In less than a month, February 24th to be exact, the NBA trade deadline will commence. The deadline (and time shortly before) have become a prominent time for the Sacramento Kings with three franchise altering trades taking place the past three seasons. Will the Kings continue that trend this year? For the first time in a while, it’s tough to say.
Had you proposed that question to me even two months ago, I’d have agreed. The Kings certainly have some high quality pieces to move and are clearly in need of some veteran presence. But on the other hand, despite the Kings record, they’ve been playing really well recently and in over half of their losses they’ve held the lead or been tied in the final quarter (JJ). The Kings biggest foe appears to be time and experience.
Let’s look at the potential players who could be shipped out of Sacramento…
Carl Landry – Clearly, if there is going to be a trade, it’s going to be Carl. This wont hold the same value as the previous franchise altering trades (Miller, Martin, Bibby…) and the return will most likely be even less than those aforesaid mentioned moves, but if somebody is a sure bet to be on the move, Carl it is. Landry will no longer be on his team friendly $3 million dollar deal next season and his impending free agency status will limit any potential return for the Kings. With a new CBA on the way (at some point) overpaying Landry would be a devastating blow to any franchise and the Kings are well aware of the hazard. It’s a horrible feeling to know you’ve traded away a player like Kevin Martin for nothing more than a draft pick and cap space, but I can’t imagine the Kings getting anything of higher quality (outside of a blockbuster trade). So enjoy Carl while you can because I don’t think he’ll be here much longer nor do I think you’ll enjoy the return.
Samuel Dalembert – Coming into the season, Big Sam was probably the most talked about player when it came to potential trades for the 2010-2011 season. Dalembert has a very attractive $13 million dollar expiring contract (unfortunately, the league has quite a few of those this year) which could be extremely beneficial in a big trade. Unfortunately, that big price tag also becomes a detriment in some trades because it is so large. Thankfully the Kings do have cap space to absord a large incoming deal in a potential Dalembert trade, but the last thing you want to do as a young club with cap space (especially with a new CBA coming) is clog up your finances for anything less than a star. In addition to all of that, Dalembert’s played pretty well for the Kings and while his minutes are sporadic, when he does find the right musical chair in Paul Westphal’s line up, he usually produces. DeMarcus Cousins is still a magnet for foul trouble on any given night and obviously needs some veteran leadership to learn from, so trading away Dalembert doesn’t seem as beneficial as it might have only a few short months ago.
Beno Udrih – Outside of Tyreke Evans, Beno Udrih is the best offensive player the Kings have. Some might even say he’s been better than Evans this year, if anything, he’s certainly been more consistent than Evans. The problem with Udrih is his defense. It’s eye blinding. Seriously, it’s that bad. He makes Mike Bibby look like a lockdown defender. It’s not that Beno doesn’t try, he does – a lot more than he used to actually. He just physically can’t deal. Beno is continually beat off the dribble, gets caught on screens, hacks away at arms, and is out muscled by bigger guards. Penetration is the downfall to most defenses and when you can’t keep the guards infront of you, it sets off a firestorm of issues for the rest of the ballclub. Players are forced to rotate out of position to makeup for the defensive lapse, resulting in easy baskets and/or fouls. So am I saying trade Beno? No. Udrih would be a stellar backup PG for a playoff contender such as Dallas among others, but his role in Sacramento has proven to be vital. With Evans’ struggles, Beno’s consistent offensive play has kept the Kings in so many games this year and as Udrih has went, so have the Kings. On night’s when Beno has struggled, the Kings offense looks sluggish and slow. The demand for Udrih is out there, but the returns wouldn’t prove enough for the Kings.
Francisco Garcia - I like Cisco. I really do. He’s as much of a leader as the Kings have and he’s taken it upon himself to flourish in that role. Unfortunately for Garcia, he’s on a somewhat hefty contract for his production, is nearing the peak of his career at 29 years of age, and has proven to be somewhat of an injury risk. I’m sure the Kings appreciate his desire to be the leader of this young team but if given the opportunity, they’d love to move on. But considering his age, injury history and contract, I have a difficult time seeing anybody trade for him unless they were to get a young player like Casspi included in the deal which isn’t going to happen.
The rest of the squad looks pretty stable in terms of trades, outside of those four players. Do I expect a trade this year? Yes. I have a feeling Carl Landry will be moved and he’ll be moved for an extremely disappointing return. I don’t see the Kings moving Dalembert at this time nor do I see them moving Udrih, so it appears for the first time in three years the Kings will be pretty quiet at the deadline outside of moving Carl Landry.
Of course, they’ll probably package Landry, Casspi, Thompson, and Dalembert to Denver for Carmelo and Nene now that I said that.