The problem, though: As much as Hield might want to nudge his way out of Sacramento, McNair and the Kings do not appear to be eager to send him on his way. “I think it makes a lot of sense, them trying to move him, start with a clean slate, they were better without him in the starting five, all of that,” one general manager said. “The logic is there. But there does not seem to be a lot of action there, not yet at least. It is not something where they seem to be shopping him very actively. Maybe it would be better to wait, to see how the season starts, but I don’t get the sense that they’re out there really laying the groundwork for a deal. They’re just not yet shopping him.”
That was the posture Kings forward Harrison Barnes seemed to take when I asked him about Hield’s behavior this offseason. “Buddy is my guy,” Barnes said. “We talk often. Obviously, there’s a lot of rumors that go around on social media and things like that. But any time you miss your mark as a team, there is going to be frustration. Anything else beyond that stays in house.”
According to a league source, the Kings expect Hield back in camp and ready to compete whenever the NBA gives a green light on a new season. The team understands that Hield is unhappy in his role off the bench, but they also know that Hield is a tireless worker and when he steps on the court, he’ll respect the game and play.
Hield wants to start. Depending on what happens with Bogdanovic in free agency, he might get that wish in Sacramento. There is a possibility that a cooling-off period helps both sides in this situation and a new voice at the top of basketball operations might help the situation as well.
With Divac gone, there is potential to hit a reset button. McNair has a huge decision in front of him and since he’s never run his own team, we don’t have a track record to turn to. On paper, Hield is a player that McNair should love. The Kings’ new GM wants his team to play fast and to shoot a bunch of 3-pointers, which is basically Hield’s game in a nutshell. McNair has likely already had conversations with Walton about his thoughts on Hield.
All of that has been on display for the rest of the league to see. The Kings have not yet begun to field offers for Hield in earnest, but already, teams are considering packages they could offer the Kings to pry away their wayward guard. Those teams are willing to absorb Hield’s flaws, but they expect to have to give up less (or to offer more in bloated salaries) to get him.
Hield is acting like a guy who wants to be traded, and badly. He’s unhappy, he is too emotionally fragile, he does not defend—when making an offer to the Kings for Hield, every team will bring up those points. That will make it more difficult for the Kings to say yes to the packages they get for Hield, because all of those packages will be watered down to account for Hield’s unhappiness. Call it a malcontent tax. Hield wants a way out of Sacramento, but he is acting as his own worst enemy in that pursuit.
It could be argued that Hield’s gum-flapping approach worked. He got the extension, after all, signing for a contract that wasn’t all that far off the “insult” offer he’d gotten from the team originally: a base pay of $88 million with $8 million in “likely” incentives (Top 10 in 3-point shooting, for example) and $12 million in “unlikely” incentives (Kings going to the Western Conference semis and finals). But other teams took notice of Hield’s tactics.
“That was a red flag for just about everyone,” one Eastern Conference general manager said. “There is a reason most players just dodge questions about extensions—no one wants to negotiate publicly, no team goes into a situation with their first offer being their final offer, and no one wants all their laundry aired like that. It’s a trust thing. If he sits there and says it is an insult and the team can’t find someone better than him because no one wants to play there, it does not help anybody. It does not help the team going forward. And it makes the player look bad.”
Is Buddy Hield the boy who cried wolf? That might be the approach the Kings are taking to their sharpshooting guard, who reportedly isn’t returning phone calls from coach Luke Walton. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Kings understand that it’s the offseason, they know that Hield is a tireless worker and they expect him to be ready for the start of training camp and the season, whenever that might be.
Hield has become the squeaky wheel, but this isn’t new. He was unhappy with head coach Dave Joerger, who on more than one occasion yelled at Hield for making in-game mistakes. Hield became disenchanted with general manager Vlade Divac after he earned the richest contract in Kings history but wasn’t happy with the final figures. When he was moved to the bench by Walton, hield once again voiced his displeasure with the situation, albeit in sometimes cryptic ways.
The situation might be different if Hield refused to go into a game, or it was apparent that he was playing at less than 100 percent. But that isn’t who Hield is. He loves the game of basketball, and he would never think to disrespect it while the game clock is running. This isn’t the way that you want to kick off a new four-year contract that pays a player $24.4 million in Year 1, but the Kings hold the cards and Hield is doing nothing but hurting his own reputation and value around the league with his off-court antics.
But for Hield, things have changed. According to league sources, Hield has soured on Walton to the point he will not answer his coach’s phone calls. Messages to Hield’s agent, Brandon Rosenthal, and Walton were not returned. In February, The Athletic reported Hield’s frustrations with Walton and how his benching was handled could lead to Hield wanting to be traded after the 2019-20 season.
Hield is doing his part on social media to stir up rumors about a trade by liking an Instagram post linking him to being traded to Philadelphia and liking a news alert on Twitter about Doc Rivers being hired to coach the 76ers. Hield’s personality is such that it’s not beyond him to be trolling fans and media who monitor his posts. This, however, is a different level of public frustration for Hield, who never brazenly called out Joerger as he did Walton this season.
If the Kings are inclined to keep Hield, it could help if Sacramento is able to land Alvin Gentry as its associate head coach. A league source said the Kings would like to make that happen, but they have competition from Philadelphia, which would like to add Gentry to Doc Rivers’ staff. Gentry was Hield’s first NBA coach in New Orleans before he was traded to Sacramento in 2017. Gentry has spoken highly of Hield. Adding Gentry, who was fired by New Orleans after missing the playoffs this season, would fill the need for an associate head coach to replace Igor Kokoskov, who left the Kings during the restart to become coach of Fenerbahçe of the Turkish Basketball Super League and the EuroLeague.
Even that might not appease Hield. Scouts and executives have differing views on whether Hield should start or come off the bench. They lament his lapses with ballhandling and defense, but there is no denying Hield is one of the NBA’s premier 3-point shooters. Hield made 3.8 3s per game this season, third in the NBA while shooting 39.4 percent from beyond the arc. And Hield’s effort was never questioned, even if he isn’t a fan of Walton. But with such a big salary and the team already cutting staff for financial reasons because of the pandemic, the Kings moving on from Hield might make sense.
A rumor emerged about the Kings trading Buddy Hield to the 76ers. It didn’t seem particularly credible. But then Hield himself liked this Instagram post promoting a potential trade and apparently made a pro-Philadelphia comment on Instagram.
So when the Kings' season ended Thursday, and Hield was asked if he's comfortable with his role off the bench in Sacramento heading into next season, his answer raised some eyebrows. Including, I'd imagine, some in Philadelphia. Here's what Hield had to say: [Hield] provided a series of short answers during a Zoom session with reporters and offered a cryptic response when asked if he could be content with his role going into next season. "Y'all know me," Hield said. "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."
There was a story today that said if you continue to be unhappy with your role you might request a trade at some point. Do you want to address that? “It’s all about winning,” Hield said. “It doesn’t matter what’s going on. I can’t control nothing. It’s all about winning and we have 28 games left, so try to finish the season out strong and try to maximize as much as I can and (win) basketball games.”
Are you unhappy with the role you’re in? “I’m playing basketball,” Hield said. “That’s what I love doing. I’m here. I’m blessed. I can’t complain. There’s only 450 guys in the world who play in this league. It’s the best league in the world. Everybody in Europe’s trying to get here. Everybody in college is trying to get here. I’m happy. I’m great. I’m blessed. I’m humbled to be here.”
But Hield’s situation remains one Divac has to monitor. If Hield remains displeased with his role, a source with knowledge of his thinking said he might request a trade. He believes he is a starter in the NBA and there’s no guarantee he’ll get that job back, given how the team has played lately. And unlike last season, when he never criticized Joerger publicly and even refrained from doing so after their well-chronicled January 2019 run-in at Golden State, Hield has shown a willingness to criticize Walton that has proved at times problematic.
Hield is known to have no issues with Bogdanovic, who is one of his best friends on the team. But it appears his possible desire to leave would be rooted in his frustration with Walton.
Jason Anderson: Kings guard Buddy Hield tells me the team's $90-million offer was an "insult" and hints he might be ready to demand a trade if he doesn't get a better offer before Monday's deadline. sacbee.com/sports/article…
James Ham: "The goal is to be here. I love Sacramento, but if they don't want me here, if they don't feel like I'm part of the core... I like respect and loyalty and I feel like I'm part of the group that's getting the team back to where it needs to be." -Buddy Hield
Hield isn’t demanding a max deal, but he wants the Kings to show him some respect. “It’s not just about less than the max, it’s something that is reasonable, where it’s not an insult,” Hield said. “Where we respect each on a level and come to an agreement, that’s the biggest thing between me and my team, to come to an agreement.”
The Sacramento Kings acquired guards Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and 2017 first and second-round draft selections from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for forward/center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Omri Casspi, it was announced today by Kings Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Vlade Divac.
"We’re thrilled to welcome DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans family,” stated Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps. “This is an exciting time for Pelicans fans as we continue our quest for long-term success. I know our fans are equally excited to welcome DeMarcus and Omri to our great city. I want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Benson, Dennis Lauscha and Mickey Loomis for their continued support and providing the resources for us to be successful. I’d also like to thank Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and Buddy Hield for their professionalism and hard work on the court and in the community during their tenure in New Orleans.”
Baxter Holmes: Source familiar w/ Kings’ thinking: "Vivek thinks Buddy [Hield] has Steph Curry potential.” Am told that fixation was a key driver in deal.
Ramona Shelburne: Deal for Okafor was very close, per source. But Philly and NOLA could never agree on protections for the picks included.
The Pelicans are sending guards Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway, and 2017 first- and second-round picks to the Kings as part of the deal, league sources said, with forward Omri Casspi going to the Kings.
Marc Stein: Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and a future first- and second-round to Sacramento for DeMarcus Cousins, league sources say
New Orleans has discussed parameters of a Cousins deal, and executives with other teams told The Vertical that Kings management has privately encouraged them to offer up trade proposals for Cousins despite the public proclamation that he wasn’t available Talks with New Orleans have included the Pelicans sending multiple first-round picks, pick swaps, rookie guard Buddy Hield and expiring contracts to the Kings, league sources said.
According to sources, the Kings attempted to move up in the 2016 NBA Draft to select shooting guard Buddy Hield, and point guard Jrue Holiday has admirers in the organization. The Pelicans also own all of their first-round draft picks moving forward.
May 22, 2022 | 2:29 pm EDT Update
Jay King: Grant Williams: “Sometimes I feel like we get sped up in a sense of aggressiveness.” He said the Celtics need to have better offensive execution and need to be more locked in on that side of the ball.