The Brooklyn Nets traded Kessler Edwards (with cash) to the Sacramento Kings for David Michineau at the trade deadline last season. For all intents and purposes, this was a salary dump and roster-spot-opening move for the Nets, and a low-risk attempt by the Kings to find some defense and length on the wing. The free cash didn’t hurt, either.
The trade came at what was probably the most controversial stretch of the season for a Kings team that was riding high all year. The Beam Team had some obvious weaknesses heading into the deadline (those weakness proved deadly in their first round playoff exit vs. the Warriors) and with rumors swirling about a potential Mason Plumlee or Matisse Thybulle acquisition, the fact that Monte McNair walked away from the deadline with just Kessler Edwards was met with some disappointment.
But once you got over who Kessler Edwards wasn’t, and watched him play out there with the squad, I thought he performed pretty well in his limited role.
Edwards appeared in 22 games for the Kings last season, averaging 3.9 points on .435 shooting from the field and .349 shooting from 3 to go along with 1.0 assists, 2.1 rebounds, and 0.5 steals. The 22-year-old forward never tried to do too much for what was already an excellent offensive team, but his energy on defense and the glass was enough for Mike Brown to trust him with a regular rotation role pretty quickly.
The Kings were 12-10 in those 22 regular-season Kessler Edwards appearances.
Then the playoffs started, and Edwards was nothing but a garbage time player for Coach Brown. With shortened playoff rotations, that wasn’t a particularly shocking development to start, but considering how many players on this squad totally fell apart against the Warriors, I was a little surprised Brown never gave Edwards an opportunity.
I don’t know if Edwards changes anything. I’d bet he doesn’t. But when you’ve got several guys out there who are just not getting it done, more adjustments would have been welcomed. Brown’s loyalty to the players most responsible for ending the playoff drought never wavered. To me, that is both understandable and a fair second-guess.
Looking forward, Edwards has a $1.9 million team option for next season with a June 29th deadline, so we’ll have a better idea of his future in Sacramento in a couple of weeks. I’m rooting for him to stick around. He’s not a reliable 3-and-d wing yet, but after a handful of games in Sacramento, $1.9 million feels like a fair price to pay to keep him around for another year of development, and hopefully find out what you’ve really got.
The energy is there. The athleticism is there. The size is there. The defense appears mostly there. But can he shoot the 3 consistently? Can he develop enough of an offensive game where opposing teams won’t completely ignore him? Those questions still need to be answered.