They were supposed to be the two cornerstones of the Kings' rebuilding project this season.
But Tyreke Evans has been slowed by injury and DeMarcus Cousins by suspensions.
When both have played, neither has performed consistently at the level the Kings need for the team to improve.
Instead of moving up the standings this season, the Kings are 9-19, a .321 winning percentage that is the second worst in the Western Conference and just off their .333 winning percentage from last season.
Evans has missed 10 of 14 games since bumping knees with Minnesota forward Andrei Kirilenko on Nov. 27.
Cousins has missed five games for disciplinary reasons this season, having been suspended twice by the NBA and once by the Kings.
The Kings are 4-6 without Evans and 1-4 without Cousins.
When neither plays, the Kings are 1-1, which covers their last two games.
"Obviously, not having those guys because of injury and other situations, it's going to pull from (our chances of winning)," said Kings coach Keith Smart. "Obviously, they're on your team and you drafted them but when they're not there, it puts a strain on everyone else in line. The guys that are in line bring something completely different. So your gamesmanship, everything completely shifts."
The Kings don't have a player who can duplicate Cousins' presence, particularly his rebounding (a team-best 9.5 per game). Cousins leads the Kings in scoring (16.6).
Replacing the 6-foot-6 Evans' size in the backcourt isn't easy. His 15.1 points per game, second best on the team, is also not easily replaced.
"We've got enough players to play well without them even though they're our two best players," said guard Isaiah Thomas.
The scoring figures for Cousins and Evans are below their career-best marks. The only way to improve on those numbers is to get both back on the court.
Cousins' return is up to Smart. The center's latest suspension was by the team last Saturday for "unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team."
He was reinstated Monday for practice, but Smart called Cousins that night to let him know he wouldn't be traveling to Portland, where the Kings lost Wednesday.
Smart said he had decided whether Cousins would play tonight against the New York Knicks but hadn't told Cousins yet what his decision is so he was not sharing the news with the media.
Cousins said he would try to be ready whenever his name is called by Smart.
"Through it all I'm just trying to stay positive," Cousins said. "It's easier said than done. It's been a rough week."
Last Friday's verbal altercation with Smart led to Cousins' suspension. Shortly thereafter it become public that Cousins had fired agent John Greig and hired Dan Fegan.
The last King to hire Fegan was Kevin Martin. Fegan eventually engineered a trade for Martin out of Sacramento and to Houston.
Fegan also was hired by Dwight Howard when he wanted out of Orlando. Howard now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I'm focused on being a Sacramento King," Cousins said Thursday.
Evans hasn't played since briefly appearing in a Dec. 16 game against Denver. He played about 10 minutes before knee soreness forced him from the game.
"I feel much better," Evans said Thursday. "I had a good workout today. (I'll) probably try to give it a go Sunday (against Boston)."
If that doesn't work, Evans said he would travel to Los Angeles for a second medical opinion.
An MRI in Sacramento earlier this month showed no structural damage.
The Kings have had players step up at times to replace missing teammates. But asking them to sustain it has been difficult.
"From (Francisco) Garcia, to (Travis) Outlaw to our mini-mite backcourt (Thomas and Jimmer Fredette), they've all been able to do some things," Smart said. "But when you're trying to be competitive and win night in and night out, you need your full roster."