In one of the first transactions at the 2021 NBA trade deadline, the Kings came out swinging and they may not be done.
Just as the horn sounded in the Kings’ 110-108 win over the Atlanta Hawks, the news broke that Cory Joseph was on his way to the Detroit Pistons with a pair of second round picks in exchange for point guard Delon Wright.
Joseph played his role in Sacramento both on and off the court, but he wasn’t built for the rigors of an uptempo offense. Wright instantly give the Kings a scorer and distributor off the bench, which is something they desperately need if they hope to climb back into the playoff chase.
According to a league source, Wright is an experienced guard that adds a long defender, creator and a solid finisher. He fits the Kings' plan to build a team that can win consistently.
It’s a nice acquisition for the Kings that will have an interesting impact on the franchise both now and next season.
With the trade, the Kings open up approximately $3.6 million in salary for this season, but it impacts the bottom line greatly. Joseph is set to make $12.6 million next season, but only $2.4 million was guaranteed.
Wright is on the books for $9 million this year and another $8.5 million next season. In effect, the Kings saved some money this season, but that $6.1 million in additional salary for next could make an impact on Sacramento's plans, especially if the Kings hope to retain center Richaun Holmes.
Wright is a quality NBA player that can fill up the basket. He’s averaging 10.5 points, 5.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 29.3 minutes per game for the Pistons. Wright is shooting 46.5 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from 3-point range. He started 30 games this season, but that brings his total for his six-year career to 53.
The fact that Wright can play off the bench or start is an asset. It also helps that Wright can play both guard positions and has even seen some time playing the three in a small-ball lineup.
Wright turns 29 years old on April 26, making him about eight months younger than Joseph.
Sacramento is all in on the starting backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, but they need another piece that fits the team’s style, pace of play and who can shoot. The fact that Wright is a solid defender and has good size is an added bonus.
He may not earn the 29 minutes per game that he was accustomed to in Detroit, but this is a solid veteran player who can help this team win this year and next.
This isn’t an Earth-shattering transaction for the Kings, but it makes the team better. There is concern that the team has eaten away some salary cap space that they will need to retain Holmes, but this could be the first of multiple moves and the Kings will have time to open up space this summer as well.
Joseph is a pro’s pro and a great mentor, but Wright is a better fit for what the Kings are trying to accomplish. He adds depth and versatility to the roster.
Lastly, this move shows that the Kings are not ready to cash in this season and play for a draft pick. At 19-25, they currently sit three games out of the 10th spot, where a team will compete in the play-in game. They also are just five games out of the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings with 28 games remaining.
Wright won’t be enough to get them into playoff contention, but another solid move or two like this before Thursday’s noon deadline and the Kings might make things interesting.