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Ten Trades the Kings Could Consider

Sacramento’s cap space makes them major players in the trade market this season.

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

As of Saturday morning, the trade restriction on players signed during the offseason has been lifted. That opens up a plethora of new options for wheeling and dealing around the league. There has been a good amount of movement already this season, but we can expect trade talks to accelerate until the deadline on February 7th.

The Sacramento Kings have reportedly shown interest in making a move to improve the team for both this year and years to come. It’s likely that they will try to use their remaining $11 million in cap space to find a favorable deal.

The Kings still lack a combo forward who can defend and stretch the floor. They also don’t have a pick in the first round of next year’s draft. Any trade that solves at least one of those problems without affecting Sacramento’s young core should be considered.

I have formed ten possible options that could be worth exploring. Some target a small forward, some target a first rounder, and one even targets both.

#1. Brooklyn

To SAC: DeMarre Carroll

To BRK: Zach Randolph, MIA 2021 2nd

Why Would BRK do this?

The Nets are in full rebuild mode. Carroll is 32 years-old and Brooklyn has many other forward options, including rookies Rodions Kurucs and Dzanan Musa who could use the minutes to develop. When Caris LeVert and Treveon Graham return, the Nets will have even more depth at small forward. Carroll appears to be on his way out anyway and a decent second rounder should be enough to grab him right now. Brooklyn already has multiple second rounders in the next two drafts, but a 2021 selection could be appealing to them.

Why Would SAC do this?

If the Kings are looking to buy for the now without sacrificing significant future assets, Carroll is a logical target. He’s stretch forward that can shoot, and while he is having a down year, Carroll hit 37% of his threes across the previous five seasons and could pair nicely with Shumpert in a committee style approach to the small forward position. This trade would be extremely low-risk as well, as Carroll’s deal expires at the end of the season. It’s also important to note that this trade would cost Sacramento less than $4 million in cap space, so many other moves would still be available.

#2. Houston

To SAC: Brandon Knight, HOU 2019 1st, HOU 2021 1st (Protected 1-10)

To HOU: Ben McLemore, MIL 2019 2nd, MIA 2020 2nd, MIA 2021 2nd

Why Would HOU do this?

Houston needs to fix their finances, and fast. Though this trade would only save $9.2 million in salary, their full payment would be reduced by $14.8 million for this year alone. As an even larger benefit, the Rockets could actually try to fill out their roster with decent bench players next year, as Knight’s $15.6 million would be off the books. The Rockets are all-in on the present and can’t value their assumedly late first-rounders over the chance to build a better supporting cast for James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela.

Why Would SAC do this?

This deal is a little more complex and does have downside for the Kings. However, Houston’s tax situation is so bad that Sacramento could fleece them for two unprotected or lightly protected firsts. Yes, they would have a nearly unplayable and nearly untradeable player on the books for $15.6 million next season, but cap space just isn’t as valuable to Sacramento as it is to most teams. Houston also is one of the few teams who will be in the market for second-rounders in order to fill out their roster, and the Kings could capitalize on that.

#3. New York A

To SAC: Tim Hardaway Jr.

To NYK: Zach Randolph, MIL 2019 2nd

Why Would NYK do this?

Welcome to the tank. While Hardaway can certainly supply some offensive punch, the Knicks may not want that right now. This trade would require New York to take the long view on their roster, but getting worse this year will almost certainly make them better in the years to come. $20 million in cap space can go a long way in New York, and if the Knicks think they can court a major free agent, they would probably roll the dice on pairing Kristaps Porzingis with another superstar. And this tank effort could even add Zion Williamson to the mix as well.

Why Would SAC do this?

Now we’re getting into some complex value assessment here. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a 26 year-old averaging over 20 points per game who has the capacity to play small forward in certain lineups. But in truth, he is probably a traditional shooting guard in a bigger body. He won’t bring any defensive value to this team, but I’d be willing to bet that the Kings front office is interested. Here’s why: They were interested in Zach LaVine. Hardaway is just a slight older, slightly bigger LaVine, and he’s on a similar deal. If they really want to push for that 8th seed, there’s a chance that Hardaway could get them there.

#4. New York B

To SAC: Courtney Lee, Lance Thomas, Frank Ntilikina

To NYK: Zach Randolph, Ben McLemore, Skal Labissiere

Why Would NYK do this?

This trade requires the same mindset as the first Knicks deal, but kicked up a notch. Hardaway’s salary should not be too difficult to move in the offseason, if they choose to wait. Many teams in need of a scoring wing would take him on in the summer if the Kings don’t. Shedding Thomas and Lee’s $20 million in salary could be more difficult. However, if Ntilikina’s recent move down the pecking order indicates that New York would be willing to part with him, The Knicks could try to do both. If so, they would have room for two maximum salaries and could take their shot at being the next superteam.

Why Would SAC do this?

This trade would be all about acquiring the 8th pick from the 2017 draft, Frank Ntilikina. While he has really struggled offensively, Ntilikina is already a legitimate defensive stopper. His size and seven-foot wing span give him the versatility to play three positions. At only 20 years-old, he still has plenty of upside. The downside of this deal is the money owed to Thomas and Lee next season. There is a chance that Sacramento could get some value out of Lee, who has been a consistent 40% shooter from the arc, but that’s not too likely as he will be 34 years-old by next season and the Kings are already flush with shooting guards.

#5. Portland A

To SAC: Meyers Leonard, POR 2019 1st (Protected 1-14)

To POR: Skal Labissiere, MIL 2019 2nd

Why Would POR do this?

Portland is sitting about $8 million over the luxury tax line. This trade is simply about saving some dough. It would reduce their salary by $9 million and save them nearly $15 million on their final bill for the year. It would also assure that they can stay under the tax line for next season as well. While Meyers is having an efficient year, the Trail Blazers have younger bigs who could soak up his minutes. The chance to develop Zach Collins, Caleb Swanigan, and even Skal Labissiere could be an additional – while admittedly minor – benefit of this trade.

Why Would SAC do this?

With $11 million in cap space just sitting around, the Kings should jump at the chance to buy their way back into the first round of the draft. It’s possible that Portland falls out of the playoff picture and the pick doesn’t convey until next year, but that still feels like a fair value as Portland is locked in as a mid-tier team for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, Meyers Leonard is having his best year by most advanced metrics, despite limited minutes. Not to mention that he’s only 26 and could feasibly fill Kosta Koufos’ role next season if the big Grecian isn’t re-signed.

#6. Portland B

To SAC: Maurice Harkless, POR 2019 1st (Protected 1-14)

To POR: Skal Labissiere, MIL 2019 2nd

Why Would POR do this?

Harkless’ production has taken a nose dive, and the Blazers have other options at the 3. They would get all the same benefits of a Leonard trade, plus another half-million. Jake Layman, the team’s 2016 second round pick, has made big strides recently and is easily outplaying Harkless. If Portland likes what they see in him, they could be ready to move on from Mo. These two trade options work the same way, it’s just a matter of Portland’s preference on which player to keep.

Why Would SAC do this?

Harkless is on a nearly identical contract to Meyers Leonard. However, he’s trending in the opposite direction. His numbers are way down this year, and his nagging injuries appear to be getting the best of him. Despite all that, he is still a 25-year-old true small forward. If he can get back on track, he could get some real playing time in Sacramento. While his contract should be viewed as a negative right now, there’s huge upside potential for this trade. The Kings shouldn’t hesitate if Portland is ready to make this deal.

#7. Washington A

To SAC: Austin Rivers, WAS 2019 1st (Protected 1-14)

To WAS: Ben McLemore, MIA 2020 2nd, MIA 2021 2nd

Why Would WAS do this?

Of the many ways in which a Kings-Wizards trade could go, this one is the quick fix option for Washington. After recently getting Jason Smith’s contract off the books, the Wizards only have $6.3 million to go in order to duck under the luxury tax line. This trade would accomplish that, and push back the possibility of the repeater tax further down the road. I certainly wouldn’t advise that the Wizards try and keep the band together, but it seems like a legitimate possibility. Rivers has been absolutely dreadful this year, so jettisoning him wouldn’t be any loss to their playoff hopes.

Why Would SAC do this?

Of all the first round pick trades the Kings could go for, this is the only one I can imagine that doesn’t involve cap space in the upcoming years. Rivers’ contract is bad, but it expires after this season. The pick would likely have significant protections on it, and Sacramento would probably have to send back some second rounders to make it even, but conjuring a future asset out of thin air is an opportunity they wouldn’t want to miss. They could even consider adding Yogi Ferrell or Frank Mason to back up John Wall if Washington would reduce the protection on the pick in exchange.

#8. Washington B

To SAC: Ian Mahinmi, WAS 2019 1st

To WAS: Ben McLemore

Why Would WAS do this?

This is the intermediate plan for Washington. They retain as much talent as possible for this year, but help their cap sheet by sacrificing a significant future asset. If Washington is not ready to move Porter, Wall, or Beal just yet, this trade would at least keep their head above water financially. Mahinmi’s contract has been their biggest albatross for years, and now it’s costing them multiplied tax dollars on top of the already awful base salary. If the Wizards are delusional enough to think they can get right with what they have, this trade still makes a lot of sense.

Why Would SAC do this?

This is a classic salary dump for a draft pick scenario. But what makes this special is the chance for the Wizards to completely flame out. Mahinmi’s contract is so bad that Sacramento can demand the pick be nearly or completely unprotected. There is already a decent chance this becomes a top-10 pick, but with the volatile situation in Washington, this pick has an outside chance of landing in the top-5. 2019 is supposedly a top-heavy class, so foregoing the chance to improve the roster this year could be worth it for the Kings.

#9. Washington C

To SAC: Otto Porter

To WAS: Iman Shumpert, Willie Cauley-Stein

Why Would WAS do this?

Now it gets interesting. Porter has been a good player throughout his young career, but his contract is questionable. The Wizards matched a max offer for him a few years back that contributed to their financial troubles. His playing time and efficiency have dropped off slightly and now he feels like the odd man out. Washington has the chance to clear out $10 million in salary here while getting legitimate pieces back. The center position has become a real problem for them since Dwight Howard’s injury, and Willie Cauley-Stein could start for them right away. John Wall has openly expressed his desire for an athletic big man, and there’s no doubt that Willie fits the bill. I think if this is the offer, the Wizards pull the trigger.

Why Would SAC do this?

This is a heartbreaker for the Kings, but it accomplishes their number one goal – adding talent. Parting with Shumpert will truly be sweet sorrow, as he’s been such an amazing veteran presence. Even seeing Willie go will be hard for some, but it’s important to be practical about these matters. Cauley-Stein’s assumed replacement, Marvin Bagley III, is gathering steam every week, and this trade could avoid the fiasco that could come from Willie’s benching. It would also avoid a tenuous free agency situation where the Kings could either overpay or lose Willie entirely. As tough as it might feel, acquiring a real SF that fits the team’s timeline would be worth it for Sacramento.

#10. Washington D

To SAC: Otto Porter, Ian Mahinmi

To WAS: Iman Shumpert, Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos

Why Would WAS do this?

This is the ideal move for Washington’s future. Randolph is pure salary filler, but his contract expires after this season. Koufos and Shumpert are solid enough to help the Wizards this year, and possibly even be a part of their starting lineup. Most importantly, this deal knocks almost $43 million off their books for next year. That would give them enough space under the cap to retool their roster. Sooner or later, the Wizards will figure out that their current trajectory is unsustainable. They can’t continue to pay luxury taxes while struggling to make the playoffs. If they’re ready to shake things up, this is the the way to go.

Why Would SAC do this?

Letting Shumpert go would be really tough, but it’s important to remember that you have to give something to get something. At least in this scenario the Kings would hang onto their starting center and have the chance to negotiate with him for the future. Adding Porter and Mahinmi will limit their freedom in the offseason, but not completely. Porter is the prize here, and could easily be the piece they need for a playoff push. While not a score first guy, he contributes in all areas of the game, and is a career 40% shooter from three. The talk around Sacramento has been all about the small forward position for a while now, and this would resolve that problem for at least this season and next. He could be both the long and short term answer for the Kings.

Note: The Wizards just agreed to a trade that appears to have taken one of these options off the table (Washington A), however I’m hoping theres more confusion about which players are involved and the deal is rescinded again — for my sake, and for the Wizard’s tax payments.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Wizards now have no backup point guard, and Frank Mason III could be added to any of the Washington trades as additional incentive. Clearing an extra roster spot in Sacramento would allow the Kings to offer a season long contract to two-way forward Troy Williams.