One somewhat surprising team that has continued to pop up in Sixers’ trade conversations for Ben Simmons has been the Sacramento Kings. While no one on the Kings likely cracks the mysterious top 25 list that Daryl Morey has locked in for Simmons’ value, there are several talented young players that the Sixers should consider.
Given the continued development of Joel Embiid and the “win-now” stage of his career that he is currently in, it may be time to put the patient approach to rest and explore some more trade options. The Kings are absolutely a team that could fit this description.
The Kings currently sit in 11th place in the Western Conference with a record of 16-25. It is fair for the Kings to want to shift gears as a franchise as they have not had a winning record since the 2006 season. In search of a star to build around, you can see why the Kings would target Ben Simmons as a potential low-risk, high-reward trade target. Shipping Simmons off to California is seemingly what he has hoped for from the beginning, but could Sacramento reach Morey’s stringent demands?
Potential Main Pieces
From the Sixers ‘ perspective, the most intriguing player on the Kings roster has to be Tyrese Haliburton. The 6’5 guard would check a lot of the boxes that are currently left empty due to the absence of Ben Simmons. The Iowa State product is averaging 13.6 points, 6.8 assists, and 4 rebounds during his 33.9 minutes of play this year. Perhaps most intriguing, Haliburton has shot over 40% from beyond the arc both seasons he has been a pro. So far this season, he is connecting at a 44.5% rate on 4.7 attempts per game.
Aside from the fact that having both guards named Tyrese would be awesome, Haliburton would be a very good compliment to Maxey’s lighting quick pace. The playmaking that the current Kings guard would bring to the Sixers would help the offense move more fluently and take some responsibility off the plate of Maxey. He may not be the star-caliber wing that Morey has envisioned. Still, he would help build a well-balanced team to surround Joel Embiid, which must be Morey’s main focus.
On the negative side of things, Haliburton is still in the beginnings of his career trajectory. Both Maxey and Haliburton are 21-years-old and have a great deal of development still to do. While this move would likely set the Sixers up well for life after Embiid, it wouldn’t quite be the win-now move to build a championship roster around their superstar.
De’Aaron Fox is a very fun player to watch play but would look a little repetitive alongside Tyrese Maxey. Both are former Kentucky guards with lightning-quick pace and thrive when attacking downhill. Pairing the two would create an electric backcourt and solve the pace issues which have plagued the Sixers. While there is an appeal to pairing the thunder of Joel Embiid with the lighting of a fast-paced backcourt, the shooting issues may prove to be too big of a gamble.
At 24-years-old, Fox is more in the win-now category, but he is not a clean fit with the Sixers. Fox is a more willing shooter, but his efficiency has been the biggest hole in his game since coming to the NBA. Through his 5-year career, Fox has shot 31.5% on 3.4 three-point attempts per game. His numbers have been especially disappointing this season as he is connecting at just a 24.8% rate on his three-pointers.
Similar to Simmons, Fox is a guy who is still very productive despite the shooting deficiencies. He is averaging 21.1 points, 5.2 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game on the year. Fox would absolutely make the Sixers a better team, but it is hard to feel confident he is the guy to push the Sixers over the edge. It is also worrisome that the Kings seem to have realized that he cannot serve as a lead guard on a successful team.
Potential Complementary Pieces
It is painful to watch Buddy Hield waste away in Sacramento. The 29-year-old is one of the most willing shooters in the NBA and is a career 40.2% three-point shooter. So far this year, Steph Curry is the only player who has made more three-pointers than Hield, as he has knocked down a total of 147. To put this in perspective, that is almost double the Sixers leading shooter as Seth Curry leads the team in three-pointers made with 78 so far this year.
While adding a sniper of Hield’s caliber would be great, he is far from a guy that should be targeted as a centerpiece in a trade for Ben Simmons. There is some appeal to searching for a trade built around Tobias Harris, but it would be surprising if the Kings would be excited about this. Hield would be a welcomed addition to the Sixers if there was a way to make it work, but it seems incredibly unlikely that Morey would consider him a significant building block of a trade.
Harrison Barnes is a 6’8 wing who can also play power forward. So far this season, he is averaging 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 33.4 minutes per game. He also is shooting 41.8% on three-pointers while launching 4.9 attempts per game. Barnes is very capable of being a solid contributor on a contending team, as proven by the 2015 NBA championship he won with the Golden State Warriors.
Unless Tobias Harris is traded, it doesn’t make any sense to trade for Harrison Barnes. Both play the same position in a similar fashion, and while Barnes could be an upgrade in his fit, Harris is likely the better overall player. If Harris is sent away in a trade Barnes would be a great replacement, but adding him to the Sixers roster while Harris is still here could create more problems than solutions.
The Kings have a ton of solid pieces that are appealing, but it is tough to identify a deal that makes sense for both sides. In all likelihood, it would take another team(or more) getting involved for the right trade to come together. If this multi-team deal manifests itself, the Kings absolutely have some quality players that would improve their roster. The biggest positive takeaway is how other teams are beginning to appear more urgent in their desire to make a trade.
While the Simmons situation has remained the same, the situation with the Sixers continues to change. The biggest factor in this has been the continued development of Joel Embiid and the obvious realization that it would be managerial malpractice to not put a complete team around him.
Embiid has somehow managed to improve following his MVP runner-up season, and the time for him to win is now. Shifting the focus from purely targeting top-tier stars and prioritizing building the most complete team must be the shift as the Sixers cannot afford to let the Simmons issue linger to the offseason.