The Sacramento Kings signed Buddy Hield to a four-year contract extension last October, but another sign that the ex-Oklahoma star wants out early dropped Friday via Jason Jones of The Athletic, who said that the guard is not returning head coach Luke Walton's phone calls.
"According to league sources, Hield has soured on Walton to the point he will not answer his coach’s phone calls," Jones said. "Messages to Hield’s agent, Brandon Rosenthal, and Walton were not returned."
Hield signed a four-year, $86 million contract extension (up to $106 million with incentives) on Oct. 21, 2019, per Sam Amick of The Athletic. However, trade speculation has surfaced surrounding Hield, who has stoked those fires on social media.
The disgruntled Sacramento Kings sharpshooter has been sending hints since February that he wouldn't mind a change of scenery, and that he might be interested in relocating to Philadelphia.
His latest breadcrumb came Thursday night, when Hield liked a tweet from SportsCenter reporting that the Sixers were hiring Doc Rivers as the team's new head coach:
Buddy approves of the hire? Well then, mission accomplished. Start working those phones, Elton.
This isn't the first time that Hield himself has fueled rumor chatter. He liked an Instagram post earlier this year with a hypothetical trade moving him to Philly.
Hield, 27, averaged 19.2 points on 42.9 percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 30.8 minutes per game. Walton removed Hield from the starting lineup for portions of the season, and he finished the year starting just 44 of 72 games.
Hield expressed his frustrations with the team midseason and did so after being benched for most of the fourth quarter and overtime of a 105-104 double OT loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves last December, per Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee.
"I don't know," Hield said when asked about how the team was coming together. "Seems like we're all over the place—coaches and everybody. Trust issues going on, I guess. Guys stop believing in players. It is what it is. They have who they have playing out there, and I just have to be supportive."
Hield added: "I like to be on the court. That's why I'm on the court, right? I want to make plays, make shots. I feel like I wasn't trusted the past two games to be on the court."
Sam Amick, Jason Jones and Shams Charania of The Athletic did a deep dive into the Kings' dysfunction in February, and there was a section on Hield's reported displeasure:
"If Hield remains displeased with his role, a source with knowledge of his thinking said he might request a trade. He believes he is a starter in the NBA and there's no guarantee he'll get that job back, given how the team has played lately. And unlike last season, when he never criticized [Dave] Joerger publicly and even refrained from doing so after their well-chronicled January 2019 run-in at Golden State, Hield has shown a willingness to criticize Walton that has proved at times problematic."
Almost nothing has worked for Sacramento during a 14-year stretch in which the team has failed to make the playoffs despite featuring some star talent over the years (e.g., DeMarcus Cousins).
The Kings clearly viewed Hield as a core piece of their future following his extension, and Hield, who is capable of scoring 20-plus points per night, can be a key piece for a winning organization.
But the Kings may be best served by parting ways with the disgruntled star, hoping for better cohesion and luck in the future.
Of note, injuries took their toll on Sacramento during the 2019-20 campaign, and the team finished 31-41. Leading scorer and point guard De'Aaron Fox missed 21 contests, and Marvin Bagley, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft, suited up for only 13.
Sacramento is also beginning fresh behind chief strategy officer Joe Dumars and general manager Monte McNair after Vlade Divac stepped down as vice president of basketball operations and GM in August.
Ultimately, seeing Hield in another uniform before next season appears to be likely.