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NBA AM: Kings Pushing Through Perceived Turmoil

The Sacramento Kings’ summer hasn’t been pretty from a public relations standpoint, but the team has improved.

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Kings Pushing Through Perceived Turmoil

The Sacramento Kings haven’t posted a .500 record in any season since the 2005-06 campaign when players such as Corliss Williamson, Brad Miller, Kenny Thomas and Brian Skinner donned the uniform.

This also marked the last time the team reached the playoffs.

Since then, the team and its fan base has had seven different head coaches, an ownership change, a planned relocation, front office overhauls and plenty of roster transformations. In short, the team has been marred by plenty of drama away from the court, without exactly producing fireworks on it.

The 2015 offseason started out in a similar fashion with a reported souring relationship between head coach George Karl and All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins. Reports indicated Karl wanted to explore trade options leading up to the draft for Cousins while the team’s ownership and front office were completely against any strategy involving dealing the franchise player.

With distrust seemingly running rampant in various circles of the franchise, it appeared the summer would be a lost cause in fielding a more competitive team next season.

But despite the turmoil in the organization, the Kings have put together a respectable effort in the draft and free agency as we approach the dog days of summer.

Sacramento Kings offseason

Added: Rajon Rondo, Kosta Koufos, Marco Belinelli, Caron Butler, Willie Cauley-Stein

Retained: Omri Casspi

Lost: Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams

You won’t find many folks that believe the Kings will seriously compete for a playoff spot in an extremely talented Western Conference next season, and we won’t predict that here, but there’s no question the incoming supporting cast is heavy on veterans who have experience in winning situations.

Belinelli and Rondo both come to town with championship rings. Butler and Koufos enter the mix with a strong dose of playoff experience in their respective careers. Butler and Rondo also have multiple All-Star appearances.

There are definitely certain aspects of the Kings’ summer to debate such as the selection of Cauley-Stein with the sixth overall pick when most projected he would be available a little later. This could have given the team a chance to trade down for an asset and still ultimately secure Cauley-Stein’s rights in the draft.

You could also mention vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac’s decision to trade Stauskas, a top 10 pick in 2014, along with serviceable veterans Landry and Thompson for the draft rights to international players Arturas Gudaitis and Luka Mitrovic, and future draft considerations (that could turn out to be valuable assets over time – see below).

But the team managed to clear more than $15 million in cap space in the deal with Philadelphia, enabling the franchise to sign free agents Belinelli, Koufos and Rondo – making the questioned trade more about the here and now as opposed to the five-year view.

While the journey to this point hasn’t been pretty from a public relations standpoint, Sacramento will head into training camp with a stronger roster and less redundancy. The Kings, despite the drama, are slowly moving in the right direction.

Sacramento Kings projected depth chart

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo, Darren Collison

Shooting Guard: Ben McLemore, Marco Belinelli

Small Forward: Rudy Gay, Omri Casspi, Caron Butler

Power Forward: By Committee

Center: DeMarcus Cousins, Kosta Koufos, Willie Cauley-Stein

Thunder Match Offer Sheet for Enes Kanter

The Oklahoma City Thunder missed the playoffs last season for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign. But it had little to do with the talent on the roster and a whole lot to do with the injuries suffered by so many of the major players in the nightly rotation.

Not surprisingly, the Thunder have been relatively quiet this summer on the free agency and trade fronts believing with a little improved health they have the pieces to contend for a title in short order.

But one of the major goals for the franchise this summer was retaining restricted free agent Enes Kanter, whom the team acquired at last season’s trade deadline.

Kanter signed a max level four-year offer sheet, worth $70 million, with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Thunder subsequently matched the terms to bring Kanter back to town.

Kanter averaged 18.7 points and 11 rebounds on 57 percent shooting from the field in 26 appearances with Oklahoma City. Kanter’s presence gives Oklahoma City, a perimeter-oriented offensive team, a legitimate scorer on the low block.

While there are concerns about Kanter’s defensive effort and focus, the Thunder does have the high energy Steven Adams under contract to give the unit a boost on that side of the ball when needed.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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