Over the last couple of weeks, one fact has become abundantly clear in Sacramento: Marvin Bagley wants out. Between a months-long social media campaign by his father to get his son to another team, a “liked” tweet by Bagley himself about getting traded, declining to specifically state that he wants to stay with the Kings in a podcast after “liking” the tweet, and his PR people blaming coaches for his poor play and lack of fourth quarter success, the likelihood of Marvin wearing a Kings uniform next season feels extremely low. To put it frankly, he’s gone, and likely gone by draft night.
Bagley wanting out, and the Kings wanting Bagley out, as evidenced by Monte McNair’s failed attempt to send him to the Detroit Pistons at the trade deadline, puts the team in a tough position when trying to extract assets out of the former second overall pick. Marvin’s value was never going to be particularly high before a theoretical trade request, considering he’s missed half of his career games and he’s owed over $11 million next season, but now teams can take advantage of the fact that he needs to go, which only further serves to suffocate any return in a potential deal.
Within the fan base and among NBA media members, the discussions around Bagley’s value vary greatly. Some think he’s worth a late lottery pick, while others may say the Kings need to include a minor asset to dump his salary. As with all things controversial, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, and studying historical examples of similar situations can help gauge what a transaction might actually look like.
It’s not every day that former top-5 picks are traded in the midst of their rookie-scale deals, but Bagley’s situation also isn’t unprecedented. Jahlil Okafor, Thomas Robinson, Derrick Williams, Josh Jackson, and Hasheem Thabeet are all examples of high lottery selections moving in the middle of their first contract, but two particular players stand out as logical value comparisons for Marvin.
Michael Beasley, a former second overall pick himself, was dealt after two years with the Miami Heat. In the season prior to the deal, he averaged 14.8 points and 6.4 boards, while Bagley put up 14.1 points and 7.4 rebounds this past season, an extremely close statistical match. For their troubles in the trade, the Heat were awarded a 2011 and a 2014 second round draft pick. Interestingly enough, Jason Jones of The Athletic shared that Bagley carried the same exact value at the trade deadline:
It’s no secret that Bagley was available at the trade deadline, but the Kings never received the kind of offer that made a deal worthwhile. One league executive told me a couple of second-round picks is about all they could see parting with to add Bagley.
From a non-statistical, non-positional, more situational point of view, Markelle Fultz is the other easy link to Bagley. He was far more frequently injured, only appearing in an average of 16 games through his first two seasons, compared to 39 games over three seasons for Marvin, but Fultz was also the more highly heralded prospect coming into the league, leading to his eventual selection as the first pick in the incredibly deep 2017 NBA Draft.
After the situation became untenable between Fultz, his camp, and the Philadelphia 76ers, again extremely similar to Bagley and the Kings, the Sixers traded him to the Orlando Magic for Jonathon Simmons, who appeared in a total of 15 NBA games post-trade, a second round pick, and a top-20 protected first rounder, which eventually conveyed as the 21st overall pick in last year’s draft.
Those historical comps for Bagley aren’t exactly encouraging, but they do help to set a realistic stage for any theoretical deals. While it’s certainly possible that a team loves his potential and sends a tangible asset Sacramento’s way, it’s much more likely that his value lies somewhere between a pair of second rounders and a late, late first, or perhaps a struggling young player with similar potential.
All of these factors put the Sacramento Kings in an incredibly difficult position when it comes to Marvin Bagley’s tenure in Sacramento. They can either trade away what was once one of the most valuable assets in the NBA for essentially nothing, or they can buckle up and ride it out with an unhappy player and his dramatic camp for the next few months. Neither solution is ideal, and neither solution will likely result in any meaningful assets heading Sacramento’s way, a terribly depressing conclusion to what was once one of the most exciting draft lottery outcomes in franchise history.