The NBA’s February 8 trade deadline is coming up soon, and the Kings have not made a move yet. They just won two games, including a solid defensive showing against the Warriors, that put them back in fifth place in the West.
The West is tough, though, and if the Kings want to compete in the playoffs, it seems that they will have to add some defensive-minded role players. All season long, Sacramento has been linked to every big name potentially on the trade market, like Pascal Siakam, Zach LaVine, Jerami Grant, and Kyle Kuzma.
Those players are either not available, too expensive, or bad fits, however, so the safer move would be to refine the supporting cast around the Kings’ big three. Defense is the main focus. The Kings are currently 18th in defensive rating and that is simply not good enough.
Last season, they found success with their high-scoring offense and mostly just outscored opponents. Now, their offense isn’t flowing as smoothly, and other teams have upped their scoring as well. It is time that the Kings improve on the other end of the floor and that requires some new faces to come to Sacramento.
Keegan Murray has emerged as a great defender, and the team just showed us what it can do when everyone is locked in. In the long run, that is not enough, however, especially in the playoffs. Domantas Sabonis is not a rim protector, and JaVale McGee and Alex Len are constantly falling out of the rotation.
The only way to improve the Kings’ defense right now is to add better perimeter defenders who can keep opponents from getting easy looks in the paint. Alex Caruso would be a great fit in that role.
He can guard one to three, disrupt multiple actions on each possession, and do all the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. As of now, he is averaging 1 block and 1.3 steals per game. On the Kings’ roster, only De’Aaron Fox averages more steals, and no one averages more blocks.
Plus, Caruso can handle the ball and play the point guard, which would take some weight off Fox and Malik Monk.
Kings land Caruso in proposed mock trade
Knowing that Caruso would be a perfect fit for the Kings, ABC10 Sports Anchor/Reporter and host of the Locked on Kings podcast Matt George came up with the following mock trade to get him:
The Kings get: Alex Caruso
The Bulls get: Davion Mitchell, Colby Jones, 2025 second-round pick, 2026 top-ten protected first-round pick
That might seem like a steep price for Caruso, but it is far from unreasonable. As George correctly pointed out, the Bulls have no real reason to move Caruso right now. Trade talks for any of their big three don’t seem to be going anywhere so there is no rush to start a big sale.
Even if there was interest in LaVine and company, the Bulls might be reluctant to move Caruso. He can fit into pretty much any constellation of players and would still be valuable to have around during a rebuild.
Plus, if word got out that the Bulls are taking offers for Caruso, it would start a bidding war. He would be a great fit on pretty much any team hoping to make some noise in the playoffs. So, if the Kings really want to get him now, it will take a first-round pick.
Grade the trade
Caruso would be great on the Kings and an upgrade over Mitchell when it comes to winning at the highest level. Losing two young players and two picks for a role player is a steep price, however. Just because the Kings might not be able to get another star now, it doesn’t mean they won’t try to chase one over the summer.
Nevertheless, I still think that if this trade became a possibility, the Kings should go for it. From Sacramento’s perspective, this mock trade gets a solid B. Getting Caruso would not upset the league, but it would really boost the Kings’ supporting cast, and the cost is not too outrageous.
No 3-and-D player who can meaningfully impact the Kings’ season will come much cheaper. That is the problem when you’re looking for exactly the kind of player every team needs and wants.
From the Bulls’ perspective, it might not be as great. Mitchell has a very similar skill set to Coby White—even though White is clearly a better player—and they might not be all that excited about getting him instead of a young player with a different skill set.