The Sacramento Kings have started the process of bulking up their frontcourt, while clearing out a crowded backcourt.
On Friday it was reported that the Kings have agreed to ship veteran point guard Delon Wright to the Atlanta Hawks as part of a three-team deal that would bring center/forward Tristan Thompson to Sacramento from the Boston Celtics.
Thompson, 30, brings experience, size and toughness to the paint, something the Kings have had in limited supply of late. While not a serious scoring threat, he is very efficient around the basket and a tenacious offensive rebounder. Last season with the Celtics, he averaged 7.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in limited minutes.
The trade likely signals a future move by the Kings to acquire a starting-caliber center. While Thompson can start in a pinch, having him as your opening day 5 would be viewed as a failure for general manager Monte McNair.
Last year’s starting center Richaun Holmes is still a realistic target for the Kings and having Thompson back him up would make a very nice 1-2 punch at the 5. However, Holmes is going to test the free-agent market this summer and there are no guarantees that he will return to Sacramento.
The Kings are limited to offering Holmes just $10.4 million for 2021-22 due to restrictions by the CBA. If he will agree to a discount for the upcoming season, Sacramento could offer much more next summer as they would hold his Bird rights (3 years of service).
Sacramento does have two other centers on the roster. 7-foot journeyman center Damian Jones has shown hints of some real talent, but more needs to be seen before he is ready for the spotlight. Rookie Neemias Queta is a project with mad defensive skills, but it is too early to project his place with the Kings right now.
And yes, there is still a chance that Marvin Bagley could remain in the picture. The often-injured bigman could possibly shift over to the 5 at times if the Kings decide to go with a center-by-committee approach. Not likely, but still on the table as of now.
It was recently reported that Sacramento and Memphis were in advanced talks to swap Begley and the ninth pick in the 2021 draft for center Jonas Valanciunas, but the deal fell through at the last minute and the Grizzlies ended up making a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans instead.
The 6-9 Thompson is in the final year of his contract that will cost the Kings $9.7 million. It was not that Boston did not want his services, it was just that they were up against the luxury tax and desperately needed to shed salary. They had originally hoped he could be a primary scoring threat in the paint, but that just isn’t his thing. He is an extremely good backup big in the MBA these days, nothing more.
The move temporarily adds about $1.2 million in salary, but many more moves are expected by McNair in the coming weeks. Decisions on guards Buddy Hield and Terrance Davis, as well as Bagley need to be made, and there is still hope that a major move is coming that could dramatically shakeup the frontcourt.
Head coach Luke Walton was a teammate of Thompson’s with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2011-13.