Much to everyone’s surprise, we are a week deep into free agency and Buddy Hield is still the starting shooting guard for the Sacramento Kings. Hield was expected to draw much interest on this summer’s trade market while the Kings promoted De’Aaron Fox and emerging star Tyrese Haliburton as their backcourt of the future, but things haven’t exactly panned out as intended.
For a while there, it seemed like Sacramento had actually found a palatable offer for the sharpshooter. The Los Angeles Lakers were reportedly offering a package of Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and potential draft pick compensation for Hield. This was a deal that would have significantly bolstered the Kings’ frontcourt and helped round out the roster.
Then Russell Westbrook happened.
Unfortunately, that offer dried up quite quickly, but that doesn’t mean the future isn’t still hopeful for Hield with the Kings. Hield is still arguably the second-best player on the roster and his value won’t dissipate just because a deal didn’t get done in the first week of free agency. As we’ve seen with both Dennis Schroder and Lauri Markkanen, this offseason has yielded a surprisingly stingy market. This isn’t necessarily a failure on Monte McNair’s part… yet.
Although moving Buddy Hield has felt like an inevitable conclusion to the Sacramento Kings’ offseason, would it really be so bad if they kept him around?
For starters, we have to assume Hield is going to be continually shopped and likely dealt at the trade deadline in the event the Kings start the season with Buddy still on the roster. In my opinion, that’s completely fine. We just witnessed Duncan Robinson get paid $90 million, and Hield is a significantly better version of Robinson. Today’s NBA needs players like Hield and he should not be traded away carelessly, because his return package could affect the Sacramento Kings for years to come.
Hield hit the third-most three-pointers of any NBA player this season, behind only superstars Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard. Not only is he an extremely efficient shotmaker, but Hield is also serviceable as a secondary playmaker and rebounder. His only glaring weakness is on the defensive side of things, but that’s nothing new for a host of NBA stars.
A small ball lineup of Fox, Haliburton, and Hield would be… less than ideal on defense, but they would probably shatter a few of Sacramento’s offensive records. That being said, that lineup simply can’t exist without solid rim protection, and as of right now Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes are not the guys you want defending the rim behind a weak perimeter defense.
So let’s try moving Hield on over to the bench. I can think of very few things that would help rookie Davion Mitchell’s development as a playmaker more than having an offensive powerhouse next to him in the backcourt. That four-guard rotation would quickly become one of the strongest in the league, while also allowing Hield to maintain his trade value by devouring the other team’s second-unit defense.
It wasn’t what I pictured coming into the offseason, but I’m starting to warm up to the idea of Buddy returning. This team clearly isn’t built to contend right now, so perhaps the best approach would be to let the cards fall where they may and use Hield’s trade value later to address any weaknesses that appear later on.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop refreshing my browser every five minutes though, because we’re Kings fans. Nothing gives us blind hope like hoping that one special trade is going to come along that makes Sacramento a playoff team once again.