The Sacramento Kings extended their playoff drought to 15 years this past season, tying the record for longest playoff drought in NBA history. Following another season of disappointment, changes are coming in Sacramento.
Under general manager Monte McNair, the Kings have made a series of good and bad moves in recent months. Sacramento lost out on a Bogdan Bogdanovic sign-and-trade, allowing him to leave in free agency for nothing. But McNair also made a few good moves, drafting Tyrese Haliburton and acquire Delon Wright before the NBA trade deadline.
Coming off their second consecutive season with a 31-41 record, McNair surprised many by retaining head coach Luke Walton for a third season. Originally hired by Vlade Divac, Walton holds a 62-82 record in Sacramento and is responsible for one of the worst defenses in NBA history.
Heading into the 2021 NBA offseason, let’s examine the latest Sacramento Kings rumors, potential trade ideas and where things stand for the organization.
Sacramento Kings rumors: De’Aaron Fox required for Ben Simmons trade?
The moment NBA rumors spread that the Philadelphia 76ers could trade Ben Simmons, the Sacramento Kings were mentioned as a potential landing spot. Unsurprisingly, general manager Monte McNair reached out and reports indicate an effort was made to acquire the All-Star defender. But a trade now seems unlikely.
According to Philly Voice’s Kyle Neubeck, the 76ers are uninterested in deals centered around draft picks and role players. As one source detailed, Philadelphia wouldn’t even entertain an offer from the Kings unless it involved De’Aaron Fox and that would just be the starting point.
Given Fox is a foundational piece for the Kings and they just signed him to a lucrative contract, it’s a non-starter for Sacramento. The front office likes its pairing of Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, making it a priority this summer to build around the two guards. If Simmons is off the table, the Kings may turn their focus to Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner.
Sacramento Kings shopping No. 9 pick
According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the Sacramento Kings are shopping the No. 9 pick around the league. After losing the NBA Draft lottery, general manager Monte McNair is eyeing a player who can make an impact immediately.
Ideally, Sacramento would love to execute a Ben Simmons trade. But the 76ers’ asking price is high, reportedly seeking Marvin Bagley, Buddy Hield and three first-round picks. As of now, Sacramento is likely only willing to pair the No. 9 pick with Bagley and Hield.
We dive into some other possibilities further below, with Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner among the potential fits. Ultimately, it would be a surprise if the Kings don’t keep the No. 9 pick and draft Franz Wagner.
Ben Simmons trade a possibility?
We mentioned among potential trade targets that Ben Simmons made a lot of sense for Sacramento. Sure enough, per NBA insider Marc Stein, the Kings are among the teams interested in acquiring the premium defender. The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Anderson dove into the Kings’ perspective further.
It’s no surprise that Sacramento would be willing to package Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III and multiple first-round picks in a deal. While Simmons is flawed, he is still one of the best players in the NBA. He could play the wing for the Kings, providing elite defense and serving as the caliber of stopper this team hasn’t seen take the court in a decade-plus.
Unsurprisingly, the 76ers are setting their sights much higher. Philadelphia wants another All-Star player back in exchange for Simmons, ideally hoping for Damian Lillard. If the Sacramento Kings want to have any shot at a deal, it may take a three-team trade.
Sacramento Kings interested in Nerlens Noel
One of the Kings’ biggest weaknesses in recent years, especially this past season, was defense. With Richaun Holmes headed to the open market and his asking price likely pushing him out of Sacramento’s price range, a new mold at center might be on the team’s radar.
According to Hoops Hype’s Michael Scotto, the Kings are among the clubs interest in impending free-agent center Nerlens Noel. He is also generating interest from the Toronto Raptors and the New York Knicks would like to re-sign him.
Noel provides very little on the offensive end, averaging just 5.1 ppg this past year with a 9.2% usage rate. However, he did finish with a 3.6 Defensive Win Shares (Holmes, 1.4) and posted a 101 Defensive Rating. It would likely cost Sacramento around $9 million to sign him. While money would be saved and the signing would help defensively, it’s still a downgrade.
Summer blockbuster trade possible?
The Kings fell just short of winning the NBA Draft lottery, leaving Monte McNair with a huge decision at the No. 9 overall pick. There are some intriguing options who could be available, but a team that hasn’t made the NBA Playoffs in 15 years needs players who can make a difference now.
The Athletic’s Jason Jones, who covers the team, and NBA insider Zach Lowe have wrote about the possibility of a trade. Sacramento could package the 9th pick along with Buddy Hield or Marvin Bagley to acquire a forward or center who would give this team an edge.
There are a few intriguing trade targets for the Kings, which we dive into below. Ultimately, it will all depend on how aggressive McNair is and how rival GMs value Sacramento’s trade assets.
Latest on Marvin Bagley
Marvin Bagley caused a stir in Sacramento on social media. He liked a tweet suggesting he be traded this offseason and removed any mention of the Kings from his Instagram and Twitter. It’s just the latest development in a saga between the two sides.
The Kings aren’t afraid to move Bagley, the former No. 2 overall pick. In fact, per The Athletic’s Jason Jones, they shopped him around the league before the NBA trade deadline. Unfortunately for Sacramento, Bagley’s poor play, durability issues and maturity concerns have greatly diminished his value. One NBA executive told The Athletic he wouldn’t move more than a pair of second-round picks for Bagley.
This is the problem for the Kings. Monte McNair has zero attachment to Bagley and would probably love to move him for a player who better fits the team culture. But it seems unlikely for that to happen. Ultimately, the likeliest scenario is Bagley being the sweetener in a trade that also includes the Kings’ first-round pick.
Will Richaun Holmes re-sign?
Sacramento landed one of the biggest steals of the offseason in 2019, signing Richaun Holmes to a two-year, $10 million contract. Recognizing him as an underutilized player in Phoenix, the Kings offered the 6-foot-10 center more minutes and he thrived in Sacramento.
- Richaun Holmes stats (2020-’21): 14.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 63.7% from the field, 79.4% from the free-throw line
Holmes, age 27, will have a fantastic opportunity to receive a much larger contract this summer. He demonstrated that he is a starting-caliber player, with the athleticism and scoring ability to function nicely in the evolving NBA. Holmes asking price is expected to be high, per The Athletic’s Jason Jones. He received interest from the Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors before the NBA trade deadline, with those clubs expected to pursue him this summer.
NBC Sports’ James Ham reported that Holmes’ representatives are hoping to land him a four-year contract worth around $80 million. It would make him the sixth highest-paid center in the NBA. If another NBA team is even willing to offer him $15-plus million annually, the Kings likely won’t be able to afford to re-sign him.
The future of Marvin Bagley III in Sacramento
Sacramento will never live down drafting Marvin Bagley III over Luka Doncic, even if it’s just another chapter in a long history of the organization’s dysfunction. Needless to say, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft hasn’t come close to expectations.
Injuries have been an issue for the 6-foot-11 forward. Through his first three NBA season, he has only appeared in 118 games and just 52 of those were starts. He has shown flashes of being a quality player in Sacramento, but those moments are short-lived.
- Marvin Bagley III career stats (2018-’21): 14.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 50% from the field, 66.3% from the free-throw line
Bagley III missed time with groin, hand, calf and wrist injuries this past season. Prior to that. He fractured his left hand in March, which sidelined him for multiple weeks. He also suffered a season-ending foot injury during the 2020-’21 NBA season.
Durability isn’t the only problem. Bagley’s father has been vocal on Twitter about the Kings being responsible for his son’s struggles, even calling for a trade. Bagley has been a major liability defensively when on the court and growing frustrations led to him being on the trade block this season.
McNair didn’t draft Bagley, so there is less blame on his shoulders if a trade happens. But moving the former Duke starter at this point would be the ultimate sell low. With that said, both sides are likely better off with a separation.
Sacramento Kings trade and free-agent targets: Examining best options to improve roster
The Kings owe Buddy Hield ($22.47 million), Harrison Barnes ($20.28 million) and De’Aaron Fox ($28.1 million) a combined $70 million next year. Factoring in Wright ($8.52 million) and Haliburton ($4.02 million), that’s a significant portion of the NBA salary cap.
As a result, the Kings options in NBA free agency will be extremely limited for a team that already struggles to attract players without overpaying. So, trades are the best way to acquire talent.
Kristaps Porzingis to Sacramento Kings?
Kristaps Porzingis isn’t happy with his role and the Dallas Mavericks are amid organizational chaos. Whenever Mark Cuban settles things down with a new coach and general manager, the next priority might be a Porzingis trade. If that happens, Sacramento could put in a call.
- Sacramento Kings trade: Marvin Bagley, Buddy Hield, 2022 second-round pick (Chicago Bulls)
- Dallas Mavericks trade: Kristaps Porzingis
In this deal, the Mavericks buy low on Bagley with the hope that he thrives in a change of scenery. Hield, while a liability on the defensive end, is one of the NBA’s best 3-point specialists. Putting a shooter like that around Luka Doncic could make a difference in the playoffs.
As for Sacramento, this brings in a star. Porzingis is no longer the player that brought him to fame in New York, but he can still be a quality starter. He’d be a significant upgrade over Bagley. While he has clashed with Doncic, Porzingis would likely be better for the Kings’ locker room than Bagley and Hield.
Myles Turner replaces Richaun Holmes
If the Kings have to spend more than $15 million per season on a center, they might as well land a player who fits what they need. Turner is an outstanding defender, someone who often flies under the radar in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation.
- Sacramento Kings acquire: Myles Turner
- Indiana Pacers acquire: Marvin Bagley, 9th overall pick, future first-round pick
Assuming Sacramento doesn’t win the NBA Draft lottery, which rarely works in its favor, McNair should explore moving the first-round pick. There is a steep drop in talent after the top-six picks, so the Kings would be throwing a dart and praying it lands on someone who can make an impact in a few years.
Turner can make a difference in the Kings’ lineup immediately. He’ll pair nicely with Fox and Haliburton, allowing Sacramento to build a foundation that can last. With Turner and a few small additions, maybe the Kings even compete for a spot in the play-in tournament.
Should the Sacramento Kings pursue Ben Simmons?
Ben Simmons is coming off one of the worst playoff performances in NBA history. In a seven-game series, he attempted just three shots in the fourth quarter and never even tried in the final four games. He is the reason the 76ers lost and a trade feels inevitable this offseason.
Simmons’s trade value is at an all-time low, so this won’t be a situation where Philadelphia can get a top star for him. Teams must also take his max contract into consideration, with the 6-foot-11 guard entering the second year of a five-year, $177 million extension.
There might be an opportunity here for the Kings. In terms of shooting, pairing Simmons and De’Aaron Fox together isn’t the perfect match, but Simmons’ skills fit what the Kings need. He can play forward for the Kings, utilizing his elite defensive ability to improve Sacramento’s greatest weakness.
It’s hard to gauge exactly what a Ben Simmons trade would cost the Kings. But statements made by McNair in the past hint that Simmons might be the kind of star he would try and buy low on. Plus, he has a strong relationship with 76ers president Daryl Morey.