It’s grown abundantly clear that the market for a backup center is the most vibrant here with the deadline hastily approaching.
“The backup center market may end up being the segment of trade-deadline activity that features the most action,” Yahoo! Sports’ Jake Fischer wrote over the weekend, listing the 76ers, Clippers, Trailblazers, Nuggets, Nets, Celtics, Raptors, and of course Kings as teams looking in that direction.
On top of not having a ton to offer in terms of assets of value, Sacramento may not exactly be putting themselves in the front of the line for targets like Nerlens Noel or Mason Plumlee with all the heat surrounding backup 5’s this deadline season.
While those names would be ideal for Mike Brown’s team, the search may have to turn elsewhere.
As many Kings fans have noted online, the Utah Jazz may be a team to look at.
Upon initial thought, perhaps Kelly Olynyk pops into mind, a guy that starts for Will Hardy, who is in his tenth season in the league, and who can stretch the floor. He would make sense for what Sac is trying to do in the present, but again, the notion of actually having the means to acquire him and take on his $12.8 million contract does not come across as entirely realistic, especially when he, too, is getting interest from other suitors. Plus, looking beyond this season, it’s doubtful that Sacramento would view him as their guy going forward.
Or maybe, another name pops up that could be a part of the long term plan. Maybe, with a head engulfed by fantasy, the Kings could acquire promising rookie big man Walker Kessler. Hell, when Sacramento took on Kessler Edwards–whose movement saves money for Brooklyn and who is set to be given a chance in Stockton if he sticks around past the actual deadline–it wouldn’t be surprising if eyes were deceived into thinking it was the first-year man. But getting the rook would require a lot, or in other words, it’s unrealistic and is not happening.
However, Jarred Vanderbilt is an entirely different story. The 6’8″, 214 lb. forward/center is reportedly generating a “robust” conversation leading up to Thursday, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic.
Jones notes that from what he’s heard, “the Jazz have an offer for Vanderbilt from a Western Conference team that would net them multiple second round picks.”
Could that team be the Kings? Perhaps, but it could just as well be the Clippers, Blazers, or Nuggets. The point is that there is a legitimate expectation for Vanderbilt to be moved.
“Of the players currently on the Jazz, Vanderbilt seems the most likely to be moved between now and Thursday, sources say,” Jones continues. “The Jazz value him. But, in Utah’s system, Vanderbilt is a center, and rookie Walker Kessler has emerged and made it impossible for the franchise to keep the rookie off the floor. That means Vanderbilt becomes a bit redundant for Utah.”
He wouldn’t be redundant for Sacramento. Vanderbilt is athletic, defensively versatile, a solid rebounder (7.9 per game), and has an ability to stretch the floor (33.3% on over one three-point attempt per game).
Though it’s fair to say Chimezie Metu has exceeded expectations to some degree, Vanderbilt projects to be the steadier player in that backup center role.
He’s about the same height as Metu and actually possesses a lighter frame, but he seems more instinctually sound, is a better passer and rebounder, a more consistent outside shooting threat, and less prone to foul.
Looking at his contract situation, Vanderbilt has another year left on his deal, securing the valuable ability to bring him along next year as a guy that could be part of the franchise’s plans.
Of course, if the Kings can get him for two second round picks, that would be massively beneficial. But as Tony Jones pointed out, Utah’s primary goal is “value.”
“It will make the Jazz choosy over the next few days, according to sources, and this trade deadline is not a fire sale for the Jazz,” Jones clarifies. “They aren’t going to be trading players for the sake of trading them, which means they aren’t taking on scraps from other teams just for the sake of it.”
Utah is likely waiting on an offer for something more than two seconds. Maybe that doesn’t come around, but with the desire to acquire depth in the middle being a priority for so many teams, it’s hard not to see that two-second’s offer bested before the deadline hits.
Sacramento’s hands are kind of tied in terms of what they can offer, if the price exceeds the realm of second round draft capital, then the Kings have little chance to get Jarred Vanderbilt.
But given the high asking prices for some guys–such as Charlotte’s request for a first-rounder in order to get Mason Plumlee–he might be the most realistic target as the trade deadline nears.