Buddy Hield was frustrated last season in Sacramento. He lost his starting job to Bogdan Bogdanovic, was glued to the bench when the Kings needed a late-game three, and he generally seemed unhappy. Hield has even hinted on social media he wants a trade to the 76ers.
Hield seems to be laying the blame for his issues at the feet of Kings coach Luke Walton, and he’s not even returning his coach’s calls, reports Jason Jones of The Athletic.
According to league sources, Hield has soured on Walton to the point he will not answer his coach’s phone calls. Messages to Hield’s agent, Brandon Rosenthal, and Walton were not returned…
How the benching situation was handled left Hield feeling he could not trust Walton. Hield felt like he was used as the scapegoat for the team’s struggles in the first half of last season. He shot 41.6 percent, 36 percent from 3 and averaged 20 points in 44 starts. Hield had a bigger burden on offense because De’Aaron Fox missed a little more than a month with a sprained ankle and Marvin Bagley went down in the season opener with a broken thumb, and later a foot sprain. The stretch with the injuries definitely hurt Hield’s efficiency as he was asked to do things that aren’t his strengths, like initiating offense. Hield’s defensive lapses also frustrated coaches and affected his minutes in the fourth quarter.
A lot of asked of Hield because his four-year, $94M contract extension kicks in next season (which is also why trading him is not simple).
Hield looked good in his sixth-man role — 17.9 points per game shooting 45.1% from three — and could thrive doing that somewhere, but he wants to start. There is plenty of demand for shooters if the Kings’ new front office looks into a trade, but they more likely want to try and make this work.
If it can. It sounds like the Walton and Hield relationship is pretty far down the Nick Young/Iggy Azalea road and may not be able to be saved now. And that could force the Kings’ hand this offseason.