The golden age of Kings basketball began in the strike-shortened 1998 season, with Geoff Petrie using every option at his disposal to build something special.
It all began with the hiring of coach Rick Adelman. After landing his longtime friend and former teammate, Petrie set his sights on rebuilding a franchise that had very limited success since moving to Sacramento before the 1985-86 season.
Petrie’s first move was to trade for talented but underachieving Chris Webber in May 1998. He followed that move with a series of transactions that set the Kings on a new path.
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In that elongated offseason, Petrie drafted Jason Williams; talked Vlade Divac, Jon Berry and Vernon Maxwell into signing as free agents; grabbed Scot Pollard off the scrap heap and brought Peja Stojakovic over from Europe.
It was a complex grouping of moves that led to eight years of beautiful basketball. Not every transaction was for the long term. Petrie morphed the roster year by year to stay competitive, culminating in one final playoff run during the 2005-06 season.
Only one player remained from the original squad when the '05-06 season began, but even he wouldn’t make it through the season. After setting the career mark for most games played in a Sacramento uniform, Stojakovic was dealt to the Indiana Pacers for Ron Artest.
It was Petrie’s last ditch effort to keep the run alive, and like so many other moves by the former Princeton star, it worked out one last time.
When Petrie traded for Artest, the Kings were just 17-24 on the season. They went to win that night in a double-overtime thriller over the New York Knicks, despite playing short-handed.
In his final hurrah as Kings coach, Adelman pieced together an incredible second half run. Led by Artest and a bizarre mix, Adelman’s group went 27-14 after the trade to finish the season 44-37.
Sacramento squeezed into the playoffs as the eighth seed. Led by Bonzi Wells’ incredible play and strong performances from Artest, Mike Bibby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Brad Miller and second-year guard Kevin Martin, the Kings gave the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs all they could handle in a wild six-game series.
In a dispute with ownership, Adelman walked away following the season, joining the Houston Rockets over the summer of 2006 where he pushed his personal playoff streak to 10 in a row.
His departure marked the end of an incredible run for Sacramento. The franchise hasn’t made it back to the playoffs since, a stretch of 12 seasons coming into this one.
When it all falls down
It all fell apart quickly for the Kings. Wells turned down a massive contract extension offer from Petrie over the summer and was out of the league two years later. Bibby was dealt at the '07-08 trade deadline, and the Artest experiment lasted another two seasons in Sacramento before he was shipped to Houston.
Petrie continued to gamble on mid-level players trying to keep the run going, but without Adelman running the squad, the team fell to 33 wins in '06-07 under Eric Musselman. Reggie Theus took over the team for the '07-08 season, posting 38 wins, but he was replaced in his second season after compiling a 6-18 record to start the year.
Kenny Natt, Paul Westphal, Keith Smart, Michael Malone, Tyrone Corbin and George Karl all held the head coach position in Sacramento before the team finally settled in on Dave Joerger before the '16-17 season.
Where are they now?
All remnants are gone from the '05-06 season.
The Maloof family sold its ownership stake to Vivek Ranadivé following the '12-13 season. Petrie was replaced by Pete D’Alesandro before the 2013 NBA Draft and hasn’t returned to the game since.
Not a single player from the team still is in the league, although a few of them make their way through Sacramento on occasion.
Stojakovic currently works as an assistant general manager for the Kings under Divac. He’s part of the group that’s helped revitalize the franchise.
Miller can be seen sitting courtside a few times per year wearing his signature Chicago Cubs hat. Kenny Thomas is a restaurateur in the revitalized area surrounding Golden 1 Center.
Bibby has found success coaching high school basketball in Arizona. Corliss Williamson is on the coaching staff of the Phoenix Suns, and Vitaly Potapenko is an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After a stint in the Kings' front office and stops in Atlanta and with the NBA, Abdur-Rahim is the president of the G League.
Artest, who repeatedly has changed his name, now goes by Metta World Peace and works as a development coach for the South Bay Lakers of the G League.
Wells has had struggles with heart issues, but he can be seen playing in the Big3.
Martin retired as a Spur following the 2015-16 season at just 32 years old and, like former teammate Francisco Garcia, has laid low in his post-basketball life.
Even Adelman stepped away from the game following an incredible 23-year career as an NBA coach following the 2013-14 season. He tallied a career 1,042-749 record in stops in Portland, Golden State, Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota.
Push for the playoffs
It’s been a brutal 12-season stretch for the Kings. Theus' 38 wins is the pinnacle, with a low of 17 wins coming the following season. Including this season, the team is just 366-659 (35.7 win percentage) since the '05-06, and it hasn't even come close to a playoff berth.
With the team sitting at 30-27 coming out of the All-Star break, and just one game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings, there is a renewed hope for the future in Sacramento.
This might be the squad to break the dubious streak and move the Kings into a new era of success. Unlike Petrie’s renditions, this is a team filled with top-tier draft picks and a light sprinkling of veterans.
Divac's decisions to add Harrison Barnes and Alec Burks at the deadline tell the team and everyone involved that the franchise is focused on one objective -- winning.
If anything, these Kings have the feel of a team on the rise, not some mystical group plucked from the sky like the '98-99 squad, and certainly unlike the one taped together for one last run like in '05-06.