Throughout the season, Jason Jones answers readers’ questions about the team in a weekly Twitter mailbag. Tweet your questions with the hashtag #JonesHoldsCourt.
Q: Skal Labissiere has been mentioned in trade talks for several days now. I would be inclined not to trade Skal although I know he is not untradeable. Don’t you think he needs more time?
– Donald Leeper, @donniejunior66
A: This is one of many Labissiere questions this week. Labissiere and Malachi Richardson have been the names mentioned as possibly being dealt because the Kings have a roster of 15 players, and a potential trade sending George Hill to Cleveland would require them to take back at least two players.
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If the Kings cannot clear a roster spot, there will be no trade, so the Kings had to explore ways to create a roster spot or two. Labissiere and Richardson play positions where the Kings have a surplus, so it makes sense to gauge interest in them.
Center Willie Cauley-Stein is establishing himself, and the Kings are high on the potential of forward Harry Giles. The upcoming draft could also bring another big man.
Richardson is behind Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield at shooting guard. Richardson can play some small forward, but Justin Jackson is there, and there are even fewer minutes when the Kings use three-guard lineups.
Yes, Labissiere needs more time. He hasn’t even played 82 games in his career, so there’s a lot of room for growth. Same applies to Richardson. As of now, no one has been traded so they just have to keep working.
Q: Does the FO see WCS as a building block? I say sell high since this is the highest he’ll get. Not counting last night when he got that tattoo.
– Max Mathews, @MaxMathews15
A: Yes, Cauley-Stein is a part of the foundation the Kings’ front office is building. He’s signed through next season and I expect the Kings to try to reach a deal on a contract extension that would kick in after his fourth season.
There aren’t many 7-footers with the ability to switch out defensively on the perimeter like Cauley-Stein. Also, his growth on offense has been one of the positives this season and he’s become one of the Kings’ best players.
Cauley-Stein is also one of the young players who has shown he belongs in the NBA, and the Kings cannot start trading young talent on affordable contracts to stay on the rebuilding treadmill.
The Kings drafted and developed Cauley-Stein, so they need to reap the benefits.
Q: The Kings seemed to enter tank mode a little early in the season. Is that the sense you get or is it just an effort to get these young players to develop?
– Michael, A Very Stable Genius, @mgganimal
A: A little early? Yes, 42 games in is early, but the Kings would not call this tanking. They’d say it’s the best way to develop their young players.
The plan all season from management was to use the veterans to help the young players compete, get them through some tough situations as best they could and eventually fade to the background.
Q: Any idea when Frank might be back?
– megalutou, @megalutou
A: Frank Mason III is on the road trip and is due to be re-evaluated at the end of the trip to assess the progress of his heel injury. Mason is working before games on his rehab and the last time I spoke with him, Mason said he is feeling better.
Best-case scenario, Mason is back in early February, based on the prognostications from the team of him being re-evaluated four-to-six weeks from the original injury (Dec. 31).
And for this week’s non-Kings question:
Q: Top 5 favorite rappers of all-time?
– Sacramento Kings 1985-FOREVER, @Kings85_Forever
A: My top-five dead or alive? This should be fun.
1. Ice Cube: When I was a kid, I wanted to be Cube. His lyrics smacked you in the face, he was smart and from my part of the country. He is the best of all time in my opinion. Don’t debate on this. I will not change my mind.
2. Snoop Dogg: Or as he was known when he debuted, Snoop Doggy Dogg, was the first rapper I saw representing Long Beach. His flow was impeccable and represented the Eastside of the LBC to the fullest.
3. 2Pac: Raw emotion and passion personified. No way you could listen to Pac and not feel like you could do anything. He had a song for every mood, feeling and situation.
4. Jay-Z: Expert lyricist and storyteller. His ability to stay at the top of the game for so long is amazing. On days where creative inspiration is needed, I turn to Jay.
5a. Nas: Another stellar storyteller and lyricist. Introspective and honest about his own ups-and-downs. One of the greats.
5b. The Notorious B.I.G.: Tragedy in his death is we didn’t get more than two studio albums. He was self-deprecating in a way that made it cool to not be the coolest guy around: “Heartthrob never, black and ugly as ever, however I stay Coogi down to the socks.” Classic.