The Sacramento Kings have the longest playoff drought among the four major North American sports. They have not advanced past the regular season since 2006, but this has been a significant change for the franchise and fanbase from Northern California. Domantas Sabonis has been selected to his third All-Star Game in his first entire season with Sacramento, while De’Aaron Fox is also having an All-Star caliber type of campaign.
Choosing Sabonis’ as the long-term partner of Fox started a lot of murmurs and doubts, mainly due to the fact they let go of excellent talent in Tyrese Haliburton. Another move of Sacramento that many NBA pundits questioned from the beginning was choosing Keegan Murray as the No.4 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft instead of Jaden Ivey. Over 50+ games, Murray has been the better player, and he has fit seamlessly as the 4 in the system of coach Mike Brown.
Two underrated offseason moves by the Kings’ front office surrounded their primary decision-makers with elite outside shooting, as Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk have been effective with this squad. With a 29-21 record and standing at third in the West, a significant mistake Sacramento must avoid is rushing the team building of this iteration by swinging a huge deal by moving Keegan Murray.
Dangling Keegan Murray for a win-now move
Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe had two podcasts on their respective platforms, wherein they floated Keegan Murray as the tradable asset that would make them compete as a top-tier team in the West. O.G. Anunoby and Paul George have been floated as plausible return packages for Murray, but that is rushing it too much for the team construction of Sacramento.
Anunoby has been rated too high in the trade speculations before this deadline, so it would not be ideal to capitulate to the Toronto Raptors’ demands. He would benefit tremendously alongside Sabonis and Fox because of the phenomenal defensive prowess and timely corner threes. The contract is team-friendly, but giving up on Keegan Murray this early in his NBA career seems like it could be a terrible approach.
Paul George is already 32 years of age, so his timeline is far from the nucleus of this Kings roster. Furthermore, he is an injury-prone player who gets load managed a ton, which is a complete 360-degree turn from the philosophy of Sacramento.
Yes, it seems enticing to move Murray because he is the only commodity from Sacramento that brings a ton of trade value. However, it must be reiterated that this is only the first season for the Kings’ to experience inspiring success, so there is no rationale to fast-track their rebuilding process. First, Murray was drafted over Jaden Ivey because they chose fit over talent. After all, Ivey’s style will clash with someone like De’Aaron Fox.
Having Murray for 10-12 seasons is the better move because he will still improve continuously for the next couple of years, rather than having O.G. Anunoby or Paul George, who have either reached their ceiling or a downturn in their careers. Also, developing chemistry must be a priority for a youthful lineup like the Kings because they usually don’t attract big names from the market.
The Sacramento Kings’ front office has committed a ton of mistakes in the past 3-5 seasons, so they must not add to that by moving Keegan Murray and regretting it instantly.