NBA AM: Fixing The Sacramento Kings’ Culture

The Kings are hoping that a change in culture can bring out the best in DeMarcus Cousins… Is J.R. Smith’s new deal in Cleveland simply a formality?

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Sports Editor
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Fixing The Kings’ Culture

As the world watches what a motivated and happy DeMarcus Cousins looks like on the USA Men’s National Team in Rio this week, the Sacramento Kings are also hoping they can make the kinds of chemistry changes to keep a good thing going.

The first part of that process was adding head coach Dave Joerger and a new coaching staff, and the next part was adding some motivated veterans. The last part is cleaning up the locker room.

For some time, the Kings have been active in the trade market trying not only to trade out awkward fitting pieces, but also trying to right the ship in terms of personalities that may not be totally bought into the plan.

For weeks, there has been talk that Kings forward Rudy Gay could be had in trade and that despite his ability to be an unrestricted free agent next summer, there are many around the league who believe the Kings will not only move Gay, but that it could happen before training camp starts.

The problem with trading Gay, who is owed $13.333 million this season, is that the Kings would have to take back some level of salary in the deal and find a team open to taking on Gay in what could be a one-year rental.

The next hurdle is value. League sources say while there are teams that have expressed interest in Gay – most notably the Houston Rockets – getting anything of real value back on what could be a one-year rental at Gay’s price tag is hard math to make work.

There is a sense among league insiders that the Kings are not looking for a ton in return for Gay, so that may make finding a deal a little easier even with all the issues surrounding a deal.

The Kings are also believed to be looking at deals involving big man Kostas Koufos, mainly because of the glut of frontcourt players the Kings have, but also because Koufos might actually return something meaningful like a backup point guard.

The Kings currently have 14 players with guaranteed contracts. That means there’s not really a lot of roster room left, so the bigger changes the team is believed to be seeking likely come in trade.

As Cousins and Team USA surge toward a gold medal in Rio, the Kings hope to have an environment in place to keep a good thing going. In order to get there, they seem like they are ready to make a deal. The question becomes, who will ultimately make a move and will that move really happen before training camp?

What To Make Of J.R. Smith?

While the Cleveland Cavaliers and J.R. Smith have not yet reached a free agent deal, there is a continued sense from league and Cavalier insiders that a new agreement is going to happen. It’s simply a case of figuring how long and how much, right?

Smith got married over the weekend and was surrounded by his Cavaliers teammates, who posted pictures all over social media.

League sources said that Smith and his camp were not overly concerned about reaching a deal, with a belief that the Cavs have put a multi-year offer in the $10 million per year neighborhood on the table weeks ago. They added that Smith and his advisors have been looking for a slightly bigger offer and that waiting things out was simply about leverage and trying to get a slightly better deal.

Cavaliers sources also point out that once Smith and teammate LeBron James sign, the team will be locked into luxury tax status – which would make trades or roster moves slightly more difficult.

The sense from sources close to all of this was that Smith and the Cavaliers will reach a new deal, it just might not happen until closer to camp once the Cavaliers are sure there isn’t another roster move to be made.

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Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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