The Sacramento Kings may be the biggest surprise package of the 2022-23 NBA season. The Kings, dismissed as potential tankers before the start of the season, have defied less-than-high expectations. Instead of tanking, they’ve thrived under new coach Mike Brown. Maybe then they don’t have to do much at the close of trading? We will see. Here we’ll look at the nightmare scenario the Kings don’t want as the 2023 NBA trade deadline nears.
Right now, the Kings have the third-best win-loss record in the entire Western Conference at 27-19. That’s right behind the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies. They’ve also led the Pacific Division for most of this season. That’s true even if they arguably have deeper teams and the defending champions in their group.
The Kings have had a strong start to the season but it remains to be seen if they can maintain their position. To make the playoffs and thrive, they need to address their defense, which ranks at the bottom in terms of defensive effectiveness. They have given up 100 or more points in all but two games, and allowed opposing teams to score at least 125 points nine times (with a record of 3–6 in those games).
To improve their defenses, kings should consider adding a legitimate big man and rim guard. Pack types like Richaun Holmes, Alex Len and/or Terence Davis seem to be feasible. Keep in mind that all of these guys are a bit out of rotation. Furthermore, these players earn $18 million combined. Len and Davis are also set on expiring deals. Holmes, in particular, could be a valuable trade item as he is no longer part of Kings’ long-term future.
The Kings also need to be creative with their fortunes since they can’t trade their first-round picks for two years after they’re sent to Atlanta. You have nine round two picks and a $4 million trade exception.
Alternatively, the kings can choose to remain in place and not make any significant changes. Again, trading a first round pick is a complicated affair. Sacramento owes Atlanta a 2024 election protected until 2026. Trading a removed draft pick for less than one star is risky and limits flexibility going forward.
Also remember that key players like De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes, Kevin Huerter and even Malik Monk can be valuable assets. However, it is uncertain if the team would get an upgrade by trading them for players that other teams would drop first-round picks for.
Keegan Murray had a 𝘾𝘼𝙍𝙀𝙀𝙍 𝙉𝙄𝙂𝙃𝙏 at home against The Thunder 👑
🔥 29 points
🔥 14 REB
🔥 5/7 3PT pic.twitter.com/7W0yeQv5VK
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) January 21, 2023
Some believe that it would be better to wait and see how the team finishes the season, enjoy its first place in the playoffs since 2006, and then assess the team’s needs and consider off-season trading options.
Now let’s look at the Kings’ nightmare scenario for the 2023 NBA trade deadline.
Kings are getting ‘too active’
The Kings have had a successful season thanks to their third-place offense. However, they should still make a strong push for the playoffs and end their postseason drought. As such, we expect the Kings to make trades before the deadline. That can strengthen the team and prepare for the postseason. They have several players that can be used as salary fillers in trades. These include the aforementioned Holmes, Len and Davis. The kings can wrap these players in potential deals for a backup big man along with draft pay. Keep in mind that they don’t currently have a traditional center in the regular rotation. You can also consider available strikers like Jae Crowder or even Bojan Bogdanovic as alternatives.
Again, their 2024 first-round pick owed to the Hawks limits their ability to trade only a first-round pick in either 2028 or 2029. You also have nine second round selections to trade with. That comes along with an additional second-rounder in 2023, 2024, and 2025. The Kings may offer those picks in trades if they feel they are trading a future first-round pick.
However, if push comes to shove and the Kings make a move by deadline, it should just be a move. Trade any of the above assets for a solid backup center. That’s it. Sactown shouldn’t get too crazy and greedy here. Improve the middle and see where the chips will land in the postseason.
If they end up swapping too many of their picks and players and rolling the dice on big names, it could work very against them. The last thing they want is to get tangled up in a big deal from a big star who won’t do as well as his younger boys have.