OAKLAND - In the last couple of weeks during the Kings saga, I've spent a lot of time around the Golden State Warriors.
Prior to this season, the Kings and Warriors often battled to see which team wouldn't finish last in the Pacific Division. That, of course, has changed. The Warriors host the San Antonio Spurs tonight in the Western Conference Semifinals, a series the Warriors should be leading 2-0 if not for their epic collapse in Game 1.
The change in culture coach Keith Smart talked about creating with the Kings has actually happened with his old team in Oakland.
Coach Mark Jackson said on Thursday part of the changing of the culture began last season when popular guard Monta Ellis to Milwaukee in the deal and brought Andrew Bogut to Oakland.
"It helped change the culture," Jackson said. "Obviously it was easier to pull the trigger because we knew what we had in Klay (Thompson) and it was time for him to be a starting two-guard. And he does everything right."
Jackson asked how the deal changed the culture. He was careful with his answer.
"It helped change the culture," Jackson said after pausing briefly.
"You know," was the answer.
Oddly enough the Warriors have changed the culture in part with players the Kings passed on in the draft and the key player the Kings acquired for Kevin Martin (Carl Landry).
The Kings passed on Stephen Curry in the 2009 draft after Tyreke Evans dominated him in a 3-on-3 predraft workout.
The franchise could lose Evans to free agency while Curry has become one of the NBA's emerging stars.
The Kings could have had Klay Thompson in 2011, but passed on him and opted for Jimmer Fredette. Fredette has languished on the bench for long stretches while Thompson is becoming one of the NBA's best shooters.
In last year's draft the Kings selected Thomas Robinson with the fifth overall pick while small forward Harrison Barnes slid to seventh (after Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard was picked sixth) and became a starter.
Robinson was traded during the season and was buried on the bench in Houston.
Meanwhile the Kings are still searching for a long-term answer at small forward.
And that culture of selfishness and bad basketball the Kings have talked about changing still exists.
The Warriors are fun to watch, but it's hard to watch them and not wonder what might have been if some of the Warriors ended up in Sacramento and how the culture might be different.