If the Sacramento Kings trade George Hill, the team will reportedly move Skal Labissiere to make room for Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye.
It’s strange to give up a developing talent but the Kings are loaded with young big men like Willie Cauley-Stein and Georgios Papagiannis as well as veterans Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos. But reports show that Labissiere is indeed on the market, along with Malachi Richardson (via ESPN):
“Sacramento has to clear a roster spot to take on one or two additional players in a trade with Cleveland and has been discussing deals for the Kings’ young forwards Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere, league sources said.”
Labissiere was one of the players considered a potential top overall prospect while in college. Teams around the league will likely jump at the opportunity to add him to their roster.
The former Kentucky star drew significant interest from the Toronto Raptors prior to the draft and there were “strong rumblings” he would end up on their team. While they have a roster spot available, they do not have the cap space to take on another salary without entering the luxury tax.
Another team that seemed like a fit is the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs have a roster spot and cap space to add a player. However, according to Mike Fisher, the front office isn’t particularly interested in him (via Scout.com):
“Nor has the Kings’ Skal Labissiere — noted often by the national media — been mentioned in Sacramento’s talks with Dallas, league sources tell DBcom. (For the record, personnel people we talk to question Labissiere’s work ethic, though the attraction to somebody taking a flyer on the 6-11 talent making $1.2 mil is understandable.)”
Below are some of the teams that make the most sense for the services of Labissiere.
“The list of seven or eight potential No. 3 picks could include: Dragan Bender, Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, Jaylen Brown, Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, Deyonta Davis and/or Marquese Chriss.”
They are also able to use the $8.4 million disabled player exception to add someone to their roster without giving anyone up, which is perfect for this type of trade.
While they may wait for contract buyouts to begin happening to make a move (the exception expires on March 12), their current roster is in a good place as it is and it seems they are in no rush.
Boston is reportedly looking for an “interior presence” to help them in the frontcourt, so Skal could be a fit.
New Orleans Pelicans
He was long coveted by the New Orleans Pelicans and front office executive Dell Demps notably watched him play in December 2015.
Because they traded Quincy Pondexter to Chicago, the front office is able to offer up to $2.5 million in cash to a team like Sacramento to persuade them to accept a deal.
New Orleans has a dominant frontcourt with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, but Omer Asik is the only healthy player on the roster who is taller than 6-foot-9. Labissiere provides depth and could play valuable minutes down the stretch for the Pelicans.
New Orleans already has five former Kentucky players on the roster in Davis, Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins, so Skal would fit right in!
The Pelicans are $1.4 million below the hard cap, but Labissiere’s salary is only $1.3 million.
Travis King, Skal’s agent, also represents Chicago Bulls guard Cameron Payne.
The Bulls have plenty of talent in the backcourt with Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine, David Nwaba and Jerian Grant. While they have other young options at power forward in Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis, other players in the frontcourt may have one foot out of the door.
Robin Lopez and Nikola Mirotic (who has long been on the trade block) are not long-term options, so acquiring Labissiere for cheap would be a risk worth taking.
Bill Bayno, a former assistant for the Raptors who helped develop Jonas Valanciunas, is now an assistant coach for the Pacers.
He worked out Labissiere before the big man entered the draft. The Pacers also have the necessary cap space and roster room to add someone without sending a player back to Sacramento.
Matt Moore, however, does not think Indiana will make a move at the deadline (via Action Network):
“They have great chemistry, no expectations, no big contracts they need to ditch. The veterans like Thad Young are playing great, the youngsters are thriving … they are in a perfect spot with zero reason to disrupt things. That’s not to say they won’t, but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to upset what has been a karmic feast.”
If they were to make a move, this seems like the best possible option for the team since he is a low-risk, high-reward option who’s available on a cheap, multi-year contract.
While awkward because Rodney Hood and Labissiere share an agent, this seems like the perfect opportunity to get both players onto squads that would value their services.
During a podcast with our own Alex Kennedy, USA TODAY’s Sam Amick spoke about the eagerness for the Jazz to make moves (via HoopsHype):
“My understanding of Utah’s situation is that they’re as much of an open shop as there is in the league right now. Whether it’s Derrick Favors or Rodney Hood or even Ricky Rubio, they want to turn the page. They want to maximize Rudy Gobert’s prime. … Utah is going to look at everything right now. They obviously don’t feel like they have their core and they’re trying to figure things out. But yeah, I think Rodney gets moved.”
Perhaps no team in the league has expressed as much interest in Hood as Sacramento. When head coach Dave Joerger was with the Memphis Grizzlies, he reportedly was very interested in drafting the wing.
Labissiere is a power forward who can play next to Gobert, although he’s not yet proven he is a capable starter in the NBA. If nothing else, he can be a rotation player for Utah.
Meanwhile, the Kings would land someone they have long coveted in Hood.