As soon as they hire a new General Manager, the Kings are going to have a lot of work to do to reshape their roster. It’s hard to predict what kind of moves they’ll make until then, but many people believe that the Kings will simply draft whoever they feel is the most talented player available. Ownership has said they DeMarcus Cousins will not trade DeMarcus Cousins, but no one else on the roster is necessarily a lock to return next season. Recent mock drafts have predicted the Kings will opt for Trey Burke, the point guard from Michigan who was the consensus national player of the year in every major award. Others have forecast that Michael Carter-Williams, the 6’6” over-sized point guard from Syracuse will be heading to Sacramento later this month. The Kings already have five guards on their roster, not including Tony Douglas, whose contract is up. Could the Kings’ presumed interest in drafting another guard mean that a current member of the Kings’ backcourt could be on his way out in a draft day deal? Would it mean that new ownership doesn’t plan on retaining Tyreke Evans?
Of course, there are those who believe that the Kings could use the draft to bolster their frontcourt, and draft Cody Zeller or Anthony Bennett, but I’m having a hard time getting my head around that idea. DeMarcus Cousins is the cornerstone, Jason Thompson is in his prime and reliable, and Patrick Patterson needs minutes. I don’t see too many teams leaping at the opportunity to trade for Chuck Hayes, and honestly, I’m not sure he ever really got a chance to shine under Keith Smart. He was a solid starter in Houston, and I think Mike Malone might be the coach that helps him return to form. Yes, the Kings need a new small forward, but the only legitimate small forward prospect in the draft, Otto Porter, is expected to be long-gone by the time the Kings pick.
(Also, for the record, since Geoff Petrie will be let go, I am abandoning the notion that John Salmons can play small forward. Petrie is pretty much the only person on the planet who has ever thought that John Salmons can solve a team’s small forward woes.)
Let’s assume that the Kings end up selecting a guard in the first round, and examine potential next steps that the team could take.
- Declining to re-sign Tyreke Evans
Personally, I’d hate to see this scenario take place. I think that the way the franchise has been run the last few years has been detrimental to Tyreke’s development, and I think next year could be his breakout year. Additionally, the idea of a Michael Carter-Williams/Tyreke Evans starting backcourt is pretty exciting. The two players’ skills complement each other pretty well. Carter-Williams, who averaged 7.3 assists in college, is a pure facilitator who has trouble creating his own shot, while Tyreke is a slasher who is among the best in the league at getting to the rim. The duo would make up one of the biggest backcourts in the league, which could be a big advantage against certain teams, and if Mike Malone ever wanted to go small, he could always put Isaiah Thomas in the game.
However, the notion that Ranadive and co. will choose not to bring Evans back is a legitimate possibility. About a month ago, there were reports that ownership had looked into bringing Monta Ellis to Sacramento as a replacement for Tyreke. While it doesn’t look like that specific scenario will happen at the moment, it’s a definite possibility that Evans will get an offer that the Kings will decline to match.
- Trading Marcus Thornton
Honestly, if the Kings do retain Tyreke Evans, it may not matter whom the Kings draft. The Thornton and Tyreke Evans experiment did not go well. When Thornton played his best for Sacramento, Evans was injured or playing small forward. It’s pretty clear now (finally) that Evans should be a shooting guard, which means there may not be room for a one-dimensional scorer like Thornton on the team. The best-case scenario would be for the Kings to trade Thornton, maybe packaged with someone else, for a starting-caliber small forward. This could create an opportunity for Jimmer Fredette to step into the role of reserve sparkplug, and leave John Salmons to plug up any extra minutes at shooting guard or small forward
- Trading Jimmer
If the Kings go with Trey Burke, it may make the last college player of the year the Kings drafted expendable. Burke is the same height as Jimmer (6’1”), a pretty good three-point shooter (38% last year), a much better passer (6.6 assists), quicker, and equally defensively deficient. The Kings would be better off trading the undersized shooting guard to Utah for future draft picks and letting Isaiah Thomas and Trey Burke duke it out for the starting point guard spot in training camp than having both Jimmer and Burke on their roster at the same time.
- Trading Isaiah Thomas
There was an idiotic rumor a few weeks ago that the Kings were considering moving Isaiah Thomas, a candidate for most underpaid player the in league, for the 19th pick in this year’s draft. That would leave them with Jimmer, John Salmons, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton in the backcourt. That’s basically four shooting guards and no true point guard, unless they draft a point guard. This would probably be the worst way for the Kings to deal with their crowded backcourt issues.
- Amnestying John Salmons
This is a move that could happen along with any of the other moves discussed above, but if the team doesn’t move any of their other guards, then it is even more likely to happen. Salmons is very overpaid considering his production the last few years. A four guard rotation with Tyreke and Trey Burke/Michael Carter-Williams starting and Thornton and Thomas coming off the bench wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but it would probably mean that Jimmer wouldn’t get many minutes.
If the Kings draft a point guard, at least one of these moves, or something similar, will need to be made, as it makes no sense to have half of your active roster made up of guards. My personal opinion (in case it wasn’t clear) is that the Kings should trade Marcus Thornton for a defensive-minded small forward (dreaming of Kawhi) and amnesty Salmons, and run with a four guard rotation of Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette, and a rookie guard.
What do you think?
If the Kings draft a guard, what should they do about their crowded backcourt?
- Amnesty John Salmons (36%, 236 Votes)
- Trade Marcus Thornton (32%, 209 Votes)
- Trade Jimmer (21%, 138 Votes)
- Decline to re-sign Tyreke Evans (5%, 34 Votes)
- Trade Isaiah Thoms (3%, 21 Votes)
- Other, describe in comments (3%, 15 Votes)
Total Voters: 653