Sacramento Kings Trade Deadline Preview
Expect first-year GM Monte McNair to be active during the upcoming NBA trade deadline
When Monte McNair was hired as the general manager of the Sacramento Kings last fall, not many moves were made to upgrade–or downgrade–the team’s roster prior to the 2020-21 season.
Here we are, just two weeks away from the March 25th Trade Deadline with 11 players from the 2019-20 team still on the active roster.
McNair and his front office have been very quiet, unlike front offices of the past that would often leak information to the media in order to add fuel to the fires of countless trade rumors.
Not this front office.
The only rumors that have leaked have been those regarding forward Nemanja Bjelica, who was reportedly extremely disgruntled in his diminished role after Marvin Bagley III claimed the starting power forward position.
With changes on the way, let’s take a look at some of the names that are likely to come up in discussions during the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline:
As previously mentioned, it is very likely that Nemanja Bjelica is going to be wearing a different jersey come March 26th.
The 32-year-old forward is in his last year of a three-year, $20 million deal that was signed prior to the 2018-19 season.
After acting as the primary starting forward for two seasons and posting career-years over back-to-back seasons, Bjelica has been regelated to the bench with young big Marvin Bagley III finally showing promise after previous difficulties in staying healthy.
Bjelica sat out for over a month due to ‘personal reasons’ and ‘back spasms’, although it has been uncovered that the veteran forward actually sat out due to his displeasure with his role.
Many teams are reportedly interested in the floor-stretching Bjelica, such as the Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.
Over the past four seasons, Bjelica has shot 40-percent from the three-point line over 235 games.
Will he be traded? Almost guaranteed.
With the Tyrese Haliburton hype train quickly picking up steam, it is very possible that Monte McNair is shopping Buddy Hield.
When it comes to moving the sharpshooting guard, however, there is one not-so-small caveat: Hield is line to make $70 million over the next three seasons.
That’s a tall order when asking other teams to take on the 2020 Three-Point Shootout champion.
Hield has struggled this season, currently posting his lowest per-game scoring average (16.4) since the 2017-18 season while shooting a career-low 39-percent from the field and 37-percent from the three-point line.
Although he has struggled for most of the season, the 28-year-old found a hot-streak prior to the All-Star break, averagign 26.7 points per game on 52-percent shooting from beyond the arc over three games.
It’s possible that McNair attempts to pair Hield and Bjelica together in a deal, with teams like Philadelphia and Miami possibly looking around for more floor spacers.
When Buddy Hield is on, he is one of the most dangerous scoring threats in the league, as the former Oklahoma Sooner has knocked down over 270 triples in back-to-back seasons.
Hield’s contract will make a possible move difficult, but as of now it’s hard to say whether or not the longest-tenured Sacramento King will remain in the purple and black past the deadline.
Will he be traded? Leaning towards unlikely, but McNair will certainly try.
In his third season with the Kings, Harrison Barnes is proving that he is worth every penny.
The 28-year-old is currently enjoying a career-year, averaging 16.7 points per game while posting career-high’s of 6.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 0.8 steals per game while shooting 49-percent from the field and 39-percent from three-point range.
Barnes is likely to be the Kings player that generates the most interest on the trade market, with the Boston Celtics already making it clear that they would like to acquire a scoring forward.
“Let me translate what’s been going on here: The Celtics want Harrison Barnes,” former Celtics center and current analyst Brian Scalabrine said Thursday on NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics pregame show.
“They think Harrison Barnes is the type of guy that can come in here and make a difference. All the fact of, ‘They’re talking to Detroit, they’re talking to Orlando, they’re even talking to Sacramento,’ all of this is so eventually Sacramento will eventually say, ‘OK, what can we get done with Harrison Barnes?'”
Boston might not be the only suitor for Barnes, however.
Miami is also in the market for a scoring forward, with the team already reportedly kicking the tires on Nemanja Bjelica.
There is no question that Barnes’ value has never been as high as it is right now. Sacramento could move the veteran forward in return for a young asset, draft compensation, cap relief or all of the above.
But when it comes down to trading Barnes, the big question is this:
How will Sacramento replace him?
There is no clear-cut replacement for Harrison Barnes on the roster. Acquiring a young forward from Boston like Aaron Nesmith would be a nice addition, but he is not going to be able to produce anywhere even close to what Barnes is doing right now.
Plus, Barnes has just two years and $38 million remaining on his deal after this season. He will be 31 years old at the end of his contract.
This Kings team needs a veteran presence and leader in the locker-room, a strong presence as both a person and a player on the floor in the coming years to lead a possible Fox-Haliburton-Bagley trio.
Sacramento already has a player that can do that.
Harrison Barnes is that guy.
Will he be traded? Leaning towards no.
When the Kings signed center Hassan Whiteside during the offseason, it left a lot of NBA followers scratching their heads.
On one side, it was reported that Sacramento was looking to get younger and only play their youth this season. On the the other side, the team inked the two-time blocks champion to a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum ($2.3 million).
Whiteside has seen his production take a hit since joining the Kings, averaging 8.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game–his lowest numbers since the 2011-12 season when he was a second-year player during his first stint in Sacramento.
The 31-year-old still has the ability to stuff the stat-sheet, which was evident during February 15th’s loss to Brooklyn.
Whiteside had his strongest game of the season, scoring 26 points and grabbing 16 rebounds to lead pace the Kings offense.
Due to health & safety protocols, Whiteside has missed the final six games prior to the All-Star break. He should be back in action for the second-half, although there has been no update given by the team as of March 8th.
Teams will have interest in Whiteside, such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets that could use a rim protector during the postseason.
Expect the Kings to move Whiteside, or at the very least buyout the veteran big to give him a chance at joining a contender for a playoff run.
Will he be traded? A trade or buyout is pretty much a guarantee.
Marvin Bagley III
After two tumultuous seasons, Marvin Bagley III has played very well in his first year as an NBA starter.
Over 34 games, Bagley is averaging 14.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game while shooting 50-percent from the field and an impressive 37-percent from three-point range.
Bagley’s three-point shooting has been his largest improvement this season, as the 21-year-old has converted 34 of his 92 attempts this season.
For reference, over the first two seasons of his career, Bagley made 34 of his 118 three-point attempts (28%).
Dad-fueled Twitter drama aside, the Kings have to be pleased with the progression of their number-two pick from the 2018 NBA Draft. One season removed from only appearing in 13 games, Bagley is playing every night and posting efficient numbers.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Bagley has been made available in trade discussions–although the interest from opposing teams is not very existent.
“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,” Amick wrote prior to All-Star weekend.
Does McNair view Bagley as the third leg to a tripod of young talent that also features De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton?
Bagley will be in the final year of his rookie-scale contract during the 2021-22 season before entering restricted free agency in the summer of 2022. Will the Kings look to move on from the former Duke star before having to decide on committing to him long-term?
I would expect those decisions to come at a later date, not within the next two weeks.
Will he be traded? Unlikely.
Over the past two seasons, Richaun Holmes has arguably been the second-most valuable member of the Sacramento Kings, right behind De’Aaron Fox.
After posting career-high’s across the board last season, Holmes is doing it again this season.
- 13.0 points (career-high)
- 8.3 rebounds (career-high)
- 1.7 assists (career-high)
- 1.5 blocks (career-high)
- 65% FG (career-high)
- 80% FT (career-high)
Seemingly every night, Holmes is making a difference on both sides of the floor, turning into a fan favorite in the process with his gritty hustle and unquestionable effort.
Holmes is currently in the final season of a two-year, $9.7 million pact signed in the summer of 2019.
As is the case with Harrison Barnes, it’s possible that Holmes’ value is at an all-time high. Contending teams that need help at the center position could offer Sacramento a pretty penny for the 27-year-old.
Does McNair view Holmes in the long-term plans for this team?
If the new Kings GM envisions Marvin Bagley III eventually becoming the team’s starting center, it’s possible that Holmes could be moved this deadline to ensure that the team cashes in before the center hits free agency this summer.
In order to move a talent like Holmes, who has stated that he is interested in re-upping with Sacramento, the team needs to have a plan at the center position.
Holmes, Bagley and Hassan Whiteside are the only players on the roster that can play center.
If Holmes and Whiteside are moved, is Bagley the answer for years to come? Or should McNair re-sign Holmes to a multi-year deal at the end of the season?
It will be an interesting decision, possibly the most interesting decision that McNair has to make this deadline.
Will he be traded? Only if the price is right.
With the veteran guard in what will likely be his final year in a Kings uniform, the Kings will shop Cory Joseph hard this deadline.
Joseph, who only has $2.4 million guaranteed for the 2021-22 season, does not seem to fit in with the long-term plan for this Kings roster. With Tyrese Haliburton emerging as a solid playmaker, Sacramento currently has the rookie guard running the point in the second unit instead of Joseph.
Over 108 games in a Kings uniform, Joseph holds averages of 6.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting 42-percent from the field and 34-percent from the three-point line.
On a team that features De’Aaron Fox and Haliburton, McNair will almost assuredly not guarantee Joseph’s $12.6 million deal for next season.
Joseph could also be a buyout option if he is not moved prior to the deadline.
Will he be traded? Likely to be traded or bought out
When the Kings acquired the number-two pick from the 2014 draft, there was some excitement surrounding the acquisition of Jabari Parker.
Over 32 games with the Atlanta Hawks, Parker had averaged 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game to begin the 2019-20 season. When the Hawks moved him to Sacramento in the Dewayne Dedmon deal, it was expected that his production would carry over.
As we have come to find out, that would not be the case.
Parker has been buried into the Kings bench over his year with the organization, only appearing in eight games and logging 105 minutes since being acquired last February.
Up until February 20th, Parker was the only member of Sacramento’s roster thad had not appeared in a game.
Due to several injuries within the Kings rotation, Parker saw some action on February 20th and 21st, playing just 24 minutes combined over the two games before being sent back to the bench.
A change of scenery is needed for the 25-year-old, who is set to become an unrestricted free-agent at the end of the season.
Similar to the Hassan Whiteside situation, expect the Kings to move Parker as an add-on in another deal or the team to waive the forward around the deadline.
Will he be traded? A trade or buyout is pretty much a guarantee
Will he be traded? Hahahahaha NO (Knock on wood)