The NBA Trade Deadline is February 10th. As we near the deadline, urgency will increase and trade activity should pick up. We've seen the beginning of that already. Today the Atlanta Hawks traded Cam Reddish to the New York Knicks in one of the more significant deals we've seen so far this season.
The Reddish deal was of particular note to Kings fans. It had been rumored all season that Reddish would likely be traded by the deadline. A 22-year old wing who can score and play defense seems to fit the bill of both fitting a need for the Kings while also being a piece that could help the Kings build for the future. So when the price tag was a heavily protected first round pick and a player who was out of New York's rotation, it irked some Kings fans, myself included.
The Hawks wanted a first round pick, but got a first rounder that is heavily protected and may end up eventually converting to a pair of second round picks. I don't consider that a high price for a player of Reddish's ability and upside. We can argue whether the Kings should have traded one of their own firsts for Reddish and what kinds of protections they could have added and how long you want your draft assets tied up by protections. We all lived through the drawn out protections of the infamous Vlade Divac trade with the 76ers. We know the risks. But we also know that the draft and trades are the two biggest avenues for the Kings to acquire talent, and there was an opportunity for the Kings to acquire a young, talented player at Sacramento's biggest areas of weakness, and the Kings didn't do it. The Athletic doesn't even list the Kings as one of the teams that Atlanta was in talks with.
But I'm not writing this to talk just about Cam Reddish. I'm writing this because I think it's important to discuss how we evaluate Monte McNair's front office as we approach the deadline. Whenever we complain about the Kings not making a move, there are two common and predictable responses.
- What if the Kings are saving those assets for something else?
- You don't know what offers the Kings made or what offers the Kings received.
Let's address those two ideas.
I firmly believe the Kings are saving their assets for something. What they're saving them for is anyone's guess. Ben Simmons? Maybe. Some surprise star that we don't even know is on the market? Your guess is as good as mine. But I know that the Kings have been holding their assets ever since Monte got the job. Maximizing your assets is obviously difficult. But holding an asset longer doesn't make it increase in value. Is Buddy Hield worth more this deadline than he was last deadline? What about Harrison Barnes? We don't know, but it feels unlikely to me.
But that brings us to the second and I believe more important point. We don't know what discussions the Kings are having. And that is absolutely true. The Athletic doesn't mention the Kings as being in talks for Reddish, but that just means that the Athletic's sources didn't name the Kings as a suitor. It doesn't mean McNair didn't do his due diligence. It doesn't mean he didn't try.
But that's also not an excuse.
At the end of the day it is Monte McNair's job to improve this team. We know his marching orders are to make the playoffs. Whether I agree or disagree with that strategy doesn't matter, we know that's the goal. And since Monte took over we haven't seen the Kings make a significant move to swing the odds towards the Kings being a real playoff team. The goal isn't (or shouldn't be) the play-in. It's the playoffs.
We don't know what deals Monte has offered. We don't know what deals he's been offered. But we know that Monte has had the shortened offseason when he took over, up through his first trade deadline, all of last offseason, and up to this point and time to find a deal. If nobody is offering him what he thinks a player is worth, over that period of time, then it likely means the player isn't worth what Monte is asking for.
The job is to improve the team and make the best deals possible. And sure, there are times that means holding an asset. But choosing not to take an action is an action unto itself, and should be judged just the same.
I say all of this because I don't feel like repeating it all endlessly in the comments and on twitter for the next month. I'm going to judge the moves that the Kings make or don't make. I'm going to judge them based on all possible information I have available. I understand that I may be missing information. Dear god I hope I'm missing information. I hope Monte McNair is operating with more intel than I am, and I am hoping that time proves his actions or inactions to be wise. Because at the end of the day Monte's goal is to make this team better and I want him to succeed in that goal. But as a fan and a blog boy I am going to judge actions or inactions that I see as running counter to that goal. I do so knowing full well that I might be missing key information or that I could end up being very wrong.
I'm going to be critical until the Kings give me reason to stop. Because until then I'm not sure what the Kings have done to make anyone think they still deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Please give me reason to stop doubting you, Monte.