Over the past few days, several reports have emerged around the Kings desire to find a new home for George Hill, as well as the Cavaliers interest in the multi-positional guard. The basic structure of the proposed deal leaked yesterday, with Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, and some sort of draft compensation heading Sacramento’s way.
The known issue with that trade is the packed nature of the Kings' roster. Our Front Office needs to move an additional player in order to make the deal legal under the new CBA. Of course, as is the nature during trade season, that small fact caused a flood of extremely unfavorable rumors to pour out from several different team-connected sources, much to the consternation of our fanbse.
The good news is that our franchise should feel no pressure to do anything with George Hill immediately, or even at all.
Cap Space Isn’t That Attractive
The main draw of a Hill for Shumpert/Frye swap is the slight amount of cap relief that would result in the trade. Frye is an expiring contract and Shumpert only has one additional year left on his current deal. Instead of paying Hill $19 million next season and his $1 million buyout the following year, the Kings would only be paying Shumpert $11 million in the 2018-2019 season (if he opts in).
The catch? There’s no real need for that savings if you’re a rebuilding team with a ton of small contracts. The Front Office hasn’t exactly been a bastion of smart spending in the free agent market, and there isn’t going to be a difference maker availble for the insignificant amount of money the Kings will be saving. With Vince Carter’s deal expiring and Kosta Koufos likely opting out if he’s not moved, the Kings will have plenty of money to spend to fill a roster spot or two this summer.
George Hill Isn’t a Problem Child
Whether he believes it or not, George Hill knew the basics of the situation when he joined a non-playoff team. He was offered a ton of money to come in and be a mentor to the kids and to hand over the reigns when the coaching staff decided it was time. And to his credit, he’s done exactly that. There have been some reports of unease, and that’s not exactly surprising, but even as he was inactive and involved in serious trade rumors, he was still helping to coach the kids on the bench last night. I would expect him to do the same as long as he’s on the team.
It’s very likely that Hill has privately requested to be moved to a contender as quickly as possible. However, just because he's made his preference known, doesn’t mean our organization has to to fulfill it immediately, or at all. If the Kings can’t find the right deal or if they will have to give up assets in order to move the veteran guard, they should simply stand pat. He’ll have additional value next season or on draft night as a massive expiring contract.
There’s something to be said for goodwill with players, but it’s even more important to make savvy business decisions and not give into every individual’s desire. Hill hasn’t been a malcontent in the locker room and if it make sense to keep him on the roster, that’s what management should do.
The Cavaliers Are Desperate
While the Kings are under no real pressure to move on from their marquee offseason signing, the same comfort level cannot be ascribed to the quickly fading Cleveland Cavaliers.
A team sporting the second-best player of all time is also giving 17 minutes per game to Jose Calderon. Once again for those in the back, Jose Calderon has started 24 games this season. The Cavs are falling apart on the court as well as in the locker room. They’ve lost 10 of their last 13 games and can’t seem to figure out who to blame. Isaiah Thomas doesn’t look healthy, J.R. Smith has disappeared, and Kevin Love was recently eviscerated in a team meeting. The situation is turning uglier than a Spencer Hawes selfie.
Each day that passes and each loss that piles on only drives up the value of a player like George Hill for a team needing a change. The Cavaliers can’t lose LeBron James a second time and they know it. A non-Finals loss is exactly the sort of thing to drive a player like James away, and the acquisition of a player like Hill can help to prevent that doomsday scenario.
Meanwhile, the Kings should be in no hurry. There are 16 long days until the trade deadline. That’s 16 days to watch the Cavaliers disintegrate. That's 16 days to see if any other franchises put out the feelers on a Hill trade.
The unraveling in Cleveland paired with the leverage Sacramento currently enjoys in the situation should allow the Kings to require real value in any deal. That could mean the Cleveland 2018 first rounder, Cedi Osman, Jae Crowder, or something as crazy as a Brooklyn pick-swap (meaning the Kings could swap spots with the Nets pick if it ends up in a better spot, NOT the Kings getting the pick outright).
The Kings Aren’t Desperate
The realization that there’s no need to rush to deal away George Hill helps to bring some comfort in the world of insane trade rumors. Yesterday, after Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Stein shared information regarding the structure of the proposed deal, other outlets and team-centered sources went berserk with some ridiculous ideas.
Including Derrick Rose in the trade, dumping Skal Labissiere for nothing, sending Malachi Richardson into another’s teams space, and giving away our 2018 second rounder for another team to take on a veteran were all proposed by sources directly linked to other organizations. It’s not that I doubt the veracity of those individuals, but I do question the legitimacy of the information they were given.
For example, if the Kings were really so desperate to trade George Hill to the Cavaliers that they were willing to simply give Skal Labissiere away, wouldn’t another savvy organization have immediately jumped on that one-sided deal? Of course they would have, and that’s what tells me that the Kings never shopped Labissere in that way. It doesn’t mean that other teams didn’t inquire about him, or that Sacramento deems him as untradeable, but it does indicate that our management isn’t dumb enough to simply send him away for nothing.
The same can be said for most of the other proposals that swirled around yesterday afternoon. As fun as they are to react to, and it certainly is a blast, a dose of common sense also helps to alleviate the queasiness that can erupt this time of year.
It’s almost guaranteed that Geroge Hill will be in a new environment by the time Feburary 8th rolls around. It would probably be best for both parties if such a trade could be created, but there’s absolutely no need for our organziation to sacrifice assets to get it done. When a team like the Cavaliers offers a favorable trade for a player they desperately need, the Kings should execute that deal. Until that moment, watching and waiting is the name of the game for our Front Office.