Cowbell Trade Analysis: Kings vs. 76ers


Vlade Divac is running the show in Sacramento, and after Wednesday’s big trade we know a little bit more about his management style.  He’s aggressive.  He’s unafraid.  He’s working the phones and he is a gambler.  He’s not alone in all of this.  He has help in the front office, but it is his name on the letter head now.

It’s impossible to pass a grade on a deal like this.  We have no idea what Divac will do with his new $16 million in cap space.  For now, we can only look at what the Kings gave up and assess the value of the players.

Jason Thompson – 2 years/$13.2 million ($2.65 buyout in year two)

Value: Equal. Serviceable and versatile big looking for a fresh start.

Thompson turns 29 later this month and has plenty of miles on his 6-foot-11 frame.  He is a workout warrior who sets new standards for fitness when he comes into camp every year.  The versatile big man can play either the power forward or center position.  He is a solid, but unspectacular rebounder.  He brings solid effort on both ends of the floor and has improved his footwork greatly as he has matured in the league.  The improved footwork has helped him become an above average man-on post defender, although he is a below average shot blocker.

The former Rider University star can hit an 18-foot jumper from the top of the key, score with both hands in the post and finish at the rim.  He isn’t a great free throw shooter (65.5 career) and he still commits too many fouls, but in today’s NBA you can live with his faults.  Two weeks ago Thompson’s contract was unmovable, but that was before the NBA went crazy.

Off the court Thompson is an exemplary citizen who donates time and money in the Sacramento community.  He is currently working his third annual youth basketball camp in Sacramento of which all proceeds go to his personal charity that donates to the American Heart Association.  Born in New Jersey, Thompson is a lifelong 76ers fan returning home.

Carl Landry – 2 years/$13 million

Value: Negative. Solid veteran presence with mounting injury issues.

Landry was fresh off a playoff run with the Warriors when he became Vivek Ranadivé’s first free agent signee.  It’s all been downhill from there for the former Purdue Boilermaker.  Before playing a game for the new regime, Landry tore a hip flexor that required surgery.  When he returned, he lasted just 18 games before tearing up a knee and missing the remainder of the season.

The 31-year-old post player returned for his second season in Sacramento hoping for a revitalization, but never really found a niche under any of the Kings three head coaches.  When Landry did get an opportunity he looked like he was still rusty from a long layoff and struggled with consistency.

Despite the injuries of the previous season, Landry played a total of 70 games in 2014-15, including 15 starts.  A poor natural fit alongside DeMarcus Cousins, Landry transitioned his interior game to the perimeter where he camped out waiting to shoot 12-15 foot jumpers.  62.9 percent of Landry’s shots were jump shots this season and he hit on just 40.5 percent of those attempts.

Landry continued to rebound well on the offensive end (9.8 percent), but he’s never been a great defensive rebounder and as his mobility has faded, he has gotten worse.  On the defensive side of the ball Landry continued his strong play against the NBA’s muscle men, but his lateral quickness and suspect foot speed made him a liability against stretch fours.

Like Thompson, Landry has a great locker room presence.  One of the gentlemen of the game, Landry will earn his keep in Philly as a mentor or potentially be bought out and join a contender as a spot reserve once he’s healthy.

Nik Stauskas – Year two of rookie scale ($2.8M, $3.0M (team option), $3.8M (team option))

Value: C+ level prospect with an elite skill.

A year ago Stauskas was the main attraction of the Kings’ draft night video for Grantland.  The smooth shooting guard out of Michigan came to the league with an elite skill as a shooter.  A solid ball handler and above average shot blocker for his position, Stauskas had the look of a day 1 starter for Sacramento.

Unfortunately, the 21-year wing struggled with the speed and strength of the NBA game and never found his rhythm.  At 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, Stauskas couldn’t get his shot off and by the time he learned how to create space, his confidence was shot.

In his first season in the league, he hit just 32.2 percent of his 3-point shots and 36.5 percent overall.  He missed plenty of wide open looks and eventually found himself out of the rotation for stretches.

It’s tough to gauge Stauskas’ overall game.  He played in 71 contests, averaging 4.4 points in 15.4 minutes.  He consistently got torched in man-to-man defense, sagged off his man in the half court and struggled to rebound.  His strength, quickness and athleticism have to improve if he is going to succeed in the league.

Stauskas played for three coaches in his rookie season, which is bound to mess with anyones head.  But he didn’t come into the league ready to play.  His goal was to add weight in the offseason, which will help.  But he also needs to find his confidence on the floor.

The Canadian-born shooter may turn the corner in year two like McLemore did.  He may also fade and find himself on the outside looking in.  A trade might be just what the doctor ordered.  It could also be the beginning of a long road for a young man who needs direction.

Future First Round Pick

The Kings have been hamstrung by the J.J. Hickson trade for Omri Casspi and a lottery protected 1st rounder from 2011.  Now they have tied up another pick in the future that could extend the misery.  We will have to wait for the dust to settle before we have a firm grasp on the protections of this pick and there is also talk of the 76ers being able to swap picks with the Kings over the next couple of seasons.

There is always a danger when dealing a pick, but the Kings shed $16 million this season and an additional $12-16 million next season.  If Thompson is a push, Landry is a negative and Stauskas is a marginal prospect, Sacramento was going to have to give up something else.

Final Analysis

No one was fleeced in this deal, at least not yet.  The 76ers like Stauskas a lot.  They have a ton of cap space they have to spend and they picked up a future pick.  They also scooped up $28-$32 million of salary over two season.  That’s a lot to pay out for no guarantee of improvement.

For the Kings, they gave up a pick, a young prospect, a player they have been trying to trade for three seasons and an almost-32-year-old injured big that doesn’t fit their system.  They also picked up a boatload of cap space that they hope to use to find players that fit George Karl’s system and alongside DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.

Philadelphia may find lottery luck with the Kings’ pick.  Stauskas may develop into a serviceable NBA player.  Carl Landry may bounce back and Jason Thompson may have a reawakening in Philly.

Sacramento may find a few high-end takers for their cap space.  Those players may help lead the team to the playoffs and this gamble may be the best thing to happen to the franchise since the Chris Webber trade.

Chances are the outcome will be somewhere in between these two scenarios and we won’t know the true winner of this trade for some time.

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