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Mapping out the ideal trade deadline for the Kings

Sacramento is in need of some direction, and the trade deadline presents an opportunity for them to pick one.

Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The rapidly approaching Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline could alter the future of the Sacramento Kings organization for years to come. Depending on the path general manager Monte McNair and the front office choose, the longterm trajectory could start to look a whole lot better or a whole lot worse in about a week.

Let’s map out what I think an ideal deadline would look like for an organization that needs it in the worst way.

Accept this season is over and own the playoff drought

There have been some loud rumblings that the Kings don’t plan on punting on this season and acquiring draft picks for veterans. This would be a pretty insane strategy considering the Kings are 18-34 and have the fifth-worst record in the entire league.

The Kings are only 3.5 games back from the 10th seed and a spot in the play-in tournament. Sacramento’s proximity to a spot in the tournament is more of a byproduct of how awful the bottom of the western conference is this season, rather than a sign that the team should push their chips in for a play-in run.

Monte McNair and front office tried to go for the play-in tournament last season and it didnt’ work out. That decision has kept the Kings in a similarly bad spot as a franchise, and hopefully McNair and co. learn their lesson this season.

Yes, after this season the Kings will hold the NBA record for most seasons missing the playoffs in a row. It’s set in stone. Sacramento’s current stretch of futility is the worst in NBA history.

It’s embarrassing and a black mark on the franchise, but it’s in the past and it's already happened. Thinking short-sightedly and trying to end it this season at all costs just isn’t a wise path for this team to take.

There isn’t a single trade out there short of Buddy Hield for Giannis Antetonkoumpo that would singlehandedly redeem the sinking ship that is this season.

Accept it. Own it. And embrace it, as funny as it sounds. Sacramento will continue to be subjected to jokes and ridicule, but it will just make it sweeter when they finally break the drought in the future in a legitimate way that doesn’t include shortcuts or quick fixes.

Mortgaging future pieces for some short-sighted play-in chase would only elongate the drought and push the Kings deeper into NBA purgatory. The team desperately needs a top 5 pick in this years draft, and hurting their ability to land that pick in an ill-fated push would be unwise.

Trade present value for future value

Everything the Kings do in the coming days should be geared towards being a better team during the 2022-23 season and beyond. This means getting guys in their early to mid-20s or draft picks that can be valuable to you in the future either as players or trade chips.

The Kings unlike a lot of other bad teams, do not have a warchest of other team’s picks and young talent. This deadline is a good opportunity to add both.

Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes should be considered must move pieces this deadline and given to whichever team offers you the best combination of picks and young players.

Hield will be tough to move considering his bloated contract and struggles this season, but regardless it needs to be done. If the only way to move Hield is the Kings having to take some bad salary in return, that’s something you do just to change the dynamic of this team both on the court and off the court.

For Barnes, now is the ideal time to trade him with a year and a half left on his deal and a ton of teams around the league that could use his skill set. Last deadline, there were murmurs that Sacramento had offers of a first round pick and a young player or two from the Celtics last deadline, but instead decided to keep Barnes for the play-in push.

This year it seems like the Kings would accept that type of package for Barnes, while he’s still under team control through next season.

Richaun Holmes should be someone that is available if a team absolutely blows the Kings away with an offer. Although Holmes’ contract and relative young age make him someone that could be a part of the next good Kings team.

You probably won’t get a ton in return for Marvin Bagley III, but if there is something that includes a young player or a lower first rounder, then its probably worth doing.

I’d also gauge the market on guys like Moe Harkless, Tristan Thompson, and Alex Len and see whether there are second-round picks out there in exchange for those guys. For Thompson, if that’s not’s there, it’s probably worth waiving him and his contract, so you have an additional roster spot.

Ideally, you come out of the trade deadline with a at least one extra promising young player and a least one first-round pick from another team in the future. If its multiple draft pick or multiple young players in lieu of draft picks, then that works as well.

The nightmare scenario is the team trades future value for a moderate improvement in current value. For example, trading picks and young players for Jerami Grant (to who the Kings have been connected) would be an odd decision in my eyes.

Sure, its good to trade for talent, but trading for someone like Grant who is expecting a huge extension from whichever team trades for him, wouldn’t really change the longterm outlook of this franchise.

Gauge market for De’Aaron Fox

Let me start off by saying De’Aaron Fox is the best player currently on the Kings, and he is not even close to the problem in Sacramento.

But, when thinking about his enormous contract and the Kings’ glut at the guard spot, trading Fox is one of the more reasonable moves on Sacramento’s chessboard.

Now, I'm not saying the Kings should aggressively ship him and take the best offer regardless of what it is. I am saying however that a trade of Fox for two or three cheaper, better-fitting players and a pick or two might improve the longterm outlook of the roster.

With Tyrese Haliburton showing signs of star potential and the Kings drafting yet another small guard in Davion Mitchell during the 2021 draft, the Kings have plenty of guard depth.

This is not a comment on the inability of Fox and Haliburton to fit together long-term, but the Kings are in desperate need of a couple of dynamic wing players, and moving on from Fox may be the Kings' best way to acquire that skill set.

Who knows if this type of godfather off of trade is out there for Fox. It probably isn’t. But it is something the Kings should at least consider as they look to overhaul their talent and direction.

Conclusion

Kings fans, players, and the front office alike seem to unanimously agree that the team needs to shake things up this deadline in one way or another. Just how McNair and co. do that however will be fascinating to see play out in the next week.