Thursday’s trade deadline passed without the Kings further altering their roster.
Playing time to close out the season is far from settled, however.
The Kings’ coaching staff and front office are in evaluation mode and want to see what they have in the players acquired since the new regime took over in May.
Of the five players remaining from last season’s team, only DeMarcus Cousins is a safe bet to return next season. Guard Isaiah Thomas will become a restricted free agent once the Kings make him a qualifying offer.
Power forward Jason Thompson is under contract for three more seasons, but the Kings signed Carl Landry in the offseason and have added three players – Quincy Acy, Reggie Evans and Derrick Williams – who can all play power forward.
Jimmer Fredette is in the last year of his three-year rookie contract and Travis Outlaw has one more year on his contract.
Holdovers such as Thompson and Fredette could see their playing time diminish over the final 28 games of the season as the Kings take extended looks at rookie Ray McCallum, Landry and Williams.
“For Ray to get the minutes he needs, he’s probably going to have to move into the backup (point guard) position,” said Kings coach Michael Malone. “Maybe an opportunity for Carl to start, play extended minutes, but we’ll see.
“I just want to make sure, myself and (general manager) Pete D’Alessandro, and our front-office group have 28 games to analyze and really study who we have, what we like and what we need to work on in the offseason. So if I have to change up the lineups or change the rotations, I’ll do that.”
In his sixth season, Thompson is the longest-tenured Kings player. There have been players brought in to replace him before. As for how the rest of this season plays out, Thompson said that’s out of his control.
“That’s up to coach; I don’t get paid to do that,” Thompson said. “When it comes to that, you just play your game and see what happens from there.”
Considering the Kings signed Landry to a four-year, $26 million contract before the season, they need to know how he fits going forward. He has played in only 15 games, missing most of the season after suffering a torn left hip flexor in training camp.
McCallum was the Kings’ second-round draft pick last summer but has been the third point guard most of the season.
Playing three point guards is not ideal, so McCallum’s development will likely come at the expense of playing time for Fredette, who scored a career-high 24 points in last week’s 106-101 win at New York.
McCallum impressed Malone with his defense Wednesday against Golden State but has played in only 17 games.
“Somebody’s going to have to sit, so it could be a guy like Jimmer or a guy like J.T.,” Malone said. “We have a crowded frontcourt ... so I won’t be able to play all those guys. We’ll see what’s best for our team moving forward, but somebody’s going to have to sit in order for Carl and Ray to get more minutes.”
Malone did not rule out using Fredette as a backup shooting guard. But rookie Ben McLemore will play most of the minutes there, and Malone liked how Outlaw filled in for McLemore on Wednesday, scoring 18 points.
Notes – Cousins returned to practice Thursday after he had been out for a week because of a strained left hip flexor.
Cousins missed only one game (Wednesday vs. Golden State) because the injury occurred last Wednesday before the All-Star break. Cousins is expected to practice again today and play Saturday against the visiting Boston Celtics.
• Evans and Jason Terry, acquired in a trade with Brooklyn on Wednesday, arrived in Sacramento to take their physicals. Barring any complications, both will practice today.
• The Kings did make one minor trade Thursday, sending a heavily protected 2015 second-round draft pick to the Miami Heat for guard Roger Mason Jr. and cash. Mason was waived by the Kings after the deal was made official. The move gives the Heat an extra roster spot to add a veteran for its playoff run.