The Sacramento Kings have been searching for ways to clear salary-cap space, and they achieved that goal late Wednesday night by trading Jason Thompson, Carl Landry and Nik Stauskas to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the rights to yet-to-be-identified international prospects.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski passed along word of the deal:
President of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac provided a statement in the Kings' trade announcement:
Jason, Carl and Nik are all tremendous professionals and we’re grateful for their contributions. Jason leaves an indelible mark in Sacramento as the team’s alltime leader in games played, but he was also a champion in the community. Carl and Nik were well regarded as teammates and respected stewards of the organization during their time as Kings. We wish them all great success in the future.
Grantland's Zach Lowe reports the Sixers also received a serious sweetener from Sacramento in the form of a top-10 protected pick that can be credited to the Sixers once the Kings pay out the top-10 protected pick they owe the Chicago Bulls. Lowe reiterated that the prospect being shipped from Philadelphia to Sacramento is not 2014 No. 12 overall pick Dario Saric, who is currently stashed overseas for at least one more season.
And that's not all, per Lowe:
According to Wojnarowski, the available cap space will allow the Kings to become bigger players with free agency underway:
Sacramento has been linked to point guard Rajon Rondo, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, and the team now has upward of $20 million to spend, per former Brooklyn Nets cap guru Bobby Marks:
Stein also notes the Kings could be after a volume scorer to fortify their backcourt, while Wojnarowski connected them to shooting guard Wesley Matthews:
As for the Sixers, taking on the salaries of Thompson and Landry was essentially the price they paid in order to acquire Stauskas, who was selected at No. 8 overall in the 2014 draft, and the future draft picks.
According to Basketball Insiders, Thompson and Landry have fully guaranteed contracts for $6.4 and $6.5 million, respectively, next season. Landry is due another $6.5 million for the 2016-17 season, while Thompson's $6.8 million salary for the 2016-17 campaign is non-guaranteed.
Tom Moore of Calkins Media Group reported the Sixers had no intention of waiving either Landry or Thompson.
Stauskas thanked the Kings shortly after the trade was reported:
Thompson had spent his entire career with the Kings. They drafted him with the 12th overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft and immediately thrust him into a prominent role. He played nearly 30 minutes per game over his first two seasons.
His role faded over time, however, as he failed to demonstrate notable progression. He posted career-low marks in both points per game and shooting percentage this past season while averaging just 5.3 shot attempts.
In January, Thompson explained to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee that he was simply doing whatever he could to help the team, even though it wasn't always an easy task:
It's a little different. We've got a lot of guys that demand the ball a lot, so for me, taking the role of defending the other team's best big, whether it's a four or a five (center), it's a little tougher than it's been in years past, but you just kind of want to have an effect on the game.
Some of the things I do might not show up on the stat sheet, but you just try to do all the little things to get your team a victory.
Getting a fresh start may be the best thing for him at this point.
While it may take some time following the move before he settles into a consistent role, Thompson should get a fresh slate to prove himself with the talent-bereft Sixers. He's not going to become a high-end producer, but he can become a reliable, durable member of the rotation, especially if Joel Embiid misses more time with his ongoing right foot issues.
After being uncharacteristically quiet on draft night and during the early hours of free agency, the Sixers finally made the kind of move they've become known for.
With room to absorb Sacramento's unwanted salaries, the Sixers have afforded themselves a chance to cultivate Stauskas' on- and off-ball scoring prowess in a system that should be friendlier to letting him work out developmental kinks.