As Thursday’s noon trade deadline approaches, the Cleveland Cavaliers remain one of the teams interested in acquiring Kings point guard George Hill, according to multiple league sources speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The Houston Rockets also have interest in Hill, the sources said.
But the Kings are proceeding with caution on any deal to move the veteran because they don’t want to become the dumping spot for another team’s bad contracts. They’re inclined to pass on any deals that don’t include acquiring young players or draft assets.
The Kings could do a one-for-one swap with Houston if they were willing to take forward Ryan Anderson, sources said. But Anderson, the former Oak Ridge High School and Cal star, has two more seasons left on his deal worth in excess of $41 million – the kind of contract the Kings want to avoid.
Sacramento wants to maintain financial flexibility over the next couple of years to either add an impact player or re-sign players who are still on their rookie contracts.
The Kings made the biggest splash at last February’s trade deadline by dealing All-Star DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans. Although any move they make wouldn’t approach that stratosphere, they are in position to make deals if they fit their vision for the franchise.
While Hill is the most intriguing trade piece, the Kings have received inquiries about veterans Garrett Temple, Vince Carter and Kosta Koufos, all of whom are relative bargains with salaries of around $8 million. Koufos and Temple both have player options on their deals for next season.
Hill to Cleveland has been discussed for weeks, with guard Iman Shumpert the key player who would come to the Kings. Hill’s $20 million salary for this season has been a hangup in negotiations, as has the fact the Kings would likely have to take at least two players, meaning they’d have to cut down their roster. They’re not inclined to part with a young player like Malachi Richardson.
If the Kings don’t trade Hill, he would remain a valuable trade asset for them in the summer, or into next season, because his three-year, $57 million contract has a buyout option in the third year. That makes him appealing to a suitor who only wants to commit to him for one season.
Hill is averaging 10.3 points and 2.8 assists this season and has moved to a backup role behind rookie De’Aaron Fox.
Fox did not participate in the contact portion of Wednesday’s practice after leaving Monday’s win over Chicago with a sprained left ankle. If Fox cannot play Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers at Golden 1 Center, Hill would be the only healthy point guard, assuming he’s still on the roster.