Monte McNair explains the Sacramento Kings lack of moves at the trade deadline

Feb 9, 2024, 4:55 PM

The Sacramento Kings logo is pictured on a uniform before the game against the Detroit Pistons at L...

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 09: The Sacramento Kings logo is pictured on a uniform before the game against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on January 09, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

One day removed from the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline, Sacramento Kings general manager Monte McNair expressed his contentment with the current roster and their decision to largely stand pat.

While a significant move for a high-caliber starter seemed unrealistic going into the day, speculative eyes were set on Sacramento potentially strengthening their rotation.

Their lone move was acquiring Robin Lopez and cash considerations via trade, only to waive him before the twin center ever wore royal purple.

Meanwhile, a few direct competitors in the Western Conference utilized matching salaries and a second-round pick(s) to bolster their depth. Royce O’Neale and David Roddy were moved to Phoenix. The Minnesota Timberwolves added backup point guard Monte Morris.

Simone Fontecchio was moved from Detroit to Utah. The Boston Celtics exchanged Lamar Stevens and two second-rounders for Xavier Tillman. Philadelphia moved off of Jaden Springer and Patrick Beverley for second-rounders to turn around and spend three for the expiring contract of Buddy Hield.

None of those moves are guaranteed to improve each roster, but Sacramento being willing to stand pat amidst that is telling.

“As you guys know, we’re always active and trying to see what’s out there but weighing that against what we have already here,” Monte McNair said. “And, obviously, this year, after exploring those opportunities, we ended up keeping this group together.”

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McNair has previously used the wording ‘maintain and improve’ when discussing his roster-building philosophy. While the maintaining aspect is evident, he was asked where the improvement has shown this season and pointed toward defensive growth.

“We certainly haven’t brought it every single night on the defensive end, but overall, we’ve seen our rank improve,” he said. “We’ve seen some really good performances. That said, we have not maintained our offense, and that’s an issue.”

Their 116.0 (24th) defensive rating from last season has slightly improved to 18th (116.4) through 50 games. Last season, the Kings ended the year with a 118.6 offensive rating, setting the all-time NBA record. Through 2023-24, that same rating would rank seventh in the association.

With a slight statistical regression to 116.7 in offensive rating, they’ve tumbled to 14th relative to the league landscape.

“We’ve got to get better on that end because if we maintain our offense and see the defensive improvement, we’d be in a much different position,” he continued. “We know those things, but I think the improvement has been a positive. Not being able to maintain some other aspects is something we need to work on and continue to get better at.”

It’s been inconsistent for the Sacramento Kings. They have concerning losses to the Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Charlotte Hornets, and, most recently, the Detroit Pistons. Yet, they’ve also managed to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, and Oklahoma City Thunder.

“If we were more consistent, we would be further up the standings for sure,” Monte McNair said. “I think the positive to take from it is for every loss that doesn’t feel good, we’ve also had some pretty good wins and are still on the same pace. I think we’re 12-8 against the top-ten playoff/play-in teams in the West.”

“We’ve shown that we can go into some of these on the road in tough places and win. We know we can reach those heights, which is good to see because those are the teams that are going to be there with us, hopefully in April, May, and June. It’s disappointing, of course, that we can’t seem to do it every single night,” he continued. “If we can bring it a little more consistency and match those highs, we can contend with those teams that have maybe separated themselves from us in the standings, and that’s what we want to get to.”

Malik Monk is the only player in Sacramento’s top-seven rotation not under contract beyond this season. There was no need to rush the process at this deadline, and the wrong move could have been more harmful than inactivity.

Monte McNair and the Sacramento Kings front office have made it clear that their sights are set on an eventual championship, and they understand the process of attempting that goal.

So, while their patience is admirable, postseason success in this season and the years to come will be the lone determining factor on how this deadline is perceived in hindsight.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will begin a brutal portion of its regular season schedule on Friday night when they face the defending champion Denver Nuggets at Golden 1 Center.

The Kings will face Denver (three times), Oklahoma City, Phoenix, the Los Angeles Clippers, and Minnesota Timberwolves over their next ten games.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Nuggets coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Friday, February 9th – Sacramento Kings vs. Denver Nuggets – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, February 11th – Sacramento Kings @ Oklahoma City Thunder – 12:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, February 13th – Sacramento Kings @ Phoenix Suns – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, February 14th – Sacramento Kings @ Denver Nuggets – 6:00 PM PST
  • NBA All-Star break – February 15-21
  • Thursday, February 22nd – Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs – 7:00 PM PST

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