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.

What Lakers' Anthony Davis trade could mean for Kings' offseason plans

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USATSI

What Lakers' Anthony Davis trade could mean for Kings' offseason plans

The wild, wild West.

With the strong smell of the Warriors’ blood fresh in the water, at least one Western Conference team is shooting its shot, and that definitely will impact the Sacramento Kings.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday that the Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to acquire star center Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans for a package of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft.

It’s an interesting trade for Davis, who has missed plenty of time over his NBA career because of myriad physical ailments. The six-time All-Star played in just 55 games this past season, although it was more a precautionary move by the Pelicans after Davis’ representation made a trade demand prior to the All-Star break.

Ball has yet to establish himself in the league after being selected No. 2 overall by the Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft. He’s missed 63 total games in two seasons, and his shooting woes are monumental.

Hart is a solid rotational player with upside, but he’ll likely be lost in a crowded New Orleans backcourt with Ball, Ingram and veteran Jrue Holiday. His addition in the deal also puts Elfrid Payton’s return in question after his solid season for the Pelicans.

Ingram is a wild card. He had a breakout 2018-19 season, posting 18.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Lakers. But a late-season blood clot cost him time and is a concern moving forward.

So, what does this all mean for the Kings, their standing in the West and what they should do this offseason?

The Pelicans likely won’t be an immediate threat, since they’re starting over with a young core, which should include Zion Williamson, the expected No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. They’ve lost a star, but they could quickly reload, especially if they can move the No. 4 pick acquired in the Davis deal for another major piece.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are swinging for the fences, and at 34, LeBron James is getting long in the tooth by NBA standards. By adding Davis while retaining Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers put themselves back on the map and considerably changed their age arc.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka also has somewhere between $27 million and 32 million to play with in free agency, which is a good thing because his roster is filled with holes.

So, expect LA to add substantial pieces around James, Davis and Kuzma. Then the Lakers should come into the season as championship contenders and a tough matchup for the Kings.

The Pacific Division just became a lot more difficult, which isn’t good news for Sacramento, although Golden State likely will slip from its perch with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both entering free agency and having just suffered major injuries.

The Kings, however, have a young core in place and $38 million to spend in free agency. That gives them an opportunity to greatly improve their roster with the right moves this summer, but their rise in the standings still will depend on the growth of players such as De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley.

This group needs more help, and this isn’t an offseason for the Kings to sit on their hands. Even before the Davis trade, general manager Vlade Divac hoped to upgrade at center, with a decision to make on Willie Cauley-Stein.

Now that the Kings will play against the Lakers and their new star big four times per season, whomever mans the position for Sacramento will become even more important. The team has been linked to Nikola Vucevic, DeAndre Jordan and Dewayne Dedmon in free agency rumor mills, and they could be a better fit against Davis.

[RELATED: Kings troll Warriors over Finals loss]

The Kings have high hopes for next season, including playoff aspirations. They can’t completely base their summer plans off what happens with the Warriors, Lakers or any other team, but it’s clear that one team in the Pacific just became a major player, and Sacramento needs to do the same with player development and smart free-agent signings.

Former NBA player turned Kings scout Predrag Drobnjak stops by Sacramento

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AP

Former NBA player turned Kings scout Predrag Drobnjak stops by Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- The NBA draft process is entering its final week, and that means it’s time for the Kings to call all of their scouts back from afar and whittle the list to a handful of prospects for pick Nos. 40, 47 and 60.

During Wednesday’s workout, former player-turned-European scout Predrag Drobnjak was seated courtside next to longtime friends Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic. Following the workout, he hit the floor, took some shots and showed off some of his old moves.

In his playing days, Drobnjak was known for his ability to knock down a long-range shot, and in Seattle, he became a bit of a cult hero for his television ads, which still can be found hidden deep on the internet.

There used to be an entire website devoted to Drobnjak and the Drobnjak Manjaks. Unfortunately, it no longer is available.