From the moment he was hired, Monte McNair has preached flexibility. The new GM doesn’t want to be tied down in his ability to make big moves for the Sacramento Kings.
According to a piece from Sam Amick and Jason Jones from The Athletic, that means the only two untouchable assets on the Kings are De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. If you’re keeping score at home, Marvin Bagley III is not on that list. And with the trade deadline approaching, Sacramento has made Bagley available for a deal, even if other teams aren’t yet biting. Per the report:
Rival executives say Bagley III is up for discussion in trade talks, but the interest in him is widely seen as minimal because of his struggles these past two seasons.
The Kings aren’t trying to get Bagley out of Sacramento. Rather, they have made an effort to feature Bagley this season by keeping him in the starting lineup. This is despite the fact that the team’s best five-man unit does not include Bagley, and that Nemanja Bjelica has outplayed him in limited minutes, even though Bjelica is often in reserve-heavy lineups while Bagley has the benefit of playing with the starters.
In fact, the team’s insistence on prioritizing Bagley as a part of the future has upset Bjelica, to the point where he chose not to play while Bagley was in the starting lineup, per Amick and Jones.
Sources say Bjelica chose not to play from Jan. 9 until his return to the rotation on Feb. 12, in large part, because of his strong disagreement with the decision and the reasons behind it. On the official record, the reasons given for Bjelica’s absences ranged from “DNP-CD” to “back spasms” to “personal reasons.” He is likely to be traded before the March 25 trade deadline.
Bjelica’s return to the court only happened because the Kings were out of healthy bodies due to the injuries/absences of Hassan Whiteside and Chimezie Metu. It has been a boon for Sacramento because Bjelica has reestablished his value after not playing for weeks, but unfortunately, this recent stretch does not appear to have repaired the relationship between Bjelica and the franchise.
Even though Bagley is on the market, the ideal outcome for the Kings is for Bagley to continue to improve and remain a part of the young core going forward with Fox and Haliburton. The Kings aren’t ruling out that possibility; they’re just doing their due diligence given that this is a rebuilding year for the team.
Bagley still has to prove himself worthy of being a foundational player for the future. Until he does that, it makes perfect sense for the Kings to test his market and see whether the best place for him is in Sacramento or elsewhere.