At 16-24, the Sacramento Kings sit 3.5 games out of the final play-in tournament spot. With reports surfacing that Vivek wants to push for the playoffs rather than tank for a top draft pick, McNair will need to make moves at the deadline that will not only help the team accomplish a playoff berth this year but set them up for future success. The NBA trade deadline will be here in less than a week and with the route of playoff push being taken over tanking, McNair needs to start getting busy.
With the path forward being a push towards winning, the roster will need a major overhaul if the worst defensive team is going to make the cut for 10th place in the West.
I have compiled five trades that McNair should consider that will benefit the Sacramento Kings.
Harrison Barnes to Boston
Boston Celtics receive: Harrison Barnes
Sacramento Kings receive: Robert Williams III, Romeo Langford, Aaron Nesmith, 2021 1st Round Pick, 2022 2nd Round Pick via Charlotte
It’s no secret that Danny Ainge is interested in Harrison Barnes, and for good reason. Not only is Barnes having a great year on the court, he is a perfect fit for the Celtics’ culture.
He is a tried and true veteran with ample playoff experience, a ring, great locker room presence, leadership, and an ability to play both ends of the floor— the perfect type of player to wear the colors for one of the most respected and storied franchises in NBA history.
With reports coming out that Sacramento wants to make a push for the playoffs, unloading Barnes will almost certainly indicate Sacramento’s commitment to tanking as they will part with one of their top players.
With news surfacing that the Kings will only move Barnes for a significant offer, a collection of young prospects and draft picks may be enough for Monte McNair to pull the trigger.
Since drafting Tatum, Boston has made two Eastern Conference Finals but can’t seem to hurdle that barrier. In what has so far been an underwhelming season for the Celtics, adding Barnes will produce an extra spring for Boston’s fight to get back on track and over the hump. But with Sacramento’s reluctance to sell, Barnes will come at a hefty asking price.
Daryl Morey Gets a Coveted Shooter
Philadelphia 76ers receive: Buddy Hield, Hassan Whiteside
Sacramento Kings receive: Danny Green, Tony Bradley, Matisse Thybulle, Vincent Poirier
Just as trade rumors have linked Barnes to the Celtics, Buddy Hield has been linked with Philadelphia ever since his benching late last season.
Now, with Daryl Morey as the GM in the City of Brotherly Love, a 76ers pursuit and acquisition of Hield seems even more likely.
Morey came to Philly this season after serving as the Houston Rockets GM since 2007. Morey created the James Harden-led Rockets teams, and a focal point for those offenses was always three point shooting.
Now, leading an organization with Ben Simmons as the point guard, Morey knows he can never have too many shooters surrounding his distance-challenged all star point-forward. Grabbing Hield, one of the games best three point shooters, would bolster this team’s offense as Philadelphia looks to make a title run.
Buddy has three years left on his contract after this season, giving Morey and the organization ample time to help Hield fit into their gameplan in case this year doesn’t fully take off.
Despite his struggles, Buddy has unique value in this league and will come at a cost. It’s hard to imagine Hield being sent to Philadelphia without getting Thybulle in return. Adding along a proven veteran and three time champion in Danny Green and a couple young centers in Poirier and Bradley gives Sacramento pieces to continue their playoff push this season without Hield.
Adding in Whiteside only sweetens the offer as Hassan would give Philly another proven shot blocking center to play behind Embiid and alongside Howard.
With McNair and Morey having worked together in Houston, perhaps they can make a deal happen, but I know Philadelphia will have a hard time letting go of Thybulle. But who knows? Perhaps Philly knows that a change of scenery could benefit Hield and bolster the Sixers’ three point shooting.
The Kings and Lakers Make a Trade
Los Angeles Lakers receive: Hassan Whiteside, 2021 2nd Round Pick via Los Angeles
Sacramento Kings receive: Alfonzo McKinnie, Talen Horton-Tucker, 2022 First Round Pick
It seems Hassan Whiteside was only signed by the Kings on a veteran minimum contract so that he could be easily flipped at the deadline to a title contender. Well, the Kings have found a title contender to give Whiteside to in the Los Angeles Lakers.
Whiteside to LA makes sense considering a few things: Anthony Davis has been injured for most of the year, Marc Gasol is far from the player he once was, and Montrezl Harrell prefers coming off the bench.
Even though he has played very little this year, Whiteside is still regarded as a serviceable big man, recently coming off a season where he averaged 15.5 points per game, 13.5 rebounds per game, and led the league in blocks per game with 2.9.
Perhaps Whiteside’s lack of play this season is a perk for the Lakers since he’ll be relatively fresh for what will likely be a deep playoff run for LA.
The veteran big man is almost perfect for the Lakers needs — for position, skillset, salary, and freshness — so McNair should ask for a little more, especially when partaking in trade discussions with Sacramento’s rival.
Talen Horton-Tucker has looked like a nice surprising young prospect for the Lakers and matched with a 2022 first round pick, the Lakers may have themselves a deal.
With McKinnie included due to cap space for LA, the Kings should throw in their 2021 second round selection that was originally the Lakers to begin with.
A young prospect and a first round pick is the perfect price for Whiteside considering he was signed for this exact scenario.
Not to mention that Talen Horton-Tucker and Tyrese Haliburton were teammates at Iowa State and have known each other since they were 12.
The Kings Get Justise
Memphis Grizzlies receive: Buddy Hield
Sacramento Kings receive: Gorgui Dieng, Justise Winslow
Trading Buddy Hield is possibly a high priority for McNair (even if isn’t for Vivek) come the trade deadline and he knows he will have to to maximize Hield’s value in order to get the best package in return. So why not look at Memphis?
Memphis could use some help shooting the long ball since they knock in just 10.5 triples each game, low enough for 29th in the league. Add Buddy Hield to the equation, though, and that number increases by close to 4 threes each contest.
With comparisons between De’Aaron Fox and Ja Morant’s game, Memphis could feasibly try to recreate the chemistry that Fox and Hield had in 2018-2019.
Anyone who can fix Buddy’s game will reap the rewards of a great player, but even if they can’t achieve that, they will have a reliable three point shooter who will knock down several long balls each game either off the bench or with the starting five.
In return, the Kings should have their eyes on Justise Winslow who will act as a high risk, high reward player just like Buddy. Winslow has dealt with injuries for the majority of his young career but, like Hield, was phenomenal in 2018-19.
Winslow would offer extraordinary defense to the worst defensive team in history. And with room to grow at just 24 years old and having a team option for next season that the Kings can choose to exercise, he could be a vital piece down the line.
With Gorgui Dieng part of the deal for salary cap purposes and in the expiring year of his contract anyways, this is a mutually beneficial deal. Memphis can snag a proven three point shooter without giving up a core piece of their young talent. And Sacramento unloads Buddy’s contract and receives a player who, at full potential, can help take the team to the next level.
The Kings Add Myles from Indiana
Indiana Pacers receive: Richaun Holmes, Buddy Hield
Sacramento Kings receive: Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb
How could I add beloved Richaun Holmes to a trade package? Hear me out.
Richaun Holmes is at the height of his value: he is first in the NBA in field goal percentage, a menace in the pick and roll game due to his push shot, and an above average defender for a center who gives it his all every night.
Holmes will rightfully earn a nice paycheck when he hits fee agency after this season. If Monte McNair presumes that he won’t be able to offer Holmes his asking price, then it’s best to move him before he walks for nothing.
Under that scenario, add Indiana into this narrative. Myles Turner’s future with the Pacers is uncertain due to his displeasure about his backseat role on the offensive side of the ball.
If the Kings could get Turner from Indiana, then Sacramento will acquire one of the best defensive centers in the NBA; adding an impactful piece to improve the Kings’ atrocious defense.
With Holmes set to hit free agency after the season, a half-season rental of Holmes for Turner is far from fair for Indiana. Add in Buddy Hield who can bolster the Pacers’ three point shooting department as a piece for their future with the three years remaining on his contract after this season.
Add in Jeremey Lamb for cap space purposes and to play behind Haliburton off the bench, and it may be a deal.
Holmes and Buddy can definitely help Indiana’s playoff push this season while the Kings add a much needed defensive presence in the paint who also has two years left on his contract after this season.
I’m not sure Holmes and Buddy will be enough for Myles Turner, but unloading Buddy’s contract and getting a nice piece in return for Holmes in case he’s not on the team next year would be advantageous for Sacramento.
…The roster as it looks now needs major improvements if the team expects to succeed. The Kings have expendable pieces in Hassan Whiteside, Nemanja Bjelica, and Cory Joseph, but are still willing to listen to significant offers for players like Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and Richaun Holmes.
With the Kings’ defense being a major blackhole, adding in a defender like Thybulle, Turner, or even taking a shot on Winslow can pay dividends for the team’s defense.
There’s no doubt that this roster will look at least somewhat different after the trade deadline. It’ll be interesting to see who McNair deals, who he gets in return, and what those moves will mean for the Kings’ path for the rest of the season and the future.