Ah, the fresh smell of lockout. How I loath it.
On the flip side, I guess if anything positive has come out of the lockout so far, it’s the trades the Kings manifested quicker than they might’ve in a normal off-season.
So let’s look at those moves…
Clearly, very few thought the Kings had anything less than a stellar draft performance – the question marks came with the John Salmons deal (which I’ll touch on in a bit). As for the actual draft, the Kings grabbed a very marketable star in The Jimmer and hopefully their future Mark Price style point guard, had Tyler Honeycutt (who was slotted as an early to mid 20’s pick) land in their laps at #35 and took a player who could actually find NBA rotation time with the final draft selection in the 2011 draft. All in all, it’s difficult to have a better draft than the Kings did. Did they leave some players on the board that you or I wanted more than Jimmer? I’m sure – but what’s done is done and at this point, most of are thrilled with Fredette in Kings purple.
A) Rights to #7/Beno Udrih in exchange for Rights to #10/John Salmons:
Initially, I hated this deal, for a variety of reasons. Now? Eh, not so much. I still dislike what can/and will happen to the ball movement – but the Kings needed an upgrade at small forward. As much as I love Donte and loved Omri, they just weren’t getting it done and it didn’t look like either would be able to run away with the starting SF job this coming season. For all of Salmons’ rock pounding issues, he’s a very talented player. He becomes the Kings best perimeter defender – can shoot the three with a respectable percentage (career 37%) – and as we’re all aware of, has little problem scoring. It’s really an upgrade all around at the three slot.
Now, losing Beno Udrih is going to hurt offensively. But I can’t imagine the Kings go into the season (whenever that might be) without a veteran PG on the roster, so, I wouldn’t freak out just yet about the Kings missing a floor general. Still, Beno saved the Kings a number of times the past few seasons with his at times lights out shooting stroke and to pretend like losing him wont be an issue isn’t fair to what he brought to the Kings.
B) Omri Casspi in exchange for J.J. Hickson:
A move that was bound to happen – not so much the actual players, but, the Kings were overloaded with wings when Salmons returned to the black and purple. From a basketball point of view, it’s hard to find anything wrong with this deal. Emotionally, we all loved Omri – the kid was a class act and the pressures he dealt with from his homeland is beyond what any of us will ever realize. As much as we all wanted Omri to be the small forward of the Kings future, it was becoming clear that after two years, he wasn’t going to be that guy.
With rumors swirling that Dalembert wont be returning to the Kings, a big man was a necessity, so to grab a young (soon to be 23 year old) power forward who can score? Those opportunities don’t come around all that often. If the only cost is a loveable but rotation-able small forward and a heavily protected draft pick – you take it and run.
I might sound a bit geeked up with the Kings pre-lockout roster moves – and that’s because I am. No, they didn’t add a current level All-Star player or a franchise stud in the draft, but I personally think they’ve become a much better team – and financially, they still have a ton of money to throw around.
So King fans – it’s still early, but, with the lockout in full effect, how do you grade the Kings pre-lockout off-season moves? Do keep in mind that the Kings are far from done, so it’s only a partial off-season grade – but a grade never the less.