It was assured that when (not “if,” because this turbulent mess was bound to boil over in Sacramento at some point) the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins, it would be one hell of a story. But was anyone ready for the way it went down? With the Pelicans scooping him up shortly after the All-Star Game, and the Kings not even getting one guaranteed long-term starter in return?
Buddy Hield: 23-year-old rookie who can’t do much other than score (and it’s not like he’s shown much dominance in that area yet, only hitting double-figures in points three times in his last 13 games with the Pels)
Tyreke Evans: Kings’ best player back in the day, but that day was a long time ago … over the last two seasons he’s only appeared in 51 of a possible 139 games
Langston Galloway: OK backup point guard with the potential to become a dependable backup point guard
The reason for acquiring Hield as the centerpiece of a deal for a bonafide All-Star would seem to point directly to the Kings’ most powerful owner, Vivek Ranadivé, who said this after the Kings drafted Nik Stauskas.
“He shoots like Steph and he’s big like Klay.” – @Vivek
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) June 28, 2014
Some have compared Stauskas to Hield.
The Kings basically just traded DeMarcus Cousins for a statistical copy of Nik Stauskas, the guy they dumped in 2015 with a ’18 1st-rounder. pic.twitter.com/gSFRhpFSot
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) February 20, 2017
Hmmm, this sounds familiar ….
Source familiar w/ Kings’ thinking: “Vivek thinks Buddy [Hield] has Steph Curry potential.” Am told that fixation was a key driver in deal.
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) February 20, 2017
In 2013 Ranadivé left the Warriors, where he served as co-owner and vice chairman, to become co-owner and chairman of the Kings. It seemed as if he wanted to recreate what the Warriors were building from the moment he arrived. The Kings poached Mark Jackson’s lead assistant, Mike Malone, and added Chris Mullin to their front office. They signed Carl Landry, who played well for the Warriors the season prior (Landry’s first run with the Kings lasted from 2010 to 2011).
The Kings even tried to sign Monta Ellis during the summer of 2015, offering a total package worth $4 million more than what he eventually agreed to with Indiana. They even acquired a Curry of their own (Seth), but then they let him go for whatever reason.
Tim Kawakami makes a good point.
I’ll just say this: SAC sure has a player-type. Fredette. Stauskas. McLemore. Belinelli. Gay. Hield. Hint: All-around game not required.
— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) February 20, 2017
As a Kings fan, this has to be infuriating. The Kings/Warriors fan dynamic is a lot like A’s/Giants, in that the former groups wish to claw the latter groups off the earth’s surface, and the latter groups are more obsessed with richer, flashier rivals.
(Note: the situations for these respective fanbases used to be the opposite. Warriors fans envied the winning teams Sacramento had in the early 2000s, which played a fun, unselfish style that was a precursor to the Warriors of today. And Giants fans wished they could have it as good as the A’s — who enjoyed a vastly superior roster and ballpark experience — in the late-’80s/early-’90s.)
Now the Kings look to be in a dreadful position after parting with Cousins. They’re a so-called small market team that hasn’t had luck attracting top free agents. They haven’t drafted particularly well, and the talented players they did select in recent drafts are all on other teams. They don’t have a young core, or even a budding star. If their recent moves help them tank their way to a top-three draft selection, Philadelphia could force them to swap picks due to the ludicrous deal that sent Stauskas to the 76ers to create cap space room they would end up wasting on Rajon Rondo and others.
(The Sixers would have the No. 5 overall pick of the season ended today. The Kings currently have the 11th-worst record, although that is almost certain to change after trading Cousins and releasing Cousins’ cognac drinking buddy, Matt Barnes.)
However, Sacramento has a couple of things going for them. They have a nice new arena and the slate is blank. It’s going to take a loooooong time to rebuild this team (OK, *build*, since the team wasn’t really doing much with Cousins on board), but at least this trade will allow the Kings to keep their top-10 protected pick instead of sending it to Chicago. After several missteps and a painful divorce from their most talented player since Chris Webber, now is the time to stop trying to replicate the Warriors’ winning formula. Don’t feel bad, Vivek — no one can! How often does one team end up with two of the greatest shooters ever in the same backcourt? Never. OK, once. It’s time for Ranadivé to find his own path. Although, based on what we’ve seen thus far, the Kings would benefit most if he simply got out of the way.