Welcome back to Chainmail! Thank you everyone for all of your wonderful questions. We got to chat about potential Buddy Hield trades, Monte McNair's staff, future coaching candidates, Marvin Bagley's value, site feedback, and much, much more!
Before we get into your questions, we do want to thank our sponsor for the mailbag, Carter Imports! Carter Imports is a Sacramento-based company that imports some of the very best Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cretan Thyme Honey available in the world today. There has never been a better time to support one of our own than right now!
Now, let's jump into some answers, shall we?
McNair likes Buddy. Buddy likes Philly. Does he stay or go?
Tim: If I was a betting man (which I'm not. I don't know how to do sports betting or play the lottery or any of that nonsense), I would put a lot of money on Buddy wearing another uniform next season. He was publicly unhappy during his contract negotiations, he was publicly unhappy throughout the season with the coaching staff, and he was publicly unhappy with his role and playing time at the end of the season. Buddy is not subtle, and if he isn't moved, I believe things will turn very ugly, very quickly.
From a best trade partner perspective, Philly kind of sucks. They only have terrible contracts and middling assets, other than Matisse Thybulle, who seems to valuable to swap for Buddy. The Sixers also might pursue much bigger fish than Hield, such as Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Will: I don't think there's going to be an off-season move that really fits for the Kings and a move for Buddy Hield. With our assumption that McNair took the job on the contingency that Luke Walton has to stick around for an indefinite amount of time, I think it'll go something like this: McNair attempt to fix the relationship between Buddy and Walton by impressing upon Walton that they need to pick up the pace and stop putting Buddy in low-efficiency situations and telling Buddy that if he's still unhappy, in time, he'll swap him to a new team. Around the All-Star Break, Buddy's stock is reasonably higher than last season and a team at the deadline who really needs that shooting pays through the nose to get him. McNair is only going to get a three month window between now and the start of the season and I don't think that allows for enough time for him to negotiate all the way through and acceptable trade scenario. By waiting till the break, it puts pressure on teams that want Buddy to up their offers, especially if they're struggling around the break. It gives Buddy a chance to showcase, Walton more rope to hang himself. There will always be a need for Hield's services, and McNair knows the difference between being aggressive and rushing the job. Don't be surprised if Buddy starts next season with the Kings and finishes in the playoffs somewhere else.
What is Bagley's likely trade value at this moment? Is he healthy?
Tim: Marvin Bagley's trade value is low enough that moving on from him is all but impossible at this point. For example, if you called the New Orleans Pelicans and offered them Bagley for the 13th pick straight up, I think they turn you down. His potential is too important for this team to deal away for a non-lottery pick.
His health is a complete mystery to everyone. The team's announcements around his injuries have always been odd, and that level of oddity only increases depending on how much of a conspiracy theorist you are at any given moment. I can confidently say that no new injuries have been announced, and that's about it.
Will: Yeah, there is just no plausible deal that amounts to Marvin Bagley being traded right now. If I had to pin it? Maybe a low first rounder this year? Like Pick 29 and a future second rounder? The combination of his health and proximity to a new contract just really kills anything that gets close.
The 2021 season is over. McNair has been at the helm for one year. What would you call success? What would you call failure? What signs would give you hope? What signs would concern you?
Tim: The failure/concerns probably fall under the same category for me. I very much do not want to see the Kings make a desperate push for the 8th seed as they've been doing for the last few years. The roster isn't good enough to make it, nor are the team's assets of a high enough quality to be swapped for the kind of talent that will be needed to close that gap. Don't trade Buddy Hield for Tobias Harris or Kevin Love or Blake Griffin. Don't sacrifice picks for average to above-average veterans. If those are the kinds of moves Monte McNair is making, color me concerned.
Success will be dictate by individual moves and the results of those moves, not be a win-loss record. I want to see McNair cash out veterans (Hield, Bogdanovic, Bjelica, Holmes, etc.) for young contributors (Turner, Gordon, Ball, etc.) and/or draft picks or unproven young contributors. This team needs to reset around De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley. If McNair can start to build that core, I'll be very pleased, even if that means winning 25 games next year.
Will: The bar for success is pretty much laying on the ground right now. Reasonably, if McNair makes any sort of moves, doesn't get outright burnt in those moves and there's any individual improvement from De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley, it's a successful season. Maybe not a massive coup and it certainly wouldn't leave me excited necessarily but "don't fuck it completely up" is the bar for success. What would give me actual hope is seeing some of our bigger contracts moved for young assets or draft picks, or at least converting them to players on big expiring deals for draft compensation. I would really like to see that average age drop and our core pieces to stay relatively healthy. For Fox and Bagley, that would be 70 games + of playing together. After the seasons done, hearing Walton is gone and seeing a list of young, intelligent coaches are being rumored for the job. That would give me that tingling feeling like the ship is finally turning around.
Next season is going to suck from a "watching basketball" perspective. The only ways to make it worse are for McNair to say Walton is going to coach out his contract, for McNair to really get swindled or for him to make an all out swing for a playoff spot by giving up picks. He would pretty much have to go against his word or show that he is really only a puppet for the ownership/advisors.
Who do you think we could replace with Luke, or is it too early to tell? (i.e., we will have to see who is looking for a job when that time comes)
If that's too hard to answer, who do you think are the best coaches in the NBA? Maybe like a top 5, and what are your answers based on?
Tim: It's a little early to say who could replace Walton. We know he's going to be here to start the season, and even if he's fired at the All-Star break, the team won't look to add a permanent replacement until the 2021 offseason. I would like to see the Kings pursue an up-and-comer, similar to the McNair hire, rather than going with a known quantity. Becky Hammon, Ime Udoka, and Wes Unseld Jr. would all be fantastic candidates if they're available in the coming months.
My top-5 coaches in the NBA, in no particular order: Greg Popovich, Eric Spoelstra, Nick Nurse, Rick Carlisle, Brad Stevens.
Will: I think it's a bit too early to tell and am preparing myself to see Luke Walton on the sideline for the duration of next season. Anything less than that and I'm happy, but with money being what it is right now for NBA owners? That man is parked on the bench for 82-ish games. I'm all in favor of giving a coaching job to a first-timer under the conditions that they're forward thinking and have an understanding and appreciation for analytics. It makes no sense to have a 21st century mind leading a company that want to use typerwriters, so any of Becky Hammon, Ime Udoka or Wes Unseld would be fine. I'm also very impressed with Charles Lee, who is currently the lead assistant behind Mike Budenholzer for the last six years. Steve Hetzel, Will Hardy and Jahmal Mosely will all be names that should be brought into the conversation as well.
As for my top 5 coaches right now (in order): Spoelstra, Nurse, Popovich, Carlisle then Stevens. Really wanted to throw Quin Snyder in there as well but he's comfortably my #6.
What happened to The Court Jester and Snackramento? I'm a pod guy, and I'm curious as to why this site is not into pods.
Tim: I wanted to include this question in the mailbag to be able to announce that RORDOG has been banned for questioning our decision-making. I kid! I kid!
First and foremost, thank you for the feedback, RORDOG. As a team transitioning from writing for a site to running a site, we're not always aware of the impact of certain decisions or what's a priority to everyone reading or subscribing to our venture here at The Kings Herald. Outside of this particular question, if anyone reading through the mailbag response has a question, comment, suggestion, or piece of feedback, please feel free to let us know in the comments below. If you're more comfortable doing that privately, you can always DM one of us on Twitter or shoot an email to [email protected] We seriously want and need your feedback, and we'll be introducing a more formal way of giving that to us shortly.
Okay, now to the question at hand. We have had some setbacks with both The Court Jester and Snackramento, and both are currently on (possibly permanent) hiatus, so we're looking into some pretty cool options for replacing those shows. As far as Sanjesh's and my new show, Watching the Tape, is concerned, Sanjesh was added to the Be Heard network, which was founded to give a platform to underutilized and minority voices, and he kindly asked me to join him as the co-host before launching the show. It was never a case of the folks here at the site not wanting us to do a podcast; they've all been super supportive of Sanjesh and tolerant of me. I relate it a little to Akis, Greg, and Rich writing for the Sacramento Bee - an opportunity to interact with Sacramento media members outside of the TKH bubble.
I don't want anyone to think that podcasts aren't important to the site. Rather, once we realized that The Court Jester and Snackramento may not be sustainable for a variety of reasons, we decided to take the proper amount of time and invest the proper amount of money to produce high-quality replacements for those shows, rather than throwing together a half-assed substitute that no one would enjoy. The options that we're looking into may include some live programming (let us know if that interests you or what that looks like in your perfect world), fan contributions, internal hosts, external hosts, and a few other exciting possibilities. While I can't guarantee an exact date as to when these things will happen, I'm confident that it'll be worth the wait.
Will: I can speak to this a little bit, as well. Snackramento was and is a product of love for Richard, Kevin and I, and we really truly wanted to highlight things during the pandemic that were going unnoticed: specifically how great my food choices are. Also, local food joints. We originally stopped around the same time as the pandemic turned from baking bread to large-scale protests across the country because we felt we couldn't in anyway pay respect to that movement, while also maintaining a tone that would be fun and interesting to listen to. Then some life happened and The Bubble happened and it just got away from us a bit. I'm not saying it won't come back, because I know Richard and Kevin both love learning new things about the culinary world from me and I love realizing that I'm a raging foodie psychopath in real time and for an audience. The world just had far more important things for us then the podcast and it continues to. As soon as there is a space where we can discuss our favorite foods and planes crashing into ice cream parlors again, I might expect some version of it to return. So, straighten up world. Our best-worst opinions haven't even been said yet.
That being said, The Kings Herald is still in its infancy as a website. We're constantly discussing changes and we've had plans that have yet to be spoken about to you all, but have been in development since before the site launched. This team of men and women are a creative, intelligent, wild bunch and I can't wait to look back five years from now and remember how quaint this period of the website was for all of us.
Keep asking these questions. Keep bringing suggestions to comments, or to Twitter or to our emails. We want to know what you want, how we can improve and what we're doing wrong. Right this very second, Bryant is locked in the TKH Recruiting Office pouring over tapes of Lamine Diane, just to write an article that amounts to "No." Why?
Because he hates Lamine Diane and he wants you to stop saying his name. (Just kidding). We aren't here without you all, so speak up when you've got questions. We might not have a definitive answer, but we will spend 7 paragraphs telling you that too.