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Winderman: Sacramento arena win just first step for Kings

Feb 27, 2012, 3:53 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

The victory by the Sacramento Kings over a new arena and long-term franchise stability is an encouraging one for small markets throughout the NBA.

The Kings, thanks to the efforts of Kevin Johnson, the nation’s best ball-handling mayor, now will have a stable home for years to come.

But a building only ensures residency, not success.

And that leads to Part B of the equation: The Kings are rather terrible, somewhat rudderless and offer only a minimal glimpse of hope for the future.

Tyreke Evans currently is playing out of position. Jimmer Fredette isn’t playing at all. And while Paul Westphal is gone, we’re still not sold on DeMarcus Cousins embracing a long-term Sacramento future after all he has been through.

Yes, Isaiah Thomas is about as good as you can do with the final pick of the draft. Cousins is playing close to an All-Star level of late. And Marcus Thornton has been somewhat of a revelation.

But what else is there? Because that simply is not enough.

The irony is that salvation has arrived for Sacramento at a time when David Stern can make no guarantees to Orlando about its short-term future, even as the Amway Center proved to be the jewel of All-Star Weekend.

Essentially, Stern said during his All-Star Saturday media session that when it comes to Dwight Howard, it will be a matter of survival of the fittest, that no player should be locked into an NBA prison against his wishes.

The new building in Sacramento undoubtedly will be state of the art.

It will provide a higher level of comfort for fans and sponsors.

It will add revenue streams.

But it still will be in Sacramento.

And when is the last time a top-tier free agent mentioned the Kings as a landing spot?

A battle was won Monday by the Kings. They’ll remain in Sacramento.

But that doesn’t also mean they won’t also remain in Secaucus.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

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