The Kings are open to just about anything leading up to Thursday’s NBA draft.
Then again, that’s how general manager Pete D’Alessandro operates. He has no intention of limiting his options in his efforts to improve the Kings.
“We’ve made it known we want to acquire more picks,” D’Alessandro said following Monday’s pre-draft workout. “That we want to acquire veteran talent, that we want to get a higher pick and that we’ll slide back and get a lower pick. A lot of times that’s posturing, but that’s really where we are.”
The Kings have the eighth pick in the first round and no second-round picks. This year’s second-round pick was traded to Toronto in 2012 for forward James Johnson.
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The Kings would love to acquire an impact player to boost their chances of becoming a playoff team, but they’d also consider a young player who might become a star instead of a stopgap veteran. Acquiring more picks would give the Kings an opportunity to add depth.
And D’Alessandro is open to making a trade.
“I think people know we’re a team that’s ready to make moves, and we’re strongly evaluating a lot of things with this pick,” D’Alessandro said.
Point guards Marcus Smart and Elfrid Payton, sharpshooters Doug McDermott and Nik Stauskas and power forwards Noah Vonleh and Aaron Gordon are players the Kings have met with who could be available at No. 8.
D’Alessandro said he’s inclined to select the highest-rated player available, regardless of position, and the Kings want to improve their passing, perimeter shooting, defense and basketball IQ.
If the Kings keep the pick, D’Alessandro said he has an idea who he would select.
“I’m at the point there are about three guys I really feel good about that could be in that range,” D’Alessandro said. “Now I’m at the point where I’m saying, ‘Is there some reason we might want to slide back and get a veteran that can impact this year and maybe at a position of need?’ We’re doing that analysis.”
The planning became easier after small forward Rudy Gay told the Kings he would pick up his player option for next season, worth $19.3 million, before the June 30 deadline. Now, the Kings won’t aggressively pursue a starting small forward this week.
“It certainly makes life easier knowing what Rudy wants to do,” D’Alessandro said. “And I think it says a lot about him that he would let us know in order for us to plan. He’s been a great teammate of ours, and I mean of the front office’s, in that sense with the willingness to say, ‘I want to help you guys figure out what you need to do.’ ”
Some decisions, however, cannot be made until July 1, when free agency begins.
D’Alessandro said the Kings will give point guard Isaiah Thomas a qualifying offer worth $1.1 million to make him a restricted free agent, which will allow the team to match any offer Thomas receives. D’Alessandro said he planned to talk with Thomas’ agent, Andy Miller.
Thomas, Gay and center DeMarcus Cousins all averaged at least 20 points, making the Kings the only team in the NBA last season with three players averaging 20 or more points.
While there has been debate over whether Thomas is best suited as the starting point guard or a scorer coming off the bench, the Kings will consider ways that are sensible financially to keep the trio together.
“We loved what our three guys did last (season),” D’Alessandro said. “We feel very strongly about Isaiah. What I can say is obviously we’ll give him his qualifying offer and we’ll have very good discussions with his agent at the appropriate time, but we feel good about the three of those guys.”