The Sacramento Kings had a successful season last year, winning 48 games. However, they were not satisfied with their early exit from the playoffs and made it clear during the offseason that they were determined to improve. Surprisingly, they were linked to players like Bradley Beal on the trade market, indicating their ambition to land star players. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Kings are expected to pursue star players like Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Zach LaVine.
Now, one month into the new season, the Kings are impressive with an 8-4 record. Despite performing even better than their record suggests, they are not yet considered championship contenders. However, they are not far away from that level, especially with a standout player like De'Aaron Fox on their roster. The team has been dominant when Fox is on the court, outscoring opponents by an impressive 11.7 points per 100 possessions. While their offense remains strong, their defense has also improved to a league-average level.
The Kings are in a favorable position to make a big trade for several reasons. They operated below the salary cap this offseason, resulting in having the ninth-lowest payroll in the NBA. This flexibility allows them to take on significant salaries for the foreseeable future, especially with emerging young talent like Keegan Murray still on a rookie deal. Additionally, the team has good depth across all positions, which means they can afford to trade players without impacting their overall performance significantly. For instance, if they were to trade Kevin Huerter or Malik Monk, both players have similar skill sets, minimizing the loss.
While the Kings still owe the Atlanta Hawks a first-round pick for the Huerter trade, they still have the assets to potentially offer three first-round picks and three first-round swaps if necessary. Given that most of their core roster is young, acquiring picks may not be as crucial for their short-term goals compared to other aspiring contenders. Therefore, if the right opportunity arises, the Kings have the means to make a significant trade.
However, for any trade to be successful, the Kings prioritize improving their defense. Despite having the most efficient offense in NBA history last season, their defense ranked near the bottom of the league. Adding players like Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby from the Toronto Raptors would greatly enhance their defensive capabilities. Other role players, such as Alex Caruso, could also contribute to this defensive upgrade. The Kings have previously shown interest in Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine, aiming to strengthen their offensive firepower. Nonetheless, a balanced championship team typically excels on both ends of the court, making a defensive upgrade the clearest path for the Kings to achieve this goal.
Overall, the Kings are aggressively seeking improvement this season. With the potential to make significant trades, a solid financial standing, and a young and talented roster, the Kings are determined to make a real impact this year.