podfather summing up their streak of masochism on the latest episode of his podcast. “The Kings, we used to make fun of them at Grantland, which existed from 2011 to 2015. At that point, the Kings were entering their second half-decade of just being morons. Grantland ends, we start the Ringer - the Kings still being morons. For 12 years, from '06 to '18 they were the dumbest team in the league, AND THEN THEY TAKE BAGLEY OVER LUKA. We were doing a live draft show when that happened; we were all having a stroke.”
Simmons continued to list just the recent Kings blunders. Letting Bogdan Bogdanović walk away for nothing. Trading three point guards in four years, giving a contract extension to "the wrong one" in De'Aaron Fox, thus making him extremely difficult to trade in Simmons' opinion. And then to cover up for that mistake they trade the one point guard that should've been the foundational piece of the franchise. The only things that seemed sensible in recent Kings history were cutting bait on Boogie Cousins and picking Haliburton. Now they traded him to get Domantas Sabonis and increase their chance to get in the play-in tournament and lose.
The Sauce Castillo lesson
The thing is, this fits perfectly in the Kings' decision-making tree. More specifically, the fact Vivek Ranadive can't seem to let a GM do their job. You're either a Mark Cuban type owner, who is completely involved, establishes a strategy, and owns it if it doesn't work. Or be a Mickey Arison, or a Peter Holt; hire someone and get out of the way. (If you don't recognize the names, Arison owns the Heat, and Hold owns the Spurs.)
Simmons mentioned that they have been chronicalling the Kings' failures since Grantland. The pinnacle of that process was getting footage that tells you everything you need to know about the systemic problem in Sacramento.
It just sucks that such an amazing fanbase has to suffer so much, understanding that they have to hope for the least likely event in sports to happen. A bad owner figuring out what he's doing wrong and changing his ways.