SITTING on the fringe of the playoffs with over half of the season in the books, it’s fair to say the Sacramento Kings have been a pleasant surprise. They still have a long way to go to shake their label as one of the laughing stocks of the league, but there’s no doubt they are heading in the right direction. Expected to be active before the trade deadline, Sacramento might want to think long and hard about making a move that could set them up for sustained success in the coming seasons.
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I expected Sacto to struggle again this year as their younger guys continue to develop, however, they are proving me wrong right now. With a record over .500 and only one guy over 30 on their roster, the young Kings have taken it to some of the best teams in the league and have a bright future. While there is plenty of upside for Sacramento, being so close to a playoff spot after years of misery has some fans clamouring for the front office to make a win-now move.
DE’AARON Fox and Buddy Hield look like their backcourt starters of the future with the duo leading the team in scoring and minutes right now. Their frontcourt features a crowd of competent pieces/players, but there’s no doubt they could use an upgrade, mainly to help their rebounding. Drafting Marvin Bagley second overall last season has some thinking they need to stick to their timeline and naturally the win total will come, which could be true. However, boasting the most salary cap space in the league right now, Sacramento could utilise some of their expiring contracts to fast forward their rebuild.
THE center spot is their most pressing need to address with big men Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere not shaping up as the long term option they thought they could be when they drafted them in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Still both relatively young, a team could view them as a decent asset that is worth trading for and there are a few centers in the trade market they could get in return.
ENES Kanter is one such player, who has already been linked to the Kings, with Zach Randolph’s expiring contract potentially part of a deal. Kanter, who is 5th in the league for offensive rebounds per game (4.0), hasn’t got the greatest reputation as a defender but could aid them on the boards for sure. Another bonus in trading for Kanter’s one-year, $18.6 million dollar deal is they can wash their hands of him in the offseason should things go pear-shaped.
Another big man mentioned in trade rumours lately is Marc Gasol, and while the aging Grizzly might not have his best years ahead of him, he could contribute to their winning cause over the next couple of seasons. He comes at a cost, owed nearly $50 million for the rest of this year plus the 2019-20 season. However, Marc Stein reported last week that Gasol may turn down his player option for next year, essentially making him a one-year rental much like Enes Kanter.
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BOTH bigs could help the young Kings out, but they could look to commit further salary and make a move for Otto Porter, who has been on the trade block for almost the entire year. The versatile Wizards forward, again, doesn’t help them out greatly on defense, but his scoring prowess gives Sacramento a lethal mix of offensive weapons. The biggest concern in trading for Porter is his albatross of a contract after he signed a four-year, $106.5 million dollar deal back in 2017.
TAKING on that much salary for a lengthy period of time might be frowned upon by Kings fans, but let’s be honest saving all this cap space for a big free agent won’t likely see them net a superstar in free agency. Porter’s deal is probably worth more than what he should be paid, but someone’s got to get paid right? He’s not the worst option the Kings could pursue that’s for sure and at just 25, Porter fits their age demographic much better than the other two players mentioned.
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THE 2005-06 season marks the last time Sacramento featured in the postseason and one of these moves could help end their 13-year hiatus. Some think there is little point for the Kings to shoot for the 8th seed as it would likely result in a quick playoff stay in the competitive West. Considering they don’t own their first-round draft this season though, it makes sense for them to win as much as possible for the rest of the 2018-19 campaign.
BLESSED with salary cap flexibility moving forward the Kings won’t feel any pressure to make a win-now trade, but it could be their smartest play. A playoff appearance for the young team would only further their development and with plenty to like about their current team, they may only be a piece or two away from becoming a regular contending for a chip.
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