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Sacramento Kings “have had some interest” in Maurice Harkless

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Nothing is imminent, but this could be worth keeping an eye on.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers are a likely candidate to make a small move before the trade deadline on Thursday. Zach Lowe, in his deadline primer column, explains why.

Portland is $3 million over the tax, and when a non-contender gets that close, it usually tries to duck it. Maurice Harkless is the name to watch. He earns about $11 million per year through 2020, and he has largely fallen out of the rotation. But he’s still just 24, with the raw ingredients of a modern NBA wing who can slide up to power forward. A bullish team with an expiring contract might take a shot on him if the Blazers toss in a second-round pick.

This on its own usually wouldn’t register as news around Sacramento, but a comment on Monday’s Lowe Post puts this on our radar. When discussing Harkless, Adrian Wojnarowski mentions “Sacramento in the past has had some interest in him”.

To add context, this is mentioned as an aside. There’s no indication that anything is imminent or that talks are even ongoing. But it’s an interesting nugget of information.

Harkless primarily plays small forward, Sacramento’s thinnest position. He’s an ok wing who can play the 4 in small lineups, and he’s young enough to fit the Kings’ timeline. He’s about to turn 25, and is under contract through 2020, making a little under $11 million next year and about $11.5 million the year after.

Making the numbers work is tricky, but the Kings could send Malachi Richardson and either Garrett Temple or Kosta Koufos in return for Harkless and Noah Conley’s expiring contract. That would save Portland the $3 million they need to cut and would work under the cap. As Lowe mentions, Portland could include a second round pick as a sweetener.

Temple could fill in on the wing in Portland and help defensively, or Koufos could provide reliable big man depth. Including Vonleh shouldn’t be a concern for Portland as he’s largely fallen out of the rotation.

This is all hypothetical, of course. And I’m not sure it would be worth the long term salary commitment for the Kings. But if Portland get desperate to move Harkless, it will be worth paying attention to see if the Kings get involved.