SACRAMENTO -- At 13-23, the Kings are heading into trade season in a place they have grown quite familiar with over the last decade-plus. Teams are going to come calling and rumors are going to swirl.
The New York Times' Marc Stein kicked off the festivities Monday morning with a tweet involving super-sub Bogdan Bogdanovic, that is unlikely to go over well with the Kings’ fan base.
Sacramento is among the teams that has tried to engage the Lakers in Kyle Kuzma trade talks, league sources say. The Kings know they would have to include sharpshooter (and soon-to-be restricted free agent) Bogdan Bogdanovic, for starters, in a Kuzma deal— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 6, 2020
According to a league source, the Kings are unlikely to bite on a Bogdanovic-Kuzma swap and the team is comfortable walking into this summer with Bogdanovic as a restricted free agent.
The Kings are 0-6 when Bogdanovic misses a game this season. He is the most versatile player on the roster, and according to a source, any deal made this trade season would need to make sense for the roster and team veratilty, now and in the future.
Vlade Divac and his staff extended a four-year $51.7 million contract extension to Bogdanovic, which he can accept at any time. But after a strong showing at the World Cup and a solid season so far with the Kings, the 27-year-old might be in for a larger contract this summer in free agency.
Sacramento can match any offer to the Serbian-born wing, but they have to be cautious with where they spend their money. The Kings already have locked up Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield to hefty contracts and they have extension decisions on De’Aaron Fox this summer and Marvin Bagley the year after that.
Bogdanovic is averaging a career-best 14.5 points and shooting 38.2 percent from 3-point range on 6.9 attempts per game. He’s struggled to stay healthy early this season, missing time with a left hamstring, right knee and right ankle problem. He will miss Monday’s matchup against the Warriors due to an ankle injury and a bout with the flu.
If the Kings continue to struggle, they might eventually move away from Bogdanovic, but it will hurt. A high basketball-IQ player, Bogdanovic is the team’s best playmaker outside of Fox. He can also play the one, two and three and his shooting ability opens the floor for the second unit.
At 24 years old, Kuzma is three years younger than Bogdanovic. He had a breakout season last year with the Lakers under Luke Walton, who now is coaching the Kings.
The former University of Utah star posted 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds in 33.1 minutes per game last season, but he has struggled with the roster shakeup in Los Angeles this season. The third-year pro is averaging 11.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in just 23.5 minutes per game off Frank Vogel’s bench.
Sacramento liked Kuzma during the 2017 NBA Draft. He had a strong workout and was a favorite of the coaching staff at the time, but the Kings chose to select Justin Jackson (15th overall) and Harry Giles (20th overall) instead. Kuzma fell to No. 27 in that draft, where he has flourished as a late first-round steal.
A trade between the Lakers and Kings would have to involve additional players as well. Kuzma is on the books for just under $2 million this season and he’s owed $3.6 million next season. Bogdanovic is making $8.5 million in the final year of his rookie deal with Sacramento.
In addition to the salary complications, the Kings already have a logjam at power forward, where Kuzma earns most of his minutes. Nemanja Bjelica is holding down the starting job now with Bagley injured, but it’s a temporary situation.
Bagley can play time at the five as well as the four, but Richaun Holmes is anchoring that position with strong play. A long-term front court of Bagley and Kuzma is intriguing offensively, but neither is known for their defensive acumen.
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There is a missing ingredient on the Kings this season. They have lost plenty of close battles, including multiple on their homecourt against sub-.500 teams. A roster shakeup might be in order, but swapping their most versatile player for another offensive weapon wouldn’t be the best decision.
This won’t be the last rumor involving the Kings and it probably won’t be the only time Bogdanovic is mentioned. He’s a highly coveted player that can fit on any roster in the league, including the Kings.