It's no surprise, but Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that the Sacramento Kings will not reach an Early Bird contract extension with J.J. Hickson before Wednesday's deadline. Hickson, Jason Thompson and Donte Greene are all eligible for Early Bird extension on account of being fourth-year players approaching restricted free agency. If the Kings do not reach agreements by the deadline, each player will become a restricted free agent on July 1, provided that the team extends qualifying offers to each.
If no extensions are reached, the team can still freely trade Hickson or the others before the March 15 trade deadline, so there's nothing to worry about there. Thompson's the most productive player in the mix, but Hickson's an interesting case because the Kings gave up a protected first-round pick plus Omri Casspi to get him. Letting him take offers in July and potentially walk if the price gets too high will sting when/if the Cavaliers collect their draft pick.
That pick is safe for the 2012 draft unless the Kings make the playoffs, which ... ha ha, very funny.