The Sacramento Kings intended to compete in the Western Conference Playoffs in 2022. Although they finished the 2020-2021 season with a 31-41 record, placing 12th in the West and missing the postseason, the Kings believed they had a strong enough roster to make a playoff push this year.
So far, nothing has gone according to plan. Through the first 17 games of the 2021-2022 season, Sacramento has picked up 11 losses and just six wins. Prior to tipping off with the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night, the Kings moved on from their head coach Luke Walton and put his top assistant, Alvin Gentry, in charge of the team.
The Kings had a prime opportunity to start off on the right foot post-Walton as the Sixers missed Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Danny Green, and Seth Curry on Monday -- but Sacramento ended up falling short 102-94 and taking on loss No. 12 of the year.
Are the Kings ready to blow it all up and begin moving notable veterans for young players with upside and picks? Apparently not. Over the summer, the Kings have been one of a few teams linked to the Sixers' Ben Simmons saga. As Sacramento took a liking to the three-time All-Star, they were willing to talk shop with Daryl Morey.
However, the Kings weren't willing to part ways with players such as De'Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton, leaving the Sixers to lose interest in talks with Sacramento. Some believed a slow start could cause the Kings to change their minds, but even after going 2-8 in their last ten games and firing Luke Walton, the Kings remain committed to keeping Fox and Haliburton on board, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
"Despite strong preseason chatter that a slow start in Sacramento could lead to a potential Ben Simmons trade with Philadelphia, there remains no significant current discussion between the Sixers and Kings. Fox and Tyrese Halliburton are still deemed unavailable, and second-year standout Tyrese Maxey has emerged as a legitimate starting point guard in Philadelphia."
Whether Haliburton and/or Fox are on the Sixers' mysterious 30-player target list for a potential Ben Simmons swap is unclear. Regardless if they are or aren't, it seems the Kings are hopeful that Gentry and the rest of the team can turn things around as it's still early on in the year, and there remains a lot of games left to be played.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.