Which star should the Kings trade for?
Behind three doors stand Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Zach LaVine. Each player is excellent in their own right but offers a very different set of skills. So which one can turn the Kings into contenders?
Door 1: Pascal Siakam
Pascal Siakam is the most accomplished player of the trio. He has made an All-NBA team, was a vital part of an NBA Finals-winning team, and is an excellent two-way player capable of on-ball creation, an extremely rare distinction. While Siakam is undoubtedly the best player of the three, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is the best fit for the Kings.
Siakam is the oldest of the three, is in the last year of his deal, and his best offensive attributes require him to have the ball in his hands. The Kings' two entrenched stars, De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, are 27 and 25 and provide most of their value on offense with the ball in their hands. While Siakam’s defense would be an upgrade for the Kings, much of what makes him a great player would be muted on the Kings.
Door 2: OG Anunoby
OG Anunoby is one of the best 3-and-D wings in the world and fits exactly what the Kings need. Built around Fox and Sabonis, the Kings need their role players to defend and shoot threes, and Anunoby is excellent at both. However, landing him would be an incredible risk.
Anunoby’s small salary of $18.6 million makes him easily attainable, and his skillset fits into just about every roster. The combination of basketball fit and attainability makes Onunoby one of the most desirable players in the league. Landing him will come at an exorbitant price in draft picks, and then there’s the reality of his contract situation.
Due to Anunoby’s sub-$20 million salary, he has little incentive to sign an extension because he’ll be in line to make far more money in restricted free agency. The Kings trading for him, all but guarantees they’ll have to lavish him with a massive contract, and even then, he could sign elsewhere.
Door 3: Zach LaVine
Zach LaVine is the best scorer of the three and is under contract for the longest, but there’s a real argument he is the worst fit. LaVine’s $40 million salary this season will require the Kings to send out at least three core players, and while a star triumvirate of Fox, Sabonis, and LaVine would light up the scoreboard, it would be a minor miracle for that roster to have a functional defense.
The asset cost to land LaVine may be less than Siakam and Anunoby, but he’ll require an exodus of players and doesn’t solve any of the Kings’ most pressing problems. While he cannot leave in free agency for at least two more seasons, the move will likely not vault the Kings into a championship contender.
Door 4: Wait
The Sacramento Kings don’t have to trade for Siakam, Anunoby, or LaVine. They’re 8-5, still have tradable contracts and assets, and their core duo of Sabonis and Fox are both under contract through 2025-26 and will be in their prime for years to come. Charania’s report doesn’t link the Kings to any one player. It just states their desire and capability to swing a move to vault them into the championship picture.
The Kings’ decision to trade Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield to the Indiana Pacers for Domantas Sabonis laid the foundation of the team they are today. Haliburton has blossomed into a star in Indiana, but the pair of Fox and Sabonis is a far better basketball pairing than Fox and Haliburton were. Landing Sabonis is how they broke their NBA record 16-year-long playoff drought, and adding another star could end their NBA record Finals appearance and championship droughts of 72 seasons, spanning five different cities. But, just like with Sabonis, it has to be the right star.