The Sacramento Kings organization has been under fire (and rightfully so) after getting absolutely fleeced in the deal that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. The media has been in a frenzy trying to figure out what led the Kings to make this decision at all, let alone four whole days before the trade deadline. I’ll come back to this later, but there has been something going on in Sacramento for some time now. It’s worth taking a look into the past before we look forward.
Vlade Divac joined the front office in March of 2015, and he’s had quite the interesting track record to date. The Kings have reportedly waffled on whether to commit to Boogie long-term each of the last couple seasons. Until this past Sunday, they’ve always seemed fairly intent on keeping him, to the point of mortgaging the franchise’s future and young assets to acquire players to “win now”. Let’s hop in our RBI time machine (patent pending) and take a look at what got us here.
The Kings wanted to clear cap space to acquire help for Boogie and make a run at the playoffs. To do this, they needed to make a trade to be able to acquire veterans to speed up the rebuilding process.
The Kings traded Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, and Jason Thompson to the 76ers to the rights for a couple international players and future draft considerations to free up more than $16 million in cap space. As far as draft picks go, the two teams agreed that the 76ers had the right to swap picks with the Kings in 2016 and 2017 plus the 76ers got the Kings 2019 1st round pick unprotected. (More on this later)
Some of the veterans (Rajon Rondo and Marco Belinelli) Sacramento made the trade to get cap space to acquire are gone. They then use that money to sign other fill-ins such as Matt Barnes, Garrett Temple, Arron Afflalo, Anthony Tolliver, and Ty Lawson (remember him)?
All is mostly quiet in Sacramento until this past Sunday night, when seemingly out of nowhere, the Kings agreed to completely switch course and dump their superstar. This was a drastic contradiction to all of their previous moves made dumping trade assets and young players to try to get veterans to build around Boogie.
On Monday, the aforementioned Vlade Divac had this to say about the trade:
“It was time for a change and I decided this was the best direction for the organization, said Divac. “Winning begins with culture and character matters. With the upcoming draft class set to be one of the strongest in a decade, this trade will allow us to build the depth needed for a talented and developing roster moving forward. We thank DeMarcus for his contributions and wish him all the best in New Orleans. The fans in Sacramento are the best in the world and we are all committed to building a team that will continue to make Sacramento proud.”
That quote sounds all warm and fuzzy (minus the obvious shot at Boogie’s character), but when you take a deeper look it starts to fall apart. As perviously mentioned, the 76ers have the rights to swap picks with the Kings this year if they so desire, but the hilarity doesn’t stop there. The Bulls also have the rights to the Kings pick if it falls outside the top 10. Yes, the Kings did receive the Pelicans first round pick in this upcoming draft, but with the addition of Boogie, that Pelicans pick won’t be nearly as valuable.
Being objective, my last point is one reason the Kings may have decided to jump on the agreed upon offer with the Pelicans, even though Vlade admitted that the Kings, “had a better offer” in the days leading up to the Pelicans trade. The Kings need to be bad the rest of the year. If they would have agreed to take on a better group of players from another team, they probably would have finished outside the bottom 10 in the league and had to surrender their own pick to the Bulls, slowing down the rebuilding process even further. The Pelicans were able to pay 50 cents on the dollar to acquire the superstar solely because they knew the Kings couldn’t afford to have an immediate impact on the floor that would cause them to accidentally win games the rest of the season.
The last couple years have certainly been a mess in Sacramento, but they are hoping that completely hitting the reset button once more will allow them to move on quickly.