Who says no? Exploring logical trade scenarios for the Sacramento Kings

Monta Ellis surveys the floor before making the drive against the Sacramento Kings. (Photo: Steven Chea)

For the remainder of the 2013 offseason, trades may be the avenue of choice for the Kings to aggressively reshape their roster.  Top-tier free agents, who may have been good fits for the Kings, have already made verbal commitments to their new teams before the NBA’s moratorium period ends on Wednesday.  As our friend Tom Ziller at Sactown Royalty described over the weekend,  there will likely be some teams looking to either bolster or rebuild through the trade market.

There are teams going into rebuild mode that haven’t finished dissembling. There are teams looking to break through in needs of another veteran piece or two. Pete D’Alessandro vowed to be aggressive in the offseason, and he aggressively went after Iguodala before making the decision to cut bait after hesitance from the wing. Look at how the Rockets got to here — I can’t recommend Mike Prada’s breakdown enough. It wasn’t through a whole lot of free agency signings. It was through trades and the draft … until it came time to ink Dwight.

What are some teams that general manager Pete D’Alessandro might want to call?  Playing the role of arm-chair GM, here are four hypothetical moves that the Kings could look at exploring.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Kings are reportedly back in the hunt for Monta Ellis, one of the Bucks’ free agent guards.  Pete D’Alessandro knows Ellis very well, having drafted the score-first, pass-later guard straight out of high school eight years ago as part of the Golden State Warriors front office.  Much like the Kings, the Bucks are a team with a lot of mismatched pieces.  Rather than losing Ellis for nothing, perhaps a sign-and-trade of assets between these two franchises might make for better chemistry.

Possible trade?  

Marcus Thornton, Jason Thompson and Jimmer Fredette for Monta Ellis, Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson

Pros for Sacramento

The Kings get the shooting guard they covet in Ellis while also acquiring the small forward they so desperately need in Ilyasova.  They also pick up a shot-blocking compliment to DeMarcus Cousins in Henson.

Cons for Sacramento

The trade doesn’t really solve their glut at the guard and bigs positions.  And for as good as Ilyasova is as a shooter and rebounder, can he defend the wing?  He’s played mostly the power forward position during his time in Milwaukee.

Why would the Bucks say yes?

In Thornton, they get a scorer from the perimeter to fill the void left by Ellis.  Thompson could shine as a low-post scoring threat next to defensive-minded Larry Sanders.

Why would the Bucks say no?

They value Henson and Ilyasova far too much to give them both up in a single trade.

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers are a team on the cusp in the Eastern Conference.  They fell just one game short of making the NBA Finals this year and they could be in the market to upgrade their depth around Paul George and Roy Hibbert.  There are relationships that the Kings could use to their advantage in approaching talks with Indiana as well.  Chris Mullin, who may or may not be a consultant for the Kings at this point, has strong ties to the Pacers’ front office.  Mullin played three seasons in Indiana under returning basketball president Larry Bird.  He is also very close to Pacers consultant Donnie Walsh, who once eyed Mullin to become his successor in New York.

Possible trade?  

Three-team deal: Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson to Indiana, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes to Houston, Gerald Green, Danny Granger and Omer Asik to Sacramento.

Pros for Sacramento

The Kings finally find a legitimate solution to their issues at small forward.  They acquire a defensive-minded center to compliment DeMarcus Cousins, who would slide over to power forward.  The Kings also clear up the logjam they currently have at the bigs and backcourt positions.

Cons for Sacramento

Granger played just five games and has undergone two surgeries to his left knee over the last year.  The 30-year-old veteran is also in the final season of his contract and may only be a short-term fix for the Kings’ long-term problem at the wing.

Why would the Pacers and Rockets say yes?

With the emergence of Lance Stephenson and Paul George and the recent signing of Chris Copeland, Granger could be expendable.  Acquiring Thornton could give the Pacers some extra scoring punch off their bench and Thompson’s versatility would allow him to play alongside both Roy Hibbert and David West.  Omer Asik reportedly wants out now that Dwight Howard has arrived in Houston.  Patterson would give the Rockets a proven stretch four to play alongside Howard while Hayes would add veteran experience and defensive savvy to Houston’s bench.

Why would the Pacers and Rockets say no?

The Pacers might be scared off by the thought of becoming taxpayers in 2014-15.  Granger’s $14-million contract comes off the books after next season and would give the Pacers significant cap relief to re-sign George to a max extension without breaking the tax threshold.  Knowing Asik’s value as a top-tier defender and rebounder, the Rockets will probably try to convince the Turkish center to work in tandem with Howard.

Houston Rockets

By pairing Dwight Howard and James Harden, the Rockets now have their best one-two punch since Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.  Now it’s up to general manager Daryl Morey to surround them with consummate role players.  Morey and former Kings president Geoff Petrie always had an affinity for the same types of players, which led to numerous trades between the two teams over the last few years.  With the Kings new front office establishing a new normal in Sacramento, would the Rockets GM be inclined to scoop up what’s left of the Petrie era?

Possible trade?  

Three-team deal: Marcus Thornton, Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson to Houston, Jeremy Lin to Detroit, Omer Asik, Rodney Stuckey and Kyle Singler to Sacramento

Pros for Sacramento

Like the hypothetical deal with Indiana, the Kings get a strong defensive presence for their interior in Omer Asik.  Kyle Singler could be their solution at small forward while Rodney Stuckey would serve as a placeholder at shooting guard until rookie Ben McLemore is ready to emerge.  The Kings also shed plenty of long-term salary in Thornton and Hayes, who both have two more seasons on their contracts.

Cons for Sacramento

Rodney Stuckey is on the wrong side of 27.  The veteran guard was not one of the league’s most effective guards last year, posting a career-low 13.0 player efficiency rating.  Singler could be just another temporary fix at small forward.

Why would the Rockets and Pistons say yes?

Much like the Pacers’ deal, the Rockets get two proven presences for their frontline in Patterson and Hayes.  However, they also acquire a shooter, capable of being a better fit than Jeremy Lin next to James Harden in Thornton.  The Pistons get a player more capable of running the point in Lin, allowing Brandon Knight to slide over to a more natural fit at shooting guard.

Why would the Rockets and Pistons say no?

They could see Asik holding more value than what Thornton, Hayes and Patterson all bring to the table.  However, the Pistons would probably have more major questions about this swap.  According to Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD, the Pistons aren’t as high on Lin as some might assume.

Omer Asik vs. DeMarcus Cousins (Photo: Ron Nabity)Chicago Bulls

With the return of Derrick Rose next season, the Bulls will likely be right back in the mix for control of the Eastern Conference.  And like the Pacers, they could be open to exploring trades for players that compliment their core pieces.

Possible trade?  

Three-team deal: Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson to Chicago, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes to Houston, Luol Deng, Richard Hamilton and Omer Asik to Sacramento.

Pros for Sacramento

This deal is basically like the trade on the table to Indiana, except instead of Granger and Green, the Kings wind up with Deng and Hamilton.  Deng is two years younger than Granger and isn’t coming off two knee surgeries.  There’s also the added benefit of acquiring three players who’ve all played together in the past.  Deng and Hamilton’s contracts come off the books after the season and would give the Kings some added flexibility in possible contract negotiations with DeMarcus Cousins.

Cons for Sacramento

Hamilton may not have much left in the tank.  Would the 35-year-old former champion be able to last the year as Ben McLemore’s placeholder?

Why would the Bulls and Rockets say yes??

I’ve explained why the Rockets would deal Asik for Patterson and Hayes to the Pacers.  For the Bulls, it’s simple.  They get an explosive scorer to either start or come off their bench in Thornton.  Thompson strengthens their depth at power forward and center, something they missed last year after Asik departed for Houston.  And with the acquisition of Mike Dunleavy Jr. and the continued growth of Jimmy Butler, it may be time for them to part ways with the longest tenured Bull.

Why would the Bulls and Rockets say no?

Fear of being a repeat tax offender come 2014-15.  The Bulls exceeded the luxury tax threshold last year and are on pace to do it again this upcoming season.  With Thornton and Thompson signed to long-term deals, the Bulls would be subject to some steep penalties in the year after next.  Unless they amnesty Carlos Boozer, Deng and Hamilton’s contracts both expire at the end of the 2013-14 season and bring Chicago some much needed cap relief.

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