Presumably, more assets would have to come Sacramento’s way.
The Sacramento Kings have a positional imbalance to address this offseason.
Their best five-man lineup last year included three guards plus Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes, but it doesn’t make sense to move forward with three of the team’s best players 6’4 and shorter. That grouping can get too small. What would help the Kings is to find a true wing-sized player to pair next to De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, the backcourt of the future.
Hield and Marvin Bagley would presumably be the team’s best trade pieces to acquire such a player, and it sounds like the Kings are in talks to do just that.
Shams Charania reported Sunday that the Kings and the Lakers have looked into a Hield trade that would bring Kyle Kuzma to Sacramento:
The Lakers and Sacramento Kings have discussed a deal centered on guard Buddy Hield, sources tell The Athletic. Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma would be involved in a potential package, per sources. The Lakers have received interest from several teams regarding Kuzma, sources said.
On the surface, the fit of Kuzma makes sense. He is a combo forward who could slot into the starting lineup next to Barnes. Kuzma has been a good rebounder for his position and emerged into a solid wing defender the past year. At 26 years old, Kuzma is 2.5 years younger than Hield, putting him closer on the developmental timeline of Fox and Haliburton. Kuzma is starting a three-year rookie extension with a player option in year three, so the Kings would have team control for two years.
Kuzma also had his best season under Luke Walton, when Walton was the head coach of the Lakers. Walton has been exceedingly complimentary of Kuzma since leaving for Sacramento, and Kuzma responded by having his two highest-scoring performances of the season against the Kings in 2021. Still, Kuzma isn’t exactly a surefire starting-caliber player. He’s only been a starter on teams that didn’t make the playoffs, which is a fate the Kings are trying to avoid.
Hield’s value now is higher than that of Kuzma right now because of his one elite skill: shooting. Nothing Kuzma does is as consistent or excellent as Hield’s 3-point shooting, which would require the Lakers to send an additional asset to Sacramento to consummate a trade. A 1-for-1 trade is legal, but the Kings would need to ask for a draft pick or another player to make this palatable from their perspective.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Kings move on from Hield, but they can’t just let him go for the sake of clearing out space. The question is if Kuzma is a good enough player to make that deal.