April 8, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Houston Rockets guard Kyle Lowry (7) points to the team bench after forward Chase Budinger (not pictured) made a three point basket against the Sacramento Kings in the fourth quarter at the Power Balance Pavilion. The Rockets defeated the Kings 104-87. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE
In case you missed the FanShot discussion last night, Chad Ford reports that the Houston Rockets are in talks with the Kings and Raptors about a trade that could include Houston's No. 14 pick, No. 16 and a certain Kyle Lowry. The Rockets' target is Andre Drummond, so chances are that Houston needs to climb all the way to No. 5 or No. 6 to be assured of grabbing him.
Ford also reports that the Kings' plans to trade the No. 5 pick are all but obvious because they've only really worked out mid-first rounders. This, however, is a stretch and a bit of a convolution. The Kings have worked out Andre Drummond, too, and Damian Lillard. Those are options at No. 5 if the wrong "leftover" is there. So is Henson, really -- he's as close to a No. 5 than a No. 14. The Kings had a workout with Harrison Barnes scheduled, but he canceled after a couple of strong days at D.C. (No. 3) and Cleveland (No. 4). As section214 has pointed out repeatedly, none of the top five guys have worked out for teams picking lower than No. 5. This is not a special snub.
The major asset coming back in any iteration of the trade, though, is Kyle Lowry. He flirted with All-Star status before tailing off last season. He'll make $11.9 million over the next two years, and only $1 million of the 2013-14 salary is guaranteed, so he also happens to be one of the best bargains in the NBA. (I just saw George Maloof's head pop out of the bushes when I said the word 'bargain.' Weird.) He finished the season with an 18.9 PER ("but I hate PER!"), averaging 14.3 points, 6.6 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. He's a point guard, and he likes to run the offense. (Part of why he's available: he bristled at sharing point guard duties with Goran Dragic, who came on strong while Lowry battled an infection). He's become a legitimate deep shooter, hitting more than 37 percent of his threes on more than four attempts per game in the last two seasons. Check out Mike Prada's excellent piece on Lowry's development from January.
Ford reports that Houston wants the No. 5 and Toronto's No. 8 to make a bid for Dwight Howard. Lowry makes much more sense for Toronto, who has Jose Calderon (sad castanets) and free agent Jerryd Bayless at point. Lowry would be a huge upgrade. The Kings have Isaiah Thomas, who is pretty good pretty good alright, Tyreke Evans (I know, I know, NaPG) and Jimmer Fredette, who is also NaPG, but of whom Keith Smart insists is a point guard. So.
In my mind, the No. 5 is worth more than the No. 14 and 16 and any realistic non-Lowry player Houston can offer. (Kevin Martin is not realistic. Not happening.) The one exception: if Geoff Petrie loves Donatas Motiejunas, a sweet-shooting Lithuanian forward, and Houston makes him available, then Motiejunas, No. 14 and No. 16 might get it done. Lowry could probably get No. 8 on his own, easily. It could also evolve into a three-team deal where Toronto sends Sacramento player for one of the mid-first picks. Unfortunately, Toronto doesn't have a whole lot that they'd be willing to part with that make sense for the Kings. I don't think the Raptors are trading Andrea Bargnani, and DeMar DeRozan would just add to the Kings' glut at two-guard.
This is a very interesting rumor, and I'm going to need to pay more attention to John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Moe Harkless, obviously. Gah!
The reason why this trade or any version of it makes little sense for the Kings: the player left over from the top five will almost assuredly carry with him the potential to be much better than Kyle Lowry. Why jump the gun? It's not like these top picks are going to take years to develop.