The highly touted 2017 NBA Draft is four months away and the Sacramento Kings have gone from a team with no stake in the conversation to a franchise with plenty of possibilities. Like everything else in Sacramento, it’s complicated. The Kings could have zero, one or two first round picks in the upcoming draft.
All the way back on June 30 of 2011, Geoff Petrie dealt a protected first round pick (2012-2017) along with Omri Casspi to the Cleveland Cavaliers for power forward J.J. Hickson. Hickson didn’t even make it through the season with the Kings. After attempting to deal him at the trade deadline and finding no takers, Petrie waived Hickson on March 12, 2012.
The Cavs used the pick as part of a larger package to obtain forward Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 6, 2014. Chicago has waited patiently to use the pick, but per the original trade, if the selection falls in the Top 10 this season (post lottery), it is not relayed this season and it becomes a protected second round pick. If the pick falls in the between selections 56-60 (mathematically unlikely at this point), the Kings keep the second round pick as well and the original trade is satisfied.
To complicate matters, if the pick falls between 1-10 this season and the Kings retain the selection, the Philadelphia 76ers have the right to swap picks. The pick swap stems from the July 9, 2015 trade that sent Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, Nik Stauskas, a protected first round selection (now an unprotected 2019 first round selection) and the rights to swap picks in 2016 and 2017 for the rights to Arturas Gudaitis, Luka Mitrovic and a future second round pick. The Sixers currently have the fifth worst record in the NBA.
What does it mean?
If the Kings make the playoffs, the pick is instantly relayed to the Chicago Bulls. If the Kings miss the playoffs, but land 11, 12, 13 or 14 in the draft following the lottery, the Bulls get the pick. If Sacramento lands anywhere in the Top 10 following the lottery, they retain the pick, but the Sixers have the opportunity to swap selections.
On Feb 20, 2017, the Kings traded All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins, along with forward Omri Casspi (again) to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a protected first round selection and the Philadelphia 76ers 2017 second round pick.
The protections are a bit complicated on the Pelicans first round pick. If New Orleans makes the playoffs, the Kings instantly take the pick. If the Pelicans miss the playoffs and go into the lottery, the Kings are safe in 2017, as long as they don’t win the lottery and move into the top three spots.
If the Pelicans move into the top three in 2017 and keep the pick, it becomes a Top 1 protected pick for the next three seasons. In the nearly impossible scenario that the Pelicans draw a top three pick in 2017 and then follow that up with three straight no. 1 overall selections, the Kings receive the Timberwolves 2021 pick.
What does it all mean?
New Orleans currently sports the NBA’s sixth worst record and they trail the Denver Nuggets by 3.5 games for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race. If the season were to end today, they would fall in the middle of the lottery. As long as the Pelicans don’t move into the Top 3, Sacramento gets the pick. If they win one of the top three picks, there is a high likelihood that the Kings will receive the selection in 2018.