Trades…? What’s A Trade?

Jan 27, 2022, 2:15 PM | Updated: 2:36 pm
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(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Sacramento Kings fans have waited almost three years for an impactful trade. Will the waiting end in the coming weeks?

A lot of things can happen over a three-year period.

The Sacramento Kings making an impactful trade is apparently one thing that can’t happen over that timespan.

We are approaching the three-year anniversary of Sacramento’s most-recent noteworthy trade when then-general manager Vlade Divac dealt Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson to the Dallas Mavericks in return for talented forward Harrison Barnes.

The move to acquire Barnes was one that was applauded around the league as a fun, exciting Kings team was priming themselves for a postseason run by adding a solid veteran presence in Barnes.

Instead, Sacramento bottomed out and went 11-17 to finish the season following the deadline as the playoff drought reached 13 seasons.

Fast forward 1,086 days to today, and the Harrison Barnes deal that was made on February 6, 2019 remains the most-recent impact move made by a Sacramento Kings front office–and I’m using the phrase “impact move” lightly.

As the 2021-22 Kings continue to spiral downwards in a fashion that can be compared to a high-powered drill that heading straight for the Earth’s core, let’s take a look at the franchise’s impact moves that have taken place over the past decade:

Harrison Barnes – 2019

Acquiring Barnes in return for Zach Randolph, who didn’t suit up again following the trade, and Justin Jackson was an absolute win for the Kings.

Although the team has not reached the postseason since the veteran forward’s arrival in Sacramento, Barnes has been a consummate professional that has acted as a leader in the locker room and played with efficiency on the floor.

The now-29-year-old inked a four-year deal with the Kings following his stint in 2019 and has been one of the lone bright spots over the past three seasons, providing fans with plenty of memories and unquestioned effort on a nightly basis.

It’s becoming clear that Barnes’ time in Sacramento is likely coming to a close as reports have indicated that there is plenty of interest around the league in the 6’8 forward as we move closer to the February 10th trade deadline.

While it’s been nearly three years since the team’s last significant deal, at least the Kings got this one right.

Buddy Hield – 2017

When the DeMarcus Cousins trade was made in February of 2017, it signaled the end of a tumultuous era of Sacramento Kings basketball.

Or so we thought.

Cousins and Omri Casspi were traded by Divac to the New Orleans Pelicans in return for then-rookie guard Buddy Hield, old friend Tyreke Evans, guard Langston Galloway, a 2017 first-round pick and a 2017 second-round pick.

Hield is the longest-tenured King and is now the franchises’ all-time three-point field goals leader after the 29-year-old eclipsed Peja Stojakovic’s franchsie-record earlier this season.

Sacramento held the fifth and 10th picks in the 2017 draft, selecting De’Aaron Fox with the fifth selection before trading the 10th pick to Portland in return for the 15th and 20th picks in the draft. Instead of selecting a player like Bam Adebayo, Donovan Mitchell, Malik Monk or Jarrett Allen with the 10th pick, the Kings selected Justin Jackson with the 15th pick and Harry Giles III with the 20th selection.

Hield signed a hefty, four-year extension with the Kings prior to the 2019-20 season, but the guard has been disgruntled in his role as a bench piece over the past two seasons. The sharp-shooter’s name has been heavily mentioned in trade rumors dating back to last trade deadline and it’s clear that the marriage between Hield and Sacramento will come to an end soon.

Trading Cousins seemed like a monumental move at the time, but with the way things have panned out for both Sacramento and New Orleans over the years, it’s hard to determine a true winner from this trade.

The rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic – 2016

On the day of the 2016 NBA Draft, Vlade Divac made a very good move AND a very bad move:

  • The good move: trading the 8th overall pick in the draft in return for the rights to Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, the 13th pick in the draft and the 28th pick in the draft (would be forward Skal Labissière)
  • The bad move: selecting center Georgios Papagiannis with the 13th pick

Bogdanovic wasn’t the marquee name at the time of this deal as the young guard wasn’t set to come over to the NBA until the 2017-18 season–but all things considered, this was a move that worked out fine for the Kings.

Unfortunately for the Bogdanovic–Sacramento era, there was no happy ending to this story.

Following three seasons that saw Bogi post averages of 13.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game on 37-percent shooting from beyond the three-point line, general manager Monte McNair let Bogdanovic walk in restricted free-agency.

As we all know, there was plenty of chaos surrounding Bogdanovic’s exit as the infamous failed Bogdanovic-Bucks-Donte DiVencenzo swap never came to fruition.

Instead, McNair let Bogdanovic walk for…nothing.

Bogdanovic averaged a career-high 16.4 points per game last season while establishing another career-high in three-point field goal percentage (43-percent) to help his Hawks team reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

Rudy Gay – 2013

I can’t recall a move over the past decade that excited Kings fans more than when the team acquired Rudy Gay.

On December 9, 2013 then-general manager Pete D’Alessandro swung a trade for the high-scoring wing as Sacramento traded Chuck Hayes, Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons and Patrick Patterson to the Toronto Raptors in return for Gay, center Aaron Gray and forward Quincy Acy.

The move to acquire Gay, a player that possessed All-Star potential and was simply a big name to bring into the Sacramento market, was one that gave Kings fans hope as DeMarcus Cousins finally seemed to have that big missing piece.

Gay signed an extension with the Kings in 2014 before the team fired then-head coach Michael Malone in a move that many believe erased all forward progress–if any–that the franchise had made at the time.

From 2013 through 2017, Gay acted as a 20-point scorer and provided the Kings with plenty of highlight reel moments, but Sacramento needed more talent around the Cousins-Gay duo.

As we know, that never happened.

Following Gay’s Achilles injury in January of 2017, the Kings traded away Cousins and moved further into the decade-long rebuild. Gay signed with the San Antonio Spurs in the 2017 offseason, and that was that.

??? – 2022

That’s the list.

Four significant moves over the past eight-plus years. That is… certainly unideal.

Earlier this month, Monte McNair told our very own Carmichael Dave and Jason Ross that the front office simply won’t make a move just for the sake of making a move:

“We’ll do whatever it takes to win. However, we certainly have a very good number of players here that can be the solution here. We’re going to remain aggressive, but also disciplined. We can’t just make a trade to make a trade. That continues to be our mindset and when opportunity presents itself–and we are continuously looking for those–we will act.”

Kings GM Monte McNair on The Carmichael Dave Show with Jason Ross – January 14, 2022

Yes. I agree that the Kings shouldn’t make a move just to make a move. No need to make any rash decision and leverage the future even further by making a knee-jerk move.

That being said, McNair and the rest of the front office have not conducted a roster move since August 13, 2021 when they signed Alex Len to a multi-year deal. The Kings haven’t made a trade since August 7, 2021 when Tristan Thompson was acquired exchange for Delon Wright.

Sure, McNair had some fun deals lined up–notably the failed Bogdanovic-DiVencenzo swap and the nixed Hield trade to the Lakers that would have netted Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell.

But the “almost” moves aren’t enough. There was no plan B to either of those failed moves. Bogdanovic walked and a disgruntled Hield remains on the roster. Something has to give.

The Kings are playing absolutely horrifying basketball right now. Having lost five-straight games and 10 of their last 12 contests, Sacramento is sliding further and further out of the race for the 10th seed spot in the Western Conference by each passing day.

According to multiple reports, McNair has no interest in punting on this season.

If making the Play-In or postseason is in McNair’s interest, the 18-32 Kings need to make a move much sooner than the February 10th trade deadline. The next seven games leading into the deadline is not a forgiving stretch for a struggling team like Sacramento:

  • @ Philadelphia 76ers
  • @ New York Knicks
  • vs Brooklyn Nets
  • @ Golden State Warriors
  • vs Oklahoma City Thunder
  • vs Minnesota Timberwolves
  • vs Minnesota Timberwolves

As of January 27th, the Kings trail the 10th-spot in the West by 3.5 games.

Following this upcoming seven-game stretch, it’s quite possible for Sacramento to be seven games or more out of the final Play-In spot.

I’m not one that loves the idea of tanking or purposely losing games. But trying to win games the way that this franchise is trying AND still playing like a team that is tanking is inexcusable.

There are two things that McNair and the front office can do:

  • Swing for the fences and go hard for the Play-In
  • Swallow your pride and sell off pieces to build for 2022-23

Sacramento isn’t going to move De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton–or at least they are increasingly unlikely to do so this season unless there is a “godfather type of offer”.

This likely takes the Kings out of the Ben Simmons sweepstakes, but there are more possibilities out there. Reports surfaced on Thursday that the Atlanta Hawks are looking for a valuable first-round pick and a starting-caliber player in exchange for talented forward John Collins.

Sacramento has assuredly reached out about Collins, a player that they were interested in during the 2021 offseason. An offer of Harrison Barnes (under contract for the 2022-23 season), rookie guard Davion Mitchell and a first-round pick could very well be something that Atlanta takes a hard look at.

If one thing is clear, it’s that the Sacramento Kings are long overdue for a significant move.

Zero moves over three years is inexcusable. Just a handful of moves over an entire decade? That’s blatant malpractice.

No more hanging onto the “almost” moves. It’s time for Monte McNair and the Kings front office to officially introduce themselves as participating members of this rebuild process.

The 2021-22 season hangs in the balance. Will Sacramento finally break through and make an impact move for the first time since 2019?

Tick, tock.


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