Jason Ross: 60 Down, 22 To Go For The Sacramento Kings

The eventful month of February has wrapped up for the Sacramento Kings. It was a month in which the Kings didn’t have to leave the state, but in the 11-game stretch we saw just about everything.

In all the chaos, the Kings did record their first winning month in over a year at a modest record of six wins and five losses. Like most things though, it was about the journey and not the end result.

The month started with heartbreak as the first ever buzzer beater at Golden 1 Center went against the Kings as Devin Booker banked a last-second shot over Matt Barnes. Believe it or not, the Kings bounced back beautifully with one of their best wins in taking down the Golden State Warriors. That game was the first ever OT game at Golden 1 Center and Sacramento came out on the right side of that one.

The Kings also played the talented Boston Celtics without DeMarcus Cousins and found a way to get a win. They had an epic 22-point comeback against the Atlanta Hawks in the month too. The Kings edged the Lakers in Los Angeles and then of course came the biggest news of all when they traded Cousins on All-Star Sunday.

The wild month will likely be remembered less for the games and more for the most critical decision the organization had on its hands. Keep Cousins and pay him a huge salary for years to come or move him and try to start over with different pieces.

In the three games since the trade, the Kings showed a free-flowing offense in their first win against Denver, but the last two games have been difficult for this team to generate points. The overall evaluation is still to be decided on the how the trade will shake out for both parties. I have said the organization needed to make such a move to have a chance to build a longer term more sustainable foundation. So what now?

The final 22 games should be about experimentation. Play everyone. Try weird combinations. Give Coach Joerger and Vlade Divac a clearer understanding of what needs to be kept as building blocks and what pieces might be expendable.

While doing this, you still chase the 8th spot in the Western Conference. If you fall short, the wonderful safety net of keeping your draft pick is right there in plain sight.

Ideally New Orleans will fall short too. So far they have yet to win and assuming they end up in the lottery, the Kings could have two picks to either draft for themselves or move in an even larger move to boost the franchise.

I think this trade has given the Kings more flexibility in the short and long term. If they kept Cousins, then they had to do everything to surround him with the best “fits” possible. I believe they tried that in the first seven seasons and Vlade was ready to do something else.

My hunch is the final 22 games will go a lot like the last three. Some good, some bad, and certainly some ugly. I will maintain this, enjoy the journey for all that it has to offer.  I look forward to seeing some of the young guys fail and thrive all in the same game.

I like the role of underdog right now for this team and the pressure that has been put on the Pelicans to succeed.  These two organizations are in the same general area in the standings but the close of the season is being handled in opposite ways. The Kings would like to win, but don’t have to while New Orleans wants to win and probably needs to.

February was truly a crazy month for the Kings, so let’s bring on March and see what kind of madness it has in store for us.

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