Coming off their first trip to the playoffs since Mary J. Blige was topping the charts in 2006, the Sacramento Kings will look to take a step forward after last season’s success.
Their roster looks very similar to last year’s, an uncommon continuity that could serve them well, particularly in the early stretch of the year. Until proven otherwise, fans should assume the Kings will continue to be an offensive juggernaut. Wednesday night’s opening game showcased that firepower, as the Kings jumped out to 1-0 with a 130-114 win over the Jazz behind 33 points from Harrison Barnes and this monster highlight jam from Malik Monk.
As the season progresses, bigger questions will come on the defensive end. Can this team improve on that side of the floor? Or will they have to outrun and outgun their opponent every night?
To that end, are there any trades the Kings could make that can improve their ceiling this season? It may turn out that the best course of action is to sit pat, let this team continue to develop, and see if you can make incremental improvements from last season.
Target #3: Pascal Siakam
So let’s get this out of the way up top. If the Kings were to pull off a trade for a player like Siakam, Keegan Murray would probably have to be part of the deal.
Murray is an incredibly promising young talent. No Kings fan would like to trade him away. Some Kings fans might even say this is a blasphemous proposition. Fair enough.
But let’s entertain the prospect for a second. The Kings are likely in year two of a four to five-year window with their All-Star duo. Domantas Sabonis is 27, and De’Aaron Fox is turning 26. They’re both in the primes of their careers, but the time to go is now.
We sometimes get preoccupied with building a perfect future where everything is going to break just right. Truth is – the NBA (and life!) doesn’t work like that!
Fox’s game is predicated on elite quickness. If he turns 30 and loses a step, will he be quite as effective as he is right now? Time will tell. But if you get the opportunity to add a ready-made star to the core of Fox and Sabonis, I think you have to take the chance.
The other piece of this? The West is incredibly competitive this season but also weirdly wide open. The Nuggets deserve the benefit of the doubt, but this is not like the peak Golden State seasons where it felt like the Warriors were a lock for the Finals, and everyone else in the West was playing for second place.
If the Kings can add a star to their core, or at least someone who helps their defensive identity, and maybe catch a break or two with injuries or favorable matchups, then who knows? Maybe a trip to the Finals could happen sooner rather than later.
All that to say: Pascal Siakam would be a heck of an addition to this Kings team. He’s a versatile defender who can capably guard four positions on the court. He’s a solid offensive player, and would likely thrive in a situation where he doesn’t have to be the focal point. You can see him slotting perfectly alongside Fox and Sabonis.
Does Toronto want to move him? Totally unclear. But Siakam is in the last year of his contract and is nearly 30 years old. If the Raptors find themselves totally out of contention nearing the All-Star break, they may turn to a total rebuild. If that’s the case, expect the Kings to be among the teams mentioned in seeking Siakam’s services.
Figuring out a way to take on Siakam’s nearly $38 million contract might be tricky. This is where I reveal I’m not a salary cap or NBA trade expert. Maybe they wait to see where both teams are when Harrison Barnes becomes eligible to be traded, and he’s part of the deal.
Maybe Kevin Huerter is involved. Or maybe there’s some creative accounting that can be performed. Regardless, getting Siakam in royal purple would elevate the Kings from a likely playoff team to a Western Conference contender.