The Sacramento Kings continue to struggle, and changes may need to be made soon to spark a squad that already looks like they are out of playoff contention.
The Kings have the second-worst record in the Western Conference, and head coach Keith Smart may be on the hot seat. Smart replaced Paul Westphal in January after Sacramento got off to a terrible start, but the club’s fortunes have not changed.
One of the problems with the Kings appears to be at guard, where there are many options yet the results have been poor. Shooting guard Marcus Thornton, who is averaging 13.3 points per game, has missed recent games due to his mother’s illness. When he returns on Wednesday night, the logjam at the position will continue, leading to possible trade speculation.
The Kings no doubt had Monday’s game against the struggling Phoenix Suns circled on their calendar, but the result was another disappointment, as the Kings fell, 101-90.
One of the lone bright spots of the game was the play of Jimmer Fredette.
Coming off the bench, Fredette helped spark a huge second-quarter run by the Kings. With Fredette on the bench in the third quarter, the Suns roared back, and the lead was too large to overcome while the former BYU star wasn’t on the floor.
Fredette finished the game with 22 points, and hit seven of his 13 shots in 22 minutes.
This wasn’t the first time that Fredette made the most of his opportunity. The combo guard also had strong outings against the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic this season.
Fredette is averaging 7.6 points per game and shooting an impressive 46.6 percent. He has also converted 34 of his 36 free throws. Those numbers are strong, but it remains difficult for Smart to find time for his sharpshooter when he also has Aaron Brooks, Isaiah Thomas, and swingman John Salmons on the roster.
When Tyreke Evans returns from injury after sitting due to knee soreness, the depth chart becomes even more difficult for Fredette.
Meanwhile, the club remains in flux due to incidents involving DeMarcus Cousins. The talented big man has had his share of behavioral incidents, and the club remains thin at power forward and center.
Thomas Robinson, the power forward the Kings selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, is averaging just 4.6 points per game. Robinson is only 21, and the Kings are confined to just Cousins and Jason Thompson in the interior.
It will be interesting to see if general manager Geoff Petrie decides to package one of his quality guards to get a power forward or center in return and to create more playing time for Fredette, or if he decides to deal Fredette to clubs eager for outside shooting and youth.
It is certain that the Kings can’t continue to use the same formula and expect dramatically improved results. The trade deadline is Feb. 21, and the Kings could be among the most active clubs.
Petrie must decide what his vision is for the Kings, and which players are expendable.