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The Sacramento Kings need a fifth starter

Monte McNair has put Mike Brown in an awkward position.
By | 115 Comments | Dec 5, 2023

Nov 13, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes (40) dribbles the ball next to Cleveland Cavaliers center Evan Mobley (4) in the third quarter at the Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings have a Harrison Barnes problem.

For nearly half of a decade, Barnes has been one of the stalwarts of Sacramento’s lineups. He’s been the grown up in the room when the roster was full of kids. He brought championship experience when he came over from the Dallas Mavericks. He could shoot and score and made few mistakes. He’s never been a superstar, but he’s always been reliable and needed.

Until now.

As Barnes has aged and lost a step, and as the Kings have gotten younger and better and faster, his place and importance to the team, at least on the court, has never been more muddled. Over the last few years, Barnes played two critical offensive roles for Sacramento: reliable sharpshooter and occasional bucket-getter in the post, especially when the Kings were struggling to score. However, with the addition of Kevin Huerter’s more dynamic shooting and passing, Keegan Murray’s significantly increased offensive role, and De’Aaron Fox’s jump in usage, Barnes’ offensive output has become much less of a fixture and much more of an afterthought within the offensive scheme this season. To put it bluntly, the Kings have begun to evolve past the need for his contributions on that end of the floor. 

Such a reduction in both usage and production isn’t necessarily concerning in and of itself, as the Kings employing better starters around Barnes now than they did five years ago is actually a good thing, but his offensive decline and slower first step is only part of the frustrating equation beginning to emerge in Sacramento. 

Defensively, Harrison has never been a one-on-one stopper, and the Kings actually haven’t been a better defensive team with him on the floor since the 2018-2019 season; however his ability to slow opposing players has itself slowed this year. Sacramento is allowing 4.1 more points per 100 possessions to be scored with Barnes on the floor, the third-worst mark on the team, trailing only Chris Duarte, who has not looked like a rotational NBA player, and Domantas Sabonis, which should come as no surprise, especially to Kevin O’Connor. Screen navigation has been especially poor for Barnes, which seems to stem from both effort and ability, as he’s allowing opposing players to score 1.21 points per possession off of screens, which ranks in just the 25th percentile in the league. The eye test also seems to align with most of Barnes’ defensive stats, as he just looks slow and ineffective on the court, especially when facing quicker, better wings.

These two dynamics create an incredibly awkward rotational situation for the Kings, especially Mile Brown. To be clear, Barnes isn’t a bad NBA player, nor is he completely washed, as some on social media like to describe him; he’s probably good enough to start on some roster around the league. The issue is that he’s not the right starter for this team – he was the right starter for the Kings of a half-decade ago.

With their current makeup, the team doesn’t need his offense, nor is it good enough to be regularly utilized considering the talent of the other starters, and Barnes’s defense is even less effective than his scoring output. On most nights, he’s an invisible afterthought offensively and a net negative on defense. Organizations that are serious about deep playoff runs don’t focus their energy on placating declining veterans who used to be key components of their success – a situation that’s a little reminiscent of what’s occurring with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in Golden State. 

But the differences similarity between those situations begins and ends there. Steve Kerr has Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga and even Gary Payton II to shift to if he really wants to get serious about winning games. The Kings…don’t. As was much discussed after Barnes’ horrific playoff performance and what many considered to be a rather generous offseason re-signing, the Kings failed to make any significant upgrades to their roster over the summer. The two new contributors who could have maybe stolen some minutes at the wing spot, Chris Duarte (genuinely bad) and Sasha Vezenkov (meh) haven’t shown any proclivity toward inserting themselves into the starting lineup. Trey Lyles, the closest internal option that Sacramento has to an upgrade, is probably at or slightly below Barnes’ level of impact. Does the possible reward of swapping Barnes for Lyles in the starting lineup outweigh the potential chemistry issues of making such a change? To date, Mike Brown has decided not.

And this is really where the responsibility of the situation falls to Monte McNair. Everyone knew that the Kings needed to upgrade over Barnes in the offseason, but they chose to re-sign him to what will likely be an undesirable contract for most teams who might consider his services. And despite what some might say, upgrades were available, but the front office chose to run it back – a decision that isn’t necessarily indefensible but was and is disappointing.

The Kings aren’t a worse version of their last season selves, but they haven’t been markedly better either, and much of that comes down to the lackluster wing play of Harrison Barnes and his counterparts on the bench. Finding a starting-caliber upgrade would solve multiple problem for Sacramento’s rotation, as that would slide Barnes to a much better suited role as a backup, slow-footed stretch-four, reducing the need for Chris Duarte and Kessler Edwards, while also improving the starting lineup’s effectiveness.

With December 15th just around the corner, a date that will open up most of the league’s trade eligibility, the Kings must make a move if they want to improve on their first round exit from last season, and that upgrade must come in the form of Harrison Barnes moving out of the starting lineup.

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115 Comments
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RobHessing
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December 5, 2023 11:20 am

I’d kick the tires on Lyles for Barnes in the starting lineup. That gives you some time before some players become trade available (Matisse Thybulle, to name one).

The main thing needed is a defensive stud at the 3-4. The starting four of Fox, Huerter, Murray and Sabonis has ample offensive firepower, and then you throw Monk into the mix. Defensive length and tenacity at the 3-4 is what is missing.

Amonk81
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December 5, 2023 11:38 am
Reply to  RobHessing

Agree. And hoping that Monte couldn’t find a deal that worked/is keeping his options open.

Banking on internal improvements being enough to get the Kings over the hump is highly unlikely.

And I don’t love this Keegan back/injury issues nor how little he does on O because of all he’s doing on D. Where is Keegan creating in O and shooting midrange, as suggested? He should be shooting more etc.

They need a 3/4 defender. Maybe allow Keegan to play more his roll. And maybe get over these back twinges

Jack
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December 5, 2023 12:09 pm
Reply to  Amonk81

I agree. If we can find a stretch 4 then Keegan would play the 3 which IMO is where he should be.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 12:05 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I agree.I don,t know if Monty Has to sacrafice all our firsts and we do have plenty of seconds. We don.t have to go and get a Siakam or a Anunoby but a young and Iegit defensive player. In order to do this we might have to give a first or maybe a first and second. IMO we need a stretch 4 who can defend the weakside rim move out to defend the perimeter. Also help Sabonis on rebounds. Last night the Pels have that player in Herb Jones.If Monty can find a player like him go and get him. One idea is Tari Eason that’s on the Rockets roster. He basically can do the above stats. And he is Young. The other player we need IMO is a young aggresive center to help Sabonis. Just an idea but someone like Precious Achiuwa who is on the Raptors roster.

Daydreamer
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December 5, 2023 1:59 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Isn’t Thybulle just 6’5”? Hardly “defensive length.”

RobHessing
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December 5, 2023 2:04 pm
Reply to  Daydreamer

6-11 wingspan. And he’s been known to effectively cover 1 – 4.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 5, 2023 2:08 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Yup, you could start him at the 2/3 along with Huerter and slide Murray over to the 4 (where I think his natural position will evolve to).

RobHessing
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December 5, 2023 2:30 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Here’s a fun/weird stat: Alex Caruso would be 2nd on the Kings in blocked shots, only 2 behind Sabonis. Caruso is well regarded as an elite NBA defender, and even played some 5 for the Bulls the other night. Alex Caruso is 6-5 with a 6-6 wingspan.

Pitbulls have short legs, but you’d think twice before driving the lane on them.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 5, 2023 2:42 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I’d love Caruso on the Kings. He’d be tops on my “undersized wings” list to go along with the likes of Thybulle, Hart, and Okoro.

RobHessing
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December 5, 2023 2:50 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I’d welcome any of those guys.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:11 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

They are all small forwards. Can we also look at some stretck 4″s.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 5, 2023 6:45 pm
Reply to  Jack

I feel Keegan is the stretch 4 going forward, especially as he continues to mature and gains muscle.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:48 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

OK with that but if we could find a stretch 4 would you agree he could play SF/

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 5, 2023 6:58 pm
Reply to  Jack

Sure, but I think someone who can guard 1-4 is more valuable regardless of a defined position. To me there is nothing wrong with a team full of interchangeable wings. See: Toronto, New Orleans, etc.

As an example, Josh Hart looks and often plays like a traditional SG on offense, but he plays a physical style of defense and rebounds like a traditional PF. Caruso does much of the same but at an elite level of defense.

I’d probably take either of them on this Kings team as opposed to a traditionally defined stretch 4 like a John Collins or Bobby Portis

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:09 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

he’s 29. Would like someone that fits Monty’s timeline.

RobHessing
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December 6, 2023 7:42 am
Reply to  Jack

Sabonis turns 28 in May. I don’t think that 29 is outside the timeline for this roster.

KingOfTheMonsters
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December 6, 2023 10:47 am
Reply to  RobHessing

I hope they go after Caruso.
I have a feeling Monte is playing the long game. He’ll grab someone like Caruso this year and wait until the offseason/next year’s trade deadline to upgrade the four and upgrade the backup center.

TerzoM
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December 5, 2023 5:35 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

comment image

RikSmits
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December 5, 2023 12:27 pm

It’s that baby giraffe guy picking a fight with Monte again?

andy_sims
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December 5, 2023 12:51 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

Why not? He still has one tooth for McNair to knock out.

andy_sims
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December 5, 2023 12:50 pm

Sounds great!

And who goes out when we acquire this difference-maker?

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 5, 2023 1:52 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

IMO, anyone and anything not named Fox, Sabonis, and very likely Keegan.

Yes, that means Monk and Huerter are possible trade fodder if Monte is making a big splash move.

andy_sims
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December 5, 2023 1:58 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Among teams who are or ought to be considering a teardown, who do you like?

I’d imagine most of us would agree that even at rock-bottom market value, Zach Levine is persona non grata.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 5, 2023 2:23 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

It may not have to be a team looking to tear it down, but one that might see a guy like Barnes as playoff tested or likes his contract. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if teams like the Lakers, Warriors, or Suns come sniffing around for his services. Those teams are in buy now mode.

We already know Toronto is likely to move Pascal and OG before they walk this summer for nothing, so definitely keep tabs on them.

I’d also hit up some under the radar players who might not be on their current team’s long term plans. Bey (about to be an RFA on on already deep wing team), Finney-Smith, PJ Washington, Thybulle, and Okoro come to mind. Some of those guys might be had without moving any of the 6 main Kings.

andy_sims
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December 5, 2023 2:39 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

It’s a good list!

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 5, 2023 2:52 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Just an example, I could see an impatient Lakers front office growing cold with the likes of Rui or Vanderbelt and come a knocking for Barnes. Just saying the “win-now” teams may become desperate buyers at the deadline.

andy_sims
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December 5, 2023 4:22 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Either of those guys would be solid additions, much as I loathe dealing with the Lakers.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:16 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

If I had a choice I’d take Vanderbelt. At one time he was on Monty’s radar.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:14 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

L’d say yes to Bey or PJ. Like them both.

Hobby916
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December 6, 2023 7:56 am
Reply to  Adamsite

What do you think it would take to get Bey from Atlanta?

Mitchell and a 2nd (ATL doesn’t really have a backup PG, unless Bogi is that guy). It would probably take more than that though. That would ease ATL’s cap for the coming seasons…

Jack
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December 6, 2023 8:45 am
Reply to  Hobby916

maybe 2 seconds. Nothing more.

RAP87
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December 6, 2023 10:03 am
Reply to  andy_sims

I would like the Kings to kick the tires on Jerami Grant. That would be the perfect wing next to Domas and Murray.

We might need to trade one of Huerter/ Monk + Barnes and maybe a FRP.

I believe that would make the Kings a legit contender.

Amonk81
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December 5, 2023 2:44 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I would not move Monk. He’s the only other player on the team who can get him own/create and score under pressure.

The rest can go if it’s for something they need. (Not Fox/Sabs and prob Keegs)

everything about the kings now should be getting players that can perform in the playoffs. That’s how good theyve gotten. I don’t give a shit about regular season success. Just certain style and certain type of players for the playoffs. That who they gotta get.

andy_sims
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December 5, 2023 4:23 pm
Reply to  Amonk81

hah, you would say that

Amonk81
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December 5, 2023 5:09 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Ha. Good point I didn’t even think about that. A= Art.

I now have 3 Monks I love. Favorite NFL player=Art. Favorite Jazz artist (along w Miles) Thelonius. And now, 1 of my favorite Kings.

andy_sims
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December 6, 2023 10:23 am
Reply to  Amonk81

These are excellent Monks.

Jman1949
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December 6, 2023 10:26 am
Reply to  andy_sims

comment image&ct=g

Jack
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December 6, 2023 11:41 am
Reply to  Amonk81

IMO you might worry about the nseason. The Kings have to win enough in the season to get to the playoffs. With the team we have now I have my reservations. If any of the top 3 including Monk go down for a period of time with no real bach up we might be in trouble.

andy_sims
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December 6, 2023 5:22 pm
Reply to  Jack

That is likely true for every professional and amateur team in every team sport since cavemen played cornhole.

Jack
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December 7, 2023 6:07 am
Reply to  andy_sims

I’m just worried about the Kings. You can play cornhole.

Amonk81
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December 7, 2023 12:16 am
Reply to  Jack

Seems like the Kings have a winning base now and an opportunity to become a real contender.

So, I’m that sense not worried about in season but rather what they’ll do/how they’ll improve this season to be really good. To make a championship run

Jack
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December 7, 2023 6:08 am
Reply to  Jack

We need real back ups.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:12 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Huerter Okay. Monk no way.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 5, 2023 6:46 pm
Reply to  Jack

It’s entirely possible that Monk may walk this summer.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:52 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

He could. The question would he and would Monty work a deal to keep him. I really think Monk wants to be a King and work with Fox.

Adamsite
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December 5, 2023 7:00 pm
Reply to  Jack

I do to, but someone could throw silly money at him that the Kings can’t or possibly shouldn’t match. I wouldn’t hold it against Monk if someone overpays him.

rockbottom
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December 6, 2023 1:36 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Not Monk !

Adamsite
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December 5, 2023 2:06 pm

Monte is in a pickle. The starting 5 is locked up for two more years after this one. The only expiring core member of the current rotation is Monk, who is arguably the 4th to 5th most important player on the Kings. Re-signing him this summer will paint Monte contractually into a capped corner with the top 6 rotation players, with Keegan likely getting an extension in another year.

The only way out, IMO is to move one to two of the 6 main players and that would be Barnes, Huerter, an/or Monk.

As I said in the other thread, my first move would by trying to fully guarantee the pick currently protected going to ATL to free up the future asset cupboard. Also, giving that pick free and clear to ATL would likely get some kind of asset in return from them. I’m guessing it’s not far removed from other GMs minds that a free and clear pick from the Kings is worth its weight in gold because anything could change at a moments notice.

The Kings would then have up to 3 free and clear first round picks (2026, 28, 30) to dangle attached to a contract like Barnes in a big swing move.

eddie41
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December 5, 2023 2:31 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I wouldn’t move Huerter, especially now that we’re seeing Keegan guarding 2’s. Nor would I move Monk. Both of those players fit really well with this team. Davion might be traded at the deadline or in the offseason, and the Kings would get something in return for him. I’d hold onto the 1st rounders for now. Kings are currently in the top 6 in the west.

RobHessing
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December 5, 2023 2:57 pm
Reply to  eddie41

I doubt that Mitchell has much needle moving value right now. He’s not particularly cheap for a backup point guard that can’t shoot. Maybe he’s be better in a different system, but I don’t see anyone giving up anything of value for him. Maybe a small nudge on a deal and existing as salary filler, but that’s about it.

Disclaimer: I know nothing.

Adamsite
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December 5, 2023 3:02 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

The only team I could see kicking the tires on him is Toronto, and that’s only because of their short memory of Lowry and their total lack of PG depth.

Jack
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December 6, 2023 7:11 am
Reply to  Adamsite

how about Mitchell and 2 seconds for Precious Achiuwa. Achiuwa can be back up for Sabonis.

eddie41
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December 6, 2023 9:25 am
Reply to  Jack

not sure what Achiuwa’s role would be, on offense or defense.

Jack
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December 6, 2023 11:44 am
Reply to  eddie41

More on defense and rebounding although he can score. Much better than we have now.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:23 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Maybe as a filler.

Amonk81
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December 5, 2023 5:10 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Is it a Gherkin?

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:22 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Barnes is going to be hard to trade because of money and age. If you are willing to give up those firsts then try Barnes and those firsts for Markkenen.

SuperShaka
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December 6, 2023 4:04 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I don’t see why ATL would give up an asset to remove protections instead of the Kings. The pick is likely to convey this year anyway and removing the protections only helps the Kings.

bjax1
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December 5, 2023 2:32 pm

Totally agree with the article. Was wondering what it might take to get Jeremy Sochan from the Spurs. Young, 3-4 type with defensive chops and can shoot and pass a little.

Adamsite
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December 5, 2023 2:44 pm
Reply to  bjax1

Spurs aren’t trading him. He looks like a star in the making. He might even become their Kawhi 2.0

RobHessing
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December 5, 2023 2:46 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Yeah, I don’t think that the Kings have the juice to get any legit 1st contract guy.

RobHessing
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December 5, 2023 2:45 pm
Reply to  bjax1

I think the Spurs really like Sochan, and his fit with Wemby. Given his low contract (3 yrs. at under $11m total) and that he’s not an RFA until the summer of ’26, you’re probably looking at a 1st and a 2nd, at the very least. I think that Houston’s price on Tari Eason would be similar, maybe a pick and Colby Jones, for example. And if you’re looking at the roster for trade value (and it’s hands off on Sabonis, Fox, Murray and Monk), the only guys that stick out to me are Huerter and maybe Jones.

Adamsite
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December 5, 2023 2:59 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Tari Eason would be such a sneaky smart get, especially since he is destined for a bench role with the youthful Rockets. I’d honestly overpay for him because I think he’d fit so well and could grow into a long term starter.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:31 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Now your talken. Lets go get him.

Jack
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December 6, 2023 7:14 am
Reply to  Adamsite

If you don’t know Eason go to his highlights. I think you might be impressed.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:29 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I really like Tari Eason. Could be another Herb Jones. He is stuck on the bench. If it took say Colby and a first I’d do it tonight.

aplumley
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December 5, 2023 3:13 pm

I’ve been a huge Barnes supporter. I’ve viewed him as a critical cog for this team and an above average NBA starter and a pro’s pro. A glue guy.

He’s still a pro’s pro and a huge culture guy, but he’s looked bad on the court, posting his worst PER in 10 years so far. The eye test makes me think it’s not an anomaly. He’s no longer a critical part of the offense and is getting exposed on defense. It’s sad.

I don’t know if there is a suitor for him at this point. But on court performance needs to improve by changing his role. I’m a fan of consistency, but I’m fine moving off anyone other than Fox and Sabonis. Even Keegan should be on the table at this point.

Adamsite
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December 5, 2023 3:44 pm

Hey now. Maybe someone worth kicking the tires on? He’s knows as a defensive wing and the Kings do have an open roster spot.

BeTheBall
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December 5, 2023 4:03 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Doesn’t move the needle in terms of improving the team, but it does signal that the FO is aware of the need to improve wing defense.

eddie41
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December 5, 2023 6:35 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

nice pickup.

RobHessing
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December 6, 2023 8:05 am
Reply to  Adamsite

The Stanimal.

eddie41
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December 6, 2023 1:21 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

just realized he played with Monk in L.A.

who from the Herald is writing the article on this acquisition?

SBKangz
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December 6, 2023 2:46 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Anjali strikes! Look out Monte…

SelecaoKOJ
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December 5, 2023 3:46 pm

I am in the minority . I don’t think this team has many assets to dangle.
They have their own picks. Ok. So does 80 percent of the league.
Knicks, Pels,
OKc, Jazz, Houston, Memphis have a surplus of first rounders and better young prospects for teams looking to blow up and rebuild. Or advance in the playoffs. In addition to that Kings have about a Zero chance at players like Anunoby and Siakem. They are expiring and are going to get massive bags. Try 200
mil for each. to start.Lavine is also costly. Assuming his contract. Monk and Keegan are the biggest assets. If the Kings are willing to move them. Then you’re talking about acquiring a big name.Teams are going to have little interest in Davion, Inconsistent Huerter or Barnes.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:37 pm
Reply to  SelecaoKOJ

You don’t have to trade for a big name. I would prefer a young up and coming player that doesn’t have to score 20 points a night but maybe 10 or 12 along with defense and say 6 or 7 rebponds.

KingOfTheMonsters
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December 6, 2023 10:56 am
Reply to  Jack

I agree with both of you. that’s why I think they should target Caruso. Great on D. Can guard multiple positions. Has a decent three-point shot. Can play make. He’s worth it. Getting a replacement starter at the four is a year or so away.

NorCalKingsFan
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December 6, 2023 3:43 pm

Yeah, we all love Caruso but keep in mind that roughly 24 other teams are looking at Caruso’s availability as well. He is probably the most sought after asset at the trade deadline due to his production vs contract.

Jack
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December 6, 2023 5:01 pm

It better be this year or we might be in trouble.

ElRonToro
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December 5, 2023 5:21 pm

I would not move Barnes out if the starting lineup until after the December trade deadline.
I would not trade Sabonis Fox Murray or Monk as they define the style and character of the team. Too risky.
i would hate to lose Huerter but it would be ok for a solid tall wing whose 3 and D abilities are solid.
Anything else that brings a 3&D guy I am all in.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:41 pm
Reply to  ElRonToro

Murray is a solid 3&D so what about a stretch 4 who can defend and rebound

ElRonToro
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December 5, 2023 7:15 pm
Reply to  Jack

I would love a big lock down defender who can help Sabonis out on the boards and hit 3s at minimum rate of 38%. If it takes a combination of 1-3 first rounders and players I’m in ….price dependent on ability, age and current contract.

Jack
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December 6, 2023 8:47 am
Reply to  ElRonToro

Tari Eason hits 3’s at a 40% clip’

RobHessing
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December 6, 2023 12:12 pm
Reply to  Jack

.346 career, .375 this season. Very low volume, even on a per 36 minute basis.

billoddity
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December 5, 2023 6:19 pm

They need power and toughness… this team is too finesse in the paint against tough teams. They will rarely be able to beat teams with enforcers in the lane or bruising forwards/rebounders. I was sure they’d address it this offseason but did not. Brooks would have been a great solution. They need to make a trade this year.

Also frustrating that Haliburton is becoming a legit superstar. He’d be worth more than almost any other player or combination of players now, not just a good center like Sabonis.

Last edited 7 months ago by billoddity
Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:43 pm
Reply to  billoddity

Unless you have Jokic I firmly disagree.

Jack
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December 5, 2023 6:46 pm
Reply to  Jack

PS Sabonis isn’t your average good center. He was an allstar and deserves that accolade. Monty had to make a decision keep Fox or Hali. He made the right decision.

RobHessing
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December 6, 2023 1:41 pm
Reply to  billoddity

And Hali would have nowhere near the value in Sac. that he has in Indy. Fox and Hali playing together was a try and fail venture.

The Kings got an all-NBA center for Haliburton, one that also elevated Fox to all-NBA status.

I’m really happy for both Hali and Sabonis…and Fox. All three of them benefited from that trade. As did the Indy and Sac. fanbases.

rockbottom
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December 6, 2023 1:51 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Remembering the Dubs fan outrage at trading Monta Ellis for Bogut . Curry became Star Curry and Bogut key to championship .

RobHessing
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December 6, 2023 1:59 pm
Reply to  rockbottom

Yep. I always wonder had the Kings been able to pursue the alternative of trading Fox and retaining Hali (which was my preference), just who we would have been able to sign as a free agent that would be make a Hali / ? pairing better than a Fox / Sabonis pairing? Unless the thought was to roll the dice on being God-awful last year and banking on that less than 25% chance of landing Wemby, which would still not pay full dividends this year…and also probably would have meant a coach other than Mike Brown.

Honestly, I can’t draw a line to a better outcome than what has transpired since / because of the Haliburton / Sabonis trade. And Pacers fans can say the same thing.

andy_sims
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December 7, 2023 10:04 am
Reply to  RobHessing

I’d imagine that Haliburton & Sabonis would be great together, but sometimes it’s smart to hang onto the guy who can create a clean shot for himself when down one with eight seconds left.

And this guy is also an all-star getting better. The trade was truly the right move for both teams.

AriAvery
December 5, 2023 7:52 pm

Just finished writing up a metrics presentation for work. Studied it, so that I can tell a story about it. Thought of things we can do to improve in the coming weeks and months. Weighed out my options. Wrote it all down and closed my laptop. Said, “I’m done with metrics”, and grabbed a beer. Unlocked my phone and read me some good ‘ol metrics on TKH. Absolutely intensified my appreciation for these write-ups. Y’all are great! Cheers.

Corneroffense
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December 5, 2023 7:55 pm

Tim,

I certainly agree in the abstract. If the Kings had one really quick, physical player to add to the lineup, frankly that would be their first. I mean, how many times did the word ‘physical’ come up in yesterday’s post-game interviews? It’s like the Kings were shocked that any team was physical. I’d also agree that Barnes would be the guy I’d replace. He has lost a step. But a marginal improvement over Barnes doesn’t overcome the following:

  • Murray is not quick
  • Huerter is not quick and not strong
  • Sabonis is undersized and is what you would call ‘vertically challenged’.
  • Fox and Monk are quick but not big

The Kings have to be an offensive juggernaut to win. Fox, Sabonis, and Monk are pulling their weight. Murray and Huerter are not. The stats don’t lie.

Could they use a 24 year old Draymond in the lineup for Barnes? Sure. But until they find the next Draymond in the second round (good luck) they are going to have to have that 125-point clockwork machine working every night to make 6th this year. And that requires a significantly higher 3 point percentage by the wings. Barnes is shooting a higher percentage than they are. Fox, Sabonis, and Monk are at their peak. They need help.

So sure, start Vezenkov or Lyles, but don’t expect that to revolutionize things. And a trade? You’d just be trading offense for defense. You can say Monte ‘stood pat’ wrongly, but I bet he was counting on improvement from Huerter and especially Murray that hasn’t happened. Frankly, without Fox getting even better, I don’t know where they’d be. ‘Blame Barnes’ is not going to cut the mustard this year. We need some 3’s or it might be play-in time this April.

BeTheBall
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December 5, 2023 11:02 pm
Reply to  Corneroffense

Huerter has made a very tangible improvement on the defensive end. He’s also started to play well offensively since mid November. As such that I expect his netRTG to get back to where it was last season as the 3 outliers (2x HOU, and the 1st NO game) start to get pushed into the distance.

Keegan has started off slowly on the offensive side, however he’s made tremendous improvements on defense. He’s currently our best defender of all players averaging over 10 minutes a game. In the 5 full games prior to his injury, he was showing good signs that the early shooting struggles were starting to go by the wayside. Then the back issue happened. Last night he was much better offensively vs his return game against Denver, and while his defense wasn’t up to the level of what he’d been prior to the injury, it was also much better than the Denver game.

If Keegan’s offensive efficiency can get back to near where it was last season, while coupled with the fact that he’s also taking more shots this year, and his defense continues at his current level of quality, he’d be on pace to have an excellent sophomore year.

As for what to do with Barnes, that’s an interesting thought experiment. It stands to reason that a move to the bench, facing “weaker” competition, could be beneficial for him on both sides of the ball. However, moving either Sasha or Lyles into the starting rotation could also expose them defensively, relative to the fairly good play they’ve given off the bench. Of course, that’s a possibility for every player in the league who gets a starting promotion as reward for their 2nd unit play. That said, in that situation, I’d probably lean more toward Lyles as next man up.

Jack
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December 6, 2023 6:31 am
Reply to  Corneroffense

We aren’t blaming Barnes just telling the truth.I really like the guy and he has been a loyal King since he came to the Kings. It hurts sometimes but NBA basketball is a business. Loyality sometimes, as much as it hurts, won’t get you a championship or even into the playoffs.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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December 6, 2023 2:57 am

Just my $0.02:(long)

The Kings overachieved last season. The Kings needing to make a move after 20 games and 11-8 this season to secure a playoff run is fun to bandy about.

Keeping Harrison Barnes:
He’s a known.
He fits the team as a leader and mentor.
He was the 3rd best player on the team last regular season
He provides roster stability
He is not bring used as 3rd/4th option on offense as the Kings have transitioned off of their DHO based strategy of last year – their overall scheme has changed

Trading Harrison Barnes:
For whom exactly?
How long to transition this new asset or would this be one of those seamless transition I’ve read about?
Sacramento’s aging starter for a young promising piece at half (or less) salary sounds amazing – where should the GMs line up?
Oh wait – throw in your other starter, Kevin Heurter? Why didn’t you say so? Man, this young up and comer is going to be as good as 2 starters? Awesome!

The Kings are trying out the strategy of stability- something they last tried…
23 seasons ago? maybe that’s ok.

So – the Kings are winning and aren’t ready to dominate. Who in the West is? Minny? OKC? Lakers? Denver is still, clearly, the West’s Best (when healthy).

Just me, but unless a slick deal shows up- re-evaluate in February, not mid-December.

My biggest worry is the lack of young starter possible talent on the Kings. Other than Keegan, who looks interesting/special/noteworthy?

Jack
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December 6, 2023 6:38 am

You mentioned some teams above who won’t dominate this year but also could land above the Kings because the Kings don’t dominate either If we stay where wenare with whatnwe have now IMO we might not make the playoffs. Those teams mentioned plus others just might jump ahead of us this year we we stay status quo.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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December 6, 2023 4:35 pm
Reply to  Jack

I hear ya, Jack – it’s a rough road and potholes and pitfalls await.

Hot Take Central in cold December:
Teams that dominate (said in octave lower voice) are Championship contender quality teams. The West is chock full of playoff contenders. There were 13 teams contending for those top 6 playoff plus 4 play-in spots last season after the All Star Break.

Whom would I, me, myself consider to be Champ contenders as we finish Quarter 1 of the season?
West – Denver
East – Boston, Milwaukee

Reasonable Outside chance:
West – Minny? Lakers plus 3 zebras?
East – Philly? Knicks?

No frikkin’ way, no chance, not even a snowball’s in Hades:
West – Portland, San Antonio (sorry Wemby, but next year…)
East – Detroit, Charlotte, Washington

Everyone else is fighting for playoff spots to rise in the playoff rounds; anyone can make the playoffs – Houston is a surprise, so maybe, but I doubt it, Utah -same. Memphis – Adams out, but with Brandon Clarke and of course, Ja Morant back – maybe they can make a run, though maybe they just become a sad story of what could have been. They had the second best record in the West last season – they ain’t bums, but boy oh boy.

So, napkin math: 30 – 5 losers, leaving 25 who are possibly playoff/play-in worthy. Subtract Top 3, that’s 22, other almost top 3 and we’re left with 19 for 6 spots in the West and 4 in the East.
East – Magic, Pacers, Heat, Cavs, Nets, Hawks, Raps and I guess Bulls if they can figure it out, however unlikely (8)
West – Thunder, Lakers, Sac, Mavs, Suns, Pels, Clippers, Rockets, Warriors, Jazz and those Grizzlies – last two unlikely (11)

Most any of those (West) squads can surpass the regular season Kings. I will guess that you agree with me on this – who cares? IMO, success for Sac is winning one more playoff game than last season. Miami was the 8th seed, Lakers the 7th, last season. Turned out ok for them. Kings get the 10th seed (or 1st) and make it to the second round- this will be considered a winning, successful season by some (> me <).

We can talk about domination next Summer.

Last edited 7 months ago by UpgradedToQuestionable
Amonk81
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December 7, 2023 12:23 am

No Miami? Over Knicks. Miami is ridiculous- how they have the formula and seemingly constantly contend.

9sac8
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December 6, 2023 7:48 am

We HAVE to make a trade for Caruso AND Achiuwa. I’m on the fence with Lavine, but, our fast breaks would be crazy when running with any of these 3. I definitely believe it’s an upgrade on defense as well. Coach Brown will bring out the best of Lavine on the defensive end. Not worried about Caruso or Achiuwa…they get after it.

Jack
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December 6, 2023 8:50 am
Reply to  9sac8

Caruso would be Okay. He is 29. How about Eason and Achuiwa. Both young and can play basketball. Both fits Monty’s timeline.

9sac8
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December 6, 2023 9:31 am
Reply to  Jack

🤔🤔🤔…not bad. I’m not too knowledgeable on Eason, but I will definitely look into his highlights more.

Last edited 7 months ago by 9sac8
Jack
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December 6, 2023 11:47 am
Reply to  9sac8

You should.

Hobby916
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December 6, 2023 10:33 am

What about Zach Collins? He could provide some size with Sabonis in the starting unit (Fox/Huerter/Murray/Collins/Sabonis) and then sub out when Barnes/Monk come in. Insert Collins again when Domas comes out later in the quarter, etc.

I like his toughness and he can guard the PF/C. He is not a great outside shooter, which means Keegan would need to get his shot figured out sooner rather than later.

Adamsite
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December 6, 2023 11:09 am
Reply to  Hobby916

I don’t think the Spurs are trading him. He fits nicely next to Wemby and they have him on a very affordable 3 year deal.

Spurs can just sit tight and develop their youth while sitting a ton of picks. They are going to be scary good in a year or two. They have 6 first round picks over the next two drafts!

Mike120
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December 6, 2023 11:25 am

I agree with Tim on this. Barnes had a great first half in game one and one OK game since then. Otherwise invisible. In the short term I’d give Lyles a shot at the 4. Problem is we don’t have a ton of trade capital left after Fox, Murray, Sabonis, and Monk. I hate giving up future firsts as well. Not sure what options the Kings have. Forget Luka, we should have drafted JJJ. I Think we’d be legit title contenders with him.

caseycheesecake
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December 6, 2023 3:06 pm

I think it’s still too early to make a change with Barnes.

49taylaners
December 6, 2023 4:50 pm

The Toronto forwards will difficult to obtain unless you give up Murray and 3 first round draft picks. Markennen would be unrealistic, however, I would trade Murray/Davion and a first round for him. A more realistic choice would be Jonathan Issacs. Defensive specialist with length and can shoot. would be perfect with Domas, and won’t require too much cheddar(barnes/davion/duarte)

Hobby916
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December 6, 2023 5:00 pm
Reply to  49taylaners

I like Isaac too, always have. Just need to see him healthy for a bit. He seems like the type of guy they need to target.

Jack
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December 6, 2023 5:08 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

I have to disagree. I like him but he is in the hospital more than on the cpout.

MillersCornrows
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December 7, 2023 12:05 am
Reply to  Hobby916

Huge no on Isaac. He pals around with right-wing Christian nationalists.

Convoy
December 6, 2023 5:44 pm
Reply to  49taylaners

Murray and Mitchell are great bargaining chips for the Kings to use now because Davion’s value, as an undersized guard in this league (whose respective size-disadvantaged disposition depreciates quicker than that of a regularly sized nba player), most likely will never be as high, and Keegans’ potential is still appreciating. Also there is evidence that the team can perform at a high level without these players.

AnybodyButBagley
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December 6, 2023 9:15 pm

Two or three players under contract that can replace another under contract. This means McNair has done his job. That is the desired outcome. Nothing awkward for Brown.

P.S. All of the players being discussed have a legitimate trade value in the NBA.

MillersCornrows
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December 6, 2023 10:07 pm

Great article. Thanks Tim!

cloudyeyes
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December 7, 2023 2:07 pm

There are a bunch of rumors on Toronto sites with Keegan’s name floating around for Siakam. If we could get a sign and trade with Siakam, I would be all over that. Despite Keegan’s improved defense – he is still hugely dependent on Sabonis and will still need a few years to develop. This team is basically waiting on him to develop. Why not just jump to the future and trade for Siakam? If he doesn’t want the sign and trade, I would suggest some draft picks + filler (Barnes, Duarte, etc).

ajonez81
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December 7, 2023 10:03 pm

Monte seems to make the moves that are available and I still don’t think people look at Sac as an even slightly sexy place to come. Being pretty good is not that difficult but becoming a legit contender will be a difficult final few steps and moves to make. Our wings have remained lackluster for years, we need upgrades.

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