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Report: Kings intent on making trades before deadline, not selling

Alvin Gentry in Sacramento Kings v Atlanta Hawks

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 26: Head coach Alvin Gentry of the Sacramento Kings reacts against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half at State Farm Arena on January 26, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry called a 25-point loss to the Grizzlies a month ago “the most disappointed I’ve been in 34 years in the NBA.”

It’s probably time to check for an update.

In its last five games, Sacramento has:

  • Lost to the third-to-last-place Rockets at home
  • Lost to the second-to-last-place Pistons at home
  • Lost to the Bucks without Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Lost to the Celtics by 53
  • Lost to the Hawks by 17 after blowing 14-point lead

But as the trade deadline approaches…

Carmichael Dave of KHTK Sports Sacramento:

Even when the situational factors remain steady, there can be a significant lag between actual trade discussions and intel becoming public. Sacramento’s recent nosedive provides even more reason to suspect plans might have changed.

But it’d also be completely within character for Kings owner Vivek Ranadive to insist on his lousy team buying rather than selling at the deadline. Sacramento did it last year.

Ranadive is understandably desperate to end the franchise’s 15-year postseason drought (which predates his ownership). The bar for success in Sacramento is pretty low. People there just want to see a mildly competitive team.

Yet, the Kings (18-32) are three games and three teams out of even play-in position. Basketball-Reference gives Sacramento practically no chance of directly qualifying for the playoffs as a top-six seed, just a 2.4% chance of making the play-in tournament and a 0.5% chance of advancing through the play-in tournament into the playoffs.

The Kings probably can’t make a win-now trade before the deadline that swings those odds enough to justify the cost. Sometimes, you have to know when to throw in the towel on a season.

Players like Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes and maybe Buddy Hield could return assets that would help the team in future years, when it’s ideally ready to win around De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. Teams still realistically in the postseason race could get more value from Barnes, Holmes and Hield than the Kings can the rest of this season. That disparity could lead to quality trade offers.

Perhaps, Sacramento can walk the fine line of acquiring someone who helps now and adds to the long-term core. Ben Simmons, who has been linked to the Kings, could fit the bill.

Barnes, Holmes and Hield are all under contract through at least next season. This won’t be Sacramento’s last chance to get value from those players, whether it’s on the court or via trade. The Kings might come out ahead by keeping those veterans past the deadline.

But if Sacramento makes a shortsighted trade in the next couple weeks, don’t say you weren’t warned.