Kings make tough, but correct decisions at the trade deadline


Kings make tough, but correct decisions at the trade deadline

SACRAMENTO -- And then there were eight. The Sacramento Kings walked into the 2017-18 season with 10 young players on rookie scale contracts. That number was reduced by two at the trade deadline with former first-round selections Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson leaving the franchise.

It was a bold move by Vlade Divac and assistant general manager Brandon Williams. Giving up on two young players that you invested picks and nearly two years in development isn’t easy. It was also the right move. 

“We wish both kids nothing but the best,” Vlade Divac said Friday morning. “I think it was a plan to develop the group that we have, moving forward and creating a little bit more flexibility.”

Not every player taken in an NBA Draft develops at the right pace. Not every player taken in the NBA Draft is an NBA player. 

By moving away from two young players, the Kings acknowledged that they are willing to make difficult moves. They also acknowledged that they are willing to take the criticism that goes comes with that decision. 

“It was a tough decision, but as a GM, you have to sometimes make tough decisions,” Divac added.

Taken with the 13th overall selection in the 2016 draft, Papagiannis struggled to earn any rotational minutes with the Kings. At 7-foot-1, 240-pounds, the 20-year-old out of Greece might have come into the league in the wrong era. 

While he has passing skills, a soft touch and can set a mean screen, the pace of the game appeared too much for Papagiannis. He may one day develop, but with so many other young players on the team, the Kings can’t eat up roster spots and valuable coaching time with a project that might be another year or two out.

Richardson earned a look last season before a hamstring tear set him back. From that moment on, the 22-year-old has struggled to gain traction in Sacramento. He tweaked the hamstring again in Las Vegas Summer League and quickly fell behind rookie Justin Jackson on the depth chart. 

When given brief opportunities this season, Richardson failed to produce. He’s worked hard to reinvent his body and his 3-point shot looks clean in practice, but translating his skills to an NBA court proved difficult.

Neither of the moves were all that surprising, nor is this an indictment on a coaching staff that has worked tirelessly on player development this season. Both Papagiannis and Richardson were buried on depth chart behind both veterans and young players. With two draft picks in the 2018 NBA Draft, the roster needed reshaping.

“As you know, development projects can be challenging,” assistant general manager Brandon Williams said. “Our coach has done a fantastic job in trying to manage and disperse minutes and opportunity knowing that it’s difficult for young guys that have some talent, have some upside to not have as many minutes.”

The focus will now turn to De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Justin Jackson, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Frank Mason, Harry Giles and possibly even Bruno Caboclo, who was acquired in the Richardson deal. With 28 games remaining, there is still plenty of time to continue the development of the young core.

“This is like another college season in a lot of ways,” Williams said. “So, how much more progress do we make by not dividing minutes up among more players.”

It wasn’t a banner trade deadline for Sacramento, but the Kings made important moves for their future. They now have roster and financial flexibility that they didn’t have before. It came at a cost, but that’s part of the NBA business. 

Kings lose coin flip to Bulls, hold No. 7 overall pick heading into NBA Draft Lottery


Kings lose coin flip to Bulls, hold No. 7 overall pick heading into NBA Draft Lottery

The Sacramento Kings’ win over the Houston Rockets in the season finale has officially cost the team a spot in the NBA’s Draft Lottery. After posting identical 27-55 records, Sacramento and the Chicago Bulls were part of the NBA’s coin flip rule Friday afternoon at the Board of Governors meetings. 

Unfortunately for the Kings, the Bulls picked up a victory in the game of chance and now sit in the sixth spot in the pre-lottery standings. Sacramento holds the seventh position, but both teams have an equal opportunity to move up into the top three positions when the lottery is officially held on May 15. 

Once the top three selections are drawn, the draft goes in order of worst remaining record, taking coin flip results into consideration. If the Kings do not move into the top three and no one slated behind them in the draft move up, they will draft No. 7 overall. 

There is also a small chance that Sacramento doesn’t move up and one or more lottery teams behind them in the standings jump up. In this scenario, the Kings could draft as low as 10, but the statistical probability of them falling that far is astronomical. 

Here are the odds for the potential draft positions for the Kings this season. Both the Kings and Bulls have an 18.3% chance of moving into the top three picks.

No. 1 overall selection: 5.3%
No. 2 overall selection: 6.0%
No. 3 overall selection: 7.0%
No. 7 overall selection: 57.3%
No. 8 overall selection: 22.6%
No. 9 overall selection: 1.8%
No. 10 overall selection: less than 0.0%

Kings finish tied for sixth worst record, coin flip could decide their NBA Draft fate


Kings finish tied for sixth worst record, coin flip could decide their NBA Draft fate

SACRAMENTO -- Wins matter. With the Sacramento Kings’ victory over the Houston Rockets in the season finale Wednesday evening at Golden 1 Center, the team finished the campaign at 27-55. Clearly that’s not good enough to move onto the playoff portion of the NBA season, but it places the Kings in a tie with the Chicago Bulls for the sixth worst record in the NBA.
It’s a slightly complicated procedure for deciding how many ping pong balls the Kings will have in the draft lottery. Both Chicago and Sacramento will have equal odds of moving into the top three of the draft. The two teams have a 5.3 percent chance of landing the top spot, a six percent chance of choosing at No. 2 overall and a seven percent chance of selecting third. 
Per NBA rules, a coin flip will determine which team falls in the sixth position and which will select seven if they don’t move up into the top three. The coin flip is scheduled to take place on Friday, April 13. 
The Kings and Bulls aren’t the only teams placing their fate in the hands of a shiny piece of metal. Dallas and Atlanta finished the season tied for the third and fourth worst records. The Bucks and Heat are tied for the 16th and 17th spot in the draft. San Antonio and Minnesota will flip for picks 18 and 19 and there is a complicated formula between the Pacers, Pelicans, Thunder and Jazz for picks 20-23, since all four teams finished the regular season with a 48-34 record.