The Phoenix Suns hit town just in time to remind Kings fans that their owner, Vivek Ranadive, may be on the verge of a real organizational dilemma.
Yes, the firing of coach Michael Malone was out of the blue, but it might have been considered just part of a brilliant plan if legendary George Karl was waiting in the wings. He wasn't. And now nobody knows what's going on at Kings headquarters. You'd need a Kremlinologist to figure out what they're thinking.
Malone was no offensive genius and his players shifted into panic mode far too often, but he was respected in the locker room and he got his players to buy in on defense.
He seemed to give the team a sense of purpose and order. Most importantly, he was respected by DeMarcus Cousins, the moodiest mega-talent in the NBA.
Yet Ranadive dumped him. Without a plan in place.
That's scary enough. But you have to go back six months to find the biggest mistake of the Ranadive era.
The out-and-out disposal of point guard Isaiah Thomas.
An explosive scorer with a chip on shoulder, Thomas was a valuable commodity in the NBA. But the Kings, with a chance to keep him on an extremely sensible 4 year, $27 million contract, let him walk.
For nothing. Zip. (Okay, a crappy trade exception that will never be used).
By the way, Thomas is currently 37th in the NBA in PER, higher than any King besides DeMarcus Cousins.
Now I don't care if your nerd analytic team thought he was not the right player for your system. You do not let him go for nothing.
You sign him. And you tell him to fit in. Are you telling me the current Kings couldn't use another three-point shooter who can score from all over the court?
Let's say it didn't work out. So what. Worst-case scenario, you have an extremely valuable trade chip.
Want to know how the Kings might have convinced the Nets to include Mason Plumlee in the trade for Deron Williams? Put Isaiah Thomas in the deal.
Instead, the current Kings have no trade assets. They have no first-round pick to deal. They are stuck looking for high-priced, past-their-prime big names who other teams want to pawn off.
You get the feeling Ranadive thinks he's always the smartest guy in the room. Yet Ranadive's room is dark and secretive and closed to the outside world.
Sometimes you need to open up a window and let a little light shine in.