Knowing who the top-three picks will be in this draft, it was evident to the whole league that the Kings were granted a lucrative asset when they landed the 4th pick, a threshold of sorts separating the two top tiers of prospects. The trade value of such a positioning was surely to be high, and with the big night set for this Thursday, the bidding war is really starting to rev up and take perceptible shape.
Jabari Smith Jr., Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero are set to go first in whatever order later this week, leaving Jaden Ivey and his potentially elite ceiling up there as the best available talent, which many feel is on par with that of the top-three.
Issues, however, regarding the Purdue guard’s fit alongside De’Aaron Fox on the playoff-chasing team and, moreover, his lack of willingness to be in Sacramento make the likelihood of a trade stronger. Even with the NBA-ready and seamless practicality of Iowa’s Keegan Murray on the board as well, there’s a good chance he’ll still be available if Sacramento trades back a spot or two.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski laid out this fact last week in Boston in the run up to Game 6 of the Finals.
“That No. 4 pick that the Sacramento Kings hold is very much in play,” Wojnarowski reported. “There are a lot of teams trying to get deals done with Sacramento so they can move up to select Jaden Ivey. That’s teams close to them in the lottery — who are five and six — the New York Knicks at No. 11, Washington Wizards at No. 10, and even some teams outside of the lottery.”
Despite mere days until the draft is held, even these reports could be masking executives’ true intentions, but as of now, at least some idea is materializing in the form of potential trade partners.
Here’s a closer look at some of those teams and what they could offer.
Detroit Pistons at No. 5
The Detroit Pistons sit directly behind the Kings with the 5th pick. Given their need for scoring and athleticism, on top of the appealing potential of a backcourt pairing with Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey would make a lot of sense to move up for.
Around the trade deadline in February, it was widely known that the Kings were interested in acquiring Jerami Grant. There wasn’t enough to reel him in at the time, but the circumstances ahead of this week’s draft offer opportunity to make it happen. Grant is a versatile defender that can score and contribute in stretching the floor, so his integration along with Fox and Domantas Sabonis would be ideal.
The question is what kind of cap restrictions would come into play with the 28 year-old Grant set to make over $20 million this upcoming year. Many have speculated this may require parting with Harrison Barnes and his $18.3 million cap hit. Losing Barnes and gaining Grant would not feel like a good use of the 4th pick’s trade value because it wouldn’t be as Barnes is a more dependable and efficient player than Grant. But that swap won’t be necessary.
Since Richaun Holmes is anticipated to be moved this offseason, his roughly $11.2 million combined with Justin Holiday’s $6.2 million, along with the 4th pick, would sum up as an acceptable transfer for Grant and the 5th pick.
That way, while giving Detroit a crack at a potential star, Sacramento could still guarantee the chance to get Murray—or anyone else they may view as a good addition for their playoff hunt—after making good use of both their draft positioning and Ivey’s allure to upgrade at power forward.
Indiana Pacers at No. 6
Perhaps the Kings want to bolster their roster in other areas and are intrigued by an offer from Indiana, who sit at number-six in the draft order.
Last month, Bleacher Report noted Sacramento’s interest in acquiring Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon. With Haliburton there, Brogdon’s place in Indiana is unclear, but he could find a nice spot beside De’Aaron Fox. After all, Brogdon is a long, competitive guard that defends well, scores in a variety of ways, and utilizes high-IQ playmaking ability.
He’d be a difference maker on the roster, but he’s set to make over $22 million this year, which could force the Kings to trade Harrison Barnes. While that feels like a risk for multiple reasons—including the hole created on the depth chart and the uncertainty of whether Murray will still be available—there also happen to be alternate options.
If Sacramento can dump Holmes, Holiday, and either Terrence Davis or Maurice Harkless then they can make this deal happen. However, that depends on how bad the Pacers want Ivey.
And, again, would Murray be available at number-six?
Possibly. But there’s also the chance Detroit takes him if Indiana indeed leaps ahead to snag Ivey. Murray offers plenty for Detroit to like and plenty of mock drafts have him going 5th to the Pistons, so it’s more than possible.
In that scenario, Sacramento gains a guard, but in a draft position where it appears they could only further add to their perimeter depth (thinking in terms of Bennedict Mathurin, AJ Griffin, Shaedon Sharpe, and others).
That could present a tricky situation that asks whether the roster has really improved. That is, of course, unless another trade follows that. But knowing very little on the outside, one can’t get ahead of themselves.
Washington Wizards at No. 10
Way back at number-ten, Washington is said to be “really high” on Jaden Ivey, according to Wizards insider Quinton Mayo. As such, they are a potential trade partner for that 4th pick.
Of course, the name everyone would want to hear is Bradley Beal, whose value would be more than worth falling back for. While there are multiple trade scenarios that could ship Beal to Sacramento, there haven’t been any substantial reasons to dissuade from the idea, reported just a month ago, that Beal intends to focus on his financial security and sign a five-year max deal with Washington worth a ton of money.
The guy who is more commonly and realistically being thrown around in a potential draft trade is a familiar name to Kings fans: Kyle Kuzma. One Yahoo! Sports mock draft, in fact, predicts that a deal such as this goes down.
Is Kuzma worth moving back to number-10?
Because it lacks a certain punch for such an exchange of picks, most would be inclined to say no.
Of course, getting the 10th pick and Kuzma in return for the 4th pick and, presumably, Holmes would keep Barnes on the team, but that could also be the case with an acquisition of Jerami Grant, who is better overall.
Still Kuzma would be a plus starting power forward. He averaged 17.1 points with a 34.1% clip from deep, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 66 games for the Wizards last year. Additionally, as a long and versatile player, he added to their defense as well.
By getting him and thus adding a starting 4, the Kings could add to their perimeter depth at number-10 with perhaps Griffin, Ochai Agbaji, or somebody else.
But, even in that light, the Kings would still be sacrificing the 4th position in the draft for this. It’s reasonable for many to feel that Kuzma may not immediately seem like the veteran player worth moving so far back for.
New York Knicks at No. 11
The Knicks are another team explicitly being named in these reports because they could use both Ivey’s talent and the clear answer he provides at point guard for them.
Let’s make it clear: it won’t involve Julius Randle. After shooting over 40% from three the year prior, Randle fell back to earth this past season and shot 30.8% from beyond the arc on roughly the same amount of attempts a game. Not only is he not a deep threat, he is a defensive liability. On top of it all, he’s also set to make over $23 million this year. So in short, the Kings don’t want him.
CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger wrote that in addition to the 11th pick, New York would also likely have to include either “some of their young talent like Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes or Cam Reddish,” or veterans like either “Alec Burks or Evan Fournier.”
These names probably produce nothing but shrugs and crickets from Kings fans.
As is clear, if Sacramento is to move back more than a few spots, they’ll be looking for significant return. Just because the Knicks may really want to move up to get Ivey doesn’t mean they have what it takes to be a worthy trade partner on their own. Maybe if there’s a third team, but the future is difficult to see.
Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 12
The possibility of Sacramento moving up in the draft in a trade with OKC has been discussed extensively, but what about a swap for the Thunder’s other lottery pick?
It could be more believable.
Last week, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported that Oklahoma City is “said to be aggressively pursuing trade conversations for this pick [No. 12], seeking to package it with future assets or existing OKC players in order to move into the mid-lottery, with players including Jaden Ivey and Shaedon Sharpe believed to be among the potential prospects they covet.”
With the Thunder reportedly feeling greedy and wanting both Holmgren and either Ivey or Sharpe, the Kings are in a prime position to make a move with them.
Is there a player the Kings could get in return that warrants this regression from 4th to 12th?
Lacking much veteran talent at all, indications would point to no. That is, unless the player in mind is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, whose name pops out as a major game changer.
However, with his recently signed max deal, the Kings would have to make a lot of moves for the sake of their financial situation, which may present some hurdles. But SGA is one hell of a talent, and with the rebuild in OKC, there could be a willingness to eat some contracts if the Thunder start watering at the mouth over a future of Holmgren and Ivey.
But they’d have to actually want to trade Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the first place, which is to say they’d have to be really sold on Ivey.
Fans will have to wait to see just how “aggressive” Thunder GM Sam Presti is really being.
Charlotte Hornets at No. 13 or No. 15
The Hornets remain steadfast in trying to cement themselves as a contender next season despite being thrust back into a coaching search after Atkinson decided to return to Golden State.
Like Portland, Charlotte is willing to move back or part with their draft capital to get better and be a playoff team, but what keeps the Hornets a potential trade partner with the Kings is their presumably underlying interest in Richaun Holmes, who would more than fill the need for a starting center.
The name frequently mentioned in such a scenario as a return for Sacramento is Gordon Hayward.
To get this deal done, Sacramento will also have to lose additional contracts, probably some three-man combination of Holiday, Davis, Harkless, or Alex Len in addition to Holmes, which is obviously a large deal.
Or they could part with Holmes and Barnes to get Hayward. But again, is that really a roster upgrade?
Well, for the Hornets, yes.
At this point, any deal with the Hornets involving Holmes probably gets done outside the context of moving the 4th pick, if at all. Though, who can say for sure?
Atlanta Hawks at No. 16
John Collins has long been a name associated with the Kings, especially since Sacramento inquired about the stretch forward around the time of the trade deadline.
He also happens to be a player that may actually be worth sacrificing Harrison Barnes to get.
Though a deal including Holmes, Holiday, and Len would be a financially feasible trade, the Hawks may not be interested in a load of Sacramento’s less desirable contracts.
Barnes on the other hand would be a steady veteran to add to Atlanta, and given he’s entering the final year of his deal and that Collins is entering the second of his five year deal, the Kings could be looking ahead and setting up for better roster carryover in their pursuit for “sustainable winning.”
Many trade predictions and mock drafts have the Kings making this deal to get Collins in exchange for Barnes and one other moderate sized contract, such as Holiday or Harkless. A Bleacher Report mock draft predicted this trade happens and that the Kings get wing Jalen Williams out of Santa Clara. Other options at the 16th pick could possibly be Agbaji, Jeremy Sochan, Tari Eason, Malakai Branham, or someone else.
The Kings could end up better after such a deal, but pulling the trigger on this would only be advantageous knowing Sacramento was unable to get Jerami Grant while keeping Barnes. Other than maybe defensively, Collins is the better player than Grant, but it’s a no brainer that both Grant and Barnes is better than just Collins.