by Charlie O. Mallonee
Reports have been flying all week long that George Hill was on his way to Cleveland with the Cavaliers sending Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye to Sacramento in deal to be done before the February 8th trade deadline. Some reports have stated the Cavs were willing to sweeten the deal with a second-round draft pick.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com now says those reports may be premature. In a report posted today, Vardon wrote:
The Cavaliers and Kings are further apart on a trade for George Hill than it first appeared, sources told cleveland.com, with significant hurdles toward a potential deal remaining.
One source told cleveland.com that the two sides were speaking “conceptually” about Hill and were never close; another said the Cavs sought to change the parameters of a potential trade.
Conceptually, at least, the Cavs would get Hill from the Kings and send Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert to Sacramento. Derrick Rose could also have been involved and perhaps a future second-round draft pick.
Frye and Rose would probably be candidates to be bought out of their expiring contracts. Shumpert has a player option worth $11-million for the 2018-19 season. Shumpert has seen limited action this season after having arthroscopic surgery for a left knee effusion which increases the chances he would exercise that option.
Sacramento would like to off-load Hill’s contract
The Kings signed Hill thinking they would need his experience at point guard until De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason III were ready to take over the job of running the offense. Fox and Mason surprised everyone by playing at a high level much faster than anyone anticipated they would be able to achieve in their rookie seasons.
Then came the surprise package named Bogdan Bogdanovic. When Sacramento obtained the rights to Euro player, they knew he was a potential scoring machine. When Bogdanovic arrived in Sacramento, the Kings discovered he was a playmaker who can shoot the ball in a very dynamic manor.
The accelerated development of Hill and Mason plus the surprise talents of Bogdanovic made George Hill a very expensive piece of insurance that they no longer needed. Off-loading his potential $59-million contract has become a priority for Sacramento who can use the cap space.
Fallout of moving Hill
Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson could become collateral damage as the Kings try to move Hill and his salary off their books. Sacramento already has the NBA 15 maximum guaranteed contracts committed to players on their roster. That means someone has to be moved if a player has to kept on the roster as result of a trade involving Hill.
Reports are circulating that the Kings have made second-year players Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson available for possible trades in order to make room on the roster for players like Iman Shumpert.
The availability of Richardson is not that surprising because he fell behind due to injury in his rookie year and the Kings now have a glut of guards that he has not been able to break through in order stand out this season. The availability of Labissiere is a different story.
Many observers felt that Labissiere was the steal of the 2016 draft at number 28 in the first-round. He is having a bit of a sophomore slump but he would still seem to have a real potential upside as a developing playing at just 21-years old. Moving Labissiere feels like one of those moves that a team would regret for years to come in the future.
Kings want to move Hill but they need a return
Sacramento definitely wants to unload George Hill and his large contract. If the team does not need his experience, that big salary is an unneeded expense, but they cannot let a talent like Hill go without getting some value in return.
The Kings must get some basketball talent or draft picks that they can put to use in a deal for Hill or the transaction becomes very one-sided. Yes, Sacramento needs the cap space but that cannot be the only goal in a trade for Hill.
Yes, it is a complicated situation. Welcome to making trades in the NBA.