The NBA rumor mill has slowed to a crawl, but there still are bits of information floating about. The problem might not be in dissecting the rumors, as much as trying to get a handle on the timing in which discussions might have taken place.
Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported the Kings and New Orleans Pelicans had discussions about a potential Buddy Hield for Josh Hart swap, although the “when” might be the biggest sticking point.
“New Orleans and Sacramento were said to be discussing a Buddy Hield-for-Josh Hart sign-and-trade baked into the Pelicans' draft-week deal with Memphis, although it's unclear if that dynamic remains plausible as Hart is still unsigned,” Fischer writes.
Draft week was a long time ago by NBA standards and plenty has changed since then. The Kings have added Davion Mitchell in the backcourt, which makes Hield even more expendable than before, but general manager Monte McNair appears to be shifting his focus to big game hunting.
Hart is a perfectly serviceable wing, although at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, he is slightly undersized to man the three full time. At 26 years old, he also is more than two years younger than Hield. He would also cost considerably less than the $23 million Hield is scheduled to earn this season.
On the offensive side of the ball, Hart is a major downgrade from Hield, both in production and functionality. He averaged 9.2 points and 2.3 assists in 28.7 minutes per game. He also shot 32.6 percent from 3-point range on 4.1 attempts per game.
Hart can’t match Hield’s offensive output or his ability to space the floor.
Where Hart stands out is on the defensive end and as a rebounder. While he has a similar frame and wingspan to Hield, he focuses more of his energy staying between his man and the basket.
Hart notched eight rebounds per game, which would have ranked in the top 30 of all NBA players. That’s outstanding for a shooting guard or undersized small forward.
Adding to the intrigue is that Hart is another former Laker who began his career under Kings head coach Luke Walton. There is familiarity, which could help Hart’s transition into Sacramento’s rotation.
In the grand scheme of things, there was a time when Hart might have been a strong fit in Sacramento. But the Kings are deep into their offseason plan at this point. They’ve re-signed Terence Davis and Moe Harkless to fill holes in the rotation and if anything, they need Hield’s volume 3-point shooting more than they need a player like Hart.
There also is the added issue that the Pelicans are a team that the Kings hope to compete with for a postseason berth. While Hield might no longer be a great fit in Sacramento, he likely would be in New Orleans.
The Pelicans are in desperate need of floor spacers, especially with Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas manning the paint. Hield has flaws to his game, but his ability to score from the perimeter might be the thing that helps put New Orleans over the top.
McNair is clearly looking for a home run swing. He only has so many bullets in his gun. While Hart is a solid NBA player, he’s not the franchise changer the team needs. Unless McNair is looking to cut salary, he’s likely better off waiting to see how the trade market materializes for much bigger options.
The Kings’ GM likely will need Hield’s salary and skill set to swing a big deal, although it’s always possible that the Pelicans could get involved as a third or fourth team in a much larger transaction.