Welcome back to Chainmail! A hearty thank you to everyone who submitted a question! This week, we welcome special guest, and Rajon Rondo superfan, Brenden Nunes to the mailbag!
If Bagley keep playing like this, would the Pistons trade Bey for this Bagley?
Tim: This may sound harsh, but at some point, we probably need to stop having the "if Marvin Bagley played like this every game" conversation, because he never plays like that every game. I'm not trying to throw the guy under the bus, but at some point potential has to become reality, and playing well once every three games just doesn't do it for me. Let's look at Bagley's four games since returning from injury:
Lakers: 20 minutes, 11 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 44% FG, 1/1 3P
Mavericks: 34 minutes, 23 points! 9 rebounds!, 3 assists! 2 turnovers, 63% FG!, 1/3 3P
Thunder: 31 minutes, 13 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assists, 2 turnovers, 33% FG, 1/5 3P
Pacers: 35 minutes, 31 points! 12 rebounds!, 0 assists, 1 turnover, 59% FG!, 0/1 3P
That feels about right for Bagley's career. We often discuss him as a potential 20 and 10 guy, a feat that he's accomplished just 12 times in three seasons of play. The Pistons wouldn't trade Bey for Bagley, even if Bagley plays well for the next half-dozen games, because the league understands who Marvin is at this point in his career. He's a gifted rebounder and offensive player who unfortunately struggles with availability and attention to detail on the floor. Marvin Bagley can still be a successful player in this league, and he's shown some real improvement this year when's he's managed to find his way to the floor, but I don't believe he'll find that success in Sacramento, both due to his wishes and his in-game limitations.
Will: To answer your question specifically, yes, I think that if Bagley consistently dropped these kinds of offensive outputs over the course of, oh I don't know, however many games till next year's trade deadline, I think they probably trade for Bagley. I still have a certain level of confidence that he's going to find his way to being a good-to-damn-good player in the league, I also don't see that happening with Sacramento. If it does somehow happen to be with Sacramento, I don't foresee he or his camp wanting to be here long term (or at least past a second contract).
Brenden: I think Tim is spot on with this one (for once). Bagley has had breakout games before where he looks like the player we all expected him to be coming out of Duke, the issue with his value revolves around consistency and, obviously, health.
Bagley will carry some value this offseason because he is barely 22 years old and a team focused on development could attempt to coach the Kangz out of him. I would be shocked if that value is enough for Detroit to even consider moving on from their most recent first round pick who has outperformed expectations in his rookie campaign. Bey appears a lock to be an NBA rotation player for a long time, with a high likelihood he does that at a starting caliber, while Marvin Bagley's role in the association is still a major question.
What is the trade market going to be like for Buddy this summer?
Tim: Virtually non-existent. I don't remember his exact phrasing, but in a podcast near the trade deadline, Sam Amick of The Athletic described Buddy's market as dead, due to his level of play, lack of defense, and massive contract. I believe his exact phrasing was something like "expect Buddy to be in a Kings uniform for awhile".
It's likely that Sacramento could split Buddy's deal into two smaller contracts from a couple of okay players, but I'm not sure how much that helps the Kings.
Will: I still have a bit of confidence that Buddy will have a trade market out there for GM's and coaches that think they could rescue him from the career meatgrinder that is the Sacramento Kings, but I wouldn't expect a ton of value in return for Chavano. There aren't any Matisse Thybulle's or even Tyrese Maxey's coming through the door, but that doesn't mean they couldn't get a couple of underwhelming younger guys on bloated contracts looking for a fresh start or a protected first rounder or two. No major hauls, but something that you could shrug at and say, "oh alright that's fine I guess."
Right now, I think the best route for Monte McNair in the off-season is have a sit down with Buddy, explain to him that he's getting 30 minutes next season as a 6MotY candidate. It's the best way to rebuild his value, it's the best way to utilize Buddy as a player in general and if the Kings can make a playoff push in the first half of next season with Buddy averaging twenty off the bench, that value is going to be restored rather quickly. If it doesn't, the Kings have an overpriced bench scorer that they can try again next off-season with.
Brenden: It only takes one team to look at Hield's situation and believe that he is being extremely misused in Sacramento's system (which he probably is), and have enough faith and trust in their coaching staff to not allow that to be the case again. Buddy is still an elite shooter, no questions asked, averaging 39.3 percent from deep on 10.2 (!!) attempts per game this season. Yet, he is in the conversation for worst defender in the league that is not under six feet tall and still has 3-years $60.8-million remaining on his contract.
I doubt any non-desperate franchise is going to believe that deal is fair value for a player who would likely be played off the floor in any playoff series. Again, it would only take one team but I would be shocked if the Kings were able to get anything more than a very late first rounder or end of bench youth talent.
Since we do not know how the ping pong balls will fall, let's exclude the draft for now. What would be your top 3 priorities of the off season if you are McNair?
Tim: Monte McNair needs to figure out what the hell the plan is for this roster at a very basic level. We didn't shed salaries or tank this year, nor did we try to win. We stayed neutral and lost a bunch of games (but not enough games) with a bad coach and a below-average depth chart. Are the Kings going to run it back with small additions, are they going to focus on getting rid of bad money and getting a good draft pick next year, or are they going to try and push for wins with a big move?
Once that's decided upon, the Richaun Holmes situation needs to be resolved, which will likely be impacted by the decision above. Personally, I think it would be foolish to pay him over his early bird rights possibility.
Finally, and probably most importantly, is the next coach needs to be hired, assuming we actually fire Walton at this point. This will be the decision that either leads to a long contract for Monte McNair or for the Kings to be seeking their fourth GM of Vivek's ownership tenure.
Will: First and foremost is coaching. Awkwardly built rosters with little depth can still make the playoffs with the right coaching staff and right now I think we see that with a different coaching staff, with defense that was 25th in the league rather than worst all-time, this Kings squad, even with its fatal flaws, probably could have had a shot at the 8th seed. Now, that isn't what I personally would have wanted for this thin ass squad, but if both of those 9 game losing streaks were each just 3-6 instead, the Kings would be the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Find a coach that can actually get these guys to take pride in themselves during bad stretches and that does a lot for the Kings.
Secondly, it's the Richaun Holmes situation. Feels very much to me like someone is going to need to go in order for Richaun to stick around in a Kings uniform. McNair has gotten himself in a corner where he very well just might two assets go for nothing in subsequent years and that would be, well, pretty disastrous for any GM's start in Sacramento. Now, will I blame him if Holmes gets 20 mil a year from the Hornets in the off-season? No, not really. I'll harp a bit that he should have known the market better and traded him prior to the trade deadline but team's make stupid big offers out of the blue every single year. If Holmes does leave, McNair is going to have to patch that hole QUICK, either through trade or free agency. Swinging for a John Collins or another big time starting center would be the only way to really deflect the vitriol coming from a fanbase who has seen every fan favorite in the prior 10 years leave and who wouldn't be happy to see zero assets come back two years in a row.
Third, I mentioned this above, but Buddy needs to have a clearly defined role come next season and I don't think "starting small forward" is really the answer in the long term. I mentioned above about my preference to have him moved to the bench as a super-sub, but that will take the new head coach and Monte being able to convince him that whether he wants to stay or move, that is the best move going forward for him.
Brenden: The clear and obvious most important move is finding a replacement for Luke Walton. Which means the Kings will actually need to go through a hiring process this time around and I personally would put an emphasis on player development when considering the candidates - I am a big advocate for Kenny Atkinson. If the Kings did not employ one of the worst coaches in the association, they likely would have been a play-in team this season or at least actually in the race.
Richaun Holmes is step number two. McNair would be reasonably questioned if he spent his first two offseasons letting starting level talent walk out the door in free agency with absolutely no return. If Richaun is willing to accept the four-year roughly $48-million early bird rights deal that the Kings can offer, then that solves that problem. That number feels more than reasonable to me, but it will only take one team to pry him away from this organization. Simultaneously, it would be a mistake to dump say Marvin Bagley for minimal return in order to clear space to offer Holmes upwards of $15-million annually.
Since I'm apparently not allowed to include the draft (even though it's the second most important decision only behind the coaching change), I will go with how they use the MLE for the final decision. There needs to be a culture of accountability and toughness starting in Sacramento as soon as possible and the right personnel will certainly contribute to that. If they look towards wings with no character concerns with that MLE, it's a win in my book.
Is Fox a superstar? (But seriously, this is a joke. What ever you do, DO NOT ANSWER THIS QUESTION!)
Tim: YOU PUT IT IN THE MAILBAG, SO WE'RE GOING TO ANSWER IT. I BLAME YOU, AND YOU ALONE, FOR THE IMMEDIAITE DEMISE OF THIS SITE AFTER WE PUBLISH THIS CHAINMAIL.
Okay, but for real, De'Aaron Fox isn't a superstar...yet. Will he get there? I can't confidently say yes, and I can't confidently say no; he's got a shot, that's for sure. Here are the players 24-years or younger to average 25+ points and 7+ assists in the last 20 years: LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and De'Aaron Fox. That's it. That's the list. Fox and Young are also two of only four players in NBA history to put up those averages without appearing in an All-Star game in that season.
Now, those statistical comps don't mean that Fox will become as good as pre-injury Rose or current Doncic, but his growth this season has been astronomical from an offensive perspective. Defensive intensity and overall consistency still need some work, but if Fox can keep growing at this rate, he has a shot to be the best Sacramento-era player of all time.
Will: This semantics conversation around star, superstar, megastar, All-Star is a fun one that really gets to some people when those click bait headlines show up like "Former NBA Star Builds Eco-Friendly Gelato Shop"... then you find out the player is like, Carlos Delfino. I think its pretty safe to say that if we're writing a national headline about Fox, it would be appropriate to say that Fox is a budding superstar. He's a star currently, certainly the main attraction in Sacramento and the guy most likely to get you highlights on SportsCenter. Toss whatever reductive wording you want in front of it to hedge what he currently is: young superstar, growing superstar, future superstar. He's getting there, expected to get there just not their quite yet.
Brenden: Superstar is a very subjective term, but I fully believe that De'Aaron Fox can be the number one option on a playoff team. The jump he has taken this season in shooting comfort along with consistent clutch performances has fully convinced me as long as his free throw shooting reaches a level where the fanbase can feel comfortable with him at the line to close out games. I am confident that Fox will reach that point in the near future and be a viable number one option on a playoff team, which some people could consider a superstar, although I may just settle for star at the moment.
In the case that Luke Walton is fired-who would be on YOUR short list of Head Coaches? Why would these candidates be on your list? How would they facilitate the growth of Fox and Haliburton?
Tim: I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on head coaching candidates. I know that Jill Adge of BeHeard (and friend to the site) and Brett Huff (Canadian superhero) have both done a ton of research into possibilities, and they're great follows on Twitter if you don't already follow them.
That being said, as long as we A) fire Luke Walton and B) don't hire a lame retread (Mark Jackson, Mike Brown, etc), I'll be pretty satisfied. Vanterpool, Atkinson, Brett Brown, Unseld Jr., D'Antoni, and a host of other candidates would be cool with this long-necked galoof.
Will: I'm really glad Tim pointed out Jill and Brett's work because they do a really good job and deserve more than our shoutouts. I'm also glad that Tim qualified his statement as "lame" retreads, because it sounds like more and more there's going to be some damn good coaches getting canned this summer. Terry Stotts is a guy that could use a change of scenery who could do rather well here. I don't see him taking the Kings to a championship but he would be a successful hire. Mike Budenholzer is obviously the same way. He gets clowned on a lot but he's an incredible coach that's been cursed with success, first in Atlanta coaching some amazing teams there and then in Milwaukee with Giannis. He's never quite gotten over the hump but with the Kings he'd instantly be the best coach since Adelman, and it could be a fantastic fit with a few star players growing into their own, some intriguing vets and ZERO expectations for a championship. He wouldn't have the pressure that comes with coaching a Giannis but wouldn't be forced to rely on all five guys every night like he did with those amazing Hawks teams (yeah, that's probably a hot take and not meant to be). That being said, I'm not sure he'd accept a job in Sacramento.
Atkinson is a fantastic choice, Vanterpool is someone we've cried for for a good amount of time. I'd rather have D'Antoni's greatest disciple than D'Antoni just due to his age/shelf life as a coach. Monte McNair has to get this one right and Mike is probably just a bit too old. Other names to watch: Wes Unseld Jr. and Sam Cassell. This was a fantastic question and I might have to write an article on it as soon as the season is over.
Brenden: Kenny Atkinson, Becky Hammon, and maybe Terry Stotts if he in fact fired. Atkinson is my number one because he showed an ability to develop young talent during his time and Brooklyn and had that team playing with an intensity.
For Hammon what it comes down to is that if Popovich trusts her, then I absolutely trust her. Regarding Stotts, I think he has shown an ability to be consistently successful in Portland for a good stretch of time with the roster he's had. If he is let go, I think it would be more for the sake of changing something rather than him doing a poor job over the years.
Kings end up with the 8th pick in the draft. The Kings trade the pick, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley for Pascal Siakam. Who says no?
Tim: The Raptors. Siakam is certainly not who the Raptors hoped he would be, but I imagine another team with more available assets would be willing to offer more for his services. Buddy Hield is a negative asset when compared to his contract. Marvin Bagley is a neutral to negative asset when compared to his contract and injury history. The eighth pick in a solid draft is nice, but imagine what the Thunder or Pelicans could offer to immediately boost their rosters, alongside other teams with other, better assets. If the Kings want to get a difference-maker on draft night this year, they need to be willing to part with multiple first round picks.
Will: The Raptors. They're the best worst team ever, having to play away from their home city all season and dealing with a myriad of problems that come with that. I think they know this was a punted season and are going to come back next season with renewed vigor. Now, that being said, NEXT off-season comes around and the Raptor are in the lotto again? There might be some interest in shaking things up. This trade is a little to light on assets and probably a year too soon.
Brenden: The Raptors are laughing at that offer and hanging up the phone. Buddy Hield is a negative asset on that contract that Toronto would have to believe that Nick Nurse could significantly increase his value with proper utilization. Marvin Bagley is going to be due for a payday in the near future and still holds very questionable value, the 8th overall pick would be the primary asset heading out. Teams hope that the 8th overall pick in a draft turns into Pascal Siakam.
From Rob Hessing:
Give me your Kings projected win totals for this season (end) under the following coaches:
Luke Walton: 30
Dave Joerger: 28 (team would have quit on him)
Michael Malone: 36
Gregg Popovich: 35
Tom Thibodeau: 38
Monty Williams: 38
Quin Snyder: 39
Terry Stotts: 35
Walton: Like 31-ish now if things hold?
Joerger: Same as Walton, just better looking product.
Malone: First year Malone? 33. Same years as Walton? 40
Thibs: 24, this team would quit on him so damn quick.
Brenden: Walton - 33-39
Joeger - 37-35
Malone - 40-32
Popovich - 41-31
Thibodeau - 38-34
Williams - 37-35
Snyder - 39-33
Stotts - 38-34
Your spouse is making you choose between two holiday parties and you must attend one. Each party is three hours long and will include group photos. Which one do you choose to attend?
a. Spouse's office is full of GSW season ticket holders who all live and grew up in Sacramento. They are gathering at the bosses house to watch a 90 minute look back film about the GSW most recent runs, and GSW attire is mandatory.
b. Spouse's boss is president of the Sacramento Area Lakers Fan Club, and he's rented the paddlewheel in old sac for a three hour Lakers River cruise to throw down and celebrate the Lakers franchise. A Lakers booze cruise.
Tim: I'm going to the Warriors party. I want nothing to do with the Lakers, ever. Sorry, Sanjesh.
Will: A booze cruise with Lakers fans is literally a dream "fish in a barrel" situation. I can ruin a night for an entire boat's worth of people AND drink on top of it? Sign me up for three hours of that fight.
Brenden: I mean, you never pick the option with the Lakers. I will just wear some old We Believe Warriors gear and enjoy watching a film about one of the best NBA teams of all that had some reported locker room turmoil.
Seems like a pretty easy choice, and if anyone picks the Lakers option then they deserve to be kicked off the site.