Kings

NBA trade deadline: Kings have cap space, assets to be major players

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NBA trade deadline: Kings have cap space, assets to be major players

The build up to the NBA’s Feb. 7 trade deadline has already begun. If fact, it started for the Kings coming into opening night, when they walked into the season as the only team in the league with any real cap space.

The rumor mill is churning, but NBC Sports California continues to hear that the Kings have no intention of taking on any long-term deals, unless it helps the team win today and down the road. They also aren't in the mood to help another franchise save money, unless assets are attached.

Sacramento’s front office has worked hard to create the financial freedom they currently possess. They understand the power of their position in the market and they have a list of needs.

According to sources, high on the Kings’ priority list is adding more length and size at the small forward position, as well as a veteran point guard to bring off the bench.

The team is high on their young core, and would like to find a piece or two that fits with the style of play and direction the franchise is heading.

[RELATED: Marvin Bagley, Harry Giles give Kings fans glimpse into bright future]

Cap

The NBA’s cap is set at $101.869 million for this season, with the luxury tax threshold of  $123.733 million. Sacramento has $90.844 million on the books, including $10.8 million in dead money from Matt Barnes, Georgios Papagiannis, Deyonta Davis and Caron Butler.

Outside of the Kings and their $11 million in available cap space, no other team in the league is under the cap.

With available space, the Kings can act as a conduit to reduce other clubs’ cap space, potentially saving them millions in luxury tax. They can also accept more incoming money than they send out in a potential trade.

Expiring Contracts

In addition to $11 million in cap space, the Kings also have a bevy of expiring contracts to work with. Veteran big man Zach Randolph has yet to play a minute this season in Sacramento, and is in the final year of a deal that pays him $11.7 million this season.

Kosta Koufos is a valuable big on an affordable $8.7 million deal. At 29 years old, he is a veteran defensive presence and keeps himself in spectacular shape. With the Kings going young up front over the last two weeks, Koufos gets in a full workout following games to make sure he’s ready to play, either for Sacramento or elsewhere.

Ben McLemore, 25, is owed $5.5 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s found it difficult to get on the court with the Kings loaded at the wing, but he’s had a few moments when given an opportunity.

Iman Shumpert is in the final year of a long term contract he signed back in 2015 with the Cavs that pays him $11 million this season. Shumpert has started 32 games at the small forward position for the Kings and has provided a nice bump both on and off the court. He’s a defensive-minded wing and he’s shooting 38.6 percent from long range this season.

Lastly, starting center Willie Cauley-Stein is in the final year of his rookie-scale deal. He makes $4.7 million this season, and will enter the summer as a restricted free agent if the Kings extend a qualifying offer. Cauley-Stein has reached the NBA’s “starter criteria,” which means his qualifying offer has jumped from $4.5 million to $6.3 million this summer.

Not including Cauley-Stein, the Kings have roughly $37 million in expiring contracts. Shumpert is playing rotational minutes, and Koufos is a nice insurance policy for the team.

If the right deal were to come along, the Kings would have no problem taking back long-term money in exchange for a combination of expiring deals. Again, any deal would need to check the right boxes of improving the team in the short-term as well as down the road.

Picks

One of Vlade Divac’s first moves was to trade his 2019 first-round pick. That move really comes into play right now. Due to the Stepien Rule, Divac cannot trade back-to-back picks, so his first round selection in 2020 is off the table.

Sacramento can trade a first round pick further off in the future, like in 2021 or 2022.

Without a first-rounder to work with, the Kings have loaded up on second-rounders. The team doesn’t have their own second-rounder in 2019, but they have two incoming picks (second-most favorable from the Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets, plus the most favorable between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers).

The Kings also have their own second-round selection in 2020, as well as the Detroit Pistons' and Miami Heat's. In 2021, they have Miami’s second round pick again, as well as their own selection and the Memphis Grizzlies' pick.

Values of second-round picks vary, but the Kings have a total six second-rounders over the next three seasons. They have no restrictions, and can be used as sweeteners in a larger deal if necessary.

[RELATED: What went right, what went wrong in Kings' win over Blazers]

Assets

Sacramento has a lot of young and talented players, but they aren’t going to move any of them unless it means the team is making a massive long-term investment in a star-level player. Even then, there is a core group that is close to untouchable.

It’s an interesting roster. The Kings have nine players on rookie scale-contracts. Nemanja Bjelica is the only veteran with a guaranteed deal that extends beyond the 2018-19 season. They have plenty of expiring contracts, and a few young players that are out of the rotation.

What to Expect

Divac and Co. should be incredibly active. They’ve worked hard to be a player in the trade market, and they are the only team with available space. They can also change the look of the roster using open money and expiring contracts from players that aren’t part of the rotation.

The Kings have the ability to pull off multiple trades that could yield not only players to help with a playoff push, but add future assets as well.

Sacramento should be weary of taking on long-term salary that bites into their available cap space this summer, unless the player fits the age and salary trajectory of the team.

It would be shocking if they stand pat at the deadline.There will likely be a deal or two that could help change the course of the franchise for the better. At 23-21, this team has done their job on the court, but they could use a few reinforcements.

Kings' Buddy Hield admits he went out night before 3-Point Contest win

Kings' Buddy Hield admits he went out night before 3-Point Contest win

Buddy Hield played a different kind of "flu game" in his NBA 3-Point Contest win Saturday night. 

The Kings sharpshooter admitted to reporters in Chicago for All-Star Saturday Night that he enjoyed all the Windy City had to offer the night before his victory. 

"I had no routine this morning. I went out last night," Hield said after his down-to-the-wire win over Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker on Saturday. "So I was just chilling. It was All-Star Weekend. You got to have fun, too. So it was cool. I was just relaxing. I came in, and I just locked in."

Hield diligently reported to his 9:15 a.m. CT media availability Saturday morning "clearly hurting," according to The Athletic's Joe Vardon. 

Whatever Hield did to recover between then and the 3-Point Contest worked. Hield posted back-to-back 27-point rounds, nailing each of his last six shots in the first and seven of his last eight as he tried to surpass Booker. 

The 27-year-old needed to make his final shot -- worth two points from his "money ball" rack -- to beat Booker, and he was ice-cold from the left corner. 

"I think I heard the guy on the PA, the announcer, and I had [25 or] something like that," Hield told reporters in Chicago. "I know Devin had 26, so I knew I had to make one more to top him. I was focused. I was locked in on that part."

[RELATED: Hield's dramatic 3-point contest win had fellow Kings hyped]

Hield enjoyed the win Saturday night and what it would mean to people in his hometown, using his press conference to dedicate his win to those affected by Hurricane Dorian. The storm struck his native Bahamas over the summer with sustained winds of over 185 mph, officially killing 70. Over 600 others might have drowned and been washed out to sea, officials said. 

"I dedicate it to them because, like I say, I represent my country to the fullest," Hield said. "When I say that, I really mean it because without my upbringing, I'm nothing. I know what it's like to be in a hurricane. I haven't been in a Category 5, but, no, this goes to them for sure.

Kings get hyped during Buddy Hield's dramatic NBA 3-point Contest win

Kings get hyped during Buddy Hield's dramatic NBA 3-point Contest win

Buddy Hield won the NBA 3-point contest in dramatic fashion, and his Kings teammates loved to see it. 

Hield beat out Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker on his last shot of the night, sending his squad into a social-media frenzy.

The Kings' Twitter account relished in the win, too, chirping their counterparts with the Suns and NBA 2K for jumping the gun with their predictions. 

DraftKings gave Hield only the sixth-best odds to win the 3-point contest (+700), with only Zach LaVine and Devonte' Graham having worse chances in the oddsmakers' eyes. 

[RELATED: Purple Talk Podcast breaks down Kings at All-Star break]

Hield became the first King to win the competition since Peja Stojaković won back-to-back in 2002 and 2003. NBA All-Star Weekend is in Indianapolis in 2021, and Hield can join Stojaković, Craig Hodges,  Jeff Hornacek, Mark Price and Jason Kapono as the only players to win multiple 3-point contests. 

His teammates and social-media colleagues once again will have their Twitter fingers ready to go if he enters again.