SACRAMENTO -- The NBA trade season is in full swing. Players are moving from one team to the next at breakneck speed and so far, the Sacramento Kings are observers in the action.
After hitting a game-winner for the Clippers late Tuesday evening, forward Tobias Harris was shipped out to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of a massive six-player deal.
It’s a blow to the Clippers playoff hopes and a boon for the Kings, who currently sit just a game behind Los Angeles in the Western Conference standings.
The Clippers took a massive step backwards. Harris was having a career-year, posting 20.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game this season. At 26 years old, the combo-forward was deserving of All-Star consideration this year.
He instantly makes the 76ers a contender, if they weren’t already. He fits perfectly on the frontline alongside Joel Embiid and his ability to stretch the floor opens up everything for Ben Simmons.
Basically, the Clippers gave up their best player in then deal and they didn’t exactly get back value, as far as the players they received in return. Wilson Chandler is a quality forward, but he’s injured. Mike Muscala is a hustle player and Landry Shamet has long-term potential.
None of the three players can help mask the loss of Harris. By most estimations, Los Angeles conceded the season, which is music to the Kings’ ears.
Los Angeles took a major step back with the deal and it was intentional. Toiling around the eighth seed might be an accomplishment for the Kings, but the Clippers have bigger plans that include making a run at some of the biggest fish the NBA has to offer.
By moving Harris, they accomplished a couple of things. First, they acquired two first-round selections, including the Miami Heat’s unprotected first-rounder in 2021. Secondly, they owe their own 2019 first-round selection to the Boston Celtics, but it’s top 14 protected.
With the Clippers throwing in the towel on the season, they now have three first-round picks to work with that they wouldn’t have had if they made a playoff run.
If the plan is to use these picks to rebuild the franchise, that means they are at least 2-3 years behind the Kings in their rebuild. If they use these as assets to acquire a major player, then things might get interesting.
If they’ll give up Harris, what else would the Clippers be willing to do? Los Angeles has a couple of veteran players that could help Sacramento in the short term, including Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams.
If Los Angeles is trying to clear the decks for a few major acquisitions this summer, it’s possible they are willing to move one or both of these players for a package that expiring contracts and minor assets.
Gallinari is owed $22.6 million next season and is having a strong season, averaging 19 points, six rebounds and 2.5 assists a game for LA. He’s struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, but he’s shooting 44.6 percent from 3-point range. At 6-foot-10, he could add size and length at a position of need.
Williams is under contract for another two seasons, but at a reasonable $8 million per. He isn’t a conventional point guard, but he’s one of the best bench scorers in the league. In his 14th season in the league, Williams is averaging 19.4 points and 5.3 assists in just over 26 minutes per game.
If the Kings decide to make short-term improvements and can get them at a reasonable price, these two players would make nice targets.