The Sacramento Kings are back in the news.
The days of silence at the arena are long gone. General Manager Pete D’Alessandro and his merry men are not content to sit idly to the delight of the faithful, who for far to long have tired of Band-Aids and temporary fixes.
Tyreke Evans to the Hornet/Pelicans.
Luc Mbah a Moute to the T-Wolves.
Everyone to Toronto for Rudy Gay.
Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports has reported that the Kings have told Minnesota they are very interested in Kevin Love, and are willing to construct a deal WITHOUT assurances that the former UCLA big man will re-sign after this season, when his contract expires.
As much of a risk as people thought Rudy Gay was, this would be the biggest gamble by far for the second year GM.
Kevin Love is 25-years-old, seemingly just entering his prime. Averaging 26 points, 12.5 boards, and throwing in 4.4 assists per game, the numbers are beyond impressive. He could also double as the Kings sought after floor-stretcher, as he is also top 10 in 3-pointers made with 190. Think about that. 190 3-pointers for a 6’10 power forward? Insane.
Using John Hollinger’s famed PER (Player Efficiency Rating), Love ranks 3rd in the NBA, just behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James, and just ahead of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Yes, the Kings would have two of the top five most efficient players in the NBA, according to that metric. Throw in Isaiah Thomas (should he re-sign) at 24th in the league, that’s pretty damn impressive as well.
There’s no doubt a Cousins/Love tandem would be a nightmare for any team from an offensive standpoint. The issue with Love has never been his offense; it’s his defense that is suspect. While Cousins gets questions about his D, he is head and shoulders above Love. Numbers show that while not a shot blocker, Cousins’ defensive efficiency is above average at worst.
As for Love? Let New York’s Tyson Chandler, who knows all about defense, tell you. This was from a game back in March, not all that long ago:
Coach Michael Malone enters his second year at a bit of a crossroads. Everyone knew the first year would be a honeymoon year, what with the whole-Kings-staying and all. But now, he has to perform. The problem is, he was brought in as a defensive-minded coach, and hasn’t been given defensive-minded players. The one he did have (Mbah a Moute) was here for a little over five minutes before being shipped in the Rudy Gay trade.
Bringing in Love not only hurts the Kings’ interior D, it damn near kills it. I still believe Cousins is a natural power forward, and would be best served playing with a goalie-type center, someone who could defend the rim.
Looking at what the Kings have to offer, the situation becomes even more daunting.
The most likely assets to interest the T-Wolves are a 4-pack of choices: Ben McLemore, this year’s 8 pick, a signed and traded Isaiah Thomas, and a future (most likely protected) 1st rounder. Cousins is not on the table.
In effect, to make anything realistic, the Kings would be offering what amounted to three first round draft picks for a guy who has only a hope and prayer of being here after one season. We are also assuming Love plays healthy all year as well.
There is also one big giant elephant in the room: DeMarcus Cousins. Part of the attraction of this deal would be re-signing Love. But how would he and Cousins get along?
Although über-talented center continues to progress, it’s not like former and current teammates are lining up to say what a pleasure it is to play with him. No one knows what goes on in the locker room, and winning takes care of everything. But one has to wonder if a Cousins/Love duo slogged through a 40 win season at best, how likely it would be for Love to decide there was a future in Sacramento?
It appears all but certain that the Kings will not have both Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas next season. Thomas’ situation looks like it will mirror that of Tyreke Evans; someone will come along and offer a deal that the Kings refuse to match. Look for D’Alessandro in that case to once again utilize a sign and trade to acquire something in return.
Gay is more complicated, but rumblings have him leaning heavily toward opting out of his 19 million dollar remaining year. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a goner, but he’d have to be willing to take something most likely in the 10-12 million a year zone to stick with Sacramento.
The Kings’ front office would also most likely listen to any deal that got them relief from either Jason Thompson or Carl Landry’s strikingly similar (and bad) contracts. Look for Thompson to be moved first, as Landry can at least be excused due to injury last year. The jury is still out on that signing, although so far the grade is obviously subpar.
The one piece the Kings have left is Demarcus Cousins. The organization has made it well known their commitment to him, but what if the Cavs called and offered Kyrie Irving and the top pick? Does D’Alessandro hang up the phone? Should that type of movement be the splash the organization is looking for?
There’s no doubt that Cousins would fetch a price greater than the entire Kings roster put together. In order to truly make progress and continue to dig out of their self-made hole, Sacramento will need to make some very tough decisions over the next few months, decisions that will certainly shape the fortunes of the team for the next few years.
Everyone wants to be an NBA general manager, but this may be a good summer to sit it out. Pete D’Alessandro has his work cut out for him.