The Sacramento Kings could benefit from the Thunder being sellers at the deadline, even if they don’t acquire a player from them.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that the Oklahoma City Thunder was “open for business” when it comes to trades as the deadline approaches. If the Thunder do in fact become sellers, it could affect the Sacramento Kings in multiple ways.
One of the players that the Thunder are likely to dangle is Danilo Gallinari, who is a long, productive wing who can hit threes. His team-friendly contract that expires in the summer makes him a sensible trade target for Sacramento.
If the Kings think that they are still in playoff contention by the February 6th trade deadline, they might take a flier on a player like Gallinari, who they are able to cut ties with should things not pan out. Trading for him would likely cost Sacramento some of its depth and presumably a future asset, which are two things that will likely keep this trade from ever happening.
But the Kings will benefit from a Thunder yard sale even if the two teams don’t become trade partners.
The Playoff Race
Oklahoma City has a surprising 21-16 record and is sitting comfortably in the 7th seed in the Western Conference (their unexpected success and current standing make the report that they are open to trading some of their pieces all-the-more confusing). If the Thunder begin to fall in the standings after shedding some of their players, another playoff spot will open for those hungry for a berth.
Despite their recent struggles that included losing 9 of 10 games, the Kings are just two games behind the Spurs for 8th and final playoff spot. There are six teams that are within four games, however, which lengthens Sacramento’s odds. The Thunder are currently well ahead of Sacramento, holding a 6.5 game lead for the 7th spot.
But six and a half games will be tough to make up if the Kings are to continue playing poorly, and we saw an example just last season of a team that “sold” at the deadline and still made the playoffs.
Not Always As It Seems
The LA Clippers were 30-26 and 1.5 games ahead of the Kings for the 8th playoff spot when the trade deadline came around last season. The Clips were rumored to be sellers, and it proved to be true when they shipped Tobias Harris to the 76ers. Kings fans were elated that the team directly above them in the standings was essentially dropping out of the race.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go the way everyone thought they would. The Clippers won 18 of their final 26 games, finishing tied for 7th/8th and a solid nine games ahead of Sacramento. So whether or not the Thunder sell at the deadline, and whether or not the Sacramento Kings can make up any ground if they do, remains to be seen.