Kings

Why Kings trying nothing at NBA trade deadline wouldn't be wise move

divacusa.jpg
USATI

Why Kings trying nothing at NBA trade deadline wouldn't be wise move

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.

[RELATED: Teams have 'poked around' on trading Giles]

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!

Five moments to remember from Kings' buzzer-beating win over Rockets

Five moments to remember from Kings' buzzer-beating win over Rockets

Programming note: Watch the re-air of the Kings’ victory over the Houston Rockets from Dec. 9, 2019 today at 3 p.m. PT on NBC Sports California.

The NBA has closed its doors indefinitely, but we have been able to dig into the archives and come away with some of the best games from the last few seasons for your viewing pleasure.

In our sixth installment, we go back to earlier this season, when the Kings went toe-to-toe with the Houston Rockets and came away with a huge game-winner from Nemanja Bjelica.

While we know the final outcome of the game, sometimes the details become murky over time. Here are five things to watch from the Kings’ 119-118 buzzer-beating win over the Rockets at the Toyota Center.

“F--k it, we deserved this win.”

Bjelica usually is quiet and stays away from the media when he’s given the choice. After drilling a 32-footer as time expired to give his team a huge win, Bjelica stopped by to speak with the Kings’ broadcasting team of Grant Napear and Doug Christie and he let loose with an F-bomb that has since been made into t-shirts.

The veteran stretch four has been very good for the Kings since signing as a free agent in the summer of 2018. He has hit plenty of long range 3-pointers, but none was bigger than the dagger against Houston.

“Game over. Game over.”

Star point guard Russell Westbrook put up 34 points and eight assists against the Kings in this game, including nine of the Rockets' final 12 points in regulation. With one second remaining on the clock, he put in a layup to give the Rockets a 118-116 lead and wouldn’t stop talking.

Westbrook's shot was huge, but Bjelica outdid him with the buzzer-beater. Sometimes it’s best to wait until the clock strikes zero before proclaiming victory.

Buddy Buckets

Where would the Kings be without Buddy Hield and his ability to knockdown the triple?

While Bjelica gets the fanfare in this one, Hield’s 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds remaining tied the game and gave the Kings a shot. 

Hield scored a team-high 26 points in this game, including 6-of-13 shooting from long range. In a hostile environment, he came up huge for Sacramento.

It’s raining 3s

Hield tied the game late with a 3-pointer and Bjelica hit the game-winner while wading in the Gulf of Mexico, but these shots were part of a larger trend in this game.

Sacramento went a stunning 20-for-45 from behind the arch, outscoring the high-powered Rockets 60-51 from deep. Only eight players stepped on the court for coach Luke Walton in this game and seven of them knocked down a 3-ball.

Back-to-back

The Kings got off to a rough start to the 2019-20 season, dropping their first five games. They bounced back, but came into this stretch in dire need of some wins.

[RELATED: Sleep Train Arena could be converted into COVID-19 hospital]

They dropped the first two games of the road trip in Portland and San Antonio, and then had to finish the trip with a back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks and Rockets on Sunday and Monday.

Sacramento almost blew an eight-point lead in the final three minutes in Dallas, but held on for a 110-106 victory. With the win in Houston, the Kings returned home with a .500 trip and then beat the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center for their third win in four days against high-level teams.

Why Hawks trading for Dewayne Dedmon made no sense to Kings' Alex Len

Why Hawks trading for Dewayne Dedmon made no sense to Kings' Alex Len

The Atlanta Hawks had a chance to re-sign center Dewayne Dedmon last summer.

Atlanta passed on the opportunity and let Dedmon leave in free agency, where he eventually signed a three-year, $40 million contract with the Kings.

But in an odd twist, the Hawks brought Dedmon back in a Feb. 5 trade with the Kings.

One of the two players the Kings acquired, Alex Len, recently spoke to The Athletic about his time in Atlanta and the trade that landed him in Sacramento.

“They didn’t want to pay him in the first place, so it didn’t make sense to me,” Len told Chris Kirschner. “If they wanted him, they could have just paid him. So they get him as a backup now and end up paying him anyway."

Len was taken No. 5 overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2013 NBA Draft and signed with the Hawks as a free agent in 2017. He was hoping to be part of the group that returned Atlanta to prominence, and told The Athletic he didn't want to be traded.

“One-hundred percent -- I wanted to stay,” Len said. “I like the coaching staff. I liked my teammates. Everyone was cool. It really had a family feel to it. Last year, you could see the trajectory was going up. Everyone was getting better towards the end of the season. The way we started this season -- I think the mistake we had was we had too many young guys. I didn’t think we had enough veterans and leadership on the team. This season didn’t work out as planned, so they had to make changes. It’s a business, so I understood they had to do it.”

The Hawks appeared to be making progress last season. With Lloyd Pierce in his first season as coach and Trae Young bursting onto the season, Atlanta finished with a 29-53 record. Expectations were high entering the 2019-20 campaign.

[RELATED: Len pleasantly surprised by Kings trade]

But when the NBA suspended the season due to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Hawks were in possession of a 20-47 record, the second-worst in the Eastern Conference.

Len wanted to stay in Atlanta, but he entered an NBA playoff race when he joined the Kings.

In nine appearances with the Kings, all off the bench, Len is averaging 6.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in 16.7 minutes.