The Kings have not been at full strength since George Karl became coach, but he’s seen enough to believe the team will be much better next season.
Karl hasn’t had Darren Collison, who’s been out for over a month and had surgery on Tuesday. That’s left him relying on a very inexperienced backcourt with the exception of Andre Miller.
Karl, however, sees no reason for the Kings to not be optimistic next season.
“I think it’s a team, with a few tweaks, that can contend to be a playoff team next year,” Karl said. “It’s the type of team, that if we make some good decisions in the summertime we should be in the mid-to-low 40 or mid-40s in wins. And if they change the system to where the top 16 teams make the playoffs, that would give us a chance.”
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The Kings haven’t won 40 or more games since the 2005-06 season when Rick Adelman was coach.
Karl believes Collison is a good fit for his system, but the point guard is likely done for the season. That’s left Karl starting two second-year players in Ray McCallum and Ben McLemore at guard.
Rookie Nik Stauskas is the other young guard, but his minutes have been limited under Karl.
“We’re playing with basically two very young (guards) and Andre’s been with the team two weeks,” Karl said.
Glass half full – Karl said there was no reason to dwell on Wednesday’s lopsided loss in San Antonio.
Well, Karl doesn’t want to dwell on all that went wrong.
“I think the quantity of our time is so limited I want the message to stay positive,” Karl said. “I’m actually pretty impressed that we’re as far ahead. To have that Knick game, I thought that would come in April.”
Karl acknowledged the Knicks are “below average” but New York had won it’s two previous games, including a win over Toronto, before the Kings trounced them Tuesday.
“I think it shows a littler character of their heart, substance of their soul a little bit,” Karl said. “They’re tired of this, and hopefully they see a little light at the end of the tunnel, an energy that we can finish the season with intensity and enthusiasm.”
Finding time for Nik – Karl said there’s no predicting how much Stauskas will play each night.
Karl would prefer not to go too deep into his bench, but said if the score and situation is right, Stauskas will play.
“I don’t like playing 10 and 11 men, it’s hard,” Karl said.