It is an interesting crossroads for the Sacramento Kings, and it may just get even more interesting-er.
Ricky Rubio and the Kings have long been dancing around each other, and according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Wolves are once again looking to move the 26-year old point guard:
In Woj’s report, it seems Minnesota would also want to include Shabazz Muhammad, the 4th year player out of UCLA. Muhammad was highly regarded as the 14th pick in the 2013 draft, but has struggled to find consistency in the NBA. When looking at both rosters, here’s a couple of trades that might work for both sides, in order from most to least likely:
1. Kings trade: Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo. Kings receive: Ricky Rubio and Shabazz Muhammad.
With Collison a free agent this summer, the Wolves get a veteran guard who is a good uptick offensively, and would seemingly provide a good running mate/mentor for Kris Dunn. Collison is a good teammate, and would still get to showcase his skills for his upcoming payday. Afflalo has been in and out of the rotation for Dave Joerger, and adds a solid veteran presence to a young Wolves team.
2. Kings trade: Rudy Gay and Darren Collison. Kings receive: Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, and a 2017 2nd round pick
This one is a little more convoluted, with Rudy Gay upping the ante a bit. But if the Kings really want to gamble on Rubio/Muhammad, they may have to go this direction. Gay gives Minnesota more added scoring, assumedly off the bench. Putting him and Wiggins on the floor at times and playing small is an interesting concept as well. Kings fans may balk at the price, but with Gay certain to leave and Collison expiring this summer as stated above, this may be an example of getting something over potentially nothing. The 2nd round pick coming back is a flyer, but Vlade Divac needs all the chips he can get.
3. Kings trade: Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, and Willie Cauley-Stein. Kings receive: Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, and a 2017 2nd round pick.
This is the one Kings fans will likely cringe at the most. I just don’t see a way for this deal to be consummated without including Darren Collison, so he’s in there for all the reasons stated above. Ben McLemore isn’t long for this world anyway, and most will be relieved to see the experiment end here. Plus, giving McLemore a new environment, and playing with the likes of Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins gives the Wolves even more insane athleticism.
We all know the big deal here is Willie Cauley-Stein. Trading him would mean that the last 3 lottery picks for the Kings (not counting 2016) would be gone. The Kings held on to McLemore too long, that hasn’t worked out. Sacramento may have given up on Nik Stauskas to soon, time will tell.
What the Kings have to do is decide which way they go with Cauley-Stein. There is no denying his talent, but like McLemore, he has appeared lost on the floor for most of his short career. It very well may be the fault of the system and style, and perhaps a change of scenery is best.
What it comes down to is this: Do the Kings want to make moves? Do they see themselves as a playoff team this year, as some in the ownership/front office do, or will they want to plan for the future and the imminent arrival of Bogdan Bogdanovic and one or more of the three rookies sitting in Reno?