The Sacramento Kings need to get themselves into trade talks for Jimmy Butler, but not to bring Butler to Sacramento.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s likely you’re aware that Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler has demanded a trade. This is exactly what the Sacramento Kings needed.
The Kings currently do not have control over either of their 2019 draft picks. They sent their 2019 first-rounder to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of an ill-advised salary dump in 2015. On top of that, the 76ers also hold the right to swap 2019 seconds-round picks with Sacramento after a series of trades that sent those rights across the league.
This is where Jimmy Butler comes into play, or rather where his trade can help the Sacramento Kings bring back assets. Sacramento has the most cap space in the NBA, currently sitting on about $11 million which makes them a prime spot for other teams to dump their bad contracts.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted that Sacramento could be the key for any teams attempting to secure the services of the four-time all-star.
"…circumstances will necessitate bringing the Sacramento Kings into the process. If the Timberwolves remain intent on unloading backup center Gorgui Diengand the three years and $48 million left on his contract, they will need the Kings. No one in the NBA comes close to the $11 million in salary-cap space that the Kings possess to absorb a contract, as well as the several expiring contracts — including Zach Randolph ($11.6 million), Iman Shumpert ($11 million) and Kosta Koufos ($8.7 million) – Wojnarowski"
This should be a bat-signal (king-signal?) to General Manager Vlade Divac and co. It’s not often the Kings are able to make a trade that isn’t universally panned by fans and critics but this time it could be different.
Sacramento needs a first-round pick this year. A bad team without meaningful draft assets is a recipe for disaster. This isn’t to say they’ll be able to bring back a lottery-pick, but they should be able to get a middling pick somewhere in the 20s, which is good enough.
Sactown Royalty’s Richard Ivanowski threw out a hypothetical trade on twitter that could represent a best-case scenario for the Kings in any Butler trade.
While it’s unknown whether the Miami HEAT would be willing to part with both of Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson they may not have a choice. Josh Richardson is widely thought of as the better prospect and early reports suggested Miami wanted to keep him but Miami HeatBeat’s Nekias Duncan said that may not be possible at this point.
Regardless, the Kings getting Miami’s 2019 first may represent they best return for Sacramento. In any case, Sacramento would take on long-term salary and while that may not seem ideal, Goergi Deing is at least a serviceable player who could fill a Kosta Koufos role for Sacramento, albeit at a much higher price tag.
In five seasons with the Timberwolves, Deing has put up averages of 8.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game on a shooting split of 50.6/32.8/78.5. Not anything spectacular, but serviceable.
To be completely honest though, it doesn’t matter who the Kings take back in any trade. What matters, is securing that 2019 first-round pick. While there’s other potential trades the Kings could pursue to bring back a draft pick, they may not have a better chance to do that this season than right now.