The Kings are trying to make it work with DeMarcus Cousins.
Their draft day apparently isn’t helping.
Usual disclaimer: We don’t know what Cousins is tweeting about. He might not even be watching the draft. But with most of the NBA world tuned to the draft, it’s a reasonably safe assumption.
Sacramento traded Marco Belinelli for the No. 22 pick and traded down from No. 8 to select Georgios Papagiannis at No. 13. I like the strategy of expanding assets, though:
1. I’m not enamored with Papagiannis, an old-school center who admittedly has a decent amount potential.
2. Cousins probably is even less intrigued by someone he can’t play with. At best, Papagiannis backs up Cousins next season, and I doubt Papagiannis is ready to make an NBA rotation.
3. All these moves have an eye to the future. Cousins wants to win now.
Cousins’ discontent is reasonable, but the Kings have to think bigger picture. If they do so wisely, they might wind up surprising him.
A team that reached the Western Conference finals traded a veteran star with one season left on his contract to an Eastern Conference team that didn’t even make the playoffs.
This deal is a little backward.
Serge Ibaka is headed to the Magic with Victor Oladipo, No. 11 pick Domantas Sabonis and Ersan Ilyasova going to the Thunder.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
The Thunder might take a small step back in the short term – which is an awful signal to send Kevin Durant ahead of free agency. Otherwise, this is quality return. Ibaka had shown signs of decline, and Steven Adams stepping up made him more expendable. Durant works well as a small-ball power forward, which cuts the minutes of traditional bigs.
Oladipo is an upgrade at shooting guard from Andre Roberson (can’t shoot) and Dion Waiters (wasn’t good until a small sample recently). The athleticism Russell Westbrook and Oladipo in the backcourt will be difficult to contain.
Now, the Thunder won’t have to overpay Waiters in restricted free agency. They can also clear more room by waiving Ilyasova. The $8.4 million remaining on Ilyasova’s contract is just $400,000 guaranteed until July 1.
If Oklahoma City keeps him, Ilyasova can be a decently productive stop-gap power forward Sabonis develops. Sabonis is relatively NBA ready for a late lottery pick, which adds options.
The Magic continue to show their desperation to make the playoffs. They’ve needed a rim protector, and that’s Ibaka. Without Oladipo, who never complemented Elfrid Payton nearly as well as Evan Fournier did, Orlando’s roster fits a little better. It’ll still require a major signing in free agency to move the needle – which was the case before this trade.
The Kings keep giving themselves opportunities to build a young core.
After trading Marco Belinelli for the No. 22 pick, Sacramento selected Marquise Chriss with the No. 8 pick for the Suns. The Kings’ haul, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
- No. 13 pick
- No. 18 pick
- 2020 Pistons second-rounder
- Rights to 2014 No. 27 pick Bogdan Bogdanovic
That’s a nice return for Chriss, who was both a fine pick at No. 8 and a semi-project. His upside with No. 4 pick Dragan Bender is intriguing. I’m not sure those two will be an ideal fit together in Phoenix, but both are raw enough that’s too soon predict. Let both talented players develop and figure it out from there.
The Kings will do the same with their upcoming picks. Those are just more opportunities to add young players with upside. In a fairly deep draft in those ranges, I like the strategy. Bogdanovic has played well since being drafted. He probably won’t jump to the NBA until next season, but Sacramento should be patient if necessary to add talent.
The 76ers got their No. 1 pick, and the Lakers got their No. 1 pick – if you believe the leaks.
Philadelphia selected Simmons with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft, and the Lakers followed with the equally unsurprising Brandon Ingram at No. 2.
The Lakers reportedly would’ve selected Ingram if they landed the top pick, but the 76ers had to make the choice in this two-player draft (it wasn’t much of a choice if you ask me). The Lakers could just take whichever player was left.
Simmons brings hope to a franchise that gave up all pretenses of winning to get high draft picks. There’s a lot of pressure on him to justify the process, but Philadelphia fans are starving for any success. It’s not a high bar, and I think the talented Simmons will clear it.
Ingram steps into an even larger market, entering Kobe Bryant‘s shadow on the wing for the Lakers. His shooting touch and length give him plenty of hope of flourishing.
With those two expected picks out of the way, the real intrigue of the draft begins at No. 3.
Team USA will have a strangely Canadian feel this year.
Not only is Kyle Lowry playing in the Olympics, so is Raptors teammate DeMar DeRozan.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
DeRozan is coming off a rough playoff run, but he was much better over a large sample.
Still, DeRozan’s relative weaknesses – defense, outside shooting – aren’t ideal for a star-studded team in international play. But beggars can’t be choosers, and with so many players skipping the Olympics, DeRozan is at least talented. He wouldn’t be the first player to excel for Team USA despite being an awkward fit on paper (Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Kenneth Faried).