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Crown Jewels: A hypothetical trade between the Kings and Trail Blazers

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Bleacher Report suggests Sacramento target Portland center Jusuf Nurkic

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2021 NBA Draft is less than a month away, meaning there will be plenty of rumors coming out over the coming weeks. The Sacramento Kings hold the No. 9 pick and could be active on the trade market as general manager Monte McNair tries to help end the organization’s long-running playoff drought.

The Kings have limited financial resources to add a significant piece via free agency, so McNair will likely have to make some trades to improve the roster around cornerstone pieces De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.

Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale came up with offseason trades for every NBA team and suggested the Kings make a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Harrison Barnes, Delon Wright

Sacramento Kings Receive: Derrick Jones Jr. (player option), Jusuf Nurkic, Anfernee Simons, 2023 first-round pick (lottery protection)

Richaun Holmes’ free agency puts the Kings in a bind. They either need to open up cap space to keep him or figure out what to do in his absence.

As an advocate of “Push the blockbuster-trade button or lean into a full-scale rebuild” when it comes to Sacramento’s situation, this trade tilts a little too far toward treading water in the middle. Push comes to shove, though, it does an OK job of prioritizing the bigger picture.

Jusuf Nurkic isn’t the quintessential center for an offense that should play at warp speed, but his short roll decision-making will be a boon in the half-court, and he has provided glimpses at expanded range. Anfernee Simons is a fantastic off-the-dribble-scoring flier who might not cost a ton to extend or re-sign during 2022 restricted free agency.

Re-signing Holmes remains a priority. The center averaged 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. Holmes led the team in effective field goal percentage and win shares among players who started the season with the Kings per Basketball-Reference.

Holmes is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and given his performance, he will be in line for a significant raise on top of the $5.05 million he’s making this season. There have been reports that he is seeking a deal in the range of $20 million per season. The Kings have been a much better team when Holmes is on the court. Sacramento’s net rating is seven points better per 100 possessions when Holmes is in the game rather than sitting on the bench, per NBA.com.

But as the best available center, Holmes could get a mega-deal from a team desperate for talent. If he does leave the Kings, McNair will need a contingency plan at center.

Nurkic averaged 11.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game last season. His 108.2 defensive rating was second-best out of any Trail Blazer who played in more than 30 games. The 26-year-old has one year remaining on his contract that will pay him $12 million next season.

Simmons and Jones would provide some depth for the Kings. Each averaged more than 17 minutes per game for Portland and would come with cheap salaries that will allow McNair to maintain financial flexibility moving forward.

Barnes had a very good season for the Kings. The 29-year-old averaged 16.1 points and set new career highs in rebounds (6.6), assists (3.7) and field goal percentage (49.7). Barnes’ minus 1.8 net rating was third-best out of any King who appeared in more than 20 games.

Sacramento’s offensive rating was 7.2 points better per 100 possessions with Barnes on the court. He is still owed roughly $38.5 million over the final two years of his contract.

What do you think of Favale’s trade suggestion? Would Nurkic be a good target if Holmes moves on in free agency?


On to some links:

It will be interesting to see how the Marvin Bagley situation plays out this offseason. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee says some in the organization feel Bagley has been unappreciative of the opportunities the Kings have given him since taking him No. 2 in 2018. Jones also touches on why the Kings might prefer chasing Tobias Harris over Ben Simmons in a trade this offseason.

The Kings should be able to add a key piece with the ninth pick in the draft. Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports has Sacramento taking a talented 2 guard in his latest mock draft.