The latest bombshell has the Sacramento community shaken.
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski published a scathing report on Monday regarding the Sacramento Kings’ internal operations. He reported that head coach George Karl is trying to force All-Star DeMarcus Cousins out of town, while the team was looking to trade forward Rudy Gay as well.
In rationality, the Kings should consider all options on the table after suffering a ninth straight losing campaign. With nine players signed for next season, here’s where they stand on the market.
There is perhaps no star aside from LeBron James with more value than Cousins. The 24-year-old is a generational talent who’s locked up for three more years with a max-rate salary. Cousins has been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics, but the quartet lack the assets necessary to impress Sacramento’s front office.
The franchise has traded fan favorites before, such as Mitch Richmond, Chris Webber and Peja Stojakovic. But the idea of moving a potential Hall of Famer entering the prime of his career is a sickening thought for most season ticket holders. In a perfect world, Cousins and Karl work out their differences, but whether the Kings have the patience to wait it out is another matter.
Gay has played his best basketball as a King, and he’s arguably underpaid with three years and $40 million left on his deal. The 28-year-old’s worth is at his highest since his early days with the Memphis Grizzlies, so moving the popular star is a question of the Kings’ motives. Trading Gay would imply a roster overhaul and rebuild, since the team can’t expect a better bargain for his elite production at the wing. The All-Star talent has bought in with Karl, probably the most important detail in predicting his fate.
Pete D’Alessandro’s last pick as a general manager had an underwhelming rookie performance in Sacramento. CBSSports’ Ken Berger noted on Monday that Stauskas has been made available by the Kings.
The shooting guard’s market value has taken a dip since this date last summer, but the former eighth overall pick’s issues adjusting to the pros were more about his strength and mojo than anything mechanical.
Sacramento’s openness to trade Stauskas is partly influenced by Ben McLemore’s presence at two-guard. The Kings or any team who acquires Stauskas can control his rights until 2018.
Trade rumors are nothing new for Thompson. New Orleans Pelicans sportscaster Joel Meyers reported last week on Sirius XM Radio that Sacramento is once again shopping their longest-tenured veteran (hat tip to NBCSports’s Aaron Bruski).
While most teams would love to have Thompson off the bench to back up both frontcourt positions, his contract has scared GMs in the past. Now it’s essentially expiring. The 28-year-old will make $6.4 million in 2015-16 and his $6.8 million salary in 2016-17 is partially guaranteed for about $2.7 million. Still, a trade revolving Thompson would need to be sweetened.
While their names haven’t floated up in speculation, most of the Kings roster carries attractive trade appeal.
2013 lottery pick Ben McLemore showed flashes of two-way dominance in his second season and is under affordable team control for two more years. Fellow 2013 draftee Ray McCallum has 40 career starts at point guard and is earning less than $950,000 in the last year of his contract.
Darren Collison was off to a career-best start before missing the second half of the schedule with a core muscle injury. The point guard is set to make $10.2 million over the next two years and despite his strong play, the Kings showed a willingness to move him when the team engaged in December negotiations for the Nets’ Deron Williams.
The hardest player to move would be big man Carl Landry, who is owed $13 million through the next two seasons. The veteran has missed 74 games since re-joining the Kings in 2013 and is currently out for four months following right wrist surgery. At 31, Landry is no guarantee to maintain his previous level of play, a red flag for suitors.
Not to be forgotten, injured forward Eric Moreland is under contract for two more seasons at less than $1 million annually and could be gifted in a larger trade package.
As the clock counts down to the draft, Cowbell Kingdom would like to hear from you. Who do you think is most likely to be moved by Friday?