The 16-24 Sacramento Kings have not made the playoffs since 2005-06, that’s 15 seasons for those counting. Over the past 5 seasons, this De’Aaron Fox-led roster has not made the necessary leaps to become the playoff contender that ANYONE has hoped for. Not the fans, not the front office, not coaches, not players. Maybe the janitorial staff at Golden 1 Center are having an epic 15 years of 1/4 capacity Kings games to clean up after. I guess there is always a bright spot to look for, right? I mean it must be a helluva task to clean up a ticker-tape parade … so there is that too. Maybe?
Well, now that I’ve vented a little bit … I’ll go into the ‘ness’ of the problem. This roster isn’t doin’ it. There need to be changes made. The Kings have a roster full of solid NBA players. NBA players who don’t seem to play well together. That is a problem if you’re trying to win with that roster. Though, it is a positive if you are willing to use those pieces to acquire new players.
So you’re saying there’s a chance this current Kings roster can improve and vie for the playoffs? Well, yea, there is always a chance. But, in my opinion, this roster the Kings currently field would not do well under Alvin Gentry, Doug Christie, Gregg Popovich, or Red Auerbach. Change is the only constant in life, and it’s time for the Sacramento Kings to make some major change.
Ahead, I will give three scenarios for how I think the Kings can shift courses, and start on a more realistic path to the playoffs. Plus, what I think may actually happen!
‘Compete Now’ Trade
This is the move that most rabid Sacramento Kings fans yearn for. We dream of waking up from a night of tossing and turning after watching an ugly Kings loss the previous night, to wake up and see a ‘Shams or Woj Bomb’ tweet notifying the SacTown faithful that the Kings have made a trade. Don’t hold your breath for that to happen this season. The NBA landscape this season, in my opinion, is not conducive for a Kings ‘win now’ trade.
Ben Simmons rumors have been out there, mainly just because that’s what people like to click on, and journalists need to get paid too. If the Kings can land Simmons, while still retaining De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton … I say that’s a deal we should make! But, with all the ‘stuff’ coming along with Simmons, I don’t see the upside of trying to build around him without Fox AND Haliburton. For Simmons’ offensive output and mental state in big moments, trading Fox or Haliburton for Simmons would not make the Kings a better team immediately or in the near future, in my opinion.
The Kings need to build around Fox and Haliburton. Unless someone is offering an unrealistic trade for Kevin Durant, James Harden, Giannis Antetokuonmpo, etc. I think the Kings are best suited to build around Fox and Haliburton.
‘Space for Later’ Trade
Sometimes, you just can’t get what you want, when you want it. In the NBA, where most teams play a 9-10 man rotation, there isn’t much room for movement if the timing/circumstances aren’t exactly right for all parties involved. That is where Kings fans need to have patience. That franchise-changing move may not happen before the Thursday, February 10th, 2022 NBA trade deadline. Some of the most impactful trades are made in the NBA offseason, and especially as the NBA draft approaches.
Why take a C+ level trade NOW, when the Kings could wait and get a better trade in the offseason? Yes, yes, I know … “WE HAVE BEEN PATIENT FOR TOO LONG.” Even the infamous RODDY in the DLo and KC Show YouTube chat told me that we have already been patient and can’t wait ANY longer! What other options are there? I guess maybe send Vivek and crew a resume and hope? LOL Indeed.
If the Kings can make a trade to open up future salary cap space and roster space, in order to put themselves in a position to make impact moves in the future, I say we do it! I call this ‘addition by subtraction’. Trading Buddy Hield and/or Harrison Barnes for someone who doesn’t help the Kings and has a worse contract would be worse than waiting for a better trade, in my opinion. Same with trading the expiring contracts of Marvin Bagley III and Tristan Thompson for players who don’t help us BIG time, and instead we would be better suited to wait for their contracts to come off the books.
If we could package a few of our higher-salary guys who need a change of scenery for draft selections and expiring contracts, I would be into that. If this was the NFL and non-guaranteed contracts … Buddy Hield would not be cashing in like he is now. He would have been released and re-signed for a more realistic salary compared to his current salary/performance balance.
Alas, the Kings are stuck in ‘the over-pay now or don’t get anyone in return’ conundrum. I am not well-versed on the intricacies of NBA salary caps and whatnot, but if we can get rid of Buddy or Harrison for two 2nd round selections or an expiring contract … I’ll drive them to Sac Int’l Aiport in my 1996 Ford Ranger and pack ’em a snack for the flight!
Off-Season Purge and Re-Tool
The Kings have a combined $20 million potentially coming off of the payroll during the 2022 offseason. $9+ million of that for both Tristan Thompson and Marvin Bagley III, and then about 1 million for Damian Jones. I don’t see the Kings re-signing Thompson or Bagley, and Jones most likely won’t be wildly outbid for by another team, and if so, the Kings can replace him relatively easily.
Having that future roster and cap space is more valuable than trading Bagley or Thompson for a non-expiring contract now. In the past Kings GM Monte McNair has spoken about the importance of having roster control and not being tied to acquiring bad contracts.
McNair gets a lot of crap from Kings fans for ‘not making any significant moves’ in SacTown since he took over the GM role. I do think McNair needs to make more moves to improve this Kings team, either for a complete re-build or to try and get pieces to ‘compete now-ish’. Monte has not had an easy job trying to improve this team. He inherited almost a decade of franchise mismanagement. That starts at the top with majority owner Vivek Ranadive and the decisions made in the past, which includes the terrible timing of MULTIPLE head coach/general manager hirings and firings, along with bad drafts, trades, and free-agent classes.
McNair made a couple of moves last season, during the season, to try and improve the Kings team. He traded for Delon Wright, Moe Harkless, and Terence Davis. This most recent offseason he re-signed Richaun Holmes and Terence Davis. Made an upgrade from backup center Hassan Whiteside by signing Alex Len. Not franchise-changing, but not scratch your head, setting back the franchise Pete D’Allesandro, Vlade Divac moves.
McNair gets a lot of negativity for, but did his best with, the Bogdan Bogdanovic situation, as well as the Buddy Hield situation. Both of those potential franchise-altering trades were thwarted because of leaks, leaks that seem to have come from the opposing side.
McNair had a deal to send Bogi to Milwaukee for Donte DiVincenzo, which was stopped by the league due to Milwaukee Bucks tampering. The next offseason he had a trade to send Buddy Hield to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a trade which I think would have added a few wins to the 2021-22 Kings. Unfortunately, the social media world got wind, texts and calls were made … and LeBron wanted Russell Westbrook on the Lakers instead of Buddy … so he made that happen.
Monte was close to making a few franchise-improving moves, but others thwarted that. Though, if you notice, those ‘bigger’ trades were negotiated in the offseason. The NBA isn’t like the MLB or an NFL defense, where you can just plug a new player in midseason and continue smoothly. The smaller rosters and nature of play in the NBA don’t quite lend themselves to the type of trades the Kings need now, which is an impact player to add alongside Fox and Haliburton.
That is why having patience, and waiting until the offseason will prove fruitful for the Kings and their fanbase.
NBA teams will have time to assess how their roster did last season, see where they fall in the draft, assess which free agents are available to them, and make moves accordingly. During the regular season, there is usually less major turnover trade-wise, unless a rebuilding team is unloading players or a contender is adding that final piece for a championship run. There is a lack of teams fitting those potential needs this season, in my opinion, which may hurt the Kings chances of making a BIG trade during the NBA regular season.
The NBA teams ‘below us’ like Oklahoma City and Houston have already made the trades/moves to start their rebuild and don’t have many ‘disgruntled’ stars left to trade away. Conversely, most ‘top NBA teams’ currently don’t really need to add an expensive role player like Buddy or Barnes to boost their championship chances … so I don’t see big moves being made before the 2/10/22 trade deadline.
Patience. The 2022 NBA Draft is Thursday, July 29th.
What Can YOU Do?
Talk, engage, comment, ask questions, and REPRESENT. I go over three actions Sacramento Kings fans can take in my most recent article!