Oct. 31, 2019 wasn’t a great day for fans of Harry Giles and the Sacramento Kings.
That was the day when then-general manager Vlade Divac decided not to pick up Giles’ fourth-year option on his rookie scale contract, setting up an eventual separation between the parties.
That day has come. Giles agreed to a one-year contract with the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, ending the big man's Kings run.
It's a horrible mismanagement of a young asset, but that falls directly on Divac and the former Kings front office staff, not new GM Monte McNair. Divac’s decision was stunning then, and it’s even more stunning now that Giles is on his way out of Sacramento before his 23rd birthday.
The Kings spent an entire year redshirting Giles and building up his body for the rigors of an 82-game NBA schedule. He played 58 games in 2018-19, his first official NBA season, but ran amuck with Divac and the franchise last summer when he reported for the California Classic in less-than-stellar shape.
When Giles returned to Sacramento for the start of training camp, it was a similar situation. He experienced knee swelling in the first day of camp, and the Kings shut him down for an extended period.
Giles has plenty of potential, but much of it still is untapped. He averaged 6.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists for Sacramento this season in 14.5 minutes per game.
He plays with passion, which has made him a fan favorite. He also has incredible court vision and a passing ability that you rarely see in a 6-foot-10 player.
McNair didn’t have a chance to evaluate Giles. The damage clearly was done before he arrived, and now the Kings have wasted yet another first-round draft pick.
Portland now has a low-risk, high-reward young player on a bargain deal. The Blazers have a crowded front line, with Josuf Nurkic, Enes Kanter, Carmelo Anthony and Zach Collins all vying for time at the four and five, so Giles will have to fight for minutes. However, the Blazers have shown patience with their young players, and there is potential for Giles to get on the court, especially with Collins and Nurkic's injury history.
This is a disappointing outcome for Sacramento. There is no guarantee that Giles will reach the heights that he once was projected to hit as the No. 1 prep athlete in the country, but the Kings now have rotational minutes available for a player with his skill set.
For a franchise like the Kings, who are riding a streak of 14 years without a playoff appearance, they have a dangerously slim margin of error. They can't continue to make mistakes like this, regardless of how Giles' Blazers tenure works out.