Less than 48 hours from tonight, the Sacramento Kings will be on the clock with the No. 4 overall draft pick, and are currently in the process of making a final decision about what to do with it as the rumor mill churns throughout the league.
Sacramento is one of the harder to projects teams in the draft's Top 10 decision, as their options to trade for an established player in the league and augment their mid-20’s talent or draft a young, promising athlete have caused confusion about their intentions throughout the NBA.
But despite the conflicting rumors, one thing is agreed upon: no one knows what the Kings’ decision on Draft Day will be.
During a television appearance, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said Sacramento’s future will most likely be undecided until the moments the bell chimes and Adam Silver takes to the podium to announce their pick.
“I think it’s going to go right down to the wire. I think it’s going to go down to Thursday night, probably when they’re on the clock and they see what the best offers are for Jaden Ivey... If you (Sacramento) take the best player on the board, it isn’t necessarily a position of need, and because the value is in Ivey, it’s why they’re so open in Sacramento to seeing what they can get back in a trade,” Wojnarowski said. “This is a team that has the longest playoff drought in the NBA. They want to be back in the postseason. They’re trying to put a group together with new head coach Mike Brown that gets them into the playoffs for the first time in a decade and a half.”
Their cold feet to take the best player available might be because — as Marc Stein noted in his recent Substack and has been extensively reported — Ivey apparently doesn't want to be in Sacramento (via Stein):
Purdue’s Jaden Ivey confirmed Monday during a predraft media session that he has had no contact with Sacramento in advance of Thursday’s draft. Various rival teams have noted that Ivey shares the same CAA representation as Tyrese Haliburton and thus concluded that Ivey was never going to privately audition for the Kings after they dealt Haliburton to Indiana seemingly without warning in February — and after Haliburton repeatedly expressed how eager he was to be at the heart of Sacramento’s efforts to finally end the league’s longest playoff drought (now at 16 seasons and counting).
But in spite of the cold shoulder from Ivey, talks of drafting the Purdue star have remained hot, with the option of adding Keegan Murray (who has already stated his interested and affinity in joining Sacramento) also a possibility:
Both Yahoo’s Chris Haynes and Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer have reported that the Kings appear to have strong interest in drafting Iowa’s Keegan Murray rather than Ivey if they opt to keep the No. 4 pick instead of trading it. Ivey, for his part, said Monday that “it wouldn’t be the worst thing” if he wound up getting drafted by the Kings, but the way he spoke so glowingly about the Knicks (“a tremendous opportunity, tremendous organization”) has certainly sparked curiosity about New York’s ability to move up from No. 11 and get into Ivey range.
And while the No. 4 pick sits in limbo, the league is on call for moving up in the draft with the amount of talent this class boasts. Several teams have reportedly inquired about Sacramento’s pick, and a trade this week before the draft is still not out of the question as a result.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report wrote that teams from both conferences are highly interested in taking Murray or Ivey at the four spot:
The Kings continue to receive plenty of trade interest for the No. 4 selection, where the Pacers, Knicks, San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards and others have made efforts to leapfrog in the lottery. Of those teams, it’s believed the Pacers and Spurs are targeting Iowa forward Keegan Murray, while New York and Washington have their sights set on Purdue combo guard Jaden Ivey.
The timing will take the Kingdom to the brink, as Fischer's reporting agreed with Woj’s, writing that decisions will come down to the wire:
Rival teams are prepared for Sacramento to gauge all trade interest up until the Kings are on the clock. If there’s a surprise pick in the top three, Sacramento could receive a flurry of offers from teams that covet one of the star big men in the class.
Adding to the chaos is that despite the certainty on many draft boards, the two stars continue to flip flop as the week progresses.
Several teams picking behind the Kings are also preparing for Sacramento to select Murray if it remains at No. 4 and the top three picks unfold with no surprises. The Pistons, sources said, have projected a strong confidence that Ivey will be available for them to choose at No. 5 if the Kings stand pat.
Jonathan Givony of ESPN added in his latest mock draft that Sacramento is open to moving their high pick if the price is right -- and McNair is not settling for small offers:
Rival teams say the asking price will be considerable, with a mix of established vets (Malcolm Brogdon, Kyle Kuzma, Jerami Grant, John Collins), a 2022 draft choice and rookie-scale contract players such as the Pacers’ Chris Duarte believed to be some of the options teams have studied. Even if the Kings stand pat — considered the most likely scenario as of now — Ivey could make quite a bit of sense here despite Sacramento not being his preferred destination. He’s viewed as the best prospect available by many around the league thanks to his superior long-term upside, physical tools and shot-creation prowess, giving him the type of star power the Kings might not want to pass on, despite Ivey not being an ideal fit on paper with the likes of De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell.
This roster will look different by the end of the week -- whether with the addition of familiar league faces or a bright young prospect. In a perfect world, it might even be both. McNair’s feet are to the fire as the closing hours ensue to make a deal or pick his player. All eyes in the association seem to be on Sacramento -- and this is their opportunity to make some noise with an upper hand.