Anybody who’s watched the Sacramento Kings this season knows they’re not only watching some of the best basketball that the organization has offered in recent memory, but also some of the most enjoyable among the whole NBA.
However, even as Sac stands as a daunting team that is trouble now and projects to be extremely dangerous in the years to come, they—like anybody—have some areas in need of improvement.
The two areas: the backup 5 and wing depth.
With the trade deadline set for this Thursday, fans wait with anticipation to see if the Kings can improve either of them this week.
In terms of backup centers, several names have come up as legitimate options, such as Nerlens Noel or Mason Plumlee. The backup wing conversation had its most buzz last week when it was reported the Kings are “monitoring” Matisse Thybulle.
It could be tough though. Assuming the Kings are not on the cusp of a blockbuster deal—which would likely include a name or names like Davion Mitchell or even Keegan Murray—they do not have the widest range of assets at their disposal.
For now, they’re without a first round pick to deal on account of the Kevin Huerter deal and the Stepien Rule, which prevents teams from being without a first round pick for consecutive seasons. They do have future second round picks to offer, but that clearly does not provide a ton of pull.
They also have players like Terence Davis, whose scoring talent is always a commodity in this league.
Plus, there are also other suitors out there looking for many of the same personnel improvements.
For instance, over the weekend, Yahoo! Sport’s Jake Fischer reported that several teams are browsing the league for a backup 5.
“The backup center market may end up being the segment of trade-deadline activity that features the most action,” Fischer writes, going on to note the 76ers, Clippers, Trailblazers, Nuggets, Nets, Celtics, and Raptors among the Kings as teams searching for one.
For Noel in particular, in addition to Sacramento, Miami, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Boston have all “inquired” about the big man according to The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III.
With less names seemingly thrown around for backup wing options—though guys like Charlotte’s Jalen McDaniels and New York’s Cam Reddish have come up here and there—fans should keep in mind that the sights on Thybulle are not unique to the Kings either. Both the Warriors and Hawks have been reported to be interested in the defensive specialist.
With the understanding that it’s dubious at best that Sacramento would put much thought into acquiring a question mark like Reddish, McDaniels presents an interesting scenario given that he and Mason Plumlee are on the same team and both would adequately provide the help the Kings are looking to add.
Plumlee, as most are prone to see it, would probably be a risk to end up being a half-season rental, but one the team might live with given that he’s 32 years-old. McDaniels, though, cannot be seen in the same light.
An unrestricted free agent after this year and having a season that is putting him on the map as a rotation-worthy wing with great size and length, the 25 year-old McDaniels may be looking to secure his financial future more than anything. With his physical skillset, teams will be interested in him and his upside, even with the risk that he could be having a career year.
Thybulle, on the other hand, is not a guy who’s stock is rising. Even with less of a role this season, it’s not falling either because Thybulle is a proven player in the league, which may make him more worthy of jumping through the hurdles of trying to retain him and which probably keeps his value from inflating beyond his talent level.
So if a deal goes down that includes Sacramento and Charlotte, it’s safe to say it’d just be Plumlee involved, if it even happens at all.
Off of the thought about one team possessing potential fits for both of the Kings’ needs, Detroit presents the same prospect.
Of course, there’s Nerlens Noel, but the topic of Saddiq Bey exists as well according to James L. Edwards III, who noted that many teams view the wing as a “gettable” player.
“The Pistons have to start thinking about extensions for Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Killian Hayes (all of whom were first-round draft picks in 2020) this summer,” Edwards writes. “Also, in the eyes of people around the league, the presence, extension and efficient scoring of Bogdanović, who plays a similar role to Bey, makes the latter more expendable. The Pistons, who very much need defensive help on the wing and perimeter, also have high hopes for second-year forward Isaiah Livers as a solid, 3-and-D piece moving forward, assuming the 24-year-old can stay healthy.”
The 6’7″ Bey could fit in as a catch and shoot threat on offense. On the season, he’s shooting 37.8% on such attempts from three, and since January 1, he’s sinking 42.4% of those looks on 4.4 attempts per contest. Moreover, he’s hitting wide open three-pointers at a 44.2% clip overall.
Defensively, Bey is not regarded for being the quickest perimeter defender. With Mike Brown searching for the right combinations to “contain the dribble” of opponents, the Kings may be looking for a wing that—like Thybulle—could really provide help in that aspect. But Bey still makes a positive impact as a team defender.
Based on a glance, he wouldn’t be as ideal as Thybulle given the specific needs, but Bey does have something to offer that many of the others cannot: he’s under contract next season.
If Sacramento could get Noel and Bey, that would be ideal so long as the exchange worked out, but could one materialize?
A lot of this is dependent on the Kings moving Richaun Holmes, who Sac would be happy to trade for an equal contract and potential second round draft capital.
As one can notice, that is a slight conundrum that the Kings are trying to ship off a center while also looking for another one. Detroit just drafted Jalen Duren, who looks great, and they’re a young team; in other words, they are not interested in being the landing spot for Holmes. Perhaps they would take him so as to trade him come the offseason, but it seems like a stretch at this point in time.
Adding to the trouble, in regards to moving Bey, Detroit is likely looking for a sizable return. Edwards noted that there “are reasons to hesitate when pondering any potential trades involving Bey, especially given his age, his ability to score in bunches and, despite being a streaky 3-point shooter the last two seasons, he is a respectable threat from distance.”
So maybe killing two birds with one stone is a fantasy more than anything. That does not limit the potentialities as Sacramento could still make multiple deals, but the amount of bidders could get in the way.
Especially as it pertains to backup centers being the hottest thing on the market, don’t be surprised if the Kings lean further into acquiring Thybulle.
The backup 5 was a visible hole just a few games into the season, but given that perimeter defense—and how it ties into paint defense—is the biggest need right now the front office probably feel most strongly about Thybulle since he’d be a great solution for that specific need.
Also, Mike Brown clearly trusts Chimezie Metu the player as he does with most guys he has a history with. That does not mean Metu is a good backup 5, but it’s reasonable to assume that there is an alternate outlook if another center can’t be added: the Kings may view help on the wing as something that lessens the brunt of the hole behind Sabonis.
Even with the deadline set for this Thursday, there’s a lot of shadow among these dimly lit rumors. Anything can happen, so keep your eyes peeled this week.
I like the Plumlee, JMD deal. Monte should be able to come up with some something not too crazy to get them. Hope it works out, or McNair has some other players/deals in mind!