The draft is upon us as the Sacramento Kings offseason has finally begun to reach clarity since Rudy Gay’s decision to return to Sacramento. Now that the Kings are financially burdened by Gay’s $19.3 million option, Pete D’Alessandro will need to decide how far the team is willing to go to keep point guard Isaiah Thomas, which in turn dictates how the Kings’ draft will play out.
The Kings have extended their qualifying offer of $1.1 million to Thomas, making him a restricted free agent. Many believe that Sacramento will pass or force a sign-and-trade deal for Thomas on any deal worth above $6 million. So we come to the big question: what do the Kings do with their draft pick?
1. Draft for value if a potential star falls
If Dante Exum, Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Joel Embiid, or Julius Randle fall to the Kings, I think it may just be worth keeping their pick. In that sort of situation, the Kings are forced to take the best player available. The Kings could also be put in a similar dilemma if Marcus Smart is still on the board. Ultimately, Sacramento is looking to add a player who can come in and make a difference immediately. The Kings will only keep this pick if they think that they are going to get more value at #8, than they could in a trade.
2. Trade down for a veteran and a point guard
I would like to see the Kings trade down and draft a guy like Elfrid Payton. Payton is someone that would be seen as a reach at the eight spot, yet a major steal anywhere in the latter half of the lottery. Payton may be the biggest sleeper in the draft, he is an athletic point guard whose tenacious defense wreaks havoc for his opposition. The Louisiana product is also an effective penetrator on the offensive end. The Kings could crack gold by taking a chance on this mid-major guard; it just makes more sense to take Payton at a spot that aligns with his draft value.
Jason Terry and the 8th pick for Arron Afflalo and the 12th pick
Carl Landry and the 8th pick for Thaddeus Young and the 10th pick
Aaron Gray and the 8th pick for Gerald Green and the 14th pick
Ultimately, the 8th pick leaves the Kings in an awkward position because the cookie would have to crumble in their favor in order to draft top-pick caliber value. Don’t be surprised if the Kings make a deal involving this pick because of this sort of uncertainty. The Kings are a team that want to win as soon as possible. GM Pete D’Alessandro will continue to be aggressive in taking risks to improve this team. Expect Sacramento to be in the thick of all talks that involve blockbuster deals, and All-Star caliber players. The Kings management is dedicated to bring royalty back to the capital.