What Next for the Sacramento Kings?

Sean CottenCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2008

After months spinning ideas through ESPN's Trade Machine, my latest idea showed up on the news wires yesterday: "Mike Bibby to the Hawks for leftovers and a Cherry Coke".

Nice!  Someone out there is sitting on the other side of the internet, jotting down my thoughts and forwarding them to Geoff Petrie when they make the most sense (or cents, depending on your perspective).

I'm not kidding when I say that the exact trade (as well as a version that included Josh Childress instead of Shelden Williams) was in my Trade Machine as recently as last Thursday.  While others have been considering the Cavs and Heat, I have been considering cap space and a team with a real need for a point guard.

As much as I loved the daggers Bibby gave the Lakers in the 2002 playoffs, his contract was extremely unjustified.  It was the Maloof's last-ditch effort to hold together a team that was reaching the end of its useful life.  First they gave Webber max money (which the 76ers are still paying), then it was Bibby's turn and they felt obligated to outbid themselves for his services when Bobby Jackson would have been 90 percent of the player for half the price. Sorry, I digress.

Now that Bibby is in the ATL, I wonder what Geoff Petrie can do for an encore. Rather than hoping for the Trade Machine fairy to pass along my note, I thought I'd use the Bleacher Report grand opening to toss out some (reasonable) suggestions.

First, the assumption is that Ron Artest should be the next man out of town.  I beg to differ. I have been arguing for the Kings to keep Artest since the rumors starting flying last season. Now, with Artest's player option at the end of the year, good business becomes an additional argument for keeping Artest.

Let's get over Artest's history already.  While Stephen Jackson is getting MVP credit and Nate Robinson is on every GM's wish list, Artest remains the guy no one will touch.  I am convinced that his history will keep his price tag way under his value, which is quite rare considering the money we've seen thrown at Rashard Lewis and others without half the iron that Artest has in his tool box.

Here are the Kings' general options with Artest:

  1. Keep Artest and he opts out.  If Artest opts out of his contract at the end of the year, he frees over $8 million in cap space.  Based on the Bibby deal, it's cap space that Petrie's after at this point.
  2. Keep Artest and he opts in.  If he takes the one-year player option, you have a top-tier 27-year old player on an $8 million expiring contract next season. Not to mention 20 points and 38 minutes of lock-down defense each night at the SF position and back-stage passes to the TruWarier concerts. 
  3. Deal Artest alone. If you deal Artest by himself, the best you can hope for is an expiring deal and a first-rounder. But anyone willing to risk that trade (Denver or San Antonio) is going to give you a draft pick in the mid- to late-20s.  Those types of picks rarely have an impact and cost you $2 million a year for at least two years.
  4. Deal Artest and bad contracts. A fourth option includes ridding the Kings of Kenny Thomas awful contract. However, this likely means taking on a player another team doesn't want.  Plus, it's unlikely the Kings get expiring (or even reasonable) contracts to cover the $15 million these two "earn".

I would prefer option 2 (without the passes), then 4, 1 and 3 in that order.  In other words, shipping Ron Ron without a side of garbage contract is not a good idea on the court or the bottom line.

The King's second movable player, whom they would be willing to part with, is Brad Miller.  He of the new found penchant for rebounding (11 per game in 2008).

  1. The Miami Heat don't have a legitimate center left on their roster.  Would they be interested in a Jason Williams and Daequan Cook for Brad Miller deal?
  2. How about the Raptors, they need some rebounding and interior passing help for Chris Bosh.  A deal for Rasho Nesterovich and Darrick Martin's expiring deals plus Jamario Moon works out.  Of course if the Raps want to part with Jose Calderon, I'm all for that too!
  3. Finally, if the Spurs are considering Ron Artest, can't Petrie coerce them into a deal that looks much better to their fan base? For example, wouldn't a deal for Brent Barry and Fracisco Elson's expiring deals, plus their first rounder for Miller be a perfect reaction to the Lakers and Suns deals? Wouldn't Popovich love to have an unbalanced trade of his own in the wake of his Gasol outburst?

Ok.  Now I've said it to the masses.  The Kings as I know (or sort of know given the current roster) and love need to pick a side of the fence.  Rebuilding right now seems better than playing playoff roulette with the Suns, Spurs, Jazz, Mavs, Lakers, Hornets, Nuggets, Warriors and Rockets... wait, you mean one of those teams isn't making the playoffs?

Yeah, like I said. Time to move to the sidelines and rebuild full bore.