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Going for it, with help from Orlando and Charlotte  


TitleChaser
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TL/DR: Kings prey on sinking Orlando and center-desperate Charlotte to grab All-Star worthy center Vucevic and intriguing young forward Miles Bridges. They do this because the Kings may not be bad enough to get a high draft pick but may be good enough to compete with the right additions.

The trade:

To Sacramento: Nikola Vucevic, Miles Bridges, Al-Farouq Aminu, Michael Carter-Willams, and Bismack Biyombo.

To Orlando: Marvin Bagley, Cory Joseph, and Jabari Parker. 2021 Sacramento 1st Rounder (unprotected), 2021 Charlotte 1st Rounder (protected to 12, converts to Sac 2021 2nd Rounder if not conveyed), 2023 Sacramento 1st Rounder (unprotected).

To Charlotte: Richaun Holmes, Nemanja Bjelica. 2021 Sacramento 2nd Rounder (to Orlando if Charlotte 1st Rounder not conveyed).

The high of an improving record and win streak can be blinding, but it might be time to go for it. Halliburton is a revelation, Fox is making the Leap, Barnes has become what we always hoped, and Holmes has become our anchor. As such, while the middle class of the Western Conference is huge and brutal, the Kings seem to be well within it. Our momentum makes a top-5 pick less likely, and while the 2021 class is vaunted, it doesn’t seem quite as deep as anticipated. So while the Kings are joyfully competing for a playoff spot, they may be losing a shot at a franchise changer.

Without a clear shot at a rookie star, the Kings’ future looks problematic. Bagley shows promise, but poor fit and D. Hield has value, but currently not to bring in decent assets from a trade or justify his contract. And with somewhere between 92 and 106 million in existing salary commitments, the Kings are unlikely to be able to afford Richard Holmes; even if they can, they’re unlikely to be able to add the assets necessary to make the team more than a middling playoff-contender at best.

So why not damn the torpedoes and go for it by bringing a star and other assets? Even without trading Barnes and Buddy, the Kings have lots of expiring contracts—-including the very attractive Holmes—-, and promising young player in Bagley, and all their future 1sts. That might be enough to bring in an undervalued star like Nik Vucevic and an intriguing fit like Miles Bridges.

Vucevic is one of the best all-around centers in the league. His skills, shooting and passing making him a fit with any team; his relative lack of athleticism hasn’t kept him from defending well (especially when not the focal point of the offense) or potentially playing fast (he shoots top of the league above the break). He was the best player, by far, on two consecutive 8th seed playoff squads. And yet because he’s 30 and plays a less valued position, there’s a legitimate chance to get him for a non-crazy return. Adding Vucevic could put the Kings in the driver’s seat for a playoff, and perhaps more if Fox and Halliburton improve and Vucevic maintains his high level of play the next few years—- which is likely because of his skills. As an added bonus, his contract lines up nicely with Barnes’s.

Meanwhile, the Magic need to blow it up. Injuries to Jon Isaac and Markelle Fultz have robbed them of a playoff shot this year, and contract extensions for those two have robbed them of cap space next year. Trading Vucevic lets the Magic jump headfirst into the Cade Cunningham race, pick up some assets, and find out what they have in Mo Bamba. As for those assets, Bagley may be flawed, but he’s still a high-potential points-and-rebounds guy for a team that would need it, and Steve Clifford has had success coaching defense from a variety out of young bigs; worse comes to worse, Isaac and Bamba could mask Bagley’s D without killing spacing too much. Add to Bagley at least one if not two extra 2021 picks plus a 2023 pick isn’t a bad hall. Losing Al-Farouq Aminu and Michael Carter-Williams is gravy for the Magic; while Aminu could be a useful backup big when he returns from injury, the tanking Magic don’t need that but could use the extra 10 million in savings.

Lastly, Miles Bridges deserves a starting spot and the Kings might be able to give it to him. While not a star, he’s shoots decent percentages, passes decently, and rebounds/blocks shots pretty well for a smaller forward; super-athletic and fearless, he’s also shown a willingness to defend up and down the line and throw down on anyone. Yet he’s blocked from starting by Gordon Hayward and PJ Washington, and the massive contract for Hayward means that the Hornets are looking to compete. They have a big hole to fill at center, which Holmes fills perfectly; his free-agent status matters less as the Hornets have the cap space for re-sign him. Throw in the presumably still effective Bjelica as a backup power forward, and the sting of losing a protected-pick and Bridges potential might seem palatable to the Hornets.

The net result of all this would be a Kings lineup of Fox, Hield/Halliburton, Bridges, Barnes, and Vucevic. That lineup competes now and has room for improvement in the future. That’s worth risking some assets for, especially when we may already be on the cusp of the next step.


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MidtownMike
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Not for two unprotected firsts. I love vuc but at 30 and a big boy I'm not giving two unprotected picks


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TitleChaser
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@midtownmike
That’s fair. I presume we’d have to give an unprotected, or lightly protected first this year at least. But maybe a protected 2023 1st, or a pair of seconds would be more appropriate. If something like this were attempted, I suppose the question would be how urgent the Magic feel to rebuild, especially since Vuc will have less value with each year.


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