The Athletic’s Sam Amick joins Michael Scotto on the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast. The pair discuss potential trade scenarios for the Sacramento Kings involving Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley, Buddy Hield, and Nemanja Bjelica. Plus, a look at Luke Walton’s coaching future and the upcoming free agency of Richaun Holmes. Listen to the podcast above or check out some snippets of the conversation in a transcribed version below.
2:08 What does Luke Walton need to do to keep his job through the season and beyond?
Amick: The Kings have been battered economically by the pandemic. It’s in the neighborhood of $100 million that they’re projected to lose, so they’re not in the mood to cut a check to Luke Walton for what would by the next two years, $11.5 million. A lot of that is going into the fact that he’s still got a job.
7:34 If making the playoffs is a mandate from Kings management or ownership
Amick: I don’t know that they care. And that’s what their fans don’t want to hear. Going into this season, it’s funny for me because I felt like it was their dirty little secret going into the year… I know the fans are tired because they haven’t been in the playoffs since 2006. It’s the longest playoff drought in the NBA, but this new GM, Monte McNair, is looking at this thing from 2020 and beyond.
The truth is it feels like a soft tank. They have their first-round pick for this year and the tougher second half they have, the better off that pick is going to be.
10:22 What’s Sacramento’s view on Marvin Bagley? Is he part of the long-term core?
Amick: If he continues to develop, improve, and if they never came across a trade offer that blew their socks off, then I think they’d be more than happy to almost re-welcome him back into the core. I don’t think he’s part of it right now. I feel like they’re in wait-and-see mode with Marvin.
The stuff with his dad has not helped. It sends a strong message that even though Marvin hasn’t said it publicly, he’s never denounced what his father said. To be honest, it’s really awkward and uncomfortable. Marvin’s not a kid, but he’s a very young man, and that’s his father, so those dynamics are sensitive, but the bottom line is it sends the wrong message about his part in the Kings’ future. The flipside of that is the Kings have been open to talking about Marvin. My understanding is the offers have been just nothing to write home about at all. I’ve talked to other executives about this, Marvin’s owed $11 million for next year, and I think it’s a $14 million qualifying offer as he goes into restricted free agency. That’s the problem with being that high of a pick.
14:53 Will Harrison Barnes be traded at the deadline?
Amick: I’m probably slowly shifting over to the opinion I’d be surprised if Harrison was back. We’ve got 15 days left before the deadline. This is not the time to show your hand as an executive. I think as the Kings get closer, the level of urgency is going to elevate. Harrison in particular, looking at him and the Celtics’ situation, I find it really interesting. I think he checks a lot of boxes for Boston. For the Celtics, his timeline on his contract I think is a major factor because he lines up with Kemba Walker, and it gives the Celtics a way to upgrade the roster now and try as best they can to stay up there among the Eastern Conference elite if they can get back there, but not compromise the future. The way their contracts are lined up, you could have Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown getting closer to their free agency in 2024 and 2025 while having an open payroll for the 2023 free agency class. You’re talking Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Kristaps Porzingis, Bradley Beal. It’s pretty loaded.
20:21 Buddy Hield’s future in Sacramento and if he’s part of the long-term core
Amick: I think the short answer is no. It’s not an indictment of Buddy’s ability to put together a long and productive career, but the Kings appear to be hyper-focused on the age factor. For that reason alone, Buddy doesn’t fit that timeline.
I also don’t think he’s going anywhere by this deadline because he’s got three years left after this one on his contract. I’m not hearing any real loud noise about anybody coming hard for Buddy. Philly is the team that was always mentioned. We all know they’ve been trying hard to surround Embiid and Ben Simmons with shooting.
22:46 Where Nemanja Bjelica could land by the trade deadline
Scotto: My sense would be if they can get some type of draft compensation like a second-round pick and no long-term salary past this year, that would be ideal.
Amick: The Clippers were big on Bjelica last year. I was told that’s not the case anymore. The Warriors like him a little bit, but I don’t think it’s any sort of intense thing. The Celtics, Pacers, and Bucks are a few other teams I’ve heard tied to Bjelica.
25:32 Richaun Holmes’ free agency future
Scotto: In getting an early gauge of his value, this is a guy making $5 million and come free agency with the way he’s playing, averaging 13 or 14 points, eight rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game as one of the top field goal shooters, he could end up as a guy who either doubles or triples that salary on an average annual basis.
Amick: Organizationally, they’re so big and so positive on him, you feel like he’s part of the future. But you’ve got to look at the economics of it. I feel like there’s a chance, and this is just me talking not based on anything the team has told me, but I feel like if I’m in their shoes, I’ve got to think about moving him. As good as he is – and I like him a lot, his competitive spirit is off the charts, great leadership, locker room, and culture guy, plays both ends of the floor, defends his butt off – that contract he might be looking at this summer is a potentially very Kings-esque contract where you end up paying too much for a guy and kind of put a ceiling on your overall plan for how good you can be.
Richaun is an impact player that can help a playoff team this year and be a difference-maker.
You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto