The possible acquisition of disgruntled sharpshooter Buddy Hield makes a lot of sense for the Sixers. But does it make any realistic sense for the Kings?
Here's a Q & A with NBC Sports Bay Area Kings beat writer James Ham with the latest on Hield's situation in Sacramento:
NBC Sports Philadelphia: After having a career year in 2018-19 (20.7 PPG, 42.7% 3PT), Buddy Hield’s numbers fell off a bit this past season (19.2 PPG, 39.4% 3PT). Luke Walton also elected to bring Hield off the bench midway through the season. James, you watched it all unfold. What went wrong last season with Hield in Sacramento?
James Ham: So much went wrong in Sacramento last season. Marvin Bagley broke his thumb in the opener and missed almost two months. De’Aaron Fox went down before the team’s 10th game with a Grade 3 ankle sprain and missed 22 games. Those two injuries completely changed the Kings’ style of play and put a spotlight directly on Hield.
Hield was asked to take on more of a playmaking role, especially when Bogdan Bogdanovic began missing games as well. This isn’t his strong suit, but Walton really ran out of options. Hield had some strong moments, but teams keyed on shutting him down with the Kings lacking additional scoring threats.
When the Kings started to get healthy, Hield appeared to struggle to transition back to his original role as a floor spacer and scorer in transition. Walton’s squad hit a low point on Jan. 22 when they lost on the road in Detroit. Needing to shake up his rotation, Walton’s answer was to use Hield as a primary scorer off the bench with Bogdanovic taking over as the starting shooting guard. The team responded by finishing the season on a 13-7 run before the league shut down.
In the end, Hield wasn’t the only player to blame for the Kings’ struggles, but change was necessary and the swap worked. Off the bench, Hield found his shot and was flourishing before the bubble re-start.
Hield reportedly wouldn’t take Walton’s phone calls after the season ended. Do you think he really wants out of Sacramento just one year after signing his four-year, $86 million deal (with incentives that could push it above $100 million)?
According to a league source, the Kings expect Hield back in camp and ready to compete whenever the NBA gives a green light on a new season. The team understands that Hield is unhappy in his role off the bench, but they also know that Hield is a tireless worker and when he steps on the court, he’ll respect the game and play.
Hield wants to start. Depending on what happens with Bogdanovic in free agency, he might get that wish in Sacramento. There is a possibility that a cooling-off period helps both sides in this situation and a new voice at the top of basketball operations might help the situation as well.
In the end, Hield hasn’t even seen a paycheck yet for his new $86 million extension, which means the Kings have another four years to figure out this situation.
You mentioned the new voice in basketball operations. Vlade Divac stepped down after the season and the Kings hired Monte McNair as the team’s new general manager. Do you think McNair’s presence makes the Kings more or less likely to consider trading Buddy Hield?
If Divac was back, there is a good chance that Hield had played his last game in Sacramento. Hield was unhappy about his contract negotiation during training camp. He was unhappy about his contract once he signed it. And he was very unhappy about getting shifted to the second unit. He was also very vocal about all of these issues, which got under the skin of plenty around the franchise. Maybe fences could have been mended, but the situation was not good, especially after the team’s poor showing in Orlando.
With Divac gone, there is potential to hit a reset button. McNair has a huge decision in front of him and since he’s never run his own team, we don’t have a track record to turn to. On paper, Hield is a player that McNair should love. The Kings’ new GM wants his team to play fast and to shoot a bunch of 3-pointers, which is basically Hield’s game in a nutshell.
McNair has likely already had conversations with Walton about his thoughts on Hield. McNair will have to analyze Hield's contract and the potential for a shrinking of the NBA salary cap and make a decision on the best road ahead for the Kings. The team holds a huge amount of power in this situation. Hield is under contract for the next four years in Sacramento and if they decide to move on from him, they are going to want value in return.
Hield is one of the NBA’s rare high-volume, high-percentage three-point shooters. He’s a career 41.1% three-point shooter on 6.7 attempts per game and reached 800 made three-point FG in fewer games than any player in NBA history. That’s elite shooting. If the Kings make him available, how do you like his potential fit playing with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid?
In theory, Hield is a perfect fit in Philly. He is an elite shooter and would instantly help space the floor for both Simmons and Embiid. In the right system, he has the potential to lead the league in 3-point attempts and makes.
Doc Rivers would love to have a shooter like Hield on his roster, but the addition of Dave Joerger to Philly’s staff adds a new wrinkle. Despite having the best season of his career under Joerger during the 2018-19 season in Sacramento, Hield was one of the players that pushed for a coaching change.
Joerger has plenty of background knowledge on Hield that he can share with the Sixers. Joeger also knows how to best use Hield, but there is history here and it’s not all good.
There have to be two sides to tango. Do you think the Kings would have any interest in Al Horford, and what else might the Sixers need to add to get a trade done?
While there is potential for a deal with Philly, it’s hard to see the Kings taking on a 34-year-old Horford with three-years and $81 million remaining on his contract. He doesn’t fit the player arc of the Kings’ roster or their style of play.
It’s hard to see a deal that works between the two clubs. A swap for Tobias Harris with the Kings throwing in matching money might work on some level, but Harris played with Rivers in LA and has some ties there. Harris is also due nearly $150 million over the next four seasons, which is a lot to spend on a player who has never made an All-Star team.
A swap for Josh Richardson could also make sense for the Kings, but finding salaries to match up would be close to impossible. For something to work out, a third team would probably need to be involved in these discussions.