Buddy Hield was pretty close to becoming a member of the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. Instead, the shooting guard is beginning his sixth NBA season with the Kings.
When Hield sat down for his press conference at Kings Media Day at Golden 1 Center on Monday, a reporter attempted to ask him about the reported trade that would have sent him to the Lakers for a package headlined by versatile wing Kyle Kuzma.
But before the reporter could even finish his question, new Kings center Tristan Thompson entered the press conference room, didn't like the question being asked and decided to answer for Hield.
"Day 1 of training camp, Buddy Hield is wearing a Sacramento Kings jersey," Thompson said. "That's where his mind and focus is at. He's going to have a stellar year. I'm going to set him some great pin downs to get him open, so that's his mindset right now. What's in the past is in the past. You cannot control that. When you look in the rearview, that's when you crash. You look forward and ahead."
"What he said, bro," Hield said after Thompson left.
Ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft on July 29, the Kings thought they had struck a deal to move Hield to the Lakers. But Los Angeles pivoted and acquired former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. Kuzma admitted three weeks ago that he was "shocked" he wasn't traded to Sacramento.
A few hours before Thompson fielded the question for Buddy, new details emerged about how Westbrook ended up in Los Angeles instead of Hield.
The Athletic's Bill Oram, Shams Charania, and Sam Amick reported Monday that Westbrook engineered a power play to get the Wizards to trade him to the Lakers.
Oram, Charania and Amick reported that on the day of the draft, Westbrook received word that the Lakers were closing in on trading Kuzma and Harrell to the Kings for Hield. Westbrook went to Wizards owner Ted Leonsis with instructions to find a way to make the trade to the Lakers happen before they could complete the deal with the Kings.
Oram, Charania and Amick reported that Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard and Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka began discussing parameters of a Westbrook trade, and Los Angeles nixed its trade with the Kings. Los Angeles ended up sending Kuzma, Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the No. 22 overall pick in the 2021 draft to Washington for Westbrook.
Kings management was "steaming" when they found out the Lakers had gone in a different direction, a source told The Athletic.
Hield remains a King and is set to open the 2021-22 NBA season with them. Sacramento general manager Monte McNair came close to trading the shooting guard, and he's likely to explore more moves for the 28-year-old either at the NBA trade deadline or next summer.