How the Kings could be active before the NBA trade deadline

How the Kings could be active before the NBA trade deadline

The trade deadline is coming. With the Sacramento Kings sitting just a game and a half out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff race, they have a difficult decision to make. Are they buyers or are they sellers in what is expected to be an active week of transactions?

For those who are pulling for the Kings to snap their decade-long playoff drought, swooping in to pick up an immediate fix to one or two of the team’s roster holes sounds appealing. 

But there is another group of fans that would prefer the Kings not make a run at the eighth seed and instead sell off some of their veteran pieces for assets - be it young players or picks, while retaining their 2017 draft pick.

It’s a complicated mess that requires a deeper look. Here is what the Kings have to offer if they decide to become active at the deadline.


Sacramento doesn’t have a free pick to offer until the 2021 NBA draft. Their 2017 pick is wrapped up in a complex set of “what ifs.” If the Kings continue their current pace and fall outside of the top 10 in this year’s draft, they forfeit the pick to the Chicago Bulls as part of a Omri Casspi for J.J. Hickson swap from 2011. 

If the Kings stumble down the stretch and remain in the top 10 following the draft lottery, the Philadelphia 76ers have the option of swapping picks with Sacramento. Philly currently sits 2.5 games behind the Kings in the standings, making the pick swap unlikely.

In addition to the 2017 pick fiasco, the Kings dealt the rights to their 2019 pick to the 76ers as part of a salary dump in the summer of 2015. Due to the Stepien Rule, NBA teams are not allowed to trade consecutive first-round picks, leaving Sacramento without an available pick until 2021. 


This is where things get interesting for Sacramento. In the past, expiring contracts were worth gold in the NBA, but that has lessened considerably with the increase in salary cap. If a team is looking to dump massive salary or there is a multi-team deal that needs a flexible team, the Kings might be an option.

Sacramento has three unrestricted free agents at the end of the season in Ty Lawson ($980K), Darren Collison ($5.2 million) and Omri Casspi ($3 million). Both Lawson and Collison have played major roles for the team this season. While they are moveable, they also represent all the Kings have at the point guard position. 

Casspi was really good for Sacramento last season, but illness, injury and role have reduced his value considerably. He should be healthy enough to trade at the deadline as either a 3-point shooter or cap filler in a larger deal. 

Ben McLemore has had a resurgence over the last few weeks, building his value slightly around the league. He’s under contract at $4 million this season, but the Kings also have the ability to extend a $5.4 million qualifying offer on the 24-year-old for next season, making him a restricted free agent.

Both Rudy Gay ($13.3 million) and Matt Barnes ($6.3 million) have player options for next season. Gay is out for the rest of the year with a torn Achilles tendon, but that doesn’t automatically mean he is going to opt in. He is due $14.3 million next season and if his rehab isn't going as scheduled, he may choose to rebuild his value in Sacramento instead of risking free agency. At 36 years old, Barnes is likely a lock to take his player option for next season.

On top of the these six players, Sacramento also has team options on Anthony Tolliver ($8 million) and Arron Afflalo ($12.5 million) for next season. The Kings hold a $2 million buyout on Tolliver and a $1.5 million buyout on Afflalo, making both players enticing as potential salary savers if Sacramento decides they are expendable.


DeMarcus Cousins ($17 million), Kosta Koufos ($8 million), Garrett Temple ($8 million) and Willie Cauley-Stein ($3.6 million) are all under contract for next season. Cousins is expected to sign a monster $219 million extension in July. Both Koufos and Temple are under contract for the next two seasons, while Cauley-Stein is under team control for another three years.

In addition to these veterans, rookies Georgios Papagiannis ($2.2 million), Malachi Richardson ($1.4 million) and Skal Labissiere ($1.2 million) are all in the first year of their rookie scale contracts. 


Sacramento owns the rights to three additional pieces that are currently playing overseas. Arturas Gudaitis and Luka Mitrovic were added as part of the salary dump with the Sixers in 2015, but neither are frontline prospects. 

Bogdan Bogdanovic is expected to come to the NBA next season after a successful run with the Serbian national team during the 2016 Summer Olympics. He is currently playing for Fenerbahçe of the Turkish Basketball Super League. The former 27th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft is considered an NBA ready shooting guard with plenty of upside. 


Outside of dealing Cousins, the Kings don’t have a true blue chip asset to deal and he’s been assured repeatedly that he’s not going anywhere. 

Collison and Lawson could step in and make an immediate impact for a playoff team looking for an additional playmaker, but the Kings have no other answer at the point guard position.

Koufos has drawn interest all season as a quality big and with the recent play of Cauley-Stein and young depth in Labissiere and Papagiannis, the Kings might listen. 

Teams are always looking for shooters like Tolliver and Casspi. And the development of McLemore over the last two weeks might catch the eye of an NBA exec looking for a buy low prospect with upside. 

The Kings might not be the most attractive trade partner in straight up swaps, but they have value as a third or fourth team in bigger transactions. They have a variety of moveable short-term contracts. If Vlade Divac is willing to take on longer term, big money players, Sacramento could very well be active between now and the Feb. 23 deadline.

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Former Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins reportedly reached out to Stephon Clark's family and offered to cover the cost of his a funeral, according to The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones

Sacramento police shot and killed Clark, a 22-year-old African-American father of two, on Sunday while he was holding a cellphone in the backyard of his grandmother's home. Clark was unarmed. 

During his six-and-a-half year tenure in Sacramento, Cousins was not only the face of the Kings on the court, but the face of outreach efforts off of it. He paid for the funeral of Sacramento-area high school football player Jaulon "JJ" Clavo, who was shot in 2015, and ran free children's basketball camps for the city's children during the summer.

He continued to run a camp last summer following a midseason trade to the New Orleans Pelicans, and has spoken at length about how much he treasures maintaining strong ties to Sacramento. He told The Sacramento Bee last February that he "still consider[s Sacramento] a home."

“It’s very important to me,” Cousins told The New Orleans Advocate in October. “I’ve built relationships in a lot of the different places I’ve been. My biggest thing is helping those kids and helping families in need. I was once in their position, and it would’ve done wonders if I could’ve had a little bit of help coming up. I’m just doing my part.”

Bodycam footage from the officer-involved shooting was released on Wednesday, setting off protests on Thursday. Protestors blocked traffic on Interstate 5 both ways, according to NPR, before locking arms and surrounding the Golden 1 Center ahead of Hawks-Kings that night. Those protests delayed the start of the game by 15 minutes, and an estimated 15,000 fans were unable to enter the arena. 

Kings find themselves in middle of protest as sports, politics collide: 'It has to stop'

Kings find themselves in middle of protest as sports, politics collide: 'It has to stop'

SACRAMENTO -- Basketball took a backseat Thursday evening at Golden 1 Center. Protesters surrounded the Sacramento Kings’ facility, locking arms and blocking the entrance to an estimated 15,000 fans. The game was delayed by nearly 15 minutes and the limited number of ticket holders that made it into the building were basically put on lock down and supplied with free food for the evening.

This issue at hand was the officer involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, a local South Sacramento man that was killed Sunday evening.

Video of the shooting was released by the Sacramento Police Department Wednesday afternoon, setting off community outcry in Sacramento.

In perhaps his finest moment as owner and chairman of the Sacramento Kings, Vivek Ranadivé took center court surrounded by his players to address the undersized crowd.

“On Sunday, we had a horrific, horrific tragedy in our community and on behalf of the players, the executives, ownership and the entire Kings family, I first of all want to express our deepest sympathies to the family. What happened was absolutely horrific and we are so very sorry for your loss.

I also want to say that we at the Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that. We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously and we stand before you; old, young, black, white, brown and we are all united in our commitment.

We recognize that it’s not just business as usual and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting in our own community. We are going to work hard to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”

Protests continued throughout the night in the courtyard adjacent to Golden 1 Center. Security and police stood guard at each entrance, trying to keep the events outside the building from spilling into the team’s two-year-old facility.

The locker room was quiet. Despite the 105-90 victory by the Kings, basketball was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

"I just want to say I 100 percent agree with the protest outside,” Garrett Temple said following the game. “If I didn't have a job to do, I probably would have been out there with them peacefully protesting, because what's going on has to stop. It has to stop.”

Sacramento’s leader behind the scenes, Temple has been active in reaching out in the community and fostering conversation with local youth. He wasn’t able to play in Thursday evening’s game due to a left ankle sprain, but that didn’t stop him from waiting around to field questions.

“I think the protest did what it was supposed to do, it brought a light to what’s going on, I think that’s what protests are for,” Temple added. “After that, something has to change. Us not playing a basketball game isn’t going to change the fact that police unfortunately view black and brown men as a threat, when they are certainly not.”

Temple said that he had viewed the video and admitted that it was dark. A split second decision by a police officer cost Clark, a 22-year-old African American, his life. According to published reports, Clark was holding his mobile phone and not a weapon as officers believed.

The tragic events played out in seconds, but it’s storyline that many communities around the country have had to face on countless occasions.

Temple isn’t one to sit by idly by and bite his tongue. He may have addressed the shooting on his own with or without the protest going on outside the arena. But with the events of the night, politics and sports intersected at 500 David J. Stern Walk, opening a door for Temple to express himself.

“To those that say politics and sports don’t intertwine, this is a democracy, people have a voice and we’re people at the end of the day,” Temple said. “Obviously, sports and politics definitely intertwined tonight. The protesters did what they wanted to do in terms of bring light to the situation.”

In addition to Ranadivé’s comments following then contest, the Kings put out two separate press releases. The first came out around 7 pm to update fans of the current status of the game.

"Tonight's game began with a delay. Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund."

The second press release came later to insure fans that they would receive a refund.

“Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remained closed as tonight’s game proceeded with a delay. In the coming days, guests who purchased tickets for tonight’s game directly through the Sacramento Kings or Ticketmaster will receive detailed instructions to facilitate a full refund.”

The Kings return to the court Sunday afternoon for a 3pm matinee game.