The Kings will trade Buddy Hield this offseason, or at least that seems to be the accepted assumption among Kigns fans. Buddy was unhappy with his role this past season, Buddy’s production slipped, and his new contract kicks in for the upcoming season. Fans are frustrated with Buddy, and Buddy is frustrated with the Kings. It seems only natural that Buddy could be moved, especially if the Kings begin to rebuild under a new GM.
But it would be a huge mistake to sell low on Hield this summer.
It’s easy to forget that a year ago there was a contingent of fans saying Vlade should just cave and give Buddy Hield the $100 million contract he was seeking. At the time of Buddy’s extension (at a number under $100 million), it was praised as a pretty good deal. That praise wasn’t just from local media, either.
One down season, and suddenly that same contract is viewed like some sort of albatross. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a great contract, especially if the cap goes down as a result of COVID impacting league revenues. But Buddy’s contract declines year over year, and pays a premium salary for one of the league’s premier shooters.
And that brings us to the biggest reason not to trade Buddy Hield for pennies on the dollar: he remains one of the league’s premier three point shooters. It’s easy to forget this when watching Buddy turn the ball over and when watching Luke Walton run an offense that has Buddy trying to create off the dribble, but Buddy is a great shooter.
In what we all agree was a down year for Hield, he still shot 39.4% from 3 on 9.6 attempts per game. On a per game basis, Buddy is third in the league in made threes. If we look at totals, Buddy made more three pointers this season than anyone other than James Harden. And this is in a down year for Buddy.
Buddy’s game has serious flaws, no doubt about it. But Buddy Hield is one of the league’s best three point shooters. We shouldn’t let our evaluation of him be clouded simply because Luke Walton used him poorly all year. Buddy is elite at one of the most sought-after skills in the NBA.
If the right deal comes along, Buddy is hardly an untouchable player. I’m not suggesting that the Kings can’t trade Buddy under any circumstances. And there is naturally a risk to keeping Buddy another year considering the Kings seem hellbent on keeping Luke Walton.
All I’m saying is that if the Kings trade Buddy Hield, they better make sure they get something decent in return. Because if Buddy lands with a competent coach he’s going to bounce right back and remind everyone how good he can be when used correctly.