Now that the season is over for the Sacramento Kings, trade rumors have surfaced once again for sharp shooting guard Chavano “Buddy” Hield.
The 6’4”, 220-pound fourth-year guard in the National Basketball Association (NBA), had a respectable season, averaging 19.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and a career-high 3.0 assists in a little over 30 minutes per game. The Bahamian shot 42.9 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from distance, finishing just seven three-point shots short of tying his franchise record of 278 three-pointers in a season, despite the season being cut short due to the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hield became just the third player in NBA history to have more than 270 three-point shots in back-to-back seasons, joining former league Most Valuable Players (MVP) Stephen Curry (2015 and 2016) and James Harden (2018). Hield also won the NBA’s Mountain Dew Three-Point Competition this year. He lost his starting job back in January, but is still regarded as one of the more lethal shooters in the league and can certainly provide much needed outside help for a number of playoff contenders going forward.
The Kings were eliminated from playoff contention a little less than a week before the conclusion of the seeding games in the NBA bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
They have a lot of items in front of them this offseason. They recently got rid of General Manager Vlade Divac, and following that, Peja Stojaković stepped down as the assistant general manager. Hall of Famer Joe Dumars is running the front office, while the team searches for a new general manager.
In addition to making a determination on a number of free agents, the Kings must also decide what to do with the Bahamian sharp shooter who was understandably disappointed with his position on the team. Hield has put up strong numbers ever since coming across to Sacramento in a trade in which former Kings’ center DeMarcus Cousins was the centerpiece. Hield became a regular starter for the Kings during the 2018-2019 season, and along with point guard De’Aaron Fox, formed one of the league’s most dynamic backcourts in 2018-2019.
Hield averaged a career-high 20.7 points per game in 2019, while shooting 45.8 from the field and 42.7 percent from distance. He entered this season as the regular starting two-guard of the Kings, but new Head Coach Luke Walton decided to go in a different direction after the Kings lost their sixth in a row and 15th out of 18 games in January. The move paid dividends for the Kings as they won 13 of their next 19 games to get themselves back in the playoff mix in the west and contend for a spot in the playoffs during the seeding games in the bubble.
Hield finished second on the Kings in scoring this past season, despite coming off the bench for a significant
portion of the season. In fact, he was just as productive off the bench as he was as a starter, if not more so. His minutes decreased but he averaged just two less points per game while shooting a greater percentage from the floor and from distance. Hield shot 41.6 percent from the field as a starter and 45.4 percent off the bench. He was 36 percent from distance a starter and 45.1 percent off the bench. Even his free throw percentage went up significantly, from 81.6 percent to 92.1 percent. There’s no doubt the former No. 6 overall pick of the New Orleans Pelicans could be in a starter’s role somewhere and playing more minutes, but it is uncertain if he will get that role back with the Kings.
Hield was extremely supportive of new starter Bogdan Bogdanović who flourished in that role, but Hield knows he has a lot more to offer than what was displayed this season, particularly for a playoff contender.
Bogdanović is a restricted free agent who is expected to be brought back, especially after a few strong performances in the bubble. The outlook is not as promising for 27-year-old Hield who is locked into a four-year extension that kicks in next season. He will be due up to $106 million with incentives.
When asked if he was content with his role on the team, Hield gave a general response to SB Nation, a sports blogging network that originated in the Bay Area in California.
“Y’all know me. Y’all know how I talk. Y’all know how I feel. Y’all can read me well, so I’ll let y’all answer that yourselves,” he said.
One of the potential deals that continues to surface is one which involves Hield going to the Philadelphia 76ers. A prospective deal is one in which Hield and Jabari Parker would go to Philadelphia for Tobias Harris who had a disappointing outing in the Sixers playoff series with the Boston Celtics before getting injured in game four of that series. The Sixers were swept four games to none.
Adding Harris could address the Kings’ need at forward. He is locked in at $149 million over the next four years. Meanwhile, the Sixers could benefit from adding an elite shooter like Hield to pair with the versatile Ben Simmons, while dropping Harris’ huge salary off their books.
The Kings are mired in the longest playoff drought in the NBA – 14 straight seasons. They ended up 12th in the Western Conference of the NBA this year with a 31-41 win/loss record. They were one of the teams battling for a playoff spot in the bubble in Orlando, and finished just two and a half games out of playoff contention, but they will certainly have to be creative and make some moves if they plan to make a run at the playoffs next season.
As for Hield, he certainly could be one of the pieces the Kings choose to move this offseason.