Why the Sacramento Kings need to be sellers

Sacramento Kings De'Aaron Fox (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Sacramento Kings De'Aaron Fox (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

The Sacramento Kings need to be sellers at the NBA Trade Deadline. 

Every new NBA season brings unexpected surprises and disappointments. For instance, this season has seen the Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers morph into two of the best teams in the league. On the flip side, after making it to the Eastern Conference Finals just a season ago, the Atlanta Hawks are fighting for their playoff lives, currently sitting as the tenth seed in the East.

A single injury could ruin a team’s chances at a championship while a one major acquisition could propel a team to new heights. Yet, for all the injuries, player movement, surprises, and power shifts that take place within the NBA every year, one thing remains the same: The Sacramento Kings.

As the standings sit now, Sacramento (20-35) has the third-worst record in the West and the sixth-worst in the league. On the bright side, they are just two games back from the New Orleans Pelicans who own the final play-in spot in the West. But, nevertheless, it has been quite the hard-knock life for Kings fans over the past decade-plus.

The last time Sacramento made the playoffs was back in the 2005-06 season when they barely made it as an eighth seed and lost in the first round to the San Antonio Spurs.

Since then, a LOT has happened in the world. The first iPhone hadn’t been released yet. George W. Bush was in the middle of his second term — a full three presidents ago. Netflix hadn’t begun streaming yet. The recently retired Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger just finished up leading the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory in his second season in the NFL. The Sopranos was still on the air. Ja Morant and Luka Doncic were both seven years old.

Sacramento’s current streak of failing to make the postseason for 15 consecutive seasons — three times the amount of the second-longest streak (Charlotte Hornets – five years) — is tied with the all-time record, first held by the Clippers franchise (1977-91). And with how the season has played out thus far for the Kings, it’s likely they’ll set a new record and make it 16 straight seasons without a postseason appearance.

So, with that being said, what can the Kings do to turn things around and give fans some glimmer of hope for the future?

For starters, they need to be sellers for the upcoming trade deadline, beginning with their biggest asset, De’Aaron Fox who poses a great deal of value.

The 24-year-old guard has averaged at least 21 points, five assists, and three and a half rebounds per game for the past three seasons. In his five seasons in the NBA, Fox has proven to be a borderline All-Star. He’s a quick, shifty guard who can get to the rim at will and finish with the best of them. The thing is though, Fox struggles mightily from distance.

Through his five years in the NBA, Fox has shot under 35 percent from 3 in every season but one, including currently shooting a career-low 24.8 percent from behind the arc. Fox’s shooting ability is one of the reasons Sacramento should look to deal him before the deadline.

With how the league has shifted from the paint to the perimeter over the past decade, Fox’s playstyle does not project well. Guards whose best skills are their quickness, speed, and ability to get the rim doesn’t age well in the NBA. We’ve seen this same story play out throughout league history with the likes of Stephon Marbury, Baron Davis, Steve Francis, Derrick Rose, Kemba Walker, John Wall, and Russell Westbrook.

All those players were incredibly gifted, athletic freaks of nature who could get to the rim any time they wanted to. But then they got older, lost a step or two, and couldn’t get by the younger guys coming to take their stuff. And when that happens, you need to be able to knock down the three-ball. None of these guys were able to do that. Because of that, the back half of their careers looked a lot different than the start of it.

I’m not trying to say any of those guys didn’t have successful NBA careers. Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook were MVPs for crying out loud. They were all incredible ballplayers who made multiple all-star appearances. But their game was too dependent on their athleticism. That’s the concern with De’Aaron Fox. Yes, he can put up over 20 every night and dish out five-plus assists now, but what will his game look like down the line if he doesn’t develop a three-point shot?

The biggest concern though when talking about De’Aaron Fox is: Does he contribute to winning? So far, the answer to that question has been no. Granted, Sacramento has been the worst run franchise in the NBA so it’s hard for anyone, no matter how great they are, to succeed with that franchise. But still, the question remains.

Fox is a fine player, one that could morph into a perennial all-star in a different system and a better environment, but Sacramento’s just not the place where that will happen. It makes sense for the Kings to trade Fox now and gain future assets such as draft picks or young prospects to better plan for their future.

Plus, dealing away Fox would allow the Kings to give their young backcourt of Tyrese Halliburton and Davion Mitchell more opportunity.

According to Statmuse, in the 18 games Halliburton has played without De’Aaron Fox, Halliburton has averaged 18.3 points per game, 9.3 assists per game, and 3.7 rebounds per game. For Mitchell, he has averaged 16.1 poin5w and 4.3 assists per game in the eight games he’s played without Fox, opposed to his 9.1 points and 3.2 assists per game in his 41 games played with Fox.

The Kings’ main focus should be developing their young backcourt. The best way for them to do that while also planning for the future is not just trading away De’Aaron Fox, but by also trading Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Maurice Harkless, Tristan Thompson and whoever could garner interest before the deadline.

If Sacramento manages to do that, then they’ll have at least some hope for Kings fans. However, for things to really change, ownership and the front office need to do a better job in hiring coaches and scouting players. For all the Tyrese Halliburton’s and De’Aaron Fox’s, there are too many draft mistakes. Marvin Bagley III over Luka Doncic. Thomas Robinson over Damian Lillard. Willie Cauley-Stein over Devin Booker. Tyreke Evans over Stephen Curry. On and on you go throughout draft history and the Kings miss and miss with almost every lottery pick. That says a lot about a franchise.

Next. NBA Trade Rumors: 9 bold predictions for the trade deadline. dark

Sacramento can make all the right moves at the deadline and be given an A+ by every NBA media member, but the only way real change will happen in Sac-Town is if they learn to develop their young talent and be smarter with their hirings and decision making.