When discussing the Kings' power forward situation, certain assumptions need to be made. The first? Kenny Thomas is damn near impossible to trade for the next few years. Moving that contract isn't impossible, considering some of the other craptastic deals floating around (such as Mike Dunleavy, Adonal Foyle, Brian Cardinal, Larry Hughes, Nene, Eric Snow, Steve Francis). But it would be a stroke of genius or the return of a painful contract to get rid of Thomas. So he probably sticks around a couple more years.
Corliss Williamson will probably get a one- or two-year deal this offseason, but I can almost guarantee it will not be with the Kings. In rebuilding with youth, a 34-year-old undersized power forward doesn't exactly jump off the page.
The Kings obviously need to get younger and more athletic at the four. Shareef Abdur-Rahim has been a fantastic low-post scorer since birth. But his growing lack of rebounding presence (especially on the defensive end), as well as his oil-vinegar relationship with a speedy fast-break offense adds up to a murky future for the guy.
(Disclaimer: I love Shareef. I've never heard one bad word about him - and I get emailed a lot of bad words about a lot of players. I was so excited when he landed in Sacramento, and the Reef Era - all two months of it pre-ZBo - was great.)
Should the Kings seek to trade Shareef? He's not... what's the word? Young? Yeah. He's 30, and he's signed up til he's 34. He's a damn bargain, and he's a reliable post scorer (which this team lacks in the youth corps). But again: The Poodle isn't going anywhere, and this team can't find a young PF and then split the minutes three ways for four years.
Would you trade Shareef for cap room, basically cutting your losses on the Reef Era? Would you require a draft pick, or a young prospect? Would you include him only in a larger deal that cuts more salary, or would you consider dealing Shareef to be your only move of the trading season?
I don't think I'd trade him for less than a draft pick or prospect. As I said, he's a bargain at the midlevel. He should be making at least Artest-money. If you trade him for cap space and nothing else, are you going to be able to find a top-flight replacement cheaper? Very doubtful. The best you could hope to do is collect a power forward in the late lottery (which is where the Kings will end up) and hope he goes superstar on you.
By collecting a pick or a young prospect, you not only increase your chances to slide into homerun territory in the draft, but you build your assets. To land one of these power forwards better than Reef, you'll need assets. All your current assets are wing players - and I could see the Kings moving one in the near future (Garcia, likely). There are no real frontcourt "assets" to speak of on the team. And big has a way of drawing more interest on the market than small.
A couple threads down, commenter bballblog suggests Reef and Vitaly Potapenko for P.J. Brown - straight cap relief. (He also suggests this as a domino following the trades of Bibby and Artest.) Would the Bulls give up one of their lower wing prospects (Thabo Sefolosha?) to get the post scorer they need for the next few years? Remember: They seem to be looking at losing two higher-level assets and their high draft pick in a trade for Pau Gasol. Shareef isn't as young as Gasol, and he isn't as big or powerful. But they need a post scorer, an effective body down there. If they can get that at a lower qaulity but at a much lower price, why wouldn't they? Don't forget that Gasol makes more than twice as much as Shareef over the next four years, and Chicago is going to flirt with the luxury tax when these young players start asking for their extensions (as Kirk Hinrich did last summer).
Of course, the Kings are loaded on the wing. What about that draft pick, the one which belongs to the Knicks? Would that pick (projected around #10) plus P.J. Brown for a cheap Shareef and Potapenko's expiring contract do the trick? As bballblog has mentioned, the Kings could cut Brown after the deadline, allowing a playoff team to pick him up off waivers. Or, since Brad Miller remains gimpy, they could keep him on board for the next few months.
In either case, it opens up the power forward position in the future. Kenny Thomas can start, and it's obvious Eric Musselman agrees with that sentiment. But it would allow the team - with that added asset - to find a youngster, and it would allow plenty of room for development as The Poodle doesn't have it in him to play more than 30 min a night. Once that hypothetical youngster gets good, shift Thomas back to the bench.