January 19, 2022 | 8:56 am EST Update
The Kings were not willing to entertain the thought of trading Deâ€™Aaron Fox last summer when they started surveying the market for a transformational move to alter the course of the franchise, but the situation in Sacramento has changed. A league source told The Sacramento Bee the Kings have stepped up their pursuit of Indiana Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis and they are including Fox in those discussions. Fox was so far off the table he wasnâ€™t discussed when the Kings approached the Philadelphia 76ers about Ben Simmons last summer, sources with knowledge of the talks told The Bee, but now Fox is reportedly part of those conversations as well.
Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III, Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes have been the subject of trade speculation dating back to last season. This is new terrain for Fox, who is in the first year of a five-year, $163 million max contract, but he told ABC10â€™s Sean Cunningham he was not surprised to hear his name in trade rumors. â€śIn most sports, most players come up in trade talks,â€ť Fox said after practice Tuesday as the Kings prepared to face the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. â€śObviously, you donâ€™t have too many people who are really untouchable, so you always know something can happen.â€ť
Could Fox be better? Yes. Could he be more engaged this season? Very specifically, yes. Things I hear behind the scenes… he’s not as engaged in the team, as he has been in the past. And that’s a problem.
As for which scenario is looking the most likely, Iâ€™ll say this much: While Iâ€™m fairly confident that Atlanta has zero interest in taking on both Simmons and Harris in a John Collins-centric deal, the Kings appear to be considering the idea more seriously.
Make no mistake, sources close to Simmons continue to insist that heâ€™ll sit out the entire season if a deal isnâ€™t done by the deadline. To DAâ€™s point, that means the postseason would be unnecessarily brutal on Embiid when it comes to the load heâ€™s asked to carry. There is, not surprisingly, serious skepticism from Simmonsâ€™ side as to the authenticity of Embiidâ€™s messaging. â€śJoel is Daryl, and Daryl is Joel,â€ť as one source put it.
Longtime Trail Blazers executive Joe Cronin was elevated to the interim general manager role after Neil Olsheyâ€™s firing in early December. With Lillardâ€™s future still uncertain, he needs to upgrade this roster to calm those waters. Sources say Detroitâ€™s Jerami Grant and Bostonâ€™s Jaylen Brown are the types of talents that would achieve that goal, but it remains to be seen if Cronin can pull something like that off.
Beal has made it clear he doesn’t plan to sign an extension and likely will skip his player option. That would make some teams nervous, but to this point there has been no real discussion of Beal on the trade market, league executives said.
As for sellers, keep an eye on Houston as we get closer to the deadline. Thereâ€™s lots of chatter about the Rockets being even more open for business than we may have previously thought, with one rival executive indicating that Houston is still on the lookout for a franchise centerpiece-worthy player and thus open to all sorts of possibilities