Initial Thoughts/Ramblings On the Kings Trading For Samuel Dalembert

Sacramento: Acquires Samuel Dalembert
Philadelphia: Acquires Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni

Let me start off by saying this is a phenomenal deal for the Kings.

It’s not a deal that puts them into the playoffs and it’s not a deal that solves the problems with defending the paint. Yes, Samuel Dalembert is known as a shot-blocker but he’s also known as the “Oh my god! Why does he keep goaltending shots all the time” type of shot-blocker.

Here’s what Dalembert does mean for the Kings. They have SOME protection inside now. In 19,880 minutes last season, the Kings blocked 366 shots as a team. Only Portland (who happened to have both of their centers’ knees taken out by a sniper rifle), Golden State, Houston (see: sniper rifle, Yao’s foot), Detroit, Minnesota, New York and New Jersey blocked fewer shots. In 2,214 minutes, Dalembert blocked 151 shots. The Kings blocked roughly 4.4 shots per game last season and Dalembert does almost half of that for his career (1.9).

Now, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry don’t have to challenge so many shots and get into pesky foul trouble. Jason Thompson hopefully won’t reach in and get so many dumb fouls because he knows he’ll have help behind him. Omri, Donté and Tyreke can now be more aggressive on the perimeter, knowing there is a 6’11” pogo stick with a 7’6” wingspan protecting the basket. Again, it doesn’t solve every defensive problem for the Kings. It doesn’t fix slow rotations or help side looks on pick-and-rolls. However, it does allow for a last line of defense that hasn’t been here since Yogi Stewart was patrolling the paint. It instantly makes the games a lot more fun to watch because the shot-blocking threat inside changes everything.

And if you’re still not sure about what Dalembert is all about, just look at the info on his Twitter feed: “don’t come into my paint…or i’ll swat it into the fourth row…”

They also don’t have to sit idly by and hope Spencer Hawes makes good on the promise people try to see in him. He’s had his moments. He has fantastic skills for a man that size and that young. He also can’t play a lick of defense and seems to have issues with self-motivation. Guys the Kings are going to have to worry about in the future (Al Jefferson, Andrew Bynum, Greg Oden) have all obliterated him on the low block. He’s a suspect rebounder. It took an embarrassing benching from Paul Westphal (see here) to get him to put up more of an effort towards the end of last season. There’s no guarantee the same fire will be there from a guy that seems to have problems igniting his own flame.

I know people seem to think he’s going to be an All-Star center some day. I just don’t see it. I know he’s only 22 but that doesn’t mean he HAS to get better. It just means he has more time to hopefully figure it out right now. I still think he has a great career in front of him but I don’t know that it’s worth waiting around for. He might be one of those guys that has to bounce around a bit before he totally figures it out. I think with the correct power forward beside him in Philadelphia (Derrick Favors?), he could actually be a fantastic 10-year starter. But he definitely needs help inside.

As for the rest of this trade, this deal means two big things: 1) financial flexibility and 2) a wild ride ahead of them on draft night.

For the finances of the deal, this is a coup for the Kings. Sam Dalembert has a 15% trade-kicker in his deal (remember, Kenny Thomas?), which means his $12.9 million 2010-2011 price tag is now actually $14.8 million. That’s not a huge deal because his contract expires after this coming season. Andres Nocioni was slated for $6.85 million in ’10-11, $6.65 million in ’11-12 (assuming there’s no lockout) and a team option $7.5 million in the ’12-13 season that no team would ever pick up. Spencer also makes $2.9 million this year and then has a qualifying offer of just over $4 million for next summer. Altogether, the Kings take a hit in cap space this year by about $5 million, which isn’t a big deal because they weren’t going to go out and spend that money anyway. But now they have even more cap space heading into the 2011 summer (as long as there is no lockout).

Also, the Kings no longer have to make a decision regarding an extension for Spencer Hawes. Not that it would have been bad to sign him to an extension but with big men that are more potential than production, it always seems a little tricky to find a fair value. Young big men are going to be able to play the market a little bit better in restricted free agency so you could end up having to match an offer sheet that exceeds their actual value in order to not miss out on this guy being the real deal. If he is the real deal then you’ve probably won the negotiating process but if he isn’t then you may have crippled your franchises cap space for a pipe dream.

As for the draft, I’m not so sure what happens now. I think that no matter what DeMarcus Cousins was going to be the Kings selection if he dropped to fifth. Now with this trade, I think it makes it even more likely that they’d take Cousins if he plops into their lap.

But what does Philly do now? Does this give them the room to make a trade with Minnesota to basically swap the 2nd and 4th picks? If they do that, Minnesota definitely takes Evan Turner and then Philly would probably take DeMarcus Cousins fourth. Then where does that leave the Kings? They could just take Greg Monroe and use him exclusively in the high post most possessions. Could they even go another route? Al-Farouq Aminu? Ekpe Udoh? Hassan Whiteside?

I’m not sure I can get excited about any of those guys with the Kings. I don’t think they’ll be bad but does that really make a huge impact? The Kings are a small market team with signs of trouble in regards to being able to convince a star to come sign here. The best way to solve that issue is hitting a homerun in the draft with future stars like Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins.

I guess this is just draft day speculation one week before the draft. It just makes me doubt the Kings will be in a position to take Cousins.

Overall, this is a fantastic trade for the Kings. Not only did they get better but they’re in better financial shape too. I’ve been hesitant of the idea of the Kings blowing up their cap space for someone like Dalembert. But after seeing how the Kings progressed as a team and regressed defensively in the paint last year, this makes a lot more sense to me. If they can land Cousins in the draft and roll out with a big man rotation of Sammy, Landry, JT, Cousins and Brockman (when they need to bang some heads together), that’s a really good, really promising frontline. Throw in versatile players like Omri, Donté, Cisco, and Tyreke who can play multiple positions and the Kings would be looking at one of the more versatile cores in the league.

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