To no one’s surprise, the Sacramento Kings are struggling ... again. Having already made a change at head coach, the obvious next move looks to be some adjustments to the roster, a change many believe should have happened in the offseason.
The current roster contains a group of young players with high ceilings, and a few mediocre vets. Two players, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III, have been involved in countless trade rumors since last season. Hield was almost traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer before the Lakers decided they wanted Russell Westbrook instead. However, if the Kings want to acquire a big name player, they are going to have to include much more than just those two.
Here’s your trade guide to the Kings for the 2021-22 NBA trade deadline:
Who’s trade eligible right now?
As of today, almost the entire team can be traded. The only players that are ineligible are: Richaun Holmes, Moe Harkless, Terence Davis, and Alex Len. In other words, besides Holmes, every core player is available to be traded.
The main pieces teams will have interest in are De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. Fox is undoubtedly the best player on the Kings’ roster, though he’s had a rough start to the season.
Fox’s five-year, $163 million contract extension began this year and that’s a rough contract for most teams to take on, especially if they already have other big names on their roster. Haliburton’s contract is more interesting. Still on his rookie deal, he is only due $4 million this year, a number many teams would willing to spend on the young talent.
That being said, Fox and Haliburton are believed to be untouchable, so Hield and Bagley are expected to have the most genuine interest. Hield has a decent-sized contract and is going to make $22.8 million this year. Bagley is under contract for $11.3 million this year.
Who will be trade eligible in the future?
On Dec. 14, Harkless and Len will become trade eligible; on Jan. 14, Holmes and Davis will become eligible as well.
Holmes re-signed with the Kings on Aug. 2 by use of his Early Bird Rights. His new contract is worth $55 million through four years and is fully guaranteed. As the only player signed in the offseason that made the fanbase excited, it is less likely that he will be traded than some of his teammates.
Will the Kings finally trade for a star?
In a league filled with stars, the Kings have none. Most championship teams now have at least two all-star players on their roster. Even teams like the Memphis Grizzlies, who have Ja Morant, struggle to make the playoffs. The last Kings player to be selected for the All-Star game was Demarcus Cousins in 2016-17. If they want to make any real changes to the organization, they need to acquire another.
Since Sacramento is not a big market, it is very unlikely they ever land an all-star in free agency, which is why trades are so important to the team. Obviously the Kings want to acquire an all-star. The real question is who are they willing to give up in order to get one.
Earlier in the year there were rumors of a trade for Ben Simmons that would have have included Sacramento’s best player in Fox. Unfortunately, those rumors quickly lost steam.
As talented as Fox is, it’s almost a guarantee that any team even considering trading away an All-Star would ask for Fox to be included in the deal. Last season Fox averaged 25.2 points, 7.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds a game while shooting almost 48% from the field and 32.2 from behind the arc, more points and assists than All-Stars like Kawhi Leonard.
Though many Kings fans struggle with the idea of their best player leaving, it may need to happen in order for a game-changing player to join the team.
Another player most teams would ask for is Haliburton. He is coming off a rookie season where he finished third in Rookie of the Year voting and averaged 13 points, 5.3 assists, and 3 rebounds per game while shooting 47.2% from the field and 40.1% from behind the arc. Not only is he young and talented, but he has a small contract that any team could handle.
If Sacramento is getting an all-star, they are going to lose Fox or Haliburton, hopefully not both.
Who is most likely to be traded?
The most likely players to be traded away are Hield, Bagley, and Davion Mitchell.
Hield is one of the league’s premier 3-point shooters. Last season the league record for 3-pointers made per game was broken, for the ninth consecutive season. Any team in the league could use Hield to bolster their offense. He ranks ninth and 10th in terms of most 3-pointers made in a season.
Bagley’s situation is much different. After a promising rookie season, he has caught the injury bug many, many times. Since 2018, he has only played in 127 games out of the possible 255. With a limited sample size there are many questions regarding how good he really is, as well as his durability.
Off the court, Bagley and his family have made it very known that he has issues with the team. Earlier this season he even refused to check into a game when called upon by former coach Luke Walton. Although he seems to have a better relationship with current head coach Alvin Gentry, his relationship with the organization may not be salvageable. It is highly likely Bagley will not be in Sacramento much longer.
The last player that some teams may inquire about is the defensive-minded rookie. Mitchell has already made a name for himself as a fearless defender than can guard a teams number one option. He has also shown the ability to be effective on offense. Mitchell has been praised by his teammates and Kings GM Monte McNair for his work ethic and ability. Being a rookie with a high upside and a small four-year, $17.4 million contract. Mitchell could prove extremely valuable for teams lacking in defense at the guard position.
The smart move would be to trade a combination of these three players, along with a quality draft pick or two, for a wing that will help the team in every facet of the game and be the team’s much needed leader.
It’s unclear how active the Kings plan to be at the trade deadline, but with a real opportunity to make the play-in this season, they should be open to upgrades throughout the roster.