Throughout the season, Jason Jones answers readers’ questions about the team in a weekly Twitter mailbag. Tweet your questions with the hashtag #JonesHoldsCourt.
Q: Is Vlade job safe? He said if the team doesn’t improve he would step down. ps please tell them if they want a defensive minded team they need defensive players.
A: Yes, Vlade Divac’s job as general manager is safe, especially since he’s signed through 2020. Granted, these things change daily, but there’s no reason to believe Divac has anything to worry about. It wouldn’t make sense to start another rebuild and change directions after less than a year.
How long that holds true depends a lot on next season and if the organization would allow Divac to go into his final year without a deal beyond 2019-20.
Lacking defensive players has been a problem for more than a decade. Scheme helps, but players have to want to play defense, and that cannot be simply instilled to a player.
It’s about wanting to do it. As a coach once pointed out, the same physical and mental skills needed to figure out how to score are the same skills that can be applied to defense. It’s up to Divac to find players who understand that.
Q: Any realistic trade ideas for the Cavs and Kings for George Hill?
– Alexander Newton, @alexn5050
A: A deal for Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye in exchange for Hill would work financially and allow the Kings to save money against next year’s salary cap because Frye would be a free agent and Shumpert could opt for free agency. But that two-for-one scenario would put the Kings’ roster at 16, one above the league maximum, so they would need to buy out or trade another player.
Whether Cleveland would throw in a draft pick is a question, but the Kings could pass on a pick simply knowing they’ve gained financial flexibility and cleared the way for De’Aaron Fox to run the team.
Q: Do you feel like Buddy Hield is losing the shooting guard battle against Bogdan Bogdanovic? The more games the young Kings play the more I feel like Fox and Bogdan are our backcourt of the future, not Fox and Hield.
– Ball is Royal, @BallisRoyal
A: If losing the battle means who will be the starter, then yes, Hield is losing. But long-term, many believe Hield is best suited to come off the bench as a scorer whereas Bogdanovic’s game is more well-rounded. Bogdanovic’s passing also means he can play with Hield, too.
Next season’s starting backcourt could be Fox and Bogdanovic, but it doesn’t mean Hield is not part of the plan. Hield can be an elite shooter and the Kings need that skill.
Q: I like what is going on. All this losing is painful but I know it is part of the process. If the PG from Oklahoma is available when the Kings select, do you take him?
– Donald Leeper, @donniejunior66
A: That depends on where the pick is. Trae Young ahead of Marvin Bagley or DeAndre Ayton? I’m not sure. But the Kings have to take the best player available, regardless of position. Young is an elite scorer and playmaker – two of the Kings’ weaknesses. So if he’s the best player available, take him.
Q: Will Joerger swallow his pride and admit that playing Zbo means the Kings are playing 4 on 5 defense at all times? Might as well sub in a traffic cone.
– Jesus Wenceslao, @jcwkings
A: Easy to pick on Zach Randolph, but there are plenty of times the Kings appear to be playing 0 on 5 on defense. Last time I checked, Randolph’s defensive assignment wasn’t Dillon Brooks in Memphis, or Donovan Mitchell against Utah. It’s never a good look when Randolph is left at the rim as the last line of defense, but the Kings have poor perimeter defense in one-on-one situations, and that puts their big men in bad positions. The communication is also bad, which contributes to so many players getting wide-open 3-point shots.
But yes, I will pass the word to coach Dave Joerger. Maybe.
Q: Does the team still believe WCS is the answer to their weak interior defense? If not, can you see Willie being moved in favor of an actual defensive anchor?
– hoopsfeed, @HoopsFeed
A: There’s still a belief that Willie Cauley-Stein can be an anchor on defense, but anchor does not necessarily mean at the rim. One of Cauley-Stein’s strengths on defense is his ability to switch and defend on the perimeter.
If Cauley-Stein is moved soon, it would be to power forward full-time on the Kings, not to another team. That would allow for a more rugged defensive player to be in the paint and take advantage of Cauley-Stein’s athleticism. It’s a reason Cauley-Stein had success playing with Kosta Koufos.
And for this week’s non-Kings question:
Q: Which team will have the better record in the 2018 season: @SFGiants or @athletics?
– SACRAMENTO KINGS 1985-FOREVER, @Kings85_Forever
A: My hope is Oakland for multiple biased reasons. One, the Giants deserve to be in last place until the Dodgers win a few World Series. Secondly, I became an A’s sympathizer while attending Cal.
Cheap tickets and BART meant many an afternoon and evening were spent watching the A’s.
Realistically, the Giants will probably win more games, but as long as they’re behind the Dodgers, I’m a happy man.