Since the lottery balls fell in their favor last month, the thought that the Kings may trade their 4th overall pick has been a topic of extensive discussion. With an order to implement immediate improvements and make the playoffs, it seemed to many that the most value the draft positioning could yield is if the pick were to be traded away in some kind of package that moves back in the lottery while adding one or multiple impact veterans.
However, that was always contingent on one question: Would any teams actually be able to offer the requisite level of value?
Without a clear answer amid a flurry of different reports, it appears the Kings could just end up using their pick when it’s their time on the clock and still conjure up a similar upgrade.
On Monday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Sacramento is “becoming increasingly comfortable drafting at No. 4 in Thursday’s draft” after having established “a steep price for teams behind them in the lottery who are attempting to trade up.”
Accompanying this nugget of information and substantiating the idea of using the 4th pick, Charania also reported that GM Monte McNair has been talking to the Hawks about acquiring John Collins in a deal that has nothing to do with the 4th overall pick.
With days before the draft, the possibility of picking either Jaden Ivey—who, to some degree, clarified his stance on the Kings—or Keegan Murray while still adding a talented and established player like Collins seems practical should a deal be made with Atlanta sooner than later.
Without losing sight of all of this as merely a few reports, what might this scenario end up delivering based on the two options for the Kings at their 4th spot in the draft?
Taking Jaden Ivey
Last week, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony quietly dropped a report in a mock draft stating that the Kings “aren’t Ivey’s preferred destination.”
Though he hasn’t been in contact with the Kings, nor has he worked out for them, Ivey tried to clarify his mindset with the media, saying that being picked by Sacramento “wouldn’t be the worst option.”
While that does not sound like the most enthusiastic endorsement of possibly being selected by the Kings, it does illustrate that it’s still possible.
With the two first-round selections he’s made, Monte McNair has stuck with the strategy of taking the best available player. It has proven a sound philosophy thus far, producing Tyrese Haliburton—and his trade value that was used to snag Sabonis in February—as well as Davion Mitchell. Selecting Ivey would be the third installment of this trend.
But this draft hasn’t offered the same air of simplicity for McNair and company. The idea that Ivey comes to Sacramento was always met with concerns about the stockpiling of perimeter talent for a team trying to comprehensively improve in order to make the playoffs.
And while some of these concerns concluded that De’Aaron Fox and Ivey are incompatible—which is a bold stretch to assume because it would seem to assume the same about the prospect of a Fox-Mitchell backcourt—the primary concern has always been regarding depth.
Yes, Ivey will be the best prospect available—he may even be one of the top three at the end of the day, or even the one with the most fruitful career—but with Fox, Mitchell, presumably Donte DiVincenzo, and a few role-playing guards with range, the efforts to bolster the roster seemed better utilized in other areas, particularly on the wing and at the power forward position.
For good reason, this reality has made some Kings fans uneasy as they began projecting images in their heads of Ivey being a superstar in just a few years for a team not named the Sacramento Kings. And due to that, it’s sparked a lively and substantive debate among fans and onlookers.
But with the idea that the Kings could add Collins while keeping the 4th pick, taking Ivey seems like it’d take on “no-brainer” status.
Regardless of whether Atlanta wants to add another star beside Trae Young or go through a reset of sorts following a disappointing year, as Chris Kirschner noted last month, Collins will likely be moved. And either way, the Hawks will clearly require good value in return for the skilled forward.
Trading for Collins and his $23.5 million cap hit has long insinuated a likely parting with Harrison Barnes and his $18.3 million hit, and if the Hawks are leaning on another competitive season, Barnes could be a major part of the deal along with another contract.
If not and if Clint Capela is indeed drawing trade interest from more than just the T-Wolves as Charania also reported, then the Hawks may be willing to take Richaun Holmes’ contract and a combination of lesser contracts.
Though, don’t get stuck in the rainbows and unicorns delusion of trade fantasizing. Void of the 4th pick in both scenarios, a future first-rounder or more may have to be in the cards for Collins to come to Sac.
More than draft capital, there is a real possibility last year’s draft pick Davion Mitchell may need to be included in this deal.
For one, Mitchell could be of enough value to keep Barnes on the Kings if the Hawks were to take a deal including Holmes and Harkless. However, that still might require some draft capital.
On the flip side, if Atlanta were to have their eyes set on a winning season, Mitchell and Barnes for Collins could be an acceptable deal that meets financial requirements according to Spotrac’s transaction tool.
Without getting stuck in the weeds of what this specific trade scenario will look like, in a situation where the Kings use Mitchell as a chip to acquire Collins, the concerns about depth consolidation at the guard position dissipate. As such, the idea of Sacramento taking Jaden Ivey makes a ton of sense under those circumstances.
In fact, if the Kings could get Ivey and Collins, that would be a convincing overall upgrade for a team on the hunt for the playoffs, especially if they could keep Barnes in the process.
But who knows?
At the end of the day, the principle idea of using Mitchell to get Collins while snagging Ivey with the 4th pick is one worthy of serious consideration because it not only seems doable, but it may be the perfect blend of making a major improvement to the overall roster and taking the best available player.
Taking Keegan Murray
The question about whether or not he’s a reach for the 4th pick has spawned various takes, but everyone agrees that Keegan Murray would be a nice fit for the Kings. To some, the narratives surrounding the 4th pick in the lead up to the draft are just distracting from the idea that Sacramento should just take Murray.
As Givony also noted, coach Mike Brown and owner Vivek Ranadive are both said to be proponents of drafting Murray. And, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, the Kings like Murray enough to have arranged for the Iowa prospect to have dinner with Fox and Sabonis.
Though it doesn’t possess the same pizazz, taking Murray rather than Ivey while also adding John Collins would still deliver a prominent start to improving the roster.
If this variation of the deal goes down, it’s likely only happening if the Kings keep Davion Mitchell, which would almost certainly entail future draft capital being sent to Atlanta.
Barnes, however, would likely not be staying put.
But with the possibility of both Murray and Collins incoming, the Kings would experience a net improvement on their roster.
Keegan Murray is regarded as a modern 4, and while he’s perfect for that role, it’s important to remember how versatile he is. ESPN’s Mike Schmitz described Murray as capable of playing as a “jumbo small forward, modern 4, and small-ball 5.”
Murray himself, when asked by Chris Haynes about his natural position, said that it’s “the three-four position.”
And of course, in profiles of the Iowa forward, he’s probably compared to Harrison Barnes more than any other player. For instance, James Ham said Murray is reminiscent of a “young” Barnes.
This isn’t to argue that Murray is exclusively a small forward—he’s clearly more than that—but it is to say that in an NBA that’s practically positionless, Murray and Collins could probably play as a pair of forwards on the floor together, and regardless of what the starting lineup is, both of them together present ample opportunity for Mike Brown to lean on some dynamic on-floor combinations.
If this were the case, the Kings could improve, but again, it might lack the appeal of the other option.
That is, unless they can keep Barnes in the process, which is obviously a stretch in both situations, but particularly this one.
So, Is Ivey the Guy?
If the Kings are indeed getting John Collins in a trade that doesn’t involve the 4th pick, you bet your sweet bippy Jaden Ivey is the guy to take. And if they can keep Barnes, then all the more reason for this to be the case.
As expressed already, that would be an almost perfect hybrid that melds the philosophy of taking the best available prospect while also adding established talent.
Of course, this is all a whole lot of buzz that lacks much certainty on what these moves would ultimately look like if they happen at all.
Who knows if the Kings end up getting Collins and for what? But if they can successively do so, then it might suddenly bring clarity to all that Sacramento should just take Ivey. However, it should be repeated that without knowing much and lacking any clairvoyant vision, the debate on all of this draft business nevertheless remains unsettled until Monte McNair makes his move.
Maybe all of this produces nothing and the Kings are just set on taking Murray 4th overall. Or maybe Sacramento wants to create the impression that they just might take Ivey at No. 4 so as to goad Detroit to trade up a spot.
Still, with all the possibilities of what could unfold by the end of draft night, almost everything is worth the consideration, and after Monday’s series of reports, Kings fans have even more to think about.