Sacramento Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield isn’t happy with how contract talks with the Kings have gone. Should the San Antonio Spurs make a move to acquire Hield via free agency or trade?
The San Antonio Spurs are intimately familiar with how quickly negotiations with a star player can go south. One day you’re planning out the future of your franchise around a guy and the next thing you know you’re being hit with trade demands. The Sacramento Kings haven’t quite reached that level with their star shooter, Buddy Hield, but contract talks aren’t going well.
Hield is eligible for a four-year deal worth about $130 million or a five-year, designated-player extension worth up to close to $170 million. Luckily for Sacramento, Hield isn’t asking for king-sized checks. He’s reportedly looking for a four-year deal in the $110 million dollar range, while the Kings would prefer to settle around $90 million.
The two sides could meet in the middle and settle on $100 million across four years but it doesn’t seem like Hield is backing down. And why would he? He’s just seen other players from his draft class cash in. Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray, and now Pascal Siakam have all signed their max level extensions. Why would Hield accept a dollar less than he’s worth?
He’s already not pushing for the max. He’s expressed, several times, that he wants to stay in Sacramento. But the love doesn’t seem to be reciprocal. Hield himself pointed out that the Kings have a hard time acquiring star free-agents.
There’s always a chance things get contentious when negotiating a nine-figure extension but dropping a line like “name one big free agent that came to Sacramento” is pretty aggressive. He’s not wrong though. The Kings traded away one of the biggest stars in franchise history to acquire Hield. It’s hard to see them letting him walk away after that.
Sacramento has no one to blame but themselves for this situation. They’ve got a very promising group of young players but they tried to kick-start their path to playoff contention with several veteran free-agent signings over the summer. The four-year $85 million dollar deal they gave to Harrison Barnes is particularly troubling now. Consider the contracts they’ll have to someday give to De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley and the Kings could be looking at cap issues before they even make the playoffs.
Perhaps the San Antonio Spurs could help with that. San Antonio typically doesn’t dabble in trading for stars but a generational shooter like Hield could be the exception. Let’s explorer the case for the Spurs making a move for Buddy Love or standing pat.
Next: Trading for Buddy Hield
Why the Spurs should deal for Buddy
It would be costly, but acquiring Buddy Hield would certainly move the needle on the Spurs championship aspirations. He’s a generational shooter who would fit in well with San Antonio’s current team makeup. If you haven’t been watching too many Kings games you might not have noticed as Hield made himself into one of the best shooters the league has ever seen.
Sacramento Kings owner, Vivek Ranadive believed Hield had the ability to be the next Steph Curry when the Kings moved DeMarcus Cousins to acquire him from the Pelicans back in 2017. Stylistically he’s more similar to Klay Thompson but his shooting is certainly Splash Brothers-like.
We’ve made a lot over the improvements to Dejounte Murray‘s three-point improvement, as well as the consistency that Bryn Forbes has shown from deep. But with all due respect to those two, they don’t come close to Hields ability to shot the lights out of the ball. Last season he poured in the seventh-highest single-season total for three-pointers made in NBA history.
Hield found the bottom of the net on 278 three-point attempts last season, over 100 more than the Spurs three-point leader. And he wasn’t just chucking up shots. Buddy was sniping long-balls with close to 43 percent accuracy.
The importance of connecting on three-point shots is critical for any team’s success but especially for San Antonio. Despite leading the league in three-point accuracy, they were last in three-point attempts last year. Adding a player like Hield to the mix would help them maintain their accuracy while drastically increasing volume.
We’ve discussed ways how the Spurs can create better driving lanes for their rim attacking guards. DeMar starting to shoot three’s and starting Forbes is the most direct path. But imagine what kind of space the Spurs could create with Buddy on the wing. His defender would have to stay glued to him. Because with an inch of space, Buddy is letting it fly and finding the bottom of the net.
Trading for Hield wouldn’t be a cheap venture for the San Antonio Spurs. If the Kings are discussing giving him a nine-figure contract they’re going to want a combination of players and pick of near equal value in return. The moves they made this summer indicate that they’re looking to contend for a playoff spot sooner rather than later.
Maybe a combination of DeMar DeRozan, a young player, and picks would be enough to make it work. Whatever the deal could be, it would almost certainly have to wait until mid-season. Due to the size of DeRozan’s current deal, the Kings would need to wait until players they signed this summer are available to be traded in order to make the financials work.
Next: Why the Spurs should stay away
Betting on in-house talent
The biggest reasons for San Antonio to stay away from a trade for Buddy Hield are centered around the players they already have on the roster. It’s true that Forbes isn’t nearly the shooter that Hield is right now. But perhaps he can get close to that level sooner rather than later.
After taking a leap last year, Bryn looks ready to take another massive step forward in his development. He’s torn through preseason, frequently looking like one of the Spurs’ best offensive weapons. He’s filled out and improved as a defender. He should be in line for a starting role.
It would be hyperbolic to predict that Forbes is suddenly going to jump into that upper echelon of shooters like Hield and Curry. But to be fair to Forbes, he hasn’t had the chance to show that he can’t be in that conversation. Hield attempted 651 three-pointers last year, Forbes only shot 413. Both connected on similar percentages, with Hield at 42.7 percent and Forbes at 42.6 percent. Clearly the issue isn’t accuracy.
A lot of factors go into Forbes significantly lower volume of shots. Style of play, teammates, and role within the team all play a role. Hield was Sacramento’s leading scorer and was counted on to carry the scoring load on a nightly basis. On the Spurs Forbes is the somewhere between the third and fifth scoring option, depending on the night.
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It’s doubtful that Forbes will ever find himself in the kind of volume scorer role that Hield has. And that’s good for San Antonio. Forbes will be a free agent after this season and is in line for a major pay increase. He’s going to get paid but he’s not going to get the north of $20 million per year that Hield can command.
By avoiding trading for Hield, and signing him to the kind of deal he wants, the Spurs can choose to invest in in-house talent like Forbes. This helps them avoid exactly the kind of situation that the Kings are in. San Antonio has several players coming up for extensions as well. Dejounte Murray, DeMar DeRozan, and Jakob Poeltl will all need to have deals negotiated soon. Then comes Lonnie Walke and Derrick White. San Antonio has quite a few major decisions coming up.
Trading for Hield and signing him to a long term deal would undoubtedly require the Spurs to part with several of the young players they have carefully selected and groomed. Given the promise they’ve shown and the Spurs clear fondness of them, that seems unlikely to happen.
Buddy Hield is a great player and deserves every cent of the contract he’s soon to get. But the San Antonio Spurs would be better off doing as they have throughout their franchise history and betting on in-house talent to sustain their historic run of success.