In May, it seemed like a near-certainty that Buddy Hield had played his last game in a Sacramento Kings uniform. Not only had Hield been unsettled with his role as a the team’s Sixth Man, but the Kings had some incentive to trade him for more depth.
By the time July rolled around, there were rumors that the Kings had a trade lined up that would have sent Hield to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma. In fact, the negotiations reportedly got so far that Kuzma himself said he was shocked when the trade didn’t go through.
While Monte McNair didn’t confirm that those exact trade talks happened in his recent interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, he did go on the record and say the Kings had trade discussions involving Hield in the offseason (emphasis mine):
McNair: The thing that I don’t know if people really appreciate about Buddy is how much he wants to win, how hard he works and how he plays every single night, almost regardless of (what’s happening). I mean, there was a game last year (where) he was like limping off the court and I guess he just tied a shoe tight and went right back out because he didn’t even go to the back. And then, of course (there’s) his shooting, right? …I’ll put them up there. There’s one other guy in the league who’s a pretty good shooter (clearly referencing Steph Curry). But Buddy is right there as one of the top two shooters in the league. His job is to let it fly, and he’s doing it.
And yeah, we had some (trade) conversations over the offseason. I don’t want to go into too much detail there, but (the approach was to) treat Buddy like the adult that he is and I think he appreciated that. He does the same with me. And I said, ‘Look, you know, obviously your name has been out there. But if it doesn’t work out, if nothing happens, you come back, you’re expected to let it fly.’ And he’s been doing that.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see if they re-visit those conversations leading up to the trade deadline in February. Obviously the Lakers are out of the equation because they sent half of their reported package for Hield to the Washington Wizards for Russell Westbrook, but with how well Hield’s played to start the season, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear his name linked to teams with more certain playoff futures.
I’m also curious to see how much the Kings’ record affects their willingness to move Hield. Like, does them being in the playoff picture in February make them more or less tempted to trade him? And if it’s the former, is it for roster depth or part of a package for an All-Star caliber player?
It’s too early to say, but hopefully it’s a much harder decision for them as a result of their playoff status — it would be a shame if this season ended in a fire sale.