With the trade deadline looming on Thursday, the Sacramento Kings continue to come up in trade rumors. On Monday, it was a rumored offer of Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore and a pick or two for the Celtics Rajon Rondo. We awake this morning to rumors that the Kings are chasing veteran point guard Jarrett Jack.
Clearly Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro is looking at team needs and aggressively looking to fill those holes. It’s not hard to see that coach Michael Malone is going to battle with an imperfect roster. Regardless of personal player numbers, Sacramento sits at the bottom of the Western Conference at just 18-35.
The needs are glaring and it’s unlikely that one trade will cure all that ails the Kings roster. Before looking at individual deals or players, here is a look at the positions that need improving, in no particular order.
Thomas is having a career year, but is it enough to call him the Kings starting point guard for the next 5-10 years? The 5-foot-9 inch dynamo is a restricted free agent this summer, meaning that Sacramento can match any offer for the 25-year-old guard. But we learned a lesson last season with Tyreke Evans. D’Alessandro has a dollar figure in mind when it comes to player contracts and if Thomas exceeds that figure, the Kings will look to move him for another asset or let him walk.
Jimmer Fredette has been filling in for Thomas off the bench, but his fate in Sacramento was sealed when the Kings passed on his fourth-year option on October 31. Jimmer has looked solid of late, but here is the rub – Thomas and Jimmer are too similar as players for this combo to work. Thomas is a score-first point guard and Jimmer is a more of a combo guard. Neither has proven that they can consistently make the players around them better.
Malone needs a passing guard with defensive capabilities. It doesn’t matter if the player is a starter or a bench player, which is why you have seen the Kings linked to both Rondo and Jack. This isn’t an indictment on Thomas or Jimmer as individuals, it is more the reality of an imperfect roster.
When the season began, the Kings looked stocked at the two. Marcus Thornton should have been a reasonable placeholder for rookie Ben McLemore, at least for a season or two. But this duo has been a disaster. Thornton has struggled with every aspect of the game, scoring a career-low 8.3 points per game on 38 percent shooting from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range. He has had moments of brilliance, but they are few and far between. In a line-up with Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, the Kings don’t need Thornton to score. Unfortunately, he hasn’t figured out a way to produce on nights when he doesn’t get his offensive touches.
McLemore is packed with potential, but after 53 games, it is clear that he needed more time at Kansas with coach Bill Self. At 21-years old, McLemore has plenty of time to grow into an NBA regular, but he needs major work on almost every facet of the game. He has the skills to be an elite shooter, slasher and defender, but he needs a true mentor at the position to teach him the ropes and Thornton doesn’t fit that bill.
Defensive-Minded Big Man
Cousins has improved as a defender in his fourth season, but the Kings are still looking for the right fit to go alongside him. It’s not that Jason Thompson is a bad NBA player, because he’s not. Thompson is just the wrong player to compliment Cousins. The same goes for Carl Landry, Quincy Acy, and Aaron Gray. Each of these players have specific and unique skills. Thompson is a solid all around big. Landry is a great scorer and a tough guy. Acy is a hustle player and ferocious dunker, while Gray is a throw back space filler that sets mean picks.
The Kings need a defensive-minded shot blocker who can guard stretch fours. The Thunder aren’t looking to move Serge Ibaka and it’s unlikely that the Kings can pry John Henson out of Milwaukee, but that is the player type that the Kings need at the four.
Sacramento needs a lot of help, but what is the most pressing? D’Alessandro will continue to rework this roster until it is distinctly his, but it might not all come together at this season’s trade deadline or even this summer. If you had to pick your poison, what hole would you fill first?