Kings

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.

DRAFT PICKS

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. 

EXPIRING CONTRACTS

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.

UNDER CONTRACT

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. 

FOREIGN ASSETS

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. 

CONCLUSION 

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.

Kings notes: Crashing the glass proving to be a key to success

Kings notes: Crashing the glass proving to be a key to success

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings have the Thunder’s number. For the second time this season, Sacramento took down OKC, this time by a final of 117-113.

The Kings blew a 19-point first half lead, but recovered with a 7-0 lead to start the fourth. The Thunder drew to within two points in the final 10 seconds, but De’Aaron Fox made his free throws when it mattered to help put the Kings over the top.

Here are six notes as the Kings jump back over .500 on the season at 9-8.

Iman on a mission

For the second time this season, Iman Shumpert posted huge numbers against the Thunder. The veteran wing looked like he was on his way to a new career-high when he dropped 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting before the intermission. 

Shumpert took just three shots after the break, missing all three. 

Buddy to the rescue

The game got a little too close for comfort in the fourth quarter, but then Buddy Hield started launching. Hield scored 11 of his team-high 25 points in the final frame, including three makes from long range. The third-year guard loves the big moment and the Kings love when he comes through in the clutch.

Earning time

Marvin Bagley has had his ups and downs through the first month of the season, but he showed up in the win over the Thunder. After struggling early, Bagley scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and posted his first career double-double when he added 13 rebounds. 

The 19-year-old was active on both ends of the court, adding three blocks to his stat line. Coach Dave Joerger stuck with him late, allowing him to play all but 18 seconds of the final quarter.

The struggle is real

Fox hasn’t had many setbacks this season, but he struggled to put the ball in the hole against OKC. Fox finished the game with six points on 1-of-10 shooting. He managed to dish out 13 assists and hit a pair of huge free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining to ice the game. 

Playing into shape

Bogdan Bogdanovic posted another solid performance in his sixth game back from injury. With Hield continuing to get the start, Bogdanovic led the second unit, scoring 16 points to go with five rebounds and three assists. There will be a point where Joerger has to make a decision on whether to put Bogdanovic back in the starting lineup, but for now, he is doing a nice job of stabilizing the reserves. 

Crashing the glass

The Kings grabbed a season-high 59 rebounds in the win. Willie Cauley-Stein led the way with 14 boards, plenty of other players helped out. Sacramento is now 6-1 on the season when they outrebound their opponent. The Kings also set a new season-high in 3-point makes with 16 and attempts with 38.

Why Kings' win over the Thunder meant so much to coach Dave Joerger

Why Kings' win over the Thunder meant so much to coach Dave Joerger

SACRAMENTO -- How do you stop the noise? You go out and win another game. 

The Kings continued their hot start Monday night at Golden 1 Center, surviving a rough third quarter to come away with a 117-113 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The win snapped a two-game skid, and propelled the Kings back over .500.

Caught in a media storm over his future with the club over the last 48 hours, Kings fans gave embattled coach Dave Joerger a loud ovation before the start of the game. 

“We really care about our fans, we’ve got great fans, I love it here, I love listening to the ovation tonight - that was really cool,” Joerger said after the win Monday. “And to get the win over a very, very good team tonight is really gratifying.”

It’s not the situation that anyone wants to be in. Despite assurances that his job was never in jeopardy, the stress of hearing your name brought up in regards to a potential coaching change is never easy. Joerger took the chaotic situation to heart.

His young team did their best to block out anything coming from beyond the walls of the locker room.

“Every game is important for us, we just try to stay together, don’t listen to the outside and nothing really matters, except everybody on this team,” rookie big man Marvin Bagley III said. “Going out and winning, that’s the main goal for us is to win every game we step on the floor and play and that’s all that matters.”

One of the few veterans on the squad, guard Iman Shumpert, has seen just about everything in his eight-year career. After putting up 23 points on the night, he was feeling good and tried to lighten the mood in the locker room.

“I’ve been a part of all type of rumors,” Shumpert said. “When I was with the Knicks, I got traded for three years before I actually got traded. I don’t know how accurate your guys' information is sometimes.”

Joerger survived the ordeal, and may have even come out stronger. His team is playing a fun brand of basketball, and the fans are engaged and ready to back him.

No one expected the Kings to sit at 9-8 through 17 games. They took their first negative hit from the outside, and bounced back for a big win. There is a resiliency to this group that is refreshing. They’ll have another test come Wednesday when they fly to Utah to face another playoff contender in the Jazz.