The Kings are Still Active in Upgrading their Roster

As it stands now, the Kings have a roster that most can agree is a major upgrade. In fact, given the nine or ten legitimate players on it, this year may very well offer the best Sacramento rotation in recent memory. 

However, with the offseason in full swing, nothing is merely standing. Everything is still moving.

“We’re always going to be opportunistic and the NBA calendar never sleeps,” GM Monte McNair declared at the introductory press conference for Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter at the end of last week.

Perhaps after the addition of shooting via the draft pick of Keegan Murray and the acquisitions of Monk and Huerter, one could say the Kings fulfilled their goals, adding the floor stretchers needed that also offer length, versatility, and what McNair called “underrated” defense. 

Even still, Monte McNair and company seem determined to continue to revamp this team in order to stand out as contenders amid a tough conference. 

And everyone seems to know it.

“I think there will be a few more trades,” Kings star Domantas Sabonis told a European basketball outlet this weekend in Las Vegas, adding that “a lot can still happen.”

With all that can happen, there’s a range of possibilities.

For one, according to Dave McMenamin and Marc Spears, a trio of veterans are working out for the Kings in Vegas: Matthew Dellavedova, Quinn Cook, and Shabazz Muhammad. 

Former Cavalier Matthew Dellavedova spent last season playing in Australia where he averaged 10.6 points on 40.7% from the field and 38% from three, 4.9 assists, 3 rebounds, and just under 1 steal per game. The 31 year-old looks poised for another dip in the NBA waters.

Quinn Cook, who was previously on the Warriors and the Mickey Mouse Champion Lakers, played a mix overseas and in the G League last season. He played 6 games for the club Lokomotiv Kuban before entering the G League and being picked up by the Stockton Kings. In 11 games down there, he averaged 23.5 points on 51.8% overall shooting and 44% from deep, 5.9 assists, and 4.9 rebounds.

The 29 year-old Shabazz Muhammad spent five seasons in the NBA, almost entirely with Minnesota, before embarking overseas to play in China and the Phillipines. His basketball story over the last few years is hard to discern after a cursory glance, though. The 6’6″ wing never really found his rhythm for any noticeable stretch of time in his first NBA stint, but maybe he has more in the tank. 

Of course, there’s also the international player whose NBA rights found a new home in the Kings back pocket. With the potential to be an effective stretch 4 in this league as he enters his prime, Sasha Vezenkov remains an option, but the outlook for him being on the team next year remains unclear, if not less likely than a week ago. 

After just winning the Greek League MVP and having a meeting scheduled with the organization in Las Vegas where EuroHoops presumed Vezenkov would receive an offer, the get together was canceled, per Jason Anderson’s reporting. The possibility of him jumping onto the Kings next season still exists since an offer can still be made with him on another continent, but the cap situation provides some issues. 

Beyond the potentiality of adding those names by simple signing, there are other, more prominent moves that could be made via trade.

One of the things McNair clarified about his ambitions going forward is that any success that is yielded should be sustained by any means necessary.

“We want to get into the playoffs, McNair stated on Friday before adding an important caveat. “We want to certainly break that streak and get that taste… and get that experience, but for us it’s not about just getting into the playoffs one time. It’s about getting there, staying there, and competing further into the playoffs. And guys who are, I think, 23, 24 — whatever they are — their best basketball is ahead of them.”

While veteran talent—in other words, players beyond their prime pocket—will always be necessary and important to winning rosters as role players and forces of balance off the bench, it’s notable that starter Harrison Barnes is the only member of the roster over the age of 30 and is also headed into the last year of his deal. 

Barnes is still a very good basketball player— he always has been. He’s smart, efficient, hard-working, and a great locker room presence with the years—and championship—beneath his belt. Moreover, he’s improved year by year and become a really effective three-point shooter to the point where he is an exceptional net positive. However, given the hunger to get better this offseason, moving Barnes may be more eminent than some think.

James Ham early in the offseason said there was a 50/50 chance the veteran is moved, and with the combined factor of that value and his expiring contract, the time to move him has never been more ripe.

What kind of deal would initiate a move of the small forward remains unclear to this moment. Though, there has been plenty to think about in a potential trade that would send Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle to the Kings in exchange for Barnes, Richaun Holmes, and Terence Davis. The deal would move Harris’ massive contract off Philadelphia’s books, as they want, while giving both teams a little of what they both want in terms of personnel. Plus, Sacramento would actually end up with depth on the wing at the end of the day, something they’ve lacked for the entirety of Barnes’ stay here.

Of course, there’s the undeniable reality with Harris’ gigantic contract and the fact he’ll be 30 this season, but he’d nevertheless be under contract, keeping the core in tact going into next season and preventing the burden of courting bigger names to a mid-market team.

Again, what kind of trade remains unknown, but with the intention to make more improvements to this team that range from small signings to other larger moves, there’s a good chance Barnes could be moved.

At the end of the day, the Kings are being aggressive and another showing of that seemingly new characteristic could arise sooner than later.

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