The Sacramento Kings are 6-12 to start the season despite essentially bringing back their young core of players that brought them within two games of last year's play-in tournament. Things are not going according to plan for Sacramento, as they hit a new low by losing to a Philadelphia 76ers team whose highest-paid player was Furkan Korkmaz. The embarrassing loss came after assistant coach Alvin Gentry took the reigns from Luke Walton, who was fired by Sacramento a few days ago. Clearly, there is Kevin O’Connor destroys the Sacramento Kings “No wonder the other night that dude puked all over the court.”
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Lucky for the Kings, we at Basketball Network are part of a small group of people who still care to see the franchise succeed. For any Kings fan, the irrational loyalty is likely born out of intense love for Rick Adelman's offense and how it flowed like a river, led by the beautiful playmaking of Vlade Divac and Chris Webber from the high-post. The Kings s are far from those of the early 2000s, but here are some trades that Sacramento can make to win end what will soon be the longest playoff drought in NBA history while winning back some of its highly discouraged fans.
Acquire Ben Simmons
There are many non-believers in his ability, but getting Simmons was the first real step towards building a winner in Philadelphia. Embiid was drafted two years before Simmons, but Embiid's health issues labeled him a gamble early on while Simmons was the playmaker Philly needed to put everything together. Fortunately for Sacramento, things do not seem to be working out between Ben Simmons and his current team. If I were the Kings' brass, I would do anything and everything to make sure that Simmons is in Sac-town by the trade deadline.
Simmons might not shoot the ball from the perimeter, but the first steps to being a good team are getting easy baskets, taking care of the ball, and learning how to play defense. These are all aspects of the game where Simmons is excellent. Ben averaged three turnovers a game last season but considering the speed at which he plays and the fact that he averaged seven assists to go along with that, the numbers are impressive.
For context, Chris Paul plays slower and deliberate but still averages 2.3 TOs per game. Simmons will automatically raise the team's efficiency and help bring some competitive fire on the defensive side of the ball, something the Kings have been lacking for decades. In their current situation, nobody should be untouchable for Sacramento.
Move Harrison Barnes to the 3, or out of Sacramento
Barnes could be a trade asset due to the size of his contract and the allure of versatility, making him interesting to teams looking for a reliable role player that can occasionally get hot, but that's about it. Let's face it, Barnes is not a stretch four. His inability to make a shot in game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals cost the Warriors their historic season. Barnes missed open three after open three, and several years, later he continues to do that while not defending anybody at a respectable rate.
If the Kings keep Barnes, he should move into a Royce O'Neal type of role for Sacramento, using his athleticism to help cover mistakes on rotations while hitting the occasional corner three. Barnes makes a lot of money to do just that, but if they were looking to recreate the death lineup in Sacramento with Barnes as a focal point on both sides of the ball, those days are over.
The Kings need to build an identity, and it starts with accepting that they do not have the personnel for an effective small ball strategy. Instead, throw Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup to use size and athleticism to relentlessly attack the rim, kind of like how the Lakers did it in 2020 en route to a championship.
Trade Buddy Hield for a Playmaker
To survive in the NBA, you need to be able to play the high screen and roll on both ends of the floor at all times. The Lakers ran into this problem whenever LeBron James would come out of the game, and the offensive numbers would just free fall without him in the game. The Kings suffer from the same issue because starting Haliburton and Fox together means Sacramento does not have a playmaker coming off the bench.
Utah is struggling right now in terms of their three-point shooting, contributing to their relatively slow start this season. Almost twenty games in, it's becoming clear to the basketball world that the Jazz are not getting out of the Western Conference as constructed. For Sacramento, this presents an opportunity to become more competitive by improving their bench offense; Buddy Hield for Jordan Clarkson is the deal to make if you're Sacramento.
Of course, you could package a few more young players to get an upgrade to Hield/Clarkson, but the point is the Kings need to acquire a player who can keep the offense running with the rest of the second unit. To improve their chances of making the playoffs, the second unit needs to be able to pick up the slack when the starters are struggling. This is the case with all competitive teams in the league.
Right now, there isn't much to smile about for Kings fans, but the fact of the matter is that they have some pieces that they can move to improve their roster. For Sacramento, the lack of leadership in the front office has led to bad planning and a lack of chemistry on the court, but not necessarily a bad collection of basketball talent. If the Kings want to escape being relegated into the oblivion of basketball irrelevance, they need to make moves now.
These aren't moves that get you to the Finals. For the Kings, a first-round loss to the Warriors would signify a successful season. Time to make some hard decisions Sacramento.