Now that it looks like the Sacramento Kings will become the Seattle Sonics, a big question is what kind of team we’re getting? Suffice it to say there likely won’t be an NBA championship banner hanging from KeyArena or a new Seattle arena any time soon.
“It’s a very young team, it’s a team that’s in a place of transition and rebuilding,” says 710 ESPN’s Matt Pitman.
The Kings are currently 16-26, third worst in the NBA’s Western Conference and trailing the Pacific Division-leading L.A. Clippers by 16 games. But they boast a strong nucleus of promising players, including former UW and Curtis High grad Isaiah Thomas and Franklin High standout Aaron Brooks, along with raw but highly regarded big man DeMarcus Cousins and rising star Jason Thompson.
“They’ve got some good young players. They’re going to have some growing pains whether it’s here or in Sacramento,” Pitman says.
But don’t despair. Oklahoma City turned a floundering Seattle franchise into one of the NBA’s best in just five years, going from the cellar to the NBA finals in 2012 thanks to lucking into the second overall draft pick that landed them all-star Kevin Durant and other mainstays along with several key free-agent signings.
ESPN NBA insider Kurt Rambis told “Seattle’s Morning News” on KIRO Radio it’s not easy, but it certainly can be done in Seattle.
“Obviously you have to have a high degree of talent scouting, luck and most important, willingness to spend money.”
Investor Chris Hansen and his group seem more than willing to open their checkbook, from the nearly $300 million he’s committed in private money for the new arena to the hundreds of million he’s reportedly shelling out for the Kings.
“It’s a process. You got to go through trades, you have to clear some cap space, you might have to get lucky in the draft and go through free agents,” Rambis said.
But Rambis says Seattle has a big advantage, because many players have always loved the city and would be more than willing to move here and play for the Sonics if the new arena, facilities and ownership are top notch.
710 ESPN’s Mike Salk agrees. He told “Seattle’s Morning News” the team can become competitive quickly thanks to just one or two good drafts along with snagging a top-notch free agent or two.
“The salary cap is the great equalizer,” Salk says. “Unlike baseball, where the richest teams spend the most money to get the most players, in the NBA the coolest cities get the best players. Do you want to play in Milwaukee or Minnesota?”
Rumors that NBA legends Larry Bird and Phil Jackson are reportedly in talks to take a top front-office spot helping to build the team would also be a big boost.
“You can tell Chris Hansen and group are very serious,” Salk says.