The Kings continue to work closer to a trade that would send guard George Hill to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a package that would include Channing Frye and guard Iman Shumpert and some form of draft compensation, league sources told The Bee on Tuesday.
The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the team.
Hill did not play in Tuesday night’s game against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. The Kings last week began resting at least two veterans every night, so Hill not playing is not necessarily a sign a deal was imminent.
That’s due in part to the Kings needing to create a roster spot to bring on two players in exchange for Hill. The Kings have 15 guaranteed contracts on the roster, the maximum allowed.
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League sources said the Kings are exploring trades that would allow them to unload one or two young players, with second-year players Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson having been made available.
Another option for the Kings would be to buy out or waive one of their current players. After last February’s trade – when the Kings sent DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to New Orleans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and 2017 first- and second-round picks – the team waived Matt Barnes to clear room for the incoming players.
Richardson has been buried on the depth chart at guard behind a group that includes Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Garrett Temple and Hill. Richardson was the 22nd pick out of Syracuse in the 2016 NBA draft.
Labissiere showed promise at power forward as a rookie, but has struggled to find his way this season. He scored a season-high 23 points in Monday’s loss at Charlotte. Labissiere, a Kentucky product, was also drafted in 2016, with the 28th overall pick.
The Kings are high on rookie power forward Harry Giles, who will not play this season as part of his recovery from tearing each ACL in high school.
Trading Hill would free the Kings of the $19 million owed to him next season. Frye’s contract expires at the end of the season and the Kings could opt to simply offer him a buyout.
Shumpert has a player option for next season worth $11 million. He had not played since Nov. 27 after surgery on his left knee but came off the bench Tuesday, when the Cavaliers visited the San Antonio Spurs.
The slumping Cavaliers are looking to shake up their roster in an attempt to reach their fourth consecutive NBA Finals.
Hill signed a three-year, $57 million deal in the offseason. That the Kings spent so much on Hill surprised some because the team had used two of its four draft picks on point guards, including taking Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox at No. 5 overall. They used their second-round pick, 34th overall, on Kansas star Frank Mason III.
Hill has struggled to adjust to a role with the Kings, with his playing time decreased. He averaged a career-high 16.9 points last season with Utah.
Because the Kings are committed to evaluating young players, Hill was never going to play starter minutes, something new for the 10-year veteran who had long established himself as an NBA starter.
It made for some frustrating times for Hill, who struggled to find the balance between being aggressive on offense and knowing when to defer to young players. He also was not comfortable with idea he should shoot a lot and play selfishly in his limited time.
Hill is averaging 10.3 points and 2.8 assists in 27 minutes this season. The Kings have shifted to playing their young players more, so Hill has been held out of two of the last three games.