Since trade fever is hitting a, um, fever pitch, I would like to present for you, my friends, a hierarchical ranking of the Sacramento Kings' assets as of today. Value is the value here: production, potential and contract all weighed.
1. Tyreke Evans
A simple exercise, really. Evans has been the team's most productive player, its most consistent and its most exciting. He also happens to be the youngest, and he's (relatively) cheap until the 2014-15 season. Number One with a bayonet.
2. Kevin Martin
Other than Evans, Martin is the closest thing Sacramento's got to an All-Star, potential or otherwise. At age 27, Martin is one of the most efficient scorers in the history of the game, working on his fourth consecutive season over 20 points per game. While questions remain as to whether he can be effective next to Evans, his contract is so favorable that he'll be highly sought after for years to come (barring catastrophic injury, locker room standoff).
3. 2010 First-Round Pick
The Kings figure to land somewhere between third and 10th in the Backwards Standings, with the No. 1 pick a relative longshot. But a top-10 pick is highly valuable, especially in the run-up to 2011 collective bargaining. After 2009's ultrasuccessful draft, the Kings will likely hesitate to relinquish the pick for anything less than a star.
Consistency has been lacking, but the raw figures -- a 7-foot 21-year-old with NBA skills -- are too good. Imagine Hawes were a college senior right now. He'd be running the Pac-10, right? And that'd be worth a lottery pick. Hawes has had a few promising stretches, fogged out by more frequent stretches of questionable play. But in the end, the promise of tomorrow is too strong to ignore.
5. Omri Casspi
Casspi has proven to be more than marketable: he's a legit NBA player, maybe soon a full-time starter. And, like Hawes and No. 6 on our list, he's 21 years old. A brilliant marksman, an effusively energetic maelstrom ... this kid is good.
6. Donte Greene
Greene, the other half of The Ron Artest Trade, went from abyss to mountain pass in the span of just a few months. Greene is the team's best perimeter defender already, and a usable power forward in the right situations (and maybe soon in all situations, reads the Myth of the Next Rashard Lewis). His future success depends on the continued success of his three-point stroke; that really is the question he faces now and in the future.
It's painful to put J.T. this low -- he would have been No. 3 this time last year -- but his inconsistency, especially in scoring at the rim, has dragged down his production. With prospects of middling hyperpotential, production is the barometer; hence, the slip. Thompson is still quite useful, and on any given night the team's best big man. But until he can regain his steez, he sits more expendable than the other assets listed.
8. 2011 First-Round Pick
There's no telling what the Kings will actually do between now and Oct. 2010, so there's no telling what this June 2011 pick will mean. As the Kings have been terrible lately (as in, since 2007), there's substantial evidence the team will be terrible in 2010-11. But the right moves and maturity from the youth corps and this could end up a late teens, early 20s pick. If you trade it, you ought to protect it, given the uncertainty. But given the uncertainty, if you can move it while making your team MUCH better, it might be worth the risk.
9. Jon Brockman
I still have no idea why the Kings signed Nessie to a one-year minimum deal, but it's not terribly clear there will be a significant market for Brockman this summer or fall. Chances are he ends up back in Sacramento; if he's paid less than $2 million on another one-year deal, he's well worth it. In the trade market, he exists as either minor insurance against losing either starting big for the rest of the season, or as an upgraded throw-in.
10. Francisco Garcia
Out of sight, out of mind, unfortunately. It won't be clear until March or April how or whether Garcia fits the new program. He's a great teammate, fantastic shooter. But this team has shooters galore now, and it's not clear whether his other skills (leadership included) justify his salary. His first month or so of playing time will indicate which way -- asset or liability -- he's headed.
11. Sergio Rodriguez
Rodriguez will actually be one of the top 10 or so free agent point guards this summer, along with the likes of Carlos Arroyo, Chris Duhon and Luke Ridnour. If the Kings can't manage to move Beno Udrih, and Sergio can net a decent second-round pick or a foreign prospect or something, it might be worth looking into. Ideally, though, the Kings would exile Udrih and give Rodriguez all his minutes, then make a decision on whether to present a qualifying offer this summer.
12. 2010 Second-Round Pick
This pick will be between No. 33 and 40. Several excellent players have fallen in that range over the last several years. Geoff Petrie tends to be fast and loose with his seconds, but so long as the team stinks it may be worth keeping.
13. Ime Udoka
I'm not sure any team would offer even a second-round pick for Ime right now, despite his excellent defensive performance. Teams whom would give a player like Udoka minutes typically have Udokas already. But he's a slightly upgraded throw-in.
Armstrong is an expiring contract only.
To the Kings, Thomas is no longer an asset -- in other words, he has no value to the Kings beyond Feb. 18. He exists as an avenue of matching salaries at the deadline ... and that's it.
May is a tiny expiring contract only.
Now Beno is overpaid. Last season, he was MASSIVELY overpaid. Now? Just "overpaid." Needless to say, other teams would be doing the Kings a favor by taking Udrih off their hands.
Ditto for Nocioni, who desperately needs to be moved for a shorter contract. Chapu is the least valuable small forward on the roster ... and the most expensive. He's not exactly the New Kenny Thomas, but he's pretty close.