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Derrick Williams trade proves it's not about this year's win total for Kings

Williams isn't a silver bullet, but it fits the team's plan.

Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings weren't one move from glory when Pete D'Alessandro took over the front office in June. No single move at this point would have proven to be a silver bullet. The Kings roster, top to bottom, was mediocre. The team's two best players -- Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins -- weren't even fringe All-Stars in the past and had gaping flaws in their games. There were only three more players you could name even playing roles on most NBA teams (Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas, Jason Thompson). The roster was both bad and didn't make sense. It was primarily a slop heap.

No one offseason move would transform the team. D'Alessandro ended up making some moves leveraging assets to improve the roster. Instead of re-signing Evans to a huge deal or letting him walk, he acquired Greivis Vasquez in a sign-and-trade. He used the team's cap space to sign Carl Landry. And he sent a second-round pick to Milwaukee to take Luc Richard Mbah a Moute off the Bucks' hands.

And now he's flipped Mbah a Moute into Derrick Williams. Williams has been disappointing in two seasons, for sure. But go back to July and trade two second-round picks for him and tell me how you feel now. That was the cost: two second-round picks and a month of Mbah a Moute reminding us how awful Johnny Salmons is at basketball these days.

Williams sure as heck isn't likely to be a silver bullet, but he's a young prospect getting a shot in a new environment with a new coach. The power forward position remains totally up for grabs. Jason Thompson and Patrick Patterson have been trading off crummy performances, and the latter is a free agent in July. There are also plenty of minutes available at small forward, if Michael Malone wants to try Williams there. The risk is low, the cost is low, the upside is not totally far-fetched -- the guy was the No. 2 pick two years ago. He had two great seasons at Arizona, in his sophomore year scoring excellent scoring punch and a deep shot. And the Kings now have six players age 25 or younger. (Mbah a Moute is 27.)

The one question mark for me is how this move and the resulting roster jibes with Malone's defense-first philosophy. Mbah a Moute was easily the Kings' best defender to date. At some point, the team's defensive personnel needs an upgrade. The talent's just not here on that end. By trading Mbah a Moute, D'Alessandro may be in a way admitting that one starting wing wasn't the answer to that riddle.

The Kings might be a skosh worse this season because of this trade. But it's not about this season's win total. That's been repeated ad naseum by management. It's about the long term. Trust that.

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