We are entering the crazy point of the NBA season where teams are labeled buyers and sellers and then trade speculators start hitting the trade machine to come up with some half-cocked plans to reshuffle the league.
At 14-22, the Kings should be sellers or at least be wide open for business. Sources have confirmed that new general manager Monte McNair has already begun fielding and making calls and will be aggressive if the right trade comes along.
On the latest Bill Simmons podcast, Simmons and co-host Ryen Russillo discussed the Kings’ situation and made a strong determination.
“For Sacramento, it would actually be malpractice if they don’t make some trades,” Simmons said.
Most of the discussion between Simmons and Russillo centered around whether the team should trade Harrison Barnes or Buddy Hield. An diehard Boston Celtics fan, Simmons would love nothing more than for his team to deal for Barnes to fill out their roster.
“I’ve been watching Barnes for a couple of weeks because I really do think he’s a Celtic’s possibility,” Simmons said. “I just think he’s been really good this year. I’ve been consistently surprised by how impressed I am by him game to game.”
Barnes would be an interesting fit with Boston. He would slide directly into their starting lineup at the stretch four position and give coach Brad Stevens a pair of switchable forwards.
“What the Celtics really need is a wing who can spell [Jayson] Tatum or [Jaylen] Brown or play with them together,” Simmons said. “It’s their glaring hole.”
Barnes, 28, is averaging 16.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 35.7 minutes per game for the Kings this season. He’s shooting an impressive 49.2 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from 3-point range on the season and he’s under contract for another two seasons after this year with a declining scale contract.
While Simmons would love to see Barnes in Celtics green, he was vague as to how Boston would acquire the Kings’ starting forward.
Danny Ainge has a massive trade exception and could take in Barnes’ salary, so there is room to work with. The Celtics also have their own first round picks over the next few seasons, as well as 2020 first-round selection Aaron Nesmith.
As for the great debate as to which player the Kings should part with -- Barnes or Hield -- both Simmons and Russillo seemed to be in lock step.
“If I’m Sacramento, I would rather keep (Barnes) and trade Buddy and play [Tyrese] Haliburton more and I think Buddy would have real value,” Simmons stated.
Russillo agreed about keeping Barnes over Hield and even threw out the idea of dealing Hield to the Philadelphia 76ers for Danny Green, Mike Scott, Tyrese Maxie and a future first-round pick.
Philadelphia currently holds the No. 28 pick in the 2021 Draft, although that can change over the final 36 games of the season. The real gem of that deal would Maxie, who has put together a solid rookie season and has nice two-way potential. Both Green and Scott are in the final year of their contracts and would be buyout candidates with the Kings.
The pair threw out a couple of other trade ideas, although according to Russillo’s sources, the Kings might not be in the market to deal away their core at the March 25 deadline.
“The front office was told, ‘We’re not sellers,’ ” Russillo said.
According to league sources, the Kings are currently listening, but they aren't in salary dump mode. If they choose to make a trade, it's with the idea that it makes the team better either now or in the very near future.
Simmons and Russillo spitballed the idea of a Marvin Bagley for John Collins trade, but weren’t convinced that there was enough value in Bagley. They also threw out the idea of the Pelicans dealing Brandon Ingram for Barnes and Haliburton that would likely have Kings fans storming Golden 1 Center with pitchforks and torches.
That last trade idea was by no means a rumor. It was just part of a larger discussion between the two as they neared the end of the podcast.
It’s very likely the Kings do something in the coming weeks, even if it’s small. They have all of their first round picks, a bunch of extra seconds and the expiring contracts of Nemanja Bjelica ($7.2 million), Jabari Parker ($6.5 million), Cory Joseph ($12.6 million with a team option for next season) and Hassan Whiteside ($2.3 million) to work with.