George Hill is supposed be a Cleveland Cavalier, right?
It sure felt that way about two weeks ago.
A deal that would have sent Hill to Cleveland, with Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert (and possibly Derrick Rose) being the principle players involved, was close to done, league sources told The Bee.
Those sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the teams.
There were always hurdles to a deal – namely, the Kings having to create roster spots, which meant gauging the trade market for the likes of Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson, sources said.
Still no deal.
The Kings really have no reason to move Hill, unless the deal is favorable. So as the Feb. 8 trade deadline approaches, Hill is still a King.
The Kings are not opposed to making a deal, but it has to make sense as part of the grand plan to maintain financial flexibility for the future, while also being in the position to collect draft picks and young talent.
Some relief from the $19 million owed to Hill next season would be nice, but it’s not as if the Kings would be clearing salary to make a run at LeBron James, Paul George or some other big-name free agent.
This season is about development for the future, remember?
Hill hasn’t caused problems in the locker room, even though he’s coming off the bench. He’s formed great relationships with young players like Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox. And the Kings front office really likes having Hill around.
Of course, all it takes is the right offer to turn good feelings into a sound business decision and send Hill on his way to the Cavs. So it’s too soon to assume a deal won’t happen.
The Cavs remain a team in turmoil, and being blown out on national TV is becoming all too common for the defending Eastern Conference champions.
Kevin Love is out with a hand injury and Isaiah Thomas has not regained his form from last season with Boston, when he was an MVP candidate, since returning from a hip injury.
That might put the Cavs in a more urgent position to make a deal happen.
The Kings, however, remain in no hurry to to make a deal for the sake of it. Hill has trade value, but he’ll still have trade value in the offseason.
Or, Hill could be a Cavalier by Thursday.
Three of the Kings’ five rookies have been in a groove lately. Bogdanovic, Fox and Justin Jackson are all in the starting lineup and contributing.
This is the time of the year the Kings expected to see their young players take another noticeable step, and that’s happened. Fox has played better since not being named to the Rising Stars Challenge game All-Star Weekend and Jackson has settled in lately as his playing time has become more consistent.
Bogdanovic has been steady for a while and his playmaking has been important, too.
The returns on the second-year Kings, aside from Buddy Hield, leave much to still be examined. Labissiere is out until after the All-Star break with a shoulder injury. Richardson has been dogged by a sprained ankle lately. And Georgios Papagiannis still cannot crack the rotation most nights.
With Harry Giles due to take the court next season along with another high draft pick, this is a critical time of the season for the aforementioned players to get back on the court and make a good impression.
Point guard in the NBA isn’t easy, and Fox has another tough matchup Friday in the form of Portland All-Star Damian Lillard.
But before Fox can face an All-Star, he’ll have to deal with a Rising Star in Chicago’s Kris Dunn, who is playing much better in his second season since being traded to Chicago from Minnesota. The Kings and Bulls will face off at Golden 1 Center on Monday.