The groundwork has been laid. The trade pieces have been carved out of the main roster and almost set aside. General manager Monte McNair has positioned the Kings to strike.
It’s not often you see a team that is so prepared to make a big move. Sacramento may not find the trade that lands it a star in the coming days, but that’s only because it takes two to tango.
While the free-agent signings of Richaun Holmes, Alex Len, Moe Harkless and Terence Davis, as well as the trade to acquire Tristan Thompson, have some on the outside scratching their heads, they are missing a larger picture.
McNair has his rotation set. He has depth all over the court, even if most of the pieces are from last season’s roster or even the year before.
According to a league source, the Kings are in the market to make something happen now. They are chasing big names and they will be aggressive in their search.
Since taking over the Kings in September of last season, this always has been the plan for McNair. He sat out almost the entire free agency window last year with the thought of retaining flexibility moving forward.
McNair has made effective, but budget moves to support his core of De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes and now Richaun Holmes. Now he’s ready to pounce.
The Kings have been attached to every potential star on the trade market. From the initial reports of the team’s interest in Damian Lillard to Ben Simmons and now Toronto Raptors big man Pascal Siakam.
McNair is going to try to make that one move that so many others have dreamed of in Sacramento and in all honesty, he might be in a perfect position to be the one who finally delivers.
The contracts of Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley and even Thompson have value in one way or another. First-round picks, especially those coming from a franchise that has missed the playoffs for 15 consecutive seasons, also have value.
While the Kings are ready to strike, they are left with the one question that is always going to determine these situations -- can McNair find a trade partner that is not only willing to trade a star-level player, but take what the Kings are offering in return?
If they can’t, then what is next for the Kings’ general manager? He has a historically impatient owner. He has a decade and a half of failures as his canvased backdrop. He has a loyal fan base that is hanging on every single report, no matter how far-fetched.
McNair’s current version of the Kings might be enough to make the play-in tournament or even compete for the seventh or eighth seed. But one move could completely change the course of the franchise, which is what makes all of this so intriguing.
Adding that one additional piece that makes the Kings a true playoff contender could cement his legacy in Sacramento after less than a year on the job.
There still is plenty of time building up to the season, but you can sense something is different this time. It doesn’t feel like desperation. It feels like determination. That’s a fine line to walk, but it’s something new.