The NBA Draft is less than three weeks away on Nov. 18, the only date that is currently finalized on the league’s calendar. What is far less certain is what the Kings plan on doing with their pick.
Richard Ivanovski of The Sacramento Bee suggested six fake trades the Kings could execute to start the offseason, three of them involving the team’s first-round pick. Let’s take a look at if those deals are a better option than keeping the pick and adding that player to the team’s future core.
Option #1: Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley, and no. 12 for Bradley Beal
This isn’t too much to give away for a star of Beal’s caliber, especially considering how well he would fit next to De’Aaron Fox, who profiles a lot like a younger John Wall. Hield isn’t happy in Sacramento, Bagley hasn’t been healthy, and this is a relatively weak draft.
Beal is only 27 — incredibly, he’s younger than Hield. The Kings would also get Beal for two seasons before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The rub comes at that point when Beal decides whether he wants to stay in Sacramento or not. This is probably a worthwhile risk to take to get in playoff contention if Washington was willing to make the deal.
Option #2: Hield and no. 12 for James Johnson and no. 1
Minnesota wants to get into the playoffs, and there isn’t a natural fit at the no. 1 pick for what they need, which is help on the wings. The question then becomes if Hield is the right fit. On offense, a trio of D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Hield would be absolutely bonkers. The level of shooting is out of control, and Russell could get Hield in all of his favorite spots without Hield having to do any ball handling. If the Wolves are content with having the worst defense since the 1990s Denver Nuggets, this deal makes sense.
From Sacramento’s perspective, not only do they get off of Hield’s money (Johnson is an expiring contract), but they upgrade their pick. They could use anyone at the top of the draft because Fox can play next to another point guard, similar to what he did with Bogdan Bogdanovic this season, and no one else on the roster is a franchise cornerstone. This is once again a deal that feels much better for the Kings than their trading partner.
Option #3: Hield and no. 12 for Kevin Huerter and no. 6
This is probably my favorite of Ivanovski’s suggestions because it relies on each team’s evaluation of its own talent. It also pairs Hield with fellow Oklahoma product Trae Young; even though the two were never teammates, they did have the same head coach, and that tends to produce a bond.
Huerter appears to be on a similar track to Hield as a high-volume and accurate 3-point shooter who can’t do much of anything else, but if Atlanta wants to expedite that process, they could jump a few years ahead by replacing one with the other. My gut is that Huerter is not as good as Hield, and probably never will be, but he is much cheaper, and that gives the Kings room to work on the rest of their roster. Moving up in the draft also makes it more likely that Sacramento can select a wing, which is a more pressing need.
On one hand, this trade is the most probable because it’s the most evenly matched. However, teams are generally loath to give up on first-round picks so early in their careers unless they have a championship window.
Take a look at the rest of the trades. Do any of them move the needle for the Kings?
Some more news for Friday: