Sacramento Kings set for another uncertain season

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 24, 2012
The Sacramento Kings are about to embark on another season in California's capital. That alone might be considered a success for a fan base that has been beaten and bruised emotionally following the back-and-forth drama over the franchise's future home. Nobody can truly predict what might happen next. If the past few years have proved anything, though, the Kings will keep things interesting again. Maybe even this time on the court. Keith Smart begins his first full season as Sacramento's coach with a roster full of talented young players who have yet to mesh - or play defense. After six straight losing seasons, constant coaching changes and no long-term arena solution in sight, Smart understands why the optimism that's been recycled every October in Sacramento is hard for so many to believe anymore. ''We have to surprise people because we're no one in the NBA,'' Smart said. ''We have to pull out all the stops to try to grow as a team.'' Smart encouraged players to take a different approach this summer. Instead of spreading out across the country to the various cities that they're from, many stayed in Sacramento - or at least came back earlier - to work out together. In between, Smart and his staff visited with some, both to form relationships and to find ways to improve the team. Smart, who was promoted from assistant coach when the Kings fired Paul Westphal after a 2-5 start last season, wanted to take every advantage his first full offseason as an NBA coach. He had a one-and-done season with Golden State after taking over for Don Nelson on the eve of training camp in 2010, and had a stint as the Cleveland Cavaliers' interim head coach for the final 40 games in 2003 after taking over for John Lucas. Even with all the extra time spent studying video and working with players, Smart still has an almost identical roster to the one that finished 22-44 last season and has to compete in a much-improved Pacific Division. DeMarcus Cousins is one of the NBA's best budding big men but still has trouble controlling his emotions. Tyreke Evans, the 2009-10 NBA Rookie of the Year, stayed healthy last season but struggled in his move from point to guard to wingman. And former BYU sensation Jimmer Fredette had a mostly disappointing debut trying to play in a structured system but has vowed to be more aggressive his second time around. Standout point guard Isaiah Thomas is back after a sensational rookie season. The Kings also added free agent guard Aaron Brooks and fifth overall pick Thomas Robinson, the former Kansas forward and first unanimous first-team All-American since Blake Griffin, to mix with veterans such as Chuck Hayes and Francisco Garcia. ''We're out there trying to prove so much,'' Cousins said. Players also bonded over summer workouts, including a week in July when about 10 came to Sacramento, and during the first week of training camp, which Smart moved to Colorado Springs. In particular, Cousins and Evans - who practiced in the gym at such late hours Smart called him the ''cat burglar'' - were working out in Sacramento most of the offseason. ''I think that was just a first step,'' Evans said, ''for us to start playing together knowing we've all got to be on the same page this year.'' No matter what success might come Sacramento's way this season, the franchise's future is still murkier than ever. Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof backed out of an arena deal in April that Sacramento Mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson trumpeted and the City Council approved. The Maloofs have said the deal, signed off on by NBA Commissioner David Stern, didn't make financial sense for the franchise. No other plan has been in the works between Sacramento and the Maloofs, which will again open the possibility of relocation if nothing develops by early 2013, not to mention lead to endless speculation from Anaheim to Seattle to Virginia Beach - and everywhere in between - about luring the franchise. There also appears to be no long-term deal in the works for Evans, who is eligible for an extension with Sacramento until Oct. 30, after which time he will become a free agent next summer. Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie also is in the final year of his contract. With so many possible distractions, Smart has long preached to his players not to worry about the things they can't control. ''You want them to focus on just the team in the moment,'' Smart said. ''They don't have anyone else out here they have to focus with. They have to focus on just the team.'' --- Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Sanu: Halftime show played role in Super Bowl collapse

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Report: Rams, Clippers discussing NBA venue in Inglewood

Terrence Jones reportedly interested in joining Celtics

LeBron reverses course, says he ‘always felt good’ about Cavs

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Ole Miss tried to implicate Mississippi State in football scandal

Jamaal Charles could be on the roster bubble

Jimmy Butler on state of Bulls: ‘I just want to win at all costs’

Report: Giants will be ‘aggressive’ in trying to sign Jason Pierre-Paul

Report: Porzingis avoided ligament damage in ankle

Brooks Koepka meltdown includes whiff, stomping head off driver

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker