Kings owner Vivek Ranadive grew increasingly frustrated with Sacramento underachieving under Vlade Divac.
Ranadive’s patience for losing apparently hasn’t changed under new general manager Monte McNair.
Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated on Locked on Kings:
I talked to a couple people just in the last couple hours just to get a feel for these guys and what people around the league think may happen. One of the things I heard was that essentially they’re only going to trade Barnes and Hield if they’re blown away by an offer. Not because they overvalue them, but because Vivek Ranadive wants to be competitive. He doesn’t want to tank.
I respect an owner wanting to compete. Secondarily (and connected to) making money, that’s the whole point of an NBA team.
But the Kings are just 16-24 and 13th in the Western Conference. Making a play-in game is unlikely. Making the playoffs is an even bigger longshot.
Sacramento has just two players worth building around – De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. It’s not as if the Kings can just plan on this group growing together and blossoming in a future seasons. Barnes (28) and Hield (28) might age out of their primes by the time Sacramento has a winning team.
The Kings continuing to win 40% of their games – better than they’ve done most of the last 15 seasons – would be more enjoyable night-to-night than tanking. Barnes is having a strong year, and Hield is a starter (whom Ranadive holds in high regard).
But winning 40% of your games isn’t that enjoyable, and staying the course inhibits Sacramento in future seasons. The Kings could get assets for Barnes and maybe Hield. Sacramento could at least create more salary-cap flexibility by trading the two. Perhaps most importantly, the Kings would weaken their roster to tank for a higher pick in what looks like a top-heavy 2021 draft.
I wouldn’t rule out Sacramento trading Barnes or Hield, though. In order to drive up the return, a clever general manager might hype his team’s owner’s reluctance to trade – especially when the owner makes for an easy villain. Whether or not the owner is actually reluctant. Teams pursuing Barnes or maybe Hield might offer even more to satisfy Ranadive’s demands (“demands”?).