Trade deadline week’s first move by Sacramento turned out to be the Kings’ only move. They acquired 22-year-old forward Kessler Edwards from the Brooklyn Nets. Other than that, Kings General Manager Monte McNair felt it was necessary to pretty much stand pat and stay the course with their current roster. Was that a good thing? Here we look at the biggest mistake that the Kings may have committed at the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline.

The Kings basically helped Brooklyn save a total of $8 million in salary and luxury tax as a result of trading for Edwards. In exchange, the Kings received the draft rights to David Michineau. This move also freed up a roster spot for the Nets. It eventually allowed them to later complete the Kevin Durant blockbuster trade.

“Our framework heading into the deadline was two things,” McNair said. “One has been our mantra, I think since we got here, which was being disciplined and aggressive when the time comes. But this year with where we’re at, we also want to be protective of the core group of guys that we’ve got this year that have gotten us to this point.”

Keep in mind that Kessler Edwards has demonstrated potential as a defensively-minded wing. That means this was a low-risk, low-reward bet on a young, affordable player. Note also that Sacramento chose Edwards over someone like, say, Philly’s Matisse Thybulle, who had a much bigger contract.

That said, let us look at the biggest mistake that the Kings made at the trade deadline.

Kings 2023 NBA trade deadline mistake: Missing out on OG Anunoby and more bench depth

McNair certainly believes in the Kings’ core group.

“Our starting lineup is one of the best, if not the best, in the NBA,” McNair said. “Our bench units mixed in there have been fantastic as well. Our guys have shown they can compete with any team in the league. For all these reasons, we want to continue to let this group grow and gel together and continue on the improvement path that they’ve been set on.”

Live and breathe the NBA?

🚨 Get viral NBA graphics, memes, rumors and trending news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.

Remember, though that the Western Conference was generally very aggressive at the trade deadline. The Kings were the antithesis of that. They chose to remain confident in their current personnel. Of course, despite not making a significant acquisition, the Kings still have the option to add depth through the NBA buyout market. That’s where teams can bring in veteran players to bolster their line-ups.

Looking around the West, though, one may be forgiven for feeling concerned for the Kings. Remember that we saw a variety of blockbuster trades, including Kyrie Irving joining the Dallas Mavericks alongside Luka Doncic. And then that was followed by Kevin Durant joining the Phoenix Suns with Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Still, even with the West getting noticeably tougher, McNair still has faith in his overachieving team.

However, we cannot help but feel that SacTown could have swung bigger and aimed higher at the deadline.

It’s our opinion that the Kings should have made a bold move for someone like Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby. Take note that the Kings are in dire need of help on the defensive end. They currently rank 22nd in the NBA with opponents scoring 116.8 points per game. The Kings are also third-worst in field-goal percentage allowed. Of course, Anunoby wouldn’t single-handedly transform the Kings’ defense from subpar to elite. However, he would definitely make a difference and be an upgrade over Harrison Barnes. Yes, Barnes contributes in many ways, but he is not known for his defense. Anunoby surely is.

Don’t forget that the Kings are in the West. Luka Doncic, Ja Morant, Kawhi Leonard, Devin Booker, and now both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will dominate. Anunoby’s defensive skills would have provided a much-needed boost to the Kings. He would have helped limit the damage these superstars could cause.

The Kings also could have benefitted from adding more depth to their bench, particularly at the backup center position. Right now, Domantas Sabonis is having an All-Star season, averaging 18.7 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 7.0 assists. However, the Kings need a dependable player to give him a break when necessary. Neither Richaun Holmes nor Chemezie Metu has effectively filled that role.

A potential solution to this problem could have been Detroit Pistons player Nerlens Noel. Now, he would have been a smart pickup for the Kings. Despite playing a career-low 11.8 minutes per game, Noel is averaging more rebounds (2.6) than points (2.3). Noel is a defensive-focused big man with rim-running ability and veteran experience who could have relieved Sabonis for a few possessions each game. Noel remained with the Pistons after the deadline.

They could have also considered Mo Bamba of the Orlando Magic. Now in his fifth year in the NBA, Bamba hasn’t quite lived up to his initial draft expectations. He has mostly been a bench player for the Magic this season, averaging 7.3 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 49.5 percent from the field. With the rise of Bol Bol, Bamba’s minutes and role have decreased. Instead of the Kings getting him, though, Bamba is now with division rivals the Lakers.

At the end of the day, the Kings themselves didn’t get any worse after the deadline. Let’s make it clear that Sacramento didn’t take a step back. They just also didn’t take any step forward like many of their rivals did in the Western Conference.