ESPN’s Zach Lowe dropped his annual 30 (crazy) predictions column earlier this morning. First and foremost, go read it. It’s always fun. Lowe is one of the best NBA writers on the planet, and his sources are rarely wrong, comparatively speaking. Of particular interest to us are the few Kings nuggets sprinkled throughout the column this year, so let’s dive in, shall we?
Zach Lowe, on Kings / Heat trade talk –
The easiest method: trade Goran Dragic without receiving a point guard, leaving the offense in the hands of (mostly) unproven ball-handlers. The Heat and Kings have had some vague trade talks since July -- not necessarily involving Dragic, sources say -- and given the Kings' shaky point guard situation, it's tempting to build deals sending Dragic to Sacramento. A half-dozen other teams are searching for a long-term answer at point guard.
Problem: Miami gave up two first-round picks for Dragic even though he was about to hit free agency, so the Heat need real stuff in exchange for him to save face -- stuff the Kings don't have. Pat Riley is 71, and he obviously had no interest in a teardown when he coughed up so much for Dragic.
If the Kings aren’t talking to the Miami Heat about Goran Dragic, I’m not sure who else they’d be targeting. Miami has a weird roster right now in terms of potential trade targets. It’s a lot of young talent they would theoretically like to retain, or redundant frontcourt players the Kings don’t necessarily need.
I’m under the assumption that the Heat are rebuilding, and Dragic probably doesn’t fit in Pat Riley’s future plans. The Kings, however, still need a long-term answer at point guard with both Darren Collison and Ty Lawson set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer. Dragic turned 30 on May 6th, but he’s still in his prime and locked up under a reasonable contract for the next three years. I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that Dragic is better than anything the Kings would be able to lure to Sacramento in free agency, but do they have the assets necessary to acquire him? I don’t know. Are you willing to part with Skal Labissiere? He’s not going to come cheap.
Zach Lowe, on Rudy Gay trade talk –
The trade front is quiet now; everyone in the bloated middle is waiting to see how good they are before pivoting up or down. The Kings may be the best bet to act early, since Gay politely told them he would very much like to leave. Keep an eye on the Thunder among potential Gay suitors.
My eyes have been on Cameron Payne all summer. The Thunder have always made sense as a potential Rudy Gay destination.
Zach Lowe, on Ben McLemore trade rumors –
McLemore's agents have wanted him out of Sacramento forever, and teams are curious about what a change of scenery might do for him. Trading both Gay and McLemore could leave the Kings thin on the wing, but Sacramento may not care if it concludes early it's not a playoff team.
I’m reserving any judgement on Ben McLemore from this point on until we see him play during the regular season under Dave Joerger. I wouldn’t say I’m optimistic that McLemore will turn it around under Joerger’s coaching, but I am certainly intrigued to see how the year plays out for him considering how overwhelmingly positive everyone has been on McLemore’s offseason, training camp, and preseason so far.
Lowe would go on to predict that both Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore are traded this season, but DeMarcus Cousins will remain a King. If I had to make a prediction on those three players, I’d probably fall on the same side of the fence as Lowe. I am deathly afraid of how the Kings are going to handle Cousins’ impending free agency, but I do think they are going to play this year out with the DeMarcus Cousins – Dave Joerger combination and move forward from there.