For Keith Smart & Sacramento Kings, The Musical Chairs Must Stop


The Sacramento Kings might have had some big intentions coming into the 2012-13 NBA season, but those hopes were quickly dashed with poor play and now the Kings, who sit at 7-17, continue to flounder in the worst of ways.

Nov 30, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings point guard

Jimmer Fredette

(7) attempts a shot over Indiana Pacers power forward

David West

(21) during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Indiana Pacers defeated the Sacramento Kings 97-92. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings aren’t just losing – they’re getting plastered. On a night in, night out basis it’s abuse on the court. The Kings are continually out-hustled and out-played. That’s not to say all Kings are giving poor efforts, but the vast majority (especially starters) look disinterested and the consistent yanking of the chair appears to be frustrating not only the fan base, but the players themselves.

Take for example two of the younger Kings in Thomas Robinson and Jimmer Fredette, who given the Kings struggles in the win-loss column, should be seeing consistent minutes. Yet, looking back at the past month – both struggle to see any consistent floor time:

(Jimmer Fredette’s minutes are on left, Thomas Robinson on right)

Nov 21 – 8 seconds – 10:12

Nov 23 – 16:55 13:23

Nov 24 – 5:35 15:23

Nov 27 – DNP 13:51

Nov 30 – 17:42 – 25:06

Dec 1 – 15:46 16:54

Dec 5 – 12:17 15:12

Dec 7 – 21:15 – 16:36

Dec 8 – DNP – 7:37

Dec 10 – 7:39 – 11:42

Dec 12 – 14:47 24:43

Dec 14 – 14:02 – 18:43

Dec 16 – 18:37 15:57

Dec 17 – 22:01 – 16:02

Keep in mind, some of the elevated playing times for Fredette and Robinson come from recent injuries (or suspensions) so the two continually find themselves at the end of the bench and in Fredette’s case, at times he doesn’t even see the floor. This also doesn’t take into account the lack of playing time for Isaiah Thomas, who was inexplicably replaced by veteran Aaron Brooks or the incompetent and unexplainable playing time for guys like Travis Outlaw or James Johnson who’ve looked woeful, yet continue to be force fed by Smart.

Both Fredette and Robinson have expressed frustration with their roles recently, and rightfully so:

"Robinson was noticeably down after the game. He said he didn’t know why he didn’t play in the first half as he normally does, nor did he get an explanation.“I don’t know,” Robinson said. “I don’t ask him for anything really anyways. I’m over it.”"

Jimmer was more politically correct in his response, but essentially said it is what it is and he just does what the coach says.

Again – this isn’t just a scenario where the Kings are having a few bad bounces go their way – this is slaughter, multiple times a week. Say what you will about DeMarcus Cousins or Tyreke Evans, but role players that aren’t getting the job done have little place on one of the league’s worst teams while young talent, promising young talent, struggles to find consistent playing time.

Simply put, Aaron Brooks, John Salmons, James Johnson and Chuck Hayes don’t offer much more than Isaiah Thomas, Thomas Robinson or Jimmer Fredette to a team who is bound for the top of the lottery yet again.

Keith Smart is trying to win games – I understand that. And honestly, I like the guy – but it’s clear he’s in over his head. For a young coach, trying to force a patchwork team full of flawed “stars” and sub-par veterans is impossible – it’s essentially a five foot dingy in the middle of the Pacific Ocean during a raging storm. It’s going to sink and in the case of the Kings, it already has.

The time is now to stop with the attempts to “win” games, as Smart likes to put it. You have youth – figure out exactly just how talented they are. There’s no reason that the young Kings aren’t averaging 25 minutes a game – period.

Stop with the musical chairs, Keith. Or it’s your chair that will soon be open.