The Kings have agreed to trade veteran forwards Jason Thompson and Carl Landry and guard Nik Stauskas to the Philadelphia 76ers, a league source confirmed, clearing more than $16 million under the salary cap to pursue free agents, including veteran point guard Rajon Rondo.
The trade cannot become official until July 9, when the league moratorium on deals is lifted.
The Kings will receive the draft rights to overseas players in the deal, Sports Illustrated reported. The 76ers will also receive a protected first-round draft pick from the Kings and swap draft rights in two other drafts.
The additional salary cap space gives the Kings about $26 million to pursue free agents, with the main targets being Rondo, Monta Ellis and Wesley Matthews.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
It is believed that Rondo has no serious suitors besides the Kings. Ellis was in Indiana on Wednesday meeting with the Pacers, and Matthews has received serious interest from Toronto and Dallas.
Stauskas, the Kings’ first-round draft pick last year, averaged 4.4 points and shot 36.5 percent from the field.
Thompson leads the Kings’ Sacramento era in games played with 541. He’s been an off-and-on starter in his seven seasons, but he became expendable when the Kings drafted Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein.
Landry was in his second stint with the Kings after signing a four-year deal in 2013. He missed most of the 2013-14 season because of hip and knee injuries and is recovering from wrist surgery.
If and when Rondo visits Sacramento, Kings forward Rudy Gay said he won’t be leading the sales pitch, even though he considers Rondo a good friend.
“I’m not a recruiter, man,” Gay said. “That’s not me; that’s not me at all. I just have friends, and one person in particular just happens to be a really good friend of mine. And of course I would love to play with all my friends. I don’t think I have too many big men as friends to make a team. But if I could make a team of all my friends, it would be great.”
But that doesn’t mean Rondo’s number is blocked on his phone, either.
“I talk to him; he’s asked me questions,” Gay said. “I’ll answer questions. If he sits down to talk to me and he’s like, ‘Rudy, I want you to tell me what I should do,’ I still wouldn’t tell him what to do. I’d tell him my opinion, but all I can do is talk about the Sacramento Kings.”
The Kings are in good position to land the four-time All-Star. While some players might be turned off by the widely reported bickering between coach George Karl and All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins and a front office in transition, the Kings present Rondo with a chance to prove he is still elite.
It’s hard to ignore. But it’s the NBA, not everybody’s going to be happy, not everybody is going to get along. I just hate the fact that things have been publicized. That’s all I hate.
Rudy Gay, on trying to avoid getting involved in speculation
Interest in Rondo would have been largely unexpected a few months ago. His trade from Boston to Dallas didn’t go well for either player or team. Rondo clashed with Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and was suspended for a game. In the postseason, Rondo was told to stay away from the team.
The Los Angeles Lakers were expected to be a primary suitor, but they drafted guard D’Angelo Russell and have promising second-year guard Jordan Clarkson.
So while many players might shy from the Kings, the team could be what Rondo needs to showcase his skills and locker-room leadership.
It will be Rajon Rondo’s second full season since tearing his ACL, which means he could be closer physically to his Boston All-Star form.
It also will be Rondo’s second full season since tearing his ACL, which means he could be closer physically to his Boston All-Star form.
Gay was in Spain last week as part of an NBA publicity tour, but even outside the country he was exposed to the Cousins-Karl situation and his name being mentioned in trade talks. Gay, however, tried to avoid involving himself in the speculation.
“I tried not to, I tried not to as much as possible,” Gay said. “It’s hard to ignore. But it’s the NBA, not everybody’s going to be happy, not everybody is going to get along. I just hate the fact that things have been publicized. That’s all I hate.”
The rumors even infiltrated Gay’s basketball camp in Rocklin. The youngsters want to know what’s going on with the Kings, which Gay found amusing.
“These kids are actually very knowledgeable about what’s going on in Sacramento,” Gay said. “It’s been real good.”
Gay attended the predraft workout for Cauley-Stein and believes the rookie can help the Kings.
“He’s tall, athletic and can block shots,” Gay said. “Obviously, he brings us something that we need: frontcourt depth. And, defensively, he’s good. Offensively, I don’t think he’s turned into the player he wants to be, but if he keeps working, he will.”
After drafting Cauley-Stein last week, Vlade Divac, vice president of basketball and franchise operations, said Gay would will play a lot more power forward this season for Karl, who favors smaller, faster lineups.
The last time a team told Gay he’d be a power forward was in 2013 with Toronto. Gay spent that summer bulking up, something he’d later regret as it negatively affected his play.
“I’ve gotten smarter,” Gay said. “I know how to prepare now. In Toronto, I kind of over- prepared, but I think I understand more how to do it now.
“I always go pretty heavy on the weights in the summer, but as far as power cleaning, I don’t think I’ll be doing that anytime soon.”