The Sacramento Kings are a professional basketball team based in Sacramento, California. The Kings are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Kings are the only team in the major professional North American sports leagues located in Sacramento. The team plays its home games at the Golden 1 Center.
Their best seasons to date in the city were in the early 2000s, including the 2001–02 season when they had the best record in the NBA at 61–21 (a winning percentage of .744).
The Sacramento Kings are the latest and current version of one of the oldest continuously operating professional basketball franchises in the United States. They originated in Rochester, New York, as the Rochester Seagrams (a semi-professional team) in 1923, hosting a number of teams there over the next 20 years. They joined the National Basketball League in 1945 as the renamed Rochester Royals, winning that league's championship in their first season, 1945-46. They later jumped with three other NBL teams to the Basketball Association of America, forerunner of the NBA, in 1948. As the Royals, the team was often successful on the court, winning the NBA championship in 1951. The team, however, found it increasingly difficult to turn a profit in the comparatively small market of Rochester and relocated to Cincinnati in 1957, becoming the Cincinnati Royals. In 1972 the team relocated again, this time to Kansas City, Missouri, and was renamed the Kansas City-Omaha Kings because it initially split its home games between Kansas City and Omaha, Nebraska. In 1975, the Kings ceased playing home games in Omaha in 1977 and then simply became the Kansas City Kings. The team again failed to find success in its market and moved yet again to Sacramento in 1985, where they continue to reside today.
The Kings currently own both the NBA's longest active postseason drought at 15 seasons (currently tied with the Los Angeles Clippers' 15 season postseason drought that occurred between 1976-77–1990–91), and the longest NBA championship drought at 70 seasons, with the franchise's lone championship dating back to 1951, having occurred when the franchise was known as the Rochester Royals.
- 1 Home arenas
- 2 Franchise history
- 2.1 1948–1957: Rochester Royals
- 2.2 1957–1972: Cincinnati Royals
- 2.3 1972–1985: Kansas City–Omaha/Kansas City Kings
- 2.4 1985–present: Sacramento Kings
- 2.4.1 1988–1989: Ricky Berry
- 2.4.2 1989–1990: Pervis Ellison
- 2.4.3 1990–1991: Lionel Simmons
- 2.4.4 1991–1998: The Mitch Richmond era
- 2.4.5 1998–2004: "The Greatest Show on Court" era
- 2.4.6 2004–2006: Decline
- 2.4.7 2006–2009: Change and Transition
- 2.4.8 2009–2012: "Here we Rise" period
- 2.4.9 2012–2015: Franchise restructuring
- 2.4.10 2015–2017: Divac as general manager, new arena
- 2.4.11 2017–present: Departure of Demarcus Cousins, Rebuilding
- 2.4.12 2020–present: The Monte McNair era
- 3 Season-by-season records
- 4 Players
- 5 External links
- Edgerton Park Arena (1949–1954)
- Rochester War Memorial (1955–1957)
- Cincinnati Gardens (1957–1972)
Kansas City–Omaha/Kansas City Kings
- Kansas City Municipal Auditorium (1972–1974)
- Omaha Civic Auditorium (1972–1978)
- Kemper Arena (1974–1985)
- ARCO Arena I (1985–1988)
- Sleep Train Arena (formerly ARCO Arena II/Power Balance Pavilion) (1988–2016)
- Golden 1 Center (2016–present)
1948–1957: Rochester Royals
The basis of the purely-professional Royals team that came into existence in 1945, after two decades of sponsored 'semi-professional' team. Seagram was the team's main sponsor and received the bulk of what monies were made. One of the team's early stars was Lester Harrison, a local high school star of some publicity before joining the team. The driven Harrison later became the team's captain, coach, manager and chief scout over the next two decades, and was very key in the team's continued success and existence through hard years in the 1930s. Among visitors to Rochester then to play the team were the Original Celtics, the New York Rens and the Harlem Globetrotters.
With news that World War II was approaching its end, the National Basketball League (NBL) announced that it was expanding, and Harrison was approached for interest in a franchise. While the sponsored Seagrams balked at additional expenses involved, Harrison and his lawyer brother Jack jumped at the chance. They pooled money to meet the steep entry fee of $25,000 dollars, and were granted an NBL franchise. Their team pushed out the Seagrams locally at their facility, smallish Edgerton Park Arena.
With his new team, Harrison took advantage of conditions and rules in 1945. The best players were the returning Navy and Army players now being released from the war. There was no draft for the league in the selection of new players. So, Harrison was able to scoop up several name stars for his new team, among them Bob Davies, Red Holzman and William "Fuzzy" Levane, as well as NBL free agents like George Glamack and Al Cervi. The result was a strong league champion in their very first season of existence as the Royals during the 1945–46 season.
The team had two more seasons of success during their NBL years, which permitted the team to play non-league opponents. During all three years, 1945–1948, the team played over 300 total games, hosting most of them.
The Royals defected to the NBL's rival, the Basketball Association of America (BAA), in 1948. In 1949, as a result of that year's absorption of the NBL by the BAA, the Royals became members of the newly formed NBA along with the Fort Wayne Pistons, Minneapolis Lakers, and Indianapolis (Kautskys) Jets. A year later, the BAA absorbed the remaining NBL teams to become the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The move to the BAA took away Rochester's profitable exhibition schedule, and placed it in the same Western Division as the Minneapolis Lakers. Of the two best teams in professional basketball, only one of them could play in the league finals from 1949 to 1954. Minneapolis, with George Mikan, was almost always better during playoffs than the Royals. With their smallish arena and now-limited schedule, the Royals became less profitable even as Harrison maintained a remarkably high standard for the team, which finished no lower than second in its division in both the NBL and BAA/NBA from 1945 to 1954. Harrison knew that the NBA was outgrowing Rochester, and spent most of the 1950s looking for a buyer for his team.
The Royals won the NBA title in 1951 by defeating the New York Knicks 4–3. It is the only NBA championship in the franchise's history. The title, however, did not translate into profit for the Royals. The roster turned over in 1955, except for star guard Bobby Wanzer, who soon became the team's new coach. The team moved to the larger Rochester War Memorial in 1955 in an attempt to improve fortunes with a much larger arena. The NBA even agreed to host their All-Star Game there in 1956. But the Royals were now a losing team filled with rookies, and did not turn a profit. Meanwhile, the NBA was putting pressure on Harrison to sell or relocate his team to a larger city. With this in mind, the 1956–57 season was the Royals' last in Rochester.
The Royals' stay in Rochester featured the services of nine future members of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Al Cervi, Bob Davies, Alex Hannum, Lester Harrison, Red Holzman, Arnie Risen, Maurice Stokes, Jack Twyman, Bobby Wanzer, one member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Otto Graham, a Hollywood Walk of Famer, Chuck Connors, and Jack McMahon.
1957–1972: Cincinnati Royals
In April 1957, the Harrison brothers moved the Royals to Cincinnati, a city that was then trying to obtain an NBA expansion franchise. This move followed a well-received regular season game played at Cincinnati Gardens on February 1, 1957. The change of venue was said to have been partly suggested by Jack Twyman and Dave Piontek, who were two of several roster players on the new Royals from that area. Cincinnati, which had a strong college basketball fanbase then, and no NFL franchise to compete with, was deemed the best choice for the Harrisons, who also considered other cities. The Royals name continued to fit in Cincinnati, often known as the "Queen City".
During the team's first NBA draft in Cincinnati, the team netted future Hall Of Famer Clyde Lovellette and former star guard George King. They teamed with the 1-2 punch of Maurice Stokes and Twyman to produce a budding contender in the team's very first season in the Queen City. Injury to Marshall and the loss of star guard Si Green to military service dropped the team into a tie for second place in the NBA Western Division during the 1957-58 season's second half.
In the season's finale, All-Pro star Maurice Stokes struck his head when he fell after pursuing a rebound. He shook off the effects of the fall, even as he had briefly been unconscious. After Game One in the playoffs three days later, Stokes' head injury was greatly aggravated by airplane cabin pressure during the flight back to Cincinnati for Game Two. He suffered a seizure and was permanently hospitalized, a tragedy that greatly shook the team. Stokes, a tremendous talent who could play center, forward and guard, was 2nd in the NBA in rebounds and 3rd in assists, a double-feat only Wilt Chamberlain has matched for a full season. Without Stokes, the team nearly folded.
Fellow All-Star Twyman rose to All-Pro level the next two seasons for Cincinnati, even as the team posted two 19-win seasons. The 1958-59 Cincinnati team featured five rookies, with Lovellette, King and other key players having left the team in the wake of Stokes' tragic injury. The Harrisons, under pressure to sell to a local group, sold to a local ownership headed by Thomas Woods. The fact that Stokes was simply dumped by the team and the new ownership infuriated many.
Jack Twyman came to aid of his teammate and even legally adopted Stokes. Raising funds for Stokes' medical treatment, Twyman helped his fallen teammate until his death in April, 1970. The 1973 feature film Maurie, which co-starred actors Bernie Casey and Bo Svenson, later dramatized their story.
Shootng often for the beleaguered team, Twyman was the second NBA player ever to average 30 points per game for a full NBA season. Both Twyman and Stokes were later named Hall of Famers.
1960–1970: The Oscar Robertson era
In 1960, the team was able to land local superstar Oscar Robertson. Robertson led a team that included Twyman, Wayne Embry, Bob Boozer, Bucky Bockhorn, Tom Hawkins and Adrian Smith over the next three seasons. The Royals reversed their fortunes with Robertson and rose to title contender. An ownership dispute in early 1963 scuttled the team's playoff chances when new owner Louis Jacobs booked a circus for Cincinnati Gardens for the week of the playoff series versus the champion Boston Celtics. Jacobs, an aloof owner, would prove no ally to the team's title hopes.
In late 1963, another local superstar, Jerry Lucas, joined the team. The Royals rose to second-best record in the NBA. From 1963-66, the Royals contended strongly against Boston and the Philadelphia 76ers, but fell short of their title hopes.
The team's star players throughout the 1960s were Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas. Robertson met with individual success, averaging a triple-double in 1961-62 and winning the Most Valuable Player award in 1964. Robertson was a league-leading scorer and passer each season. Lucas was Rookie Of the Year in 1964, led the league in shooting, and later averaged 20 rebounds per game over three seasons. Both were All-NBA First Team selections multiple times.
The Royals were an also-ran throughout the era anyway. The team failed to keep promising players and played in the tough NBA East division, dominated by the Boston Celtics, even as a Baltimore team played in the West Division for three years, denying the team likely visits to the NBA Finals.
In 1966, the team was sold to a pair of brothers named Max and Jeremy Jacobs. That same season, the Royals began playing some of their home games in neutral sites such as Cleveland (until the Cavaliers began play in 1970), Dayton & Columbus, which was the norm for the rest of the Royals tenure in the Queen City.
New coach Bob Cousy, a loyal Boston Celtic, traded Lucas in 1969. Robertson was traded to Milwaukee in 1970, where he would immediately win an NBA title. The declining franchise left Cincinnati shortly thereafter, moving to Kansas City in 1972.
1972–1985: Kansas City–Omaha/Kansas City Kings
The Royals were renamed the Kings because Kansas City already had the Royals baseball team. The basketball team agreed to change its nickname, even though it had used the name for 25 years before the baseball team was established. The team initially divided its home games between Kansas City and Omaha until 1975, when it abandoned the Omaha market. During that time the team was officially called the "Kansas City-Omaha Kings". The team netted a new superstar in Nate Archibald, who led the league in scoring and assists.
While still in Cincinnati, the Kings introduced a most unusual uniform design, which placed the player's surname below his number. The design remained intact through the first several seasons of the team's run in Sacramento, even when the shade of blue on the road uniforms was changed from royal blue to powder blue, and the script "Kansas City" which adorned the road jerseys was scrubbed after the move in favor of a repeat of the "Kings" script on the home shirts.
The Kings had some decent players throughout. Tom Van Arsdale, the shooting forward, "Jumpin" Johnny Green, and Matt Guokas helped Archibald in the first year in Kansas City. Toby Kimball was a fan favorite. Jimmy Walker teamed with Archibald as the Kings made the playoffs the second year. Sam Lacey, an effective passing center, became one of the most dependable players in the league. Archibald became the first player to lead the league in scoring and assists in the first season in Kansas City. However, the management traded Archibald, and wasted high draft picks. Bob Cousy gave way to Phil Johnson, who was fired midyear in 1977 and replaced by Larry Staverman, a player on the team on two separate occasions when it was in Cincinnati and who later became the Cleveland Indians groundskeeper.
The Kings finally achieved some success in their new home when they hired Cotton Fitzsimmons as coach. Coach Fitzsimmons won the Midwest Division in 1978-79 with rookie point guard Phil Ford. Kansas City was led by shooting guard Otis Birdsong, strong on both offense and defense, all around shooting forward Scott Wedman, and passing center Sam Lacey, who had a trademark 25 foot bank shot. They also drew an average of 10,789 fans to Kemper Arena that season, the only time during their tenure in KC that average attendance was in five figures. The Kings made the playoffs in 1979-80 and again in 1980–81, despite finishing the regular season at 40–42. The Kings made a surprise run in the NBA Playoffs, reaching the Western Conference Finals. Big Ernie Grunfeld played the point in this run, as KC used a slow half court game to win the first two rounds. Power forward Reggie King had a remarkable series, dominating the opposition.
However, a series of bad luck incidents prevented the team from building on its success. Ted Stepien, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers lured Wedman and Birdsong away with big contract offers, the roof literally fell in at Kemper Arena because of a winter storm, forcing the team to play most of the 1979-80 season at Municipal Auditorium, and the ownership group sold the team to Sacramento interests for just eleven million dollars. The general manager was fired in a bizarre scandal in which he was found to be reusing marked postage stamps. When the Kings rehired Joe Axelson as general manager, they brought back the man who had previously traded superstars Oscar Robertson, Norm Van Lier, Nate Archibald and Jerry Lucas, and used the third pick in the ABA dispersal draft on Ron Boone. Axelson would stay on after the Kings left Kansas City where, in their last game ever, fans wore Joe Axelson masks. Axelson later would say he hoped his plane would never touch down in Kansas City.
Axelson later would be the first general manager in the history of sports to fail with the same franchise in four different cities: Cincinnati, Kansas City, Omaha and Sacramento. He would not be fired for good until he rehired as coach Phil Johnson, whom he had fired in midseason in Kansas City ten years before. The Kings also had the misfortune of entering this period competing with the Kansas City Comets for the winter sports dollar, when the Comets were led by marketers - the Leiweke brothers. Their final season, 1984-85, resulted in a dismal 31–51 record as fans stayed away from Kemper Arena in droves, with average attendance of just 6,410. The writing was on the wall for Kansas City.
1985–present: Sacramento Kings
The Kings moved to their current home of Sacramento, California in the 1985–86 NBA season, with their first Sacramento season ending in the first round of the Western Conference 1986 NBA Playoffs. The starting lineup was Reggie Theus, LaSalle Thompson, Mark Olberding, Terry Tyler, and Mike Woodson, with Larry Drew, Eddie Johnson, Otis Thorpe, and Joe Kleine coming off the bench. However, despite fan loyalty the Kings saw little success in subsequent seasons, and the team did not make the playoffs again until the 1996 NBA Playoffs in the 1995–96 NBA season. Some of their failure was attributable to misfortunes such as the career-altering car crash suffered by promising point guard Bobby Hurley in 1993, and the suicide of Ricky Berry during the 1989 off-season; some was attributed to poor management such as the long tenure of head coach Garry St. Jean and the selection of "Never Nervous" Pervis Ellison with the first overall pick in the 1989 NBA draft. Former Kings television broadcaster Jerry Reynolds (1987, 1988–90) and NBA legend Bill Russell (1987–88) were the earliest head coaches.
1988–1989: Ricky Berry
Ricky Berry was selected by the Kings in the first round, 18th pick overall in the 1988 NBA draft. He had a dazzling rookie year in the 1988–89 season shooting 40.6% from three-point range. The Kings also drafted Vinny Del Negro (selected by the Kings in the second round, 29th overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft) and acquired Rodney McCray from the Houston Rockets. In his first year with the Kings, McCray made 1988 NBA All-Defensive First Team. It was the first season the Kings would play without Reggie Theus and LaSalle Thompson (both part in the original team from Kansas City) or Joe Kleine (selected by the Kings as first round, sixth pick overall in the 1985 NBA draft). Thompson was drafted by the Kings in the first round, fifth overall pick in the 1982 NBA draft. It was also the last year that Michael Jackson (selected by the New York Knicks in the second round, 47th pick overall in the 1986 NBA draft but who played his entire career with the Kings) and Ed Pinckney (selected 10th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 1985 NBA draft and played for the Kings from 1987 to 1989) played for the Kings. On February 23, 1989, Brad Lohaus and Danny Ainge were traded to the Kings from the Boston Celtics for Joe Kleine and Ed Pinckney. In June of the 1989 off-season, Lohaus was then acquired by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1989 NBA Expansion Draft. In August of the 1989 off-season, Berry was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Fair Oaks, California just weeks before his 25th birthday following an argument with his wife.
1989–1990: Pervis Ellison
Following the loss of Ricky Berry, 1989–90 season featured Pervis Ellison, who was first overall pick in the 1989 NBA draft by the Kings, and acquisition Wayman Tisdale (from the Indiana Pacers, second pick overall in the 1985 NBA draft). An injury kept Ellison on the sidelines for 48 of 82 games of his rookie year, after which he was traded to the Washington Bullets. Tisdale would go on to play for the Kings for five years. It was the last season that Danny Ainge, Kenny Smith (who had an impressive showing in the 1990 NBA Slam Dunk Contest), Rodney McCray, Harold Pressley (selected by the Kings in the first round, 17th overall pick in the 1986 NBA draft), Vinny Del Negro, Greg Kite, and Ralph Sampson played for the Kings. In 1990, Ainge was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, Kenny Smith was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, and Rodney McCray was traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
1990–1991: Lionel Simmons
Lionel Simmons – or L-Train – was drafted by the Kings in the 1990 NBA draft in the first round, 7th pick overall. In his first season, he made the NBA All-Rookie First Team. He would go on to play his entire career (1990–1997) with the Kings and had 5,833 career points. Antoine Carr (acquired from the Atlanta Hawks) played for the Kings in the 1990–91 NBA season and then was traded to the San Antonio Spurs. Free agent Leon Wood, who would later become an NBA official, played for the Kings but was let go on Christmas Eve of 1990. Also notable that Bill Wennington was acquired from the Dallas Mavericks and played for the Kings for the 1990–91 season and after a successful career with the Chicago Bulls returned to the Kings for his final season in 1999–2000.
1991–1998: The Mitch Richmond era
The early 1990s were difficult for the Kings. Sacramento was known for having strong fan support, and while they won over 60% of their home games, the team struggled on the road, going 1–40 on the road in a single season. But prayers were answered when they acquired Mitch Richmond, who previously played for the Golden State Warriors. The former NBA Rookie of the Year was selected as an All-Star six times while making the All-NBA Second Team three times. Garry St. Jean was chosen as new coach in 1992 and coached the team all the way through 1997, where he was replaced by Eddie Jordan.
During the 1990s, Sacramento had other stars like Spud Webb, Kurt Rambis, Wayman Tisdale, Walt Williams, Olden Polynice and Brian Grant, but they only lasted with the team for a few years. After the 1992–93 season, Rambis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. After the 1993–94 season, Tisdale was traded to the Phoenix Suns. After the 1994–95 season, Webb was traded to the Atlanta Hawks for Tyrone Corbin. Midway through the 1995–96 season, Williams was traded to the Miami Heat for Billy Owens (who was drafted by the Kings in 1991, and traded to Golden State for Richmond). After the 1996–97 season, Grant became a free agent and signed with the Portland Trail Blazers.
One accomplishment the team achieved under St. Jean during their tenures was a playoff appearance in 1996. The series was lost 3–1 to the Seattle SuperSonics who, led by Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, finished as that year's conference champions. They did not make a playoff appearance again while Richmond was still on the Kings. He was soon traded along with Otis Thorpe to the Washington Wizards for Chris Webber in May 1998. Although Richmond was lost, this trade proved to be one of the keys to finally achieving playoff success after so many seasons of mediocrity.
1998–2004: "The Greatest Show on Court" era
The Kings drafted Jason Williams in the 1998 NBA draft, signed Vlade Divac, and traded for Chris Webber prior to the lockout-shortened season of 1998–99. These acquisitions coincided with the arrival of Peja Stojaković from Serbia, who had been drafted in 1996. Each of these moves was attributed to general manager Geoff Petrie, who has won the NBA Executive of the Year Award twice.
Led by new head coach Rick Adelman, and aided by former Princeton head coach Pete Carril, the Kings' Princeton offense impressed others for its quick style and strong ball movement. Some criticized the Kings for their poor team defense, Williams's "flash over substance" style with its many turnovers, and Webber's failure to step up in important match-ups. Still, they quickly garnered many fans outside of California, many of whom were drawn to the spectacular pairing of Williams and Webber. In 1998–99, they went 27–23, their first winning season in nearly twenty years and their first since moving to Sacramento. The new arrivals Webber, Williams, and Divac all played key roles in this resurgence; Divac ranked near the top of the team in most statistics, Webber led the league in rebounds and was named to the All-NBA Second Team, and Williams was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. In the playoffs, they were matched up against the defending Western Conference Champions, the Utah Jazz. After winning Game 1 by 20 points, the Jazz surrendered two consecutive playoff games to the Kings. They would turn the series around, however, and win the last two to keep the Kings from advancing in the playoffs.
In 1999–2000, the Kings' only notable transaction was trading shooting guard Tariq Abdul-Wahad to the Orlando Magic in exchange for shooting guard Nick Anderson. They finished eighth in the Western Conference with a 44–38 record and were matched up with the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. Once again, however, the Kings failed to advance, losing the series 2–3 against the eventual NBA champion Lakers.
The following season, the Kings traded starting small forward Corliss Williamson to the Toronto Raptors for shooting guard Doug Christie, a move made to improve the subpar defense. They also drafted Turkish power forward Hedo Türkoğlu, further improving their bench rotation. Stojakovic moved into the starting small forward role, where he and Webber proved to complement each other extremely well, and as the Kings continued to improve, their popularity steadily rose, culminating in a February 2001 Sports Illustrated cover story entitled "The Greatest Show on Court" with Williams, Christie, Stojakovic, Webber, and Divac gracing the cover. That year, they went 55–27, their best record in 40 years. In the playoffs, they won their first series in 20 years, defeating the Phoenix Suns three games to one, before being swept in the second round by the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, who eventually won their second consecutive NBA Championship.
In July 2001, Jason Williams was traded, along with Nick Anderson, to the Vancouver Grizzlies for Mike Bibby and Brent Price. Despite Williams's often spectacular play, the Kings had grown tired of his recklessness and turnovers; Bibby would provide much more stability and control at the point guard position. This move was complemented by the re-signing of Webber to a maximum-salary contract, securing their superstar long term. With Bibby taking over for Williams, they had their best season to date in 2001–02. Though not as exciting or flashy as they had been in previous years with Williams, the team became much more effective and disciplined with Bibby at the helm. They finished with a league-best record of 61–21, winning 36 of 41 at home. After easily winning their first two playoff matchups against the Stockton and Malone-led Utah Jazz and the Dirk Nowitzki-led Dallas Mavericks, respectively, the Kings went on to play the archrival and two-time defending two-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, regarded as one of the greatest playoff matchups in history. It was the third consecutive meeting between the two teams in the playoffs. In a controversial series, the Kings lost in seven games, one game away from what would have been the first NBA Finals and professional sports championship in Sacramento history and the first NBA Finals appearance for the franchise since 1951, back when the Kings were known as the Rochester Royals. This was a crushing blow to the Kings; after losing to their archrivals in a highly controversial series, the team would begin to decline and age in the years that followed. Many commentators and journalists would question the decisions made by the referees during Game 6, specifically that the Lakers were awarded a staggering 27 free throws in the fourth quarter, many of which came from what were in retrospect proved to be no-calls. Following Game 6 even print newspapers began to question the legitimacy of the game. Most notably, the New York Post ran a front cover with a headline entitled "Foul Play"; it also published a related article suggesting that the game was rigged. NBA analyst David Aldridge (then working for ESPN) spoke on the game:
The 2002 Western Conference finals left many fans wondering whether the Kings could have gone on to win a title, and debate would continue for many years after the events of the series. Later, due to allegations raised by former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, the NBA set up a review of the league's officiating. Lawrence Pedowitz, who led the review, concluded that while Game 6 featured poor officiating, there was no concrete evidence that the game had been fixed.
In the 2002–03 season, the Kings went 59–23 and won the division during the following season, seeking to avenge their playoff loss to the Lakers. After defeating the Stockton and Malone-led Utah Jazz once again in the first round and winning Game 1 against the Dirk Nowitzki-led Dallas Mavericks in the second round, the Kings appeared to be on the brink of another Western Conference Finals berth. However, Chris Webber sustained a major knee injury in Game 2, and the Kings lost in a seven-game series. Webber's knee required major surgery. He returned mid-season in 2003–04 a season in which the Kings were seeking another chance to avenge their playoff loss to the Lakers, but without his quickness and athleticism, which had been the focal point of his style of play, it was not the same. Despite that, the Kings still managed to defeat the Dirk Nowitzki-led Dallas Mavericks in the first round, avenging their playoff series defeat against them from the previous season. After winning Game 1 against the Kevin Garnett-led top-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round, the Kings appeared to be on the brink of their second Western Conference Finals berth in three years, but the Kings ended the season with a defeat to the Timberwolves in a seven game series.
The 2004–05 season marked change for the Kings, who lost three starters from the famed 2002 team. In the off-season of 2004, Divac signed with the Lakers, which prompted the Kings to sign Brad Miller to start at center. Early in the season, Christie was traded to the Orlando Magic for Cuttino Mobley, and in February, Webber was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for three forwards (Corliss Williamson, Kenny Thomas, and Brian Skinner). Thomas and Skinner failed in their attempt to replicate Webber's impact, and as a result the team's record suffered. The Kings lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Seattle SuperSonics. The 2005 off-season continued with changes, when they traded fan-favorite Bobby Jackson for Bonzi Wells and acquired free agent Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
The 2005–06 season started off poorly, as the Kings had a hard time finding chemistry in the team. Newcomers Bonzi Wells and Shareef Abdur-Rahim made major contributions early in the season, but both fell victim to the injury bug and missed a significant number of games. As the Kings' dismal season continued, the Maloofs decided to make a major move.
Popular sharpshooting small forward Peja Stojakovic was traded for Ron Artest, long known for his volatile temper. With this trade, the Kings begin the Artest era until its ultimate end. With Artest in the lineup, the Kings had a 20–9 record after the 2006 NBA All-Star Weekend, which was the second best post-All-Star break record that season. The Kings finished the regular season with a 44-38 record, which placed them 4th in the Pacific Division. The Kings obtained the 8th seed of the Western Conference playoffs, and were matched up in the first round against the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs in a seven-game series. The Spurs beat the Kings in the first round 4–2, and it marked the last time the Kings made the playoffs.
The 2006 offseason was started with the announcement that head coach Rick Adelman's contract would not be renewed. The Kings named Eric Musselman as Adelman's replacement as head coach.
In 2006–2007, the disappointing play of the Kings had been coupled with the distraction of legal troubles. Coach Eric Musselman pleaded no contest to DUI charges early in the season, while star Ron Artest got in to trouble for neglect of his dogs, and was later arrested for domestic assault. The Kings dismissed Artest of basketball duties, pending more investigation in to the matter, and was later reinstated. The Kings finished the 2006–07 NBA season with an overall record of 33-49 (their worst in 9 years) in which they were 20-21 at ARCO Arena for the first time since 93-94 and 13-28 on the road; fifth place in the Pacific Division. This season record included a seven game losing-streak that started on January 4 and ended on January 19. Consequently, the Sacramento Kings went on to miss the 2007 NBA Playoffs, the first time in eight seasons. Coach Eric Musselman was fired on April 20, 2007. The Kings' future appears to rest on the shoulders of breakout star Kevin Martin, who was a leading candidate for 2007 NBA Most-Improved Player of the Year.
The 2007 off season was a time of change for the Kings. Kings coach Eric Musselman was replaced by former Kings player, Reggie Theus for head coach. Fans and sports analysts were puzzled by the hire, especially with Larry Brown expressing great interest in coaching the team. On [June 28, 2007, the Kings selected center Spencer Hawes as the 10th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
In addition to these changes, the Sacramento Kings acquired center-forward Mikki Moore from the New Jersey Nets. Kevin Martin signed a contract worth $55 million, extending his period with the team for five more years.
However, the Kings also lost some key players over the offseason, with backup point guard Ronnie Price leaving for the Utah Jazz, and Corliss Williamson retiring.
The team claimed fourth-year point guard Beno Udrih off waivers from Minnesota. Udrih quickly assumed the starting point guard job, as Bibby was injured.
It was announced on February 16, 2008 that the Kings had traded longtime point guard Bibby to the Atlanta Hawks for Tyronn Lue, Anthony Johnson, Shelden Williams, Lorenzen Wright and a 2nd round draft pick. The move was done mostly to clear cap space for the future. Bibby was the last remaining original player that got the Kings to the Western Conference Finals back in 2002.
The Kings improved by 5 games and finished the 07-08 season with a 38-44 missing the playoffs by a much bigger margin (12 games) than the previous season (8 games). They went 26-15 at home and 12-29 on the road. After selling out every home game since 1999 the Kings only sold out the three home games (against the Celtics and Lakers) during the 07-08 season averaging 13,500 fans per home game, almost 4,000 below capacity. Many home games struggled to put 15,000 in with empty seats common.
Following a quiet 2008 offseason, it was confirmed on July 29, 2008 that the Kings would trade forward Ron Artest and the rights to Patrick Ewing Jr and Sean Singletary to the Houston Rockets in exchange for former King Bobby Jackson, Donté Greene, a future first round draft pick, and cash considerations .
2006–2009: Change and Transition
With new pressures on the Kings to rebuild and return to their glory days, General Manager Geoff Petrie is assembling a new younger more talented squad to hopefully carry the team. With the youthful faces of Kevin Martin, who averages over 20 points and is known for his consistent shooting, and the likes of Francisco Garcia, Bobby Brown, and Beno Udrih, the Kings are optimistic for their future.
A main concern at the moment is their coaching position with the firing of Reggie Theus earlier in the 2008-09 season. With Interim Head Coach Kenny Natt, the Kings have continued to struggle, which leaves the franchise with many questions on the coaching role for next season.
2009–2012: "Here we Rise" period
Despite having the best odds to win the top overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, the Kings obtained the 4th overall pick, the lowest they could possibly pick, to the outrage of many fans. Along with new head coach Paul Westphal, they selected Tyreke Evans. With the 23rd pick, they selected Omri Casspi from Israel.
On April 27, 2010, Evans was the first Sacramento era player to receive the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Evans also became the 4th player in NBA history, joining Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James, to average 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game as a rookie.
On June 24, 2010, the Kings selected DeMarcus Cousins with the 5th pick of the 2010 NBA draft. They also selected Hassan Whiteside, with the 33rd pick of the 2010 NBA draft.
Despite the excellent play of Cousins and Evans, both of whom were front-runners in Rookie of the Year voting and received All-Rookie First Team honors, the Kings still ranked near the bottom of the NBA, going 25–57 in Evans' rookie year, and 24–58 in Cousins' rookie year. Much of this was due to the poor fit of the roster around Evans and Cousins, and the uninspired coaching of Westphal.
The 2010–11 season was marked with uncertainty towards the end of the season. Frustrated by the lack of progress towards an arena and dwindling profits from other businesses, the Maloofs sought an immediate relocation of the franchise to Anaheim. The move seemed certain towards the end of the year, with Grant Napear and Jerry Reynolds emotionally signing off at the final home game vs. the Los Angeles Lakers. But after a vote by the NBA board of Governors, the relocation effort was ended, to the glee of the fans.
In the 2011 NBA draft the Kings traded for the draft rights of Jimmer Fredette in a three-team deal with the Charlotte Bobcats and the Milwaukee Bucks, with the Kings receiving John Salmons sending Beno Udrih. This move was heavily panned by fans and media; by moving down in the draft and losing longtime starter Udrih for the unproductive Salmons, most found it difficult to find a bright spot in the deal. Westphal would shortly be fired, with Warriors assistant Keith Smart hired as his replacement. Around this time, the team took the slogan "Here we rise!" for its marketing campaign. Amidst various relocation rumors and locker room tensions, the Kings had yet another unsuccessful season. One of their few bright spots was rookie Isaiah Thomas. Due to criticisms about his height (5'9" in shoes) and playmaking ability, Thomas slipped to the 60th and final pick of the draft. Despite this, and the presence of college superstar Fredette, Thomas earned the starting spot, finishing the season with averages of 11 points and 4 assists per game and earned a selection to the NBA All-Rookie team. In the 2012 NBA draft they selected Thomas Robinson out of Kansas.
Because of an unproductive rookie season by Robinson, he was traded with Francisco García and Tyler Honeycutt to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich.
2012–2015: Franchise restructuring
On May 16, 2013, the Maloof family reached agreement to sell the Kings to a group led by Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur Vivek Ranadivé for a then-record NBA franchise valuation of $535 million. Ranadivé, 55, named Raj Bhathal, 71, founder of Tustin-based Raj Manufacturing, one of the largest swimwear companies in the nation, as one of the investors in a consortium to buy a majority stake in the Kings from the franchise's longtime owners, the Maloof family, for a reported $348 million. The group fought off a rival bid that would have moved the team to Seattle after the NBA's Board of Governors rejected investor Chris Hansen's bid to relocate the team. The new owners intend to keep the team in Sacramento. On May 28, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale, ending several years of efforts by other cities to take possession and move the Kings out of Sacramento. On May 31, 2013, the Kings closed escrow, finalizing the sale to the Ranadivé group at a record valuation of $534 million, beginning a new era for the franchise. Plans were already underway to move forward on an arena, as the Downtown Plaza was reportedly being sold to the Sacramento ownership group. A month later, on July 30, Turner Construction was selected to be the builder of the arena.
Once the sale had closed and ownership was transferred to Ranadivé, the Kings began making changes to the management and staff. Geoff Petrie and Keith Smart were released; Mike Malone and Pete D'Alessandro were brought in to replace them. Corliss Williamson, Brendan Malone, Chris Jent, and Dee Brown were brought in as assistant coaches. On July 10, NBA executive Chris Granger was hired as team president. On September 23, 2013, Shaquille O'Neal purchased a minority share of the team, jokingly dubbing the team's new organization the "Shaqramento Kings".
These hires coincided several roster moves. In the 2013 NBA draft on June 27, the Kings selected Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore, who was widely projected to go top-five, with the seventh overall pick. They also selected point guard and former McDonald's All-American Ray McCallum, Jr. from the University of Detroit with the 36th pick. One week later, on July 5, the Kings sent former NBA Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans to the New Orleans Pelicans in a three-team deal involving Robin Lopez, Greivis Vásquez, Jeff Withey, Terrel Harris, and picks. On July 9, the Kings traded a future second-round draft pick to the Bucks in exchange for defensive small forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and on July 15, the Kings signed Carl Landry, who had played a stint with the team in its previous ownership, to a 4-year deal worth $28 million.
The 2013–14 season was widely anticipated by Kings fans. Playing their first game on October 30, against the Nuggets, the Kings won 90–88, despite being without projected starters Landry and Mbah a Moute. They were led by a 30-point, 14 rebound performance from DeMarcus Cousins, and a putback dunk by Jason Thompson with under a minute to play which sealed the victory for the Kings.
After the poor play of starting forwards John Salmons and Patrick Patterson through November, the Kings sought a change. On November 26, newly acquired Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was traded for power forward Derrick Williams. Nearly two weeks later, on December 8, they acquired Rudy Gay in a blockbuster seven-player deal that sent the struggling Patterson and Salmons to Toronto along with Chuck Hayes and off-season acquisition Greivis Vásquez. Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray were also sent to the Kings. The organization sought to add depth to their lineup during the 2014 off-season to complement the Kings' star duo DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. Sacramento added Darren Collison, Ryan Hollins and Ramon Sessions through free agency signings, as well as drafting Nik Stauskas prior to the start of the 2014–15 season.
After an 11–13 start to the 2014–15 season, head coach Michael Malone was fired by the Sacramento Kings organization. Tyrone Corbin filled in for the Kings until Hall of Fame coach George Karl replaced him in February 2015.
On January 30, 2015, DeMarcus Cousins was named to replace the injured Kobe Bryant as a Western Conference All-Star in the 2015 NBA All-Star Game. Cousins' selection marked the first time a Kings player earned All-Star honors since Brad Miller and Peja Stojaković represented Sacramento in 2004.
2015–2017: Divac as general manager, new arena
On March 3, 2015, the Kings announced former Sacramento center Vlade Divac as the new vice president of basketball operations. Following the end of Sacramento's 29–53 season for 2014–15, The Kings made aggressive off-season moves in drafting Willie Cauley-Stein and acquiring Rajon Rondo, Kosta Koufos, Marco Belinelli, and Caron Butler in preparation for the 2015–16 season. To free up cap space, Divac traded Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, a future top 10 protected first round pick, and the right to swap two future first round picks to the Philadelphia 76ers for the rights to second round picks Artūras Gudaitis and Luka Mitrović. While the 76ers gave up nearly nothing to acquire draft assets that would result in the selection of number 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, the Kings have remained one of the worst teams in the NBA. It is regarded by many as one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history.
On April 14, 2016, after a 33–49 season, the Kings fired head coach George Karl. Karl compiled a record of 44-68 with the Kings.
The 2016–17 season brought several changes. The Kings moved into their new arena, the Golden 1 Center. On May 9, 2016, the Kings hired former Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger as head coach. During the 2016 NBA draft, the Kings traded the 8th pick to the Phoenix Suns for the 13th and 28th pick in the draft, as well as the rights to Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanović. Later in the evening, the Kings traded Marco Belinelli to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for the 22nd pick in the draft. The Kings selected four players in the 2016 NBA draft – Greek center Georgios Papagiannis with the 13th pick, Syracuse shooting guard Malachi Richardson with the 22nd pick, Kentucky forward Skal Labissiere with the 28th pick, and Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins with the 59th pick. In free agency, the Kings signed Anthony Tolliver, Garrett Temple, Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes, and Ty Lawson.
2017–present: Departure of Demarcus Cousins, Rebuilding
On February 20, 2017, the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins, alongside Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and two future draft picks. The Kings finished the 2016–17 season with a 32–50 record.
In the 2017 NBA draft the team selected Kentucky point guard De'Aaron Fox with the fifth pick. They also selected North Carolina forward Justin Jackson with the 15th pick, Duke center Harry Giles with the 20th pick, and Kansas point guard Frank Mason III with the 34th pick. With four rookie pickups, Divac wanted to add veteran presences on the roster. On July 10, 2017, the team signed three veterans – Vince Carter, Zach Randolph, and George Hill.
The team finished the 2017–18 season with a 27–55 record, placing 12th in the Western Conference. Giles sat out the entire season due to a leg injury despite previous reports that he would make his rookie debut in January. Hill was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Greek center Papagiannis, who was selected in the first round of the 2016 draft, averaged only 2.1 points in the 16 games played.
During the 2018 NBA draft, the Kings selected Duke center Marvin Bagley III. The team was criticized following the draft for not selecting Luka Dončić, while Divac would go on to say he was confident in Bagley. Prior to the 2018–19 season, multiple analysts picked Sacramento to finish last in the Western Conference, calling their recent draft a "missed opportunity to build" and their lack of a veteran presence to offset their rookie lineup.
The Kings entered the 2018–19 season with the longest NBA postseason drought appearances at 12 seasons, last qualifying in 2006. The Kings lost to the Utah Jazz 123–117 in their season opener on October 17, 2018. Despite starting the season 1–3, including a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in which they gave up 149 points, the team would go onto win their next five games to hold a winning record. By December 30, the team held a 19–16 record. Ultimately, the Kings finished the season in ninth place in the Western Conference posting a record of 39–43; they again missed the playoffs. However, this was the team’s best regular-season record since their last playoff appearance in the 2005–06 season. In spite of this, head coach Joerger was fired after the conclusion of the season, and Luke Walton was hired as his replacement three days later.
Earlier in the season, the Kings were rocked by the discovery that their former chief revenue officer, Jeff David, had embezzled $13.4 million in sponsorship payments from the Kings and their corporate partners over four years. David, who had taken a similar position with the Miami Heat, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and identity theft and was sentenced to seven years in federal prison.
The Kings resumed play on July 31, hoping to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. However, a 129–112 loss to the Houston Rockets eliminated the Kings from playoff contention for a 14th season in a row, extending the third-longest active drought among all four North American major professional sports leagues, just behind the NFL's Cleveland Browns (17 consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance since 2002. However, the Browns would end their lengthy playoff drought in 2020) and the MLB's Seattle Mariners (18 consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance since 2001).
2020–present: The Monte McNair era
On August 14, 2020, the Sacramento Kings announced that general manager Vlade Divac would resign from his position. Joe Dumars, a former player and executive for the Detroit Pistons, would be named interim Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations; Dumars had joined the Kings as a special advisor in June of the previous year.
Following a month-long search, the Sacramento Kings announced on September 17, 2020, that Houston Rockets executive Monte McNair would be hired as the franchise's new general manager. With the Rockets, McNair spent thirteen years working under Daryl Morey, serving in various roles; he was most recently named assistant general manager in 2018. Following this hire, interim executive Joe Dumars was named as the chief strategy officer of the organization. Other candidates for the position included Minnesota Timberwolves executive vice president Sachin Gupta, Denver Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth, and former Atlanta Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox. McNair announced three additional hires on October 14, 2020; these included the aforementioned Wes Wilcox who became an assistant GM, former Philadelphia 76ers scouting director Phil Jabour as vice president of player personnel, and Oklahoma City Blue executive Paul Johnson as director of basketball operations.
On May 13, 2021, the Kings were yet again eliminated from playoff contention, extending their postseason drought to 15 consecutive seasons, tying the Los Angeles Clippers for the longest postseason drought in NBA history. From the 1976–77 season to the 1990–91 season, the Clippers failed to make a single postseason appearance for 15 consecutive seasons until they finally made the playoffs in the 1991–92 season.
Also, the Kings became the first team in NBA history to reach a 70 year title drought, not winning a title since 1951.
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, % = Percentage
|1945-46||24||10||.706||Won Division Semifinals
Won NBL Championship
|Rochester 3, Fort Wayne 1|
Rochester 3, Sheboygan 0
|1946-47||31||13||.705||Won Opening Round
Won Division Semifinals
Lost NBL Championship
|Rochester 3, Syracuse 1|
Rochester 2, Fort Wayne 1
Chicago 3, Rochester 1
|1947-48||44||16||.733||Won Opening Round
Won Division Semifinals
Lost NBL Championship
|Rochester 3, Fort Wayne 1|
Rochester 2, Anderson 1
Minneapolis 3, Rochester 1
|1948-49||45||15||.750||Won Division Semifinals
Lost Division Finals
|Rochester 2, St. Louis 0|
Minneapolis 2, Rochester 0
|1949-50||51||17||.750||Lost Division Semifinals||Fort Wayne 2, Rochester 0|
|1950-51||41||27||.603||Won Division Semifinals
Won Division Finals
Won NBA Finals
|Rochester 2, Fort Wayne 1|
Rochester 3, Minneapolis 1
Rochester 4, New York 3
|1951-52||41||25||.621||Won Division Semifinals
Lost Division Finals
|Rochester 2, Fort Wayne 0|
Minneapolis 3, Rochester 1
|1952-53||44||26||.629||Lost Division Semifinals||Fort Wayne 2, Rochester 1|
|1953-54||44||28||.611||Lost Division Finals||Minneapolis 2, Rochester 1|
|1954-55||29||43||.403||Lost Division Semifinals||Minneapolis 2, Rochester 1|
|1957-58||33||39||.458||Lost Division Semifinals||Detroit 2, Cincinnati 0|
|1961-62||43||37||.538||Lost Division Semifinals||Detroit 3, Cincinnati 1|
|1962-63||42||38||.525||Won Division Semifinals
Lost Division Finals
|Cincinnati 3, Syracuse 2|
Boston 4, Cincinnati 3
|1963-64||55||25||.688||Won Division Semifinals
Lost Division Finals
|Cincinnati 3, Philadelphia 2|
Boston 4, Cincinnati 1
|1964-65||48||32||.600||Lost Division Semifinals||Philadelphia 3, Cincinnati 1|
|1965-66||45||35||.563||Lost Division Semifinals||Boston 3, Cincinnati 2|
|1966-67||39||42||.481||Lost Division Semifinals||Philadelphia 3, Cincinnati 1|
|Kansas City–Omaha Kings|
|1974-75||44||38||.537||Lost Conference Semifinals||Chicago 4, Kansas City–Omaha 2|
|Kansas City Kings|
|1978-79||48||34||.585||Lost Conference Semifinals||Phoenix 4, Kansas City 1|
|1979-80||47||35||.563||Lost First Round||Phoenix 2, Kansas City 1|
|1980-81||40||42||.488||Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
|Kansas City 2, Portland 1|
Kansas City 4, Phoenix 3
Houston 4, Kansas City 1
|1983-84||38||44||.463||Lost First Round||Los Angeles 3, Kansas City 0|
|1985-86||37||45||.451||Lost First Round||Houston 3, Sacramento 0|
|1995-96||39||43||.476||Lost First Round||Seattle 3, Sacramento 1|
|1998-99||27||23||.540||Lost First Round||Utah 3, Sacramento 2|
|1999-00||44||38||.537||Lost First Round||LA Lakers 3, Sacramento 2|
|2000-01||55||27||.672||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|Sacramento 3, Phoenix 1|
LA Lakers 4, Sacramento 0
|2001-02||61||21||.744||Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
|Sacramento 3, Utah 1|
Sacramento 4, Dallas 1
LA Lakers 4, Sacramento 3
|2002-03||59||23||.720||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|Sacramento 4, Utah 1|
Dallas 4, Sacramento 3
|2003-04||55||27||.672||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|Sacramento 4, Dallas 1|
Minnesota 4, Sacramento 3
|2004-05||50||32||.610||Lost First Round||Seattle 4, Sacramento 1|
|2005-06||44||38||.537||Lost First Round||San Antonio 4, Sacramento 2|
- 35 - Marvin Bagley
- 40 - Harrison Barnes
- 26 - Kent Bazemore
- 88 - Nemanja Bjelica
- 8 - Bogdan Bogdanović
- 3 - Yogi Ferrell
- 5 - De'Aaron Fox
- 20 - Harry Giles
- 7 - Kyle Guy
- 24 - Buddy Hield
- 22 - Richaun Holmes
- 10 - Justin James
- 19 - DaQuan Jeffries
- 9 - Cory Joseph
- 25 - Alex Len
- 42 - Eric Mika
- 33 - Jabari Parker
All of the Kings retired numbers are hanging in the rafters of the Golden 1 Center.
|Sacramento Kings retired numbers|
|6||Fans ("The Sixth Man")||–||1985–present|
1949 & 1950
1952 & 1953 & 1954
|National Basketball Association|