The Sacramento Kings took a big risk Wednesday evening, executing a big trade with the Philadelphia 76ers to create cap space. The final details, as are currently known, are as follows. The Kings receive the rights to international prospects who are not named Dario Saric. Essentially, the Kings are creating cap space with this deal, and not much else. The Kings traded away Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, and Nik Stauskas.
The Kings also send Philly a first round pick with top-10 protections. This pick only kicks in after the protections expire on the pick still owed to the Chicago Bulls by way of the Clevelend Cavaliers. As a refresher, that pick is top 10 protected in 2016 and 2017. If it has not been conveyed by that time, it becomes a second round pick.
The Kings also gave Philadelphia the right to swap picks in two future drafts.
Take a second, grab a gatorade. That was a lot to take in. Now let's break this down.
Why is this trade bad for the Kings?
The Kings gave up a future draft pick. Let's start with the obvious. Kings fans are wary of this since we still owe a pick years after a failed trade for JJ Hickson. That trade has strangled Sacramento's ability to include first round picks in future trades.
The Kings also gave Philly the right to swap picks in two future drafts. So even if the Kings don't improve, they move down in the draft and don't reap the benefits of their misery.
The Kings gave up Nik Stauskas, who was drafted just last year. Sure, he struggled in his rookie year, but it's never great to see an organization give up on a draft pick so quickly.
Hmm, that's weird, based on the reactions I've seen, I would have expected more items on this list. Oh well, let's move on.
Why does this trade make sense of the Kings?
The Kings have been bad for a very long time. The Kings have owned their draft picks for a very long time. Now, past ineptitude doesn't change the value of draft picks in the future, but we've seen first hand that draft picks aren't always a surefire way to improve your team. Vlade Divac is being aggressive. It might backfire, but so can draft picks. I like seeing the organization aggressively seek improvement.
The Kings just created cap space. The Kings found themselves needing to attract free agents, but with relatively little money to work with. Thanks to this trade, the Kings went from around $11 million in cap space to nearly $26 million in cap space. What the Kings do with this cap space will be important in how we actually evaluate this trade.
The draft pick gambles aren't as bad as they seem. Let's say the Kings use their cap space to acquire players who improve the team, resulting in the Kings losing a first round pick to, say Chicago. Is there any Kings fan who wouldn't happily convey they pick in exchange for a chance at watching a semi-competitive basketball team? It may be difficult for outsiders to see this, but the Kings just need to take a step in the right direction this season.
Pick swaps aren't the same as trading a pick. Swaps mean you still have a first round pick. While I think Philadelphia is executing a good rebuilding plan, is everyone really so confident that the 76ers will be better than the Kings in short order? Don't get me wrong, they might, but it's an ok bet.
So was this a good trade?
It all depends on how the Kings use their cap space. The players the team signs and, more importantly, how those signings work out, will be the true determining factor on whether or not this was a good trade. So even if the Kings sign guys that make you cringe, this will be a good trade if the signings work out. Building a team is alchemy. There's no one clear path on how to do it successfully.
The Kings are taking a shot at building through free agency and trades. After a decade of trying to rebuild through the draft, I'm fine with taking a chance on another strategy. That doesn't mean it will work out. It just means that this isn't the end of the world.