NBA Rumor: Buddy Hield Trade?

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Kings not shopping Buddy Hield yet?

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Buddy Hield may request trade

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.

“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.”
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