With the All-Star break completed and the trade deadline approaching swiftly, here is a look at how I think the Kings will proceed in the immediate future.
Already making a deadline move, Sacramento has traded Marcus Thornton’s roughly $8.7 million contract (in ’14-’15) for Jason Terry ($5.4M in ’14-’15) and Reggie Evans ($1.7M). This move is not surprising seeing as Thornton’s field goal percentage has fallen four percent below his career average, which for a shoot-first player is expected in an inconsistent season, but also shows concerns with moving forward.
After this trade, the Kings will have five guards (I. Thomas, B. McLemore, J. Terry, J. Fredette and R. McCallum) and nine forwards/centers (D. Cousins, J. Thompson, R. Gay, D. Williams, C. Landry, Q. Acy, A. Gray, R. Evans and T. Outlaw) on the roster. Moving forward with this logjam in the front court makes no sense to me, so I see one last trade happening before the end of Thursday. That trade being the rumored trade between the Kings and Cavaliers, Jason Thompson for Jarret Jack.
One reason I see this trade happening is the salary issue for next year with Thompson being owed roughly $6 million. The value that the Kings could receive in a player like Jack is more worth it than the offensive liability that Thompson has become. Also, Jack has some familiarity with Coach Mike Malone, after the season that the Golden State Warriors put together last year.
Even if this second trade doesn’t happen, the Kings look to be “on-the-rise” for the remainder of the 2013-2014 season going into the Free Agency period leading up to the 2014-2015 NBA season. This leads me to discuss Free Agency predictions.
The Kings have nine current players signed to next year’s roster, those players being Gay (who has a player option), Landry, Thompson, Williams, Cousins (who begins his extension with the team), Outlaw, McLemore, Acy (who has a team option) and McCallum. And now hold two other contracts through the Marcus Thornton trade, being Terry and Evans.
This leaves the team with a possibility that Thomas, Fredette and Gray find new places to play. With Sacramento already denying Fredette’s team option, he and Gray are more than likely to not return. Leaving Thomas for the Kings to make a decision on. If he is offered more than $8 million elsewhere, I also see him not returning to Sacramento. Leaving the team with a gap in the starting point guard role that Thomas has earned for himself, even with the lackadaisical performance on defense.
Signing Thomas will be key to this team’s Free Agency period if Rudy Gay takes the player option. If they can, and Rudy Gay does, then they can have a starting five of Thomas, McLemore, Gay, Evans/Thompson, and Cousins.
What I see as more important for this team moving forward is their performance in the upcoming draft. If the Kings land a top five, starting caliber Power Forward, and have already signed Thomas, this team can compete with veterans on the bench such as Jason Terry, Reggie Evans and Carl Landry. If they can land a Joel Embiid, Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon type of presence, they might find the starting Power Forward of the present and future. Leaving them to attempt to trade away Thompson anyways.
What the team does moving forward, I don’t exactly know, but I know one thing… Sacramento Kings basketball is back on the rise.