January 24, 2018, 5:19 pm
When the youth movement began for the Kings, coach Dave Joerger said all of the young guys would get adequate looks in the upcoming games. However, the math just didn’t add up. Then came the news that the Kings are looking at trade options for Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere.
It’s not really a question of potential, the Kings just likely feel they have more attractive options at those positions.
Richardson has been a question mark during his brief tenure in Sacramento. He’s been an off-and-on scorer for the Kings but this season he’s only dropped double-digit points on two occasions. The issue with Richardson has been his inability to see minutes on the floor. He’s played more than 20 minutes in just two games this season and in those two games he shot a combined 3-of-14.
While getting onto the floor has been a challenge for Richardson (he’s averaging just 3.6 points in 11.0 minutes per game this year), it’s not his only limiting factor. The second-year man out of Syracuse found a nice rhythm for the Kings last season before an injury to his hamstring cut his season short.
Since his injury, Richardson hasn’t been able to show the confidence he had once displayed. The Kings’ investment in Buddy Hield has also caused Richardson to slide to the three-spot, a position which he hasn’t quite been able to perfect during his limited time there.
It also didn’t help that Sacramento added two rookie small forwards to the mix in Justin Jackson and Bogdan Bogdanovic. When it comes to Richardson, it’s not to say the Kings don’t have confidence in him, it’s more so an understanding that there simply aren’t enough minutes to go around.
Labissiere’s situation is slightly different to that of Richardson.
Labissiere has been a player that analysts and fans have clamored over — and for good reason. He’s shown an ability to hit half-hooks, stretch the floor with his outside shot and has upside defensively. He may not have been in Joerger’s ‘dog house’ earlier in the season but he was definitely outside on the porch.
Labissiere’s second-year averages almost mirror his output from last season. Not exactly what you’d want to see but not the end of the world. Especially when you consider Skal’s per-36 minute stats of 16.1 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
However, it’s been the way Labissiere has looked on the floor that may be the telltale sign of why Joerger doesn’t have confidence in him. The 21-year-old Haitian is often a step slow on defense and has shown impatience in the post.
The Kings don’t really have anyone else who can slide into power forward immediately – aside from Zach Randolph – but they do have a promising big man waiting for his opportunity.
Harry Giles won’t play this season due to rehab reasons. He’s held in high regard by many around the team but it’s hard to gauge how he is as a player without seeing him playing minutes in a game – even in college Giles was incredibly limited.
Giles is just 19 years old and is rehabbing his knees. It would be a risky proposition to bank your future on a guy who’s yet to play a single minute in the NBA, but it could be a factor in the decision to make Labissiere available.
In the case of Labissiere, with all of the minutes that are available, it wouldn’t make sense for the Kings to move him mid-season before seeing what he’s really capable of.
The Kings understand that only five players can be on the floor at a time and there are limited minutes to offer, but at the same time the Kings can’t go around trading first-round picks just because they want to get rid of an ugly contract.
The Kings are in rebuilding mode no matter what they want to believe and holding onto young talent is of the utmost importance. It’s make or break time for the Kings. One ill advised move could set them back a few years.