Another loss, another terrible defensive effort and Michael Malone made his displeasure clear:
"I've been a hypocrite all year," Malone said. "I preach defense, that's what I believe in and we're one of the worst defensive teams in the league. So for me, if you don't play defense, it's not just Marcus Thornton, if you don't play defense I can't play you."
I definitely understand Coach's frustration. The Kings are currently dead last in the NBA in defensive rating at 109.6 following yesterday's loss. Before DeMarcus Cousins' injury, they were 26th, which was still bad.
The thing is, the Kings definitely have guys who try on defense, but they don't have many guys who are actually good on defense. Defense is more than just effort, it's also knowledge of defensive schemes and experience. Under Pete D'Alessandro, the Kings have gotten younger and more talented, but they've also lost almost all their defensive players (Luc Mbah a Moute, John Salmons, Chuck Hayes, Tyreke Evans, Toney Douglas).
Team defense can improve with time, but it helps if you have a couple of good individual defenders. With the trade deadline coming up, the Kings can definitely look to fill this area of need by acquiring a defensive player or two. If they can block shots or handle the ball, that's a bonus. So what guys that might be available would help the Kings become a better defensive team?
The Raptors have reportedly been trying to shop Lowry as of late since he's an expiring contract, but they're asking price is high. Lowry is having an All-Star caliber year in Toronto, leading them to the 3rd best record in the East since the Rudy Gay trade. It would take quite a bit to get Lowry (like probably trading Isaiah Thomas), so the Kings probably wouldn't give up an asset unless they thought they could keep him long term. Lowry could be a possible target in Free Agency this summer as well, although the Kings will be pressed for cap space if Rudy Gay doesn't opt out.
It's well known that basically everybody on the Philly roster aside from MCW and their picks are available for the right price. The price for Young, who has developed into a very good combo forward, is high.
If Sacramento wants to swing for the fences, they could probably get Rajon Rondo. It would likely mean giving up Isaiah Thomas and Ben McLemore and maybe even this year's draft pick (apparently we can trade it according to Pete D'Alessandro, it's just complicated). The Celtics aren't going to trade Rondo unless they get quite a bit back. I'm not sure it'd be totally worth it either given his recent injury history.
Miles is an expiring contract, but he's become an underrated 3 and D guy. I don't even see him as a trade target as much as a possible FA target this summer.
Sanders has had a tumultuous season after breaking out last year and earning a big contract. Now he's stuck on the worst team in the NBA and is going nowhere fast. The Bucks would love to get rid of him but they're not going to just do it for pocket change. The Kings would also need to consider if his talent (especially on the defensive end where he led the league in blocks last year and holds opponents to a relatively low rim %) trumps the potential issues that could arise from him being in the same locker room as DeMarcus Cousins. Offensively, he's also not a great fit next to Cousins because he can't shoot the ball outside of the paint, but offense hasn't been an issue with the Kings this season, defense has.
A poor man's Larry Sanders with none of the attitude problems.
Asik, somewhat surprisingly, still hasn't been traded by the Rockets. They've passed several self-imposed deadlines without making a deal, and now likely will wait until the real trade deadline before they make a move. Houston has made it clear they won't let Asik go for cheap, and the Kings haven't shown an interest in him as of yet, but that could change as Feb. 20th approaches.
The Grizzlies have been doing great lately without Allen, and the recent addition of Courtney Lee could spell the end for Allen in Memphis. Allen is a solid roleplayer and a fantastic defender, but he probably won't play much the rest of the season as he rehabs a broken hand. Allen's locked in for 3 more years after this though.
Those are just some options. Most of the ones I listed will require the Kings to make substantial offers in order to get guys they want. In the meantime, we'll likely see more instances of bad defense, although it should be somewhat improved (still bad) with DeMarcus Cousins coming back.
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