SACRAMENTO -- The transactions came fast and furious over the last 48 hours for the Sacramento Kings and with the trade deadline still two days away, they might not be done. Gone are DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi and Matt Barnes. Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway have joined the fray in a huge roster shakeup.
Dave Joerger learned last season in Memphis that your roster is never set in stone and he will have his hands full trying to put together a makeshift lineup when games resume Thursday night.
Sacramento tried to move up in the 2016 NBA Draft to get their hands on the flashy shooting guard out of Oklahoma. Hield will eventually move into the starting lineup, with Ben McLemore either shifting to the three or coming off the bench with the second unit.
The 23-year-old wing has plenty of upside and he’s under team control for the next four seasons. After averaging 25 points per game during his senior year with the Sooners, Hield has struggled a bit with the transition to the pro game.
Through 57 games, including 37 starts, the rookie is posting 8.6 points on 39.2 percent shooting from the field and 36.9 percent from 3-point range. In addition to the scoring, he’s also posted 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 20.4 minutes per contest.
Hield, along with a 2017 first round pick, is the centerpiece of the deal for Cousins. Defensively, he is a work in progress, but the Kings landed an intriguing player that is known as a hard worker off the court and a solid locker room guy.
Kings fans know Evans well from his four-year stretch in Sacramento beginning in 2009. The former Rookie of the Year has struggled with injuries over his last two seasons, playing a total of 51 games combined and has been on a minutes restriction in New Orleans.
He is still an effective scorer, rebounder and assist man, averaging 9.5 points, 3.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds in just 18.2 minutes per game. And at just 27-years-old, there is a chance he can bounce back and become the multi-positional stat stuffer from a year or two ago.
Evans is in the final year of his deal. If he’s healthy enough to play, he can step in and help the Kings at the small forward position that has been gutted by injury and the string of transactions.
Galloway joined the Pelicans over the summer after two seasons with thee Knicks. The 25-year-old point guard likes to shoot it, averaging 8.6 points on 37.7 percent from long range in 20.4 minutes per game.
The early talk had the Kings buying Galloway’s contract out, but it appears he is part of the short-term plan. Barring another trade, he will play behind Darren Collison and Ty Lawson at the point guard position.
There is no question that Cousins’ 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game will be missed in Sacramento. He has been the major cog in the Kings system for the last seven seasons and Joerger has limited options at the power forward position.
Sacramento can go big with second-year 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who is coming into his own. Veteran Anthony Tolliver is also an option to step in and start as a stretch four next to center Kosta Koufos and rookie Skal Labissiere might get a look as well, depending on what the Kings record looks like in a weeks or two.
The 13th overall selection, Giorgios Papagiannis, is also available to play minutes, although his readiness to contribute this season has been a question mark.
Replacing Cousins as an upper echelon NBA star is impossible this season for Sacramento. It might be years before they stumble on a player this good and that’s if they are lucky.
Casspi was a key reserve last season for Sacramento, but lost his minutes early in this year to Barnes and Tolliver. Injuries also played a role in Casspi’s limited opportunity this year. He played in just 22 games for Sacramento this season.
If he’s given the opportunity in New Orleans, Casspi could be a really nice fit on the frontline with Cousins and All-Star Anthony Davis. He’s shooting 37.9 percent from 3-point range this year after knocking down better than 40 percent from deep over the last two seasons.
Barnes became Joerger’s go to guy at both forward positions and his influence in the locker room was tremendous. A lightning rod for controversy, Barnes was posting 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 25.3 minutes per game.
Evans can step in and fill some of that role as a jack-of-all-trades wing, but he doesn’t have the size to play the power position. Garrett Temple will likely see increased action at the small forward as well once he returns from a torn hamstring.
The Kings saved money long-term with the deal. Cousins was due $18.1 million next season, not to mention the $219 million extension he was ready to sign. Casspi is a free agent this summer.
Hield is on his rookie scale deal that pays him $3.7 million next season. Evans is an unrestricted free agent and Galloway will likely opt in to his $5.4 million contract for the 2017-18 season.
The deal frees up roughly $9 million in salary and cap space. In addition, the Kings used the stretch provision to extend Barnes’ $6.4 million salary next season, breaking it up into three-years at $2.13 million and clearing up another $4.2 million in room for the summer of 2017.