Yesterday afternoon, Grant Napear had Kings VP of Basketball Operations Vlade Divac (it still feels weird saying that) to talk about the offseason and the draft. Divac made a point of mentioning that the Kings need to get good quickly, something that's been a common refrain during the Ranadivé regime.
This urgency to become relevant is a nice change of pace from Maloof-ian disinterest but it's also worrying to me as a fan who has seen so many impatient moves fail to work out. There seems to be a sentiment among many fans that the Kings can't afford to wait on yet another young player to work out and that trading the lottery pick this year for an established player would be preferable. I'm not so sure.
Personally, I feel as if the Kings past (and very recent) lottery failures have worn on fans who don't want to be burned yet again and there's some security in trading for a known name. Yet I look at the recent history of teams that have traded high picks and barring few exceptions there haven't really been any standouts. Let's just take a look at the last five years. Last year the Cavaliers traded several young players including #1 pick Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love. That was a risk worth taking given that the Cavaliers would be contending for a title immediately.
Perhaps a more relevant example for the Kings are the New Orleans Pelicans trading two lottery picks (Nerlens Noel in 2013 and Michael Carter-Williams in 2014) for Jrue Holiday. Holiday is a promising young PG, but that was a hefty price, especially given that Noel looks like a future star. Holiday hasn't been able to deliver on that price as of yet, missing more than 50% of games during the past two seasons.
In 2011, the Pacers traded some guy named Kawhi Leonard to San Antonio for George Hill. While Hill has been pretty good for Indiana, I can't help but imagine how terrifying seeing Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on the perimeter would be for any NBA team. I don't need to go into the disastrous trade the Kings themselves made in the same draft. In 2009, the Washington Wizards traded the 5th pick in the draft to get Randy Foye and Mike Miller in an attempt to get veteran talent and ironically enough made themselves worse enough (in part because of that trade) to get the #1 pick in 2010.
For Sacramento, a trade of the pick would have to ensure a significant leap to be worth the price. Players on rookie contracts are among the most valuable assets in the NBA, especially if they're productive. These players are at a minimal cost for the first four years of their career and after that teams have a lot of control over keeping these players thanks to restricted free agency.
I appreciate the urgency to get better; I want to see this team succeed as much as anyone. But I don't want to see the Kings mortgage the future in an attempt to do so. There's risk in anything the Kings do, whether they keep the pick or not. I just hope they don't do anything rash that could set the team back even further.