After six years, Kings almost free from shackles of Hickson trade

After six years, Kings almost free from shackles of Hickson trade

Rarely does an NBA trade hang over the head of franchise like the J.J. Hickson deal. In June of 2011, the Sacramento Kings sent Omri Casspi and a protected pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Hickson. Hickson didn’t even make it through the 2011-12 NBA season before being waived, but the protected pick has followed the Kings like a dark shadow ever since.

At first glance, it didn’t look like a bad deal. Hickson was an up and coming 22-year-old big ready to break out. Casspi was a young role player and the protections on the pick kept it out of the Cavs hands as long as the Kings weren’t a playoff team.

The hope was that Hickson, along with young cornerstones Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, would help deliver the Kings back to the postseason after a year or two together.

Years later, the Kings are still searching for the magic pill to catapult them back to the playoffs and that pick is finally going away.

Per the original deal, the first round selection was protected for picks 1-14 in 2012, 1-13 in 2013, 1-12 in 2014 and 1-10 in 2015, 2016 and 2017. If the pick was not conveyed during 2017, it instantly became a 2017 second round selection, completing the transaction.

Six years the pick has hampered the Kings’ ability to make moves. Due to the NBA’s “Stepien Rule,” team’s aren’t allowed to trade back-to-back picks. With it unknown whether Sacramento would have the rights to their selection in 2012-2017, they weren’t able to use picks as assets in deals until 2019 (the 2019 pick is a story for another day).  

Hickson, still just 28-years-old, is out of the league and playing in China. He never reached his potential, spending time in Portland, Denver and Washington before exiting the NBA. He played in just 35 games in a Kings uniform during the 2011-12 season. When it was clear the team had no takers at the trade deadline, Sacramento bit the bullet and waived him.  

Casspi went on to play two seasons in Cleveland and a year in Houston before returning to Sacramento for the previous three seasons. He was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans during All-Star weekend, along with Cousins, but broke a thumb in his first game. He was waived and then signed by the Minnesota Timberwolves where he completed the 2016-17 season.

With the Kings finishing at 32-50, the NBA’s eighth worst record this season, the statistical probability of three teams jumping past them into the top three selections in the draft is nearly impossible.

If they avoid falling out of the top 10, as expected, they will send their 2017 second round selection to the Chicago Bulls (who received the Kings pick via trade in 2014), ending one of the longest running transactions in recent memory.

Three general managers, six different head coaches, an ownership change and a new arena have all happened in Sacramento since the Hickson/Casspi trade. Barring a catastrophe May 16 during the draft lottery, this deal will finally be put to rest.

 

Former Kings PG Jason Williams injured in BIG3’s inaugural game

Former Kings PG Jason Williams injured in BIG3’s inaugural game

NEW YORK -- Basketball's newest league started with a game-winning basket and an injured former NBA player.

Rashard Lewis made a three-point play with his team facing game point Sunday in the opening game of the Big3, the 3-on-3 basketball league co-founded by Ice Cube.

Jason Williams, the flashy point guard nicknamed "White Chocolate," went down with a right leg injury late in the game. His 3 Headed Monsters blew the late once he went out and were a point away from losing, but Lewis made his basket and free throw to edge the Ghost Ballers, 62-60.

The games are played to 60 points but teams have to win by two, so the Ghost Ballers couldn't quite get there when they went ahead 60-59.

Lewis scored 27 points and former No. 1 pick Kwame Brown had 17 points and 13 rebounds for the 3 Headed Monsters. Ricky Davis led the Ghost Ballers with 23 points.

Cube vowed the games would be competitive - players are vying for a revenue share based on final league standings - and there was a possession early when players on both teams dived on the floor for a loose ball. There was pushing and shoving in the post and a few hard fouls, and the trash talk appeared to heat up as the game went on.

The quality of play wasn't the strongest, but Barclays Center in Brooklyn had a good crowd for the first of four games on the day. Allen Iverson, the former NBA MVP who is the marquee attraction in the league, was scheduled to play in the third game.

The eight-team league will play on 10 weekends, culminating with the Aug. 26 championship in Las Vegas. Games are shown on Monday nights on Fox Sports 1.

How the four Kings rookies fit in heading into 2017-18 season

How the four Kings rookies fit in heading into 2017-18 season

SACRAMENTO - The Sacramento Kings swung for the fences during the NBA Draft Thursday night. They filled holes, took a gamble and might have even come away with a steal or two in their four selections. There are major roster questions that still have to be answered in free agency or through trade, but here is a look at how the new faces fit into the current situation in Sacramento.

De’Aaron Fox, point guard, University of Kentucky
Sacramento let it be known early that Fox was a target. The speedy point guard put on a show in his lone season in Kentucky, averaging 16.7 points, 4.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 29.6 minutes per game. He’ll need to improve his 3-point shooting (24.6 percent) to keep defenses from sagging off and clogging his running lanes, but his mechanics are sound.

According to Vlade Divac, “De’Aaron is our future.” Whether the team will look to add a veteran presence is still in question. Veterans Darren Collison and Ty Lawson have spoken about their willingness to return as a mentor, but Fox is expected to play major minutes in his rookie season as the Kings look to turn up the tempo.

Fox is a big time athlete with great size for the position. Standing a little over 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-6.5 wingspan, the left handed point guard projects well on both ends of the floor. He’ll need to add weight to his 170-pound frame, but the Kings have a strong strength and conditioning team that has been working overtime all summer building on last season’s draft class.

With both Collison and Lawson entering free agency unrestricted, Fox is likely the Kings starter on Day 1.

Justin Jackson, small forward, University of North Carolina
Jackson tested the draft waters a year ago and decided to return to the Tar Heels for one more season. The gamble paid off as Jackson and his North Carolina teammates rolled through the NCAA tournament and were crowned champs.

In addition to winning it all, Jackson showed major improvement in his junior year under Roy Williams. The 22-year-old wing posted 18.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 32.2 minutes per game. Jackson’s biggest improvement came as a perimeter shooter where he converted 36.8 percent of his 3-point shots, compared to just 29.2 percent as a sophomore.

Like Fox, Jackson needs to add strength and weight to compete in the NBA for 82 games a season. He is a wiry athlete that stands 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, but he weighed in at just 201 at the Draft combine (up from his 192 a season ago).

As of today, Jackson is the only true small forward on the Kings roster. They have options in Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson, but they will likely address the position in free agency or through trade. Jackson will play minutes as a rookie, but how many will be determined by how quickly he can adjust to the NBA level. He’s a mature scorer and he has defensive potential, but he will likely begin his career in a reserve role, at least initially.

Harry Giles, power forward/center, Duke University
There was a time when Giles ranked amongst the very best of high school player in the country. A series of bad breaks led Giles to tumble down the draft board where the Kings were more than willing to gamble at the 20th selection.

You can take his numbers at Duke and throw them out the window, he was never truly healthy in his time with Coach K. Standing 6-foot-10.5 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, the 232-pound big has an incredible frame. Unfortunately, the frame is supported by two surgically repaired knees.

Giles tore his ACL in both knees as a prep athlete in separate incidents and he needed a third procedure to clean up one of his knees last year. If there is good news here, it is that both knees were damaged in contact injuries, as opposed to the knee giving out in a non-contact situation. The scope that occurred later is also not out of the norm as the body attempts to adjust to the changes in the joint.

Like the Duke medical staff, the Kings will need to show patience in years one and two as Giles continues to heal from the series of surgeries. The Kings knew the risk of drafting the talented 19-year-old and they also know that players like Danny Manning, Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin went on to have very successful careers after bilateral ACL tears.   

Don’t expect Giles to play major minutes in year one, but the Kings fell in love with his talent in a pre-draft workout in Sacramento. The team has a bevy of bigs, including Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos and Georgios Papagiannis. This is a risk/reward pick for the future. If Giles can get right, he could be the best big man taken in the 2017 NBA Draft and maybe even a lot more than that.

Frank Mason III, point guard, Kansas University
Despite collecting a room full of trophies in his senior year at Kansas, Mason slid to the early second round where the Kings shunned trade offers and pounced. Like Fox, the high-flying guard was a major target of the Kings, even coming to Sacramento twice for visits before draft night.

The 23-year-old Wooden Award winner dominated in his final season under Bill Self, averaging 20.9 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 36.1 minutes a night. He even shot 47.1 percent from behind the arc on 4.8 attempts per game. At 6-foot, 189-pounds, the biggest knock on Mason is his lack of size. He makes up for that with power and a 41-inch vertical.

Sacramento is in a tough situation when it comes to their point guard position. Fox was a no-brainer at number five and Mason is an NBA ready contributor at pick 34. But can they walk into a season with two rookies manning the point guard position? 

It’s possible. The Kings have Temple on the roster, who can steal some minutes, but Fox and Mason make an intriguing thunder and lightning pairing that should be a lot of fun to watch. Don’t be shocked if Mason earns a spot in the rotation in training camp and plays solid minutes in a sparkplug role off the bench as a rookie.