It started with a trickle of information. A rumor. Some innuendo. Maybe even a little misdirection.
A wild idea that opened the day as a three-team conversation, ended with one of the largest trades in recent memory. Four teams, 12 players, two first-round draft picks -- a blockbuster.
Clint Capela is no longer a Houston Rocket. Robert Covington got a one-way ticket out of dysfunction in Minnesota. Evan Turner is getting another fresh start with the T-Wolves and the Denver Nuggets are now lighter by one Juan Hernangomez.
Each of the teams involved are in a different part of the life cycle of an NBA franchise. Houston is an aging team with two superstars, an eccentric vision of what basketball should look like. They took their starting center and turned him into another 3-and-D wing.
With the Western Conference playoff picture touting centers like Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert, the Rockets will now start a 6-foot-5 P.J. Tucker at the five. Good luck with that in a seven-game series.
Denver is also a playoff team, but they are young and in need of one or two pieces to take that next step to true contender status. They appear to be loading up on assets to make another move in the next 24 hours that could yield them a big-time player.
Atlanta is in the midst of their build and adding a live body like Capela fills a massive gap in their rotation and gives them a young player under contract long term. He isn’t a perfect player, but the Hawks have to spend their money on someone and Capela is a strong rotational player that should help with the development of Trae Young and John Collins.
Minnesota is a trainwreck. The Kings got a first-hand look at a dying franchise when the T-Wolves rolled through Sacramento in the midst of an 11-game losing streak for a second time this season. The vibe around their team is not good and starting over is probably best.
One of the keys to a successful trade deadline is to know who you are before heading into the week. The Sacramento Kings might not have that luxury.
The Kings clearly aren’t the Rockets. They don’t have a James Harden or Russell Westbrook, although De’Aaron Fox is taking a huge leap in production.
The Kings wish they were the Denver Nuggets, who are 34-16 and primed for another playoff run. The Nuggets are a well-built club with all kinds of talent. If they can land a player like Jrue Holiday with the assets they created in the deal, then their involvement in this trade makes perfect sense.
Sacramento is further along in their build than the Hawks are, but the move Atlanta just pulled off is similar to what Divac pulled off last season when he acquired Harrison Barnes. Both the Kings and Hawks’ rosters have young talent, but they need more pieces to take another step forward.
At 19-31, the Kings aren’t that far above the T-Wolves in the standings, but at least they haven’t cashed in the season. Minnesota is on the brink of a complete teardown. They came into the year with some promise, but vultures are circling over this group and it’s only going to get worse with the loss of Covington.
In the grand scheme of the NBA, Sacramento is somewhere above the Minnesota and Atlanta level, but nowhere near either the Nuggets or Rockets. They shouldn’t be a team selling off their talent and seeking additional draft picks that put them further away from their ultimate goal of making the postseason.
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The Kings have a flawed roster, but a base to work with. They have plenty of attractive expiring contracts, all of their first-round selections and seven second-round picks over the next two drafts. That may not land the perfect player, but it’s certainly enough to improve the overall talent of the club like the Barnes deal did last season.
Maybe they can’t find a dance partner to work with, but there is no reason for the Kings not to at least attempt something substantial.
Programming Note: The "2020 NBA Trade Deadline Show" is coming your way this Thursday at 11:30am on the MyTeams appand on NBCSportsBayArea.com! Our NBA Insiders will analyze all of the news and rumors that could impact the Kings heading into the Noon deadline. Don’t miss it!