January 28, 2018, 3:26 am
Don’t worry Kings fans, this year you won’t have to worry about any trades going down during the All-Star game, as the trade deadline has been moved up to precede the festivities.
Last year’s deadline was a major turning point for the franchise, as they traded away arguably one of the most talented players that’s ever played for the Kings in DeMarcus Cousins. It was a bitter pill for Kings fans to swallow. The deal appeared to be hastily put together, surprising just about everybody while the early returns didn’t exactly jump off the page for Sacramento.
The Kings now have 10 players on rookie scale contracts, signaling a full rebuild for the organization. Most fans have moved on from the trade, it seems, and now they’ve moved into the slow grind of watching a young core develop. The Kings’ season is going about as expected. A ton of losses and frustrating play, but also some exciting moments watching the kids do their thing.
With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, is the team poised to make any moves prior to February 8? Or are they set with their current roster?
As of now, they seem content with where they sit and are unlikely to make a major move like last season, however, a few minor moves are possible to stabilize the ship moving forward. Here’s where the Kings stand:
The Kings currently have $4.3 million in cap space according to Spotrac. This essentially means that any trades the team makes will have to be straight up money wise as $4.3 million isn’t a ton of wiggle room in the modern NBA. For example, they can’t afford to take on players with large contracts without matching that money. The Kings do have a few large contracts in George Hill ($20 million) and Zach Randolph ($12 million) that they may look to move for expiring contracts with the same salary.
As far as trade exceptions are concerned, Sacramento has a $2.9 million exception which is due to expire on February 20. This came via Omri Casspi in the Cousins trade last year and can be used to acquire a player. Obviously, $2.9 million isn’t a lot so this exception may end up expiring without use – a common occurrence in the NBA.
Sacramento isn’t likely to deal any draft picks. If anything, they’ll be looking to add picks since they don’t own a 2019 first rounder and they still have a few more phases left in their rebuild.
The Kings have a 2018 first round pick that can be a difference-maker, but it’s asking a lot for that pick to transform this team into anything more than a playoff bubble squad. They’ll have to twist like pretzels to manufacture future picks, but it might make sense to reinvest in future youth if the right deal comes along.
It’s probably worth noting that there are very few ‘untouchable’ players in the NBA. The Kings don’t have any on their squad, but these are players they likely won’t consider moving any time soon.
Bogdanovic is on lockdown in Sacramento for the foreseeable future. He’s arguably the most talented player on the team and should hold that title moving forward too. His knack for the game and high basketball IQ is something you don’t find in many players, let alone a rookie. Hoop Ball’s Dio Nikiforos broke down Bogdanovic’s play and what makes him so good earlier in the season. Bogdanovic is on an incredibly affordable contract and is locked up until 2020 – there’s no incentive to move him nor should there be.
Fox is the point guard of the future in Sacramento. The team looks headed for a backcourt of Fox, Bogdanovic, Frank Mason and Buddy Hield, with Fox being the guy with all of the upside. Fox is raw but the poise and explosion he’s displayed over the last week or so is promising.
Any of the youth
Any of the Kings’ youth can be considered an asset but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re available. Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson have reportedly both been made available by the team in an effort to clear roster space; mainly in regards to the proposed George Hill trade.
Moving a guy like Richardson would make sense considering the depth on the wings. He’s struggled to find consistent form since the season-ending injury he suffered last season, but it’s early enough in his career that teams could still be intrigued.
The inclusion of Labissiere in such reports was probably self-serving from the Cleveland side, and it could have been the Kings seeing if they could liquidate some of their young player assets. Some due diligence never hurts. Nonetheless, Labissiere has restarted his engine a bit now that regular minutes have been on the board for him. If deployed correctly and developed properly, he has the tools to become a dynamic player in this league.
The Kings are reportedly high on Harry Giles but it would be a risky proposition to bank the future on a guy who hasn’t played a single minute in the NBA.
A guy like Hield could be viewed as expendable. He’s been sporadic this season but has still shown potential to be a consistent scoring threat down the road. Whether the team is still as high on Hield as, say Vivek, is another question, but that would be an interesting proposition for a team wanting to get a sort-of-young but more polished player for a window opening 2-4 years down the road.
Players such as Justin Jackson and Georgios Papagiannis could be seen as lower tier youngsters that could interest a few teams on the market. Moving players like this won’t get the Kings very far, so if anything, they would likely be add-ons in a larger deal that the team may make.
Hill and the Kings were far from a match made in heaven. Things haven’t panned out as expected and, as of now, he’s the most likely player on the team to be traded. The Cavaliers are reportedly interested in acquiring the 31-year-old, so that’s one potential destination. The two teams were reportedly in discussions on a deal for Hill but as of now a trade isn’t imminent. The reported deal would include Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert and some form of draft compensation; Derrick Rose was another name mentioned.
Few teams are in need of a starting caliber point guard – and yes, Hill is a starting caliber point guard but just not with this team – so the market may be quite thin, but a team like the Cavs may get desperate closer to the deadline and come calling more aggressively. Unfortunately, the Kings won’t be getting Brooklyn’s 2019 pick in the deal. It would purely be for some cap relief.
Randolph’s $24 million guaranteed over the next two seasons is a bit of an issue. Playoff teams, especially those close to the luxury tax, are wanting effective players at affordable rates and Randolph may be a little beyond that. The Kings won’t, and shouldn’t, be expecting much in return. Randolph is 36 years old and is past his prime but he’s shown at times this season that he can still contribute effectively on offense – defensively it’s another story.
Temple just isn’t as effective as he was last season. There’s been some noticeable regression in not only his offense, but his defense too; Temple’s lateral quickness isn’t there this year. With that said, he’s still one of the better defenders on the team and has some value on the trade market. It’s likely he’s attached to a deal as opposed to being the centerpiece, but that’s just the reality with his contract ($8 million player option next season).
Koufos is one of the longest tenured players on the roster and he’s only in the midst of his third season in Sacramento. The Kings are reportedly open to dealing Koufos prior to February 8 after Koufos’ representatives met with Vlade Divac to discuss his future. It may depend on whether the Kings still see upside in Georgios Papagiannis. Papagiannis is still a long way from being a rotational player so keeping Koufos around could be wise.
Carter has turned back the clock a few times this season with his timeless dunks that energize an arena, or his 3-point barrages once in a blue moon. He still shows flashes of the player he once was. Nonetheless, Carter is a movable piece that could be attractive for a playoff team needing a seasoned pro.