The Kings have an opportunity to make some improvements this offseason, and with all the possible small to medium-sized moves they can make, there are a lot of routes to achieving their goal.
But it’s still May. It’s early. Nothing can be considered imminent. So with that, it’s hard not to dream big and think of some of the larger splashes that could occur in Sacramento this summer.
Here are four big names the Kings could have a chance of snagging if they choose or have the opportunity to.
Khris Middleton has a player option for next season and will almost certainly turn that down at the age of 31, where it’s probable this is his last chance for a big contract in the league. Thus there is a very legitimate chance he hits free agency as an unrestricted free agent.
Middleton has been the second star behind Giannis Antetokounmpo for years, and with Mike Budenholzer’s recent firing, change is very possible up in Milwaukee.
With a possible departure of Harrison Barnes this summer, the Kings would have a considerable upgrade at the small forward position. A healthy Middleton is an excellent and versatile offensive player who could score far more than Barnes without losing the veteran presence of a former champion.
Will Z. Stats put him near the very top of his wish list and had a good deal of observations that paint how massive of an acquisition this would be. One of his points was that there would be the potential for Middleton to be a mentor for Keegan Murray.
At his introductory press conference last June alongside Monte McNair, Murray cited Middleton as the player he models his game after. This would be an opportunity to pair them together, which seems extremely advantageous. Not only would he be exposed to the guy he models himself after on a daily basis, it’d be yet another positive influence on the former Hawkeye.
All Kings fans know the excellent relationship Murray has with his father and how that has helped him develop. Fans also saw how Mike Brown assumed a father-like role, chiding and challenging the rookie at various points throughout the season. And they saw the big brother-like nature of Sabonis’ relationship with the kid.
If Sacramento could make this work, it would provide a dynamic and layered impact to the team.
Another guy that the Kings may have an opportunity to offer money to is Jerami Grant, who happens to be two years younger than Middleton.
Grant was talked about a lot in relation to the idea of possibly trading the fourth overall pick ahead of last year’s draft. That never came to be, which is to most fans’ satisfaction on account of how popular Murray is, but after he did not take the Trailblazers up on a four-year max offer during the season, there is a possibility he could want out, which would make him an unrestricted free agent.
Portland had a miserable year, and though they seemingly want Grant back, it could be that the 6’8″ forward may be seeking out a better team to pay him.
It’s wild that the projected win totals coming into this season had the Blazers winning more games than the Kings. Near the end of last summer, while discussing Sacramento’s playoff chances—really, it was play-in chances at that juncture in the discourse—Kendrick Perkins flat out said “they’re not better than the Trailblazers.”
Well now the record has been set straight. Portland is a big mystery, and while they could make some moves that can convince Grant and others that they’re capable of being a playoff team, there are so many other teams on the cusp of doing great things. And the Kings may embody that description the best.
Needless to say, Grant would be a great addition with his floor stretching, movement, finishing, and rebounding. He’d also be a discernible upgrade on defense over Barnes.
The first two are guys who could very well enter the free agency market, but now it’s time to start thinking big about the potential trade market.
The Nets made a nice change at the deadline. Though they parted with one of history’s best players in Kevin Durant, they added Bridges and Cam Johnson. In a lot of ways, they recalibrated their roster in a manner that sets a potential path to the championship contention they never capitalized on in the time since Durant and others arrived, and with Bridges and Johnson in the core, the sustainability of success appears much stronger.
However, they also acquired four first round picks in the trade, which lends credence to the idea that they want a more expansive rebuild.
It would be prudent not to bet on the likelihood of that, but under such a scenario, it feels as though the potential to offload Richaun Holmes’ contract would be feasible, which should be a high priority task this offseason regardless of whether or not the Kings make a big splash.
If this were to happen, it would undoubtedly require parting ways with Keegan Murray as well as a bit more than that.
In the midst of attaining one of the premiere two-way players in the league and becoming a championship contender, Sacramento would also be adding a guy who’d be a seamless fit in terms of age among the core. Bridges is 26 years old while Domantas Sabonis just turned 27 and De’Aaron Fox is 25.
Not to mention Bridges actually went to an NBA Finals a few years ago as more of a role player and played in Phoenix aside big names like Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton, demonstrating his ability to fit in with star talent around.
But all of it rests on what Brooklyn wants to do.
It’s understandably easy to laugh off or completely ignore most things that media figures like Colin Cowherd say, but he proposed an idea last week that was interesting to say the least.
His proposition is that the Warriors should send Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins to Boston in exchange for Jaylen Brown and Malcolm Brogdon. The rationale behind it is that Golden State would be the perfect landing spot for Brown, whose future has been a source of speculation this season, while supplying Jayson Tatum with another scorer and a max two-way player.
Brown will enter the final year of his deal next season, and in terms of an extension, there have been concerns about if the Celtics would extend the All-NBA guard in the coming months when they’re set to give Tatum another monster deal the following summer. Needless to say, both will command massive amounts of money.
Furthermore, there have been reasons to believe that he is not all that fond of Boston as a home, and a major part of what makes the idea of sending Brown to Golden State seem believable is because the two-time all-star attended Cal and maintains an attachment to the Bay Area, calling it his “home away from home.”
Potentially moving Brown is more than possible, and there’s no hiding that he would enjoy coming out west, but it’s unlikely Poole would possess that much pull in Boston’s eyes even as Cowherd claims the Celtics “don’t need more defense.”
So it’s worth asking about the other team in Northern California: Could Jaylen Brown be traded to the Kings?
It may not be any more likely than any of the other options on this list, and in fact it may have the lowest probability, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Like a hypothetical trade for Mikal Bridges, some more sentimental fans would have to prepare for a departure of Keegan Murray to add Brown.
Who else would be involved is another question. Maybe it could be part of a sign-and-trade of Harrison Barnes, a guy who reportedly sparked interest from Boston in the past. Perhaps someone like Kevin Huerter or Davion Mitchell or both would suffice. And one can’t discount what a stack of second round picks can get you these days.
But put that way, it sounds even more like a stretch, not to mention something that may limit the team’s depth.
Still, not only would Brown come back to California, not very far from where he played college ball, but as a guy about to turn 27, he’d also be a third star right in line with the core group of guys that are early on in or about to enter their prime.