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With the NBA trade deadline approaching and the Kings committed to playing their youth, teams are inquiring about the availability of their veterans, league sources told The Bee.
They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the Kings.
A source confirmed the Cleveland Cavaliers are interested in point guard George Hill, as first reported by Yahoo Sports on Friday. Hill is in the first year of a three-year, $57 million deal with the Kings, but also plays the same position as highly regarded rookie De’Aaron Fox.
With Fox on the roster, the Kings have no interest in acquiring any veteran point guards, sources said. Fox and fellow rookie point guard Frank Mason make Hill expendable, especially if Mason is healthy. The Kings can also play Bogdan Bogdanovic at point.
But any deal before the Feb. 8 deadline would be complicated for the Kings. They have 15 players under contract, the max allowed, and any deal for Hill, who earns $20 million this season, would likely require taking at least two players in return.
That would mean the Kings would have to send another player in a deal with Hill or possibly buy out one of their veterans, such as Vince Carter, who makes $8 million this season.
With Cleveland, the Kings could possibly take backup center Channing Frye, who would have an expiring contract, and guard Iman Shumpert, who has a player option on his deal for next season. The Kings would likely want a draft pick to be enticed to make a deal.
The Kings aren’t interested in acquiring long-term deals because they want to maintain financial flexibility. The Kings would also like to collect more draft picks as part of their latest attempt to rebuild and become a winning team.
Sacramento does not have a first-round draft pick in 2019. It was traded to Philadelphia in 2015 as part of the deal that allowed the Kings to clear the salaries of Jason Thompson, Carl Landry and Nik Stauskas to pursue free agents.
Their lack of a pick in 2019 enhances the incentive to lose games to increase their odds of landing a top-three selection in this year’s draft. The Kings entered Friday in last place in the Western Conference at 13-31 and tied with Atlanta for the NBA’s second-worst record. Orlando is in last place by a half-game.
Veterans Garrett Temple, Kosta Koufos and Zach Randolph will also be the target of inquiries from teams. They, along with Hill and Carter, will sit out games to give the Kings’ younger players more time on the court. The Kings will sit at least two of the veterans per game for the rest of the season.
There was bound to be interest in the Kings’ veterans.
They all have contracts that are considered salary-cap friendly (only Hill makes more than $12 million). Randolph is under contract for next season while Koufos and Temple both have player options for next season.