NBA Rumors: Rounding Up Latest Trade, 2020 Draft and Free-Agent Chatter

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2020

Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield (24) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Dallas. Dallas won 130-111. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
Brandon Wade/Associated Press

The NBA playoffs might be only starting to heat up, but Thursday's 2020 draft lottery is a reminder that the majority of the league is already deep into laying out its plans for the offseason.

The Sacramento Kings, for example, need to hire a new general manager and assistant general manager following the departures of Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic. That leaves interim executive vice president of basketball operations Joe Dumars in charge for the time being.

While some will argue Divac deserved to go, his replacement might have a difficult time cleaning up the mess from a disappointing 2019-20 season.

The Kings factor heavily into this journey through the NBA rumor mill ahead of the lottery.


Kings Might Attempt to Move Hield

Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Buddy Hield's four-year, $94 million extension doesn't go into effect until next season, and it might already be shaping up to be an overpay.

Hield's scoring average fell from 20.7 to 19.2, while his 39.4 percent clip from beyond the arc is a clear step backward from the last two years (43.1 percent in 2017-18 and 42.7 percent in 2018-19). The way in which head coach Luke Walton used him was puzzling, too.

One qualm with giving Hield a big extension is that he's already 27. Brandon Ingram was in the same draft class, and he'll only be 23 on Sept. 2.

His on-court value might not get much higher than it is now, and that's important for the purposes of a possible trade. As much as Hield's contract might look a tad unwieldy now, the perception may not improve going forward.

The Sacramento Bee's Jason Anderson talked to an NBA executive who thinks Sacramento could shop Hield around the league.

The same executive went on to say Bogdan Bogdanovic would be a better long-term investment for the Kings in comparison to Hield: "I would rather spend my money on Bogdanovic. He's smarter and he's a better fit with Fox. Fox is getting better. He's not there yet, but he's going to be a hell of a player."

ESPN's Tim Bontemps tried to glean what kind of deal Bogdanovic could command in free agency.

According to Bontemps, the 28-year-old's value would typically project out to around $15 million annually, but the potential repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic make the number difficult to pin down.

Sorting out Bogdanovic's future will be one of the top priorities for Divac's successor, and gauging the market on Hield might have to be on the table as well.


Might a Contending Team Pursue Pistons Breakout Star?

This year's free-agency period probably won't shift the balance of power in the NBA.

Most of the top free agents are either restricted or have a player option that will be tough to turn down in the present financial climate. Few teams are even projected to have the kind of salary-cap space that will allow them to swing a big deal or two.

That makes Christian Wood a bit of a wild card.

The Detroit Pistons forward enjoyed a career year, averaging 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 56.7 percent from the floor and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc. He picked a great time for it as he approaches unrestricted free-agent status.

The Athletic's James L. Edwards III wrote that Detroit's front office "appear[s] to have continued interest in Wood" but floated the idea of a possible sign-and-trade.

According to Edwards, the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets had interest in acquiring Wood prior to the February trade deadline. Neither team will have the cap space to sign the 24-year-old outright, but one team could make the numbers work by sending one or more players to Detroit. 

The Pistons, meanwhile, would probably get a nice draft pick in what amounts to a salary dump from their end.


NBA Planning for Virtual Draft Combine

Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

The pandemic makes a traditional NBA scouting combine impossible.

In its place, the league is working on a plan in which players would train at a regional combine and have video of their workouts distributed to individual teams, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:

"It is unlikely that many, if any, top 2020 draft prospects would agree to the workout sessions that would be shared virtually with the league's teams from the combine sites. But there will be an opportunity for players who want to be evaluated in a limited combine workout environment to do so for NBA teams, sources said."

Although this is the best approach under the circumstances, those likely near the top of draft boards probably don't have that much to gain.

Getting to see a player in person is one advantage of individual workouts and the combine. He might play faster or slower than he appears on the game tape. Perhaps he does something subtle that's only visible when evaluating him up close.

None of that would translate through a video of his combine performance.