Coming into the 2019-20 season carrying the longest playoff drought in the NBA—the Kings have not been to the postseason since 2006—Sacramento was determined to muscle its way over .500 and into the West’s Top 8.
The Kings retained veteran Harrison Barnes, acquired in a trade ahead of last year’s deadline, and brought in veterans like Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon. With a young nucleus of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley and Bogdan Bogdanovic in place and a new coach—Luke Walton, having been let go by the Lakers—Sacramento appeared to have its best chance at the playoffs in a decade.
It hasn’t quite gone as planned. Ariza (34 years old, 6.0 points) did not appear to have much in the tank and Dedmon has struggled to find a role with the team. Fox missed 18 games with ankle and back injuries. Bagley broke his thumb in the opener and has missed 30 games.
That’s left the Kings in a hole that might be too deep to leave. At 15-26, they’re tied for second-worst in the conference, 4.5 games out of the No. 8 seed with six teams to beat out for that final spot.
On Saturday, the Kings attempted to shake up their fortunes, dealing away Ariza and little-used youngsters Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan to the Blazers, bringing back wing Kent Bazemore and veteran forward Anthony Tolliver. The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Sacramento is hoping that the trade can bolster their weak depth and, perhaps, vault them back into contention for a playoff spot. The Kings have lost 12 of their last 15 games.
Bazemore has struggled this season but should be the best player in the deal. At 30 years old, he has averaged 7.9 points on 34.7 percent shooting and 32.7 percent 3-point shooting. Bazemore shot 32.0 percent from the 3-point line last year but is only two years removed from a season in which he averaged 12.9 points and shot 39.4 percent from the 3-point line.
Kings Roster & Projected Starting Lineup After Trade
C: Richaun Holmes (injured, February return)
PF: Marvin Bagley
SF: Harrison Barnes
SG: Buddy Hield
PG: De’Aaron Fox
C: Dewayne Dedmon, Harry Giles
F: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica, Anthony Tolliver
G: Cory Joseph, Kent Bazemore, Yogi Ferrell, Justin James, Kyle Guy
Kings Will Continue to be Busy Ahead of Deadline
This trade is an indication that the Kings intend to keep making a push to the postseason. But could it be an indication that more transactions are to come?
The Kings were connected to Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma earlier this month when Kuzma first hit the trade-rumor market. But reports out of Sacramento claimed that it was the Lakers, not the Kings, who initiated that call and that interest in Kuzma was limited.
There have also been persistent reports about Kings wing Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has been the team’s most consistent player this season. Bogdanovic is a restricted free agent and, with Buddy Hield’s extension kicking in next season, the Kings are looking ahead at a crowded payroll.
It’s hard to say what kind of contract Bogdanovic could command, with averages 14.5 points on 42.6 percent shooting, 38.3 percent 3-point shooting. He is in his third season but he is 27 years old. Most of the cap space this summer belongs to teams in rebuilding situations and Bogdanovic might not fit well in, say, Cleveland or Charlotte.
Still, the Kings have Dedmon, who has been public in his desire for a trade, on hand. Discussions around him, at least, will continue. He is in the first of a three-year, $40 million deal.
There’s also the chance that the Kings could re-trade Bazemore, whose $19 million salary could be used to bring back a major piece—Detroit’s Andre Drummond, for example. The Kings have long had interest in Drummond and could revive that interest now.
Things haven’t turned out the way the Kings would have liked. But they’re sure to keep tinkering ahead of the trade deadline.