The Kings are on the verge of acquiring one of the top draft prospects from the 2011 NBA draft with the hope he can blossom in a new setting.
The Kings were in talks Monday with the Minnestoa Timberwolves to acquire forward Derrick Williams for forward Luc Mbah a Moute. The sources spoke under the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been completed and announced.
Williams was the second overall pick in the 2011 draft after 2011-12 Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving of the Cavaliers. Williams was selected ahead of Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Tristan Thompson, Nikola Vucevic, Iman Shumpert and Kenneth Faried.
And since that draft, Williams has been a part of trade rumors.
Williams (6-foot-8, 241 pounds) has been unproductive with the Timberwolves. Entering the draft, there were questions about whether Williams could play small forward, which did not work in Minnesota. Playing power forward meant playing behind All-Star Kevin Love and little opportunity to shine.
The Kings figure to give Williams plenty of chances to show his worth and fill their noticeable void for production at forward.
Williams is averaging 4.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 11 games this season. He has played just 14.7 minutes per game. Williams has averaged 10.1 points and 4.9 rebounds for his career.
The Kings have used two starters at power forward this season – Patrick Patterson and Jason Thompson. John Salmons and Mbah a Moute have started at small forward. Travis Outlaw has seen time as a backup at both forward spots.
Losing Carl Landry in the preseason to a torn hip flexor hurt production at forward, too. Without Landry, it’s been hard to count on much from the position. No Kings forward averages more than 6.8 points (Patterson) or 5.3 rebounds (Thompson).
Salmons and Patterson have struggled with shooting. Thompson’s impact hasn’t changed as a starter. He has averaged 6.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 20.1 minutes as a starter and 6.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 19.3 minutes off the bench.
Mbah a Moute has averaged 4.4 points and three rebounds in nine games.
The lack of consistent production in the frontcourt has made it tough on center DeMarcus Cousins, who leads the Kings in scoring and rebounding.
That’s not to say Mbah a Moute’s impact on the Kings was measured by his offense. Sacramento acquired Mbah a Moute from Milwaukee in July for two second-round picks to add needed defensive toughness.
Mbah a Moute, however, fell out of the rotation after missing most of the preseason with a sore right knee.
That was a concern because it was the same knee Mbah a Moute had surgery on before last season and had problems with in previous seasons.
But once Kings coach Michael Malone began playing Mbah a Moute, it became obvious he was the Kings’ best individual defender and could guard multiple positions. The Kings don’t have a player who fills that role, so more moves could follow as general manager Pete D’Alessandro remakes the roster.
Malone said Mbah a Moute could defend guards and forwards. The coach used him to defend Clippers point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin in the same game.
“You will see him on a lot of different guys every game that we play because he’s our best defender,” Malone said before the Kings played the Lakers on Sunday. “And there’s a reason we went out and got him this summer, because of what he brings to us from a defensive standpoint.”
Mbah a Moute’s knee could hold up the deal if fails his physical. He has said repeatedly his knee is fine and he can manage any issues. He would add a defensive presence for Minnesota.