Kings proposal lands DeMar DeRozan in Bulls sign-and-trade

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The Sacramento Kings are looking to keep up in the Western Conference gauntlet after a down 2023-24 campaign saw them miss the playoffs entirely. They are looking to recapture the magic of their 2023 Beam Team, but as presently constructed, the Kings are looking like they are going to be in a similar position to where they were last season.

With De’Aaron Fox being up for a huge contract extension soon, it is imperative for the Kings to show that they are very much committed to putting together the best roster that they could. The duo of Fox and Domantas Sabonis gives the Kings two legitimate All-NBA-caliber players to build around. But as seen last year, they will need better teammates to, once again, claim supremacy of a wide-open Pacific Division.

Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan is the biggest name left in free agency, and all playoff-hopeful teams are either not in need of his services or are out of cap space. For DeRozan to join a playoff contender, he will need to either sign for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which is worth around $12.8 million, or the Chicago Bulls will have to facilitate a sign-and-trade so that DeRozan could get the contract he desires.

The Bulls, for their part, are looking to help DeRozan reach his preferred destination now that the 34-year old’s time in the Windy City is all but over. If the Kings, a rumored “dark horse” team for DeRozan, come calling, here is how a potential sign-and-trade would look like.

Kings swap shooting guards with the Bulls

Kings sign DeMar DeRozan to a three-year, $80 million deal

Bulls receive: Kevin Huerter, Chris Duarte, and lottery protected 2027 first-round pick (that turns into two second-round picks if it doesn’t convey by 2027)

The Kings clearly hold Kevin Huerter in high regard. They traded for Huerter from the Atlanta Hawks during the 2022 offseason, and that deal paid immediate dividends. He was a hand-and-glove fit for the Kings’ motion-based offensive system, as he flourished coming off handoff actions with Domantas Sabonis.

The 2023-24 campaign, however, was a more topsy-turvy one for Huerter. He averaged the fewest minutes per game of his career with 24.4, and his shooting efficiency dipped. He didn’t even get a chance to redeem himself late in the season after he underwent season-ending surgery to repair his injured left shoulder.

Having players like Kevin Huerter are important for any team; floor-spacers who have some off-the-dribble juice are held in high regard among teams with contending aspirations. Moreover, having a low-usage marksman such as Huerter who thrives off the ball can never go wrong.

However, DeMar DeRozan just gives the Kings a higher floor of production, which would allow them to become a better team in the regular season. DeRozan may be the opposite of who Huerter is as a player; he needs the ball in his hands to thrive, and he doesn’t space the floor too well. But DeRozan simply gets the job done as a career 21.2 points per game scorer.

The Kings’ offense declined from the best in the association during the 2022-23 campaign all the way to 13th this past season. Teams have caught onto their system; integrating DeRozan would give their offense a new wrinkle as they look to reclaim top place in the Pacific Division.

If anything, the Kings may prefer to trade Harrison Barnes away. Barnes’ numbers declined as well after signing a three-year, $54 million deal with the Kings last year, and he’s already 32 years of age — seven years older than Huerter. DeRozan has plenty of experience playing the three, so it’s not like the Kings won’t have a starting small forward if Barnes were to go to the Bulls in a sign-and-trade.

However, Barnes, as a 6’8 forward, has the prototypical size of a legitimate NBA wing. The Kings need more players of his archetype, not fewer of them. The arrival of Jalen McDaniels gives the Kings another player of a similar size to Barnes, but McDaniels endured a nightmare 2023-24 campaign where he shot 34.4 percent from the field and 16.9 percent from deep with the Toronto Raptors. Thus, the Kings will find it difficult to relinquish Barnes.

At the end of the day, the Kings have Keon Ellis anyway as a shooting guard who’s ready to take more minutes. Ellis emerged as one of the best perimeter defenders in the association, racking up steals and blocks like he’s a 10-year veteran defensive specialist in the association. Malik Monk is back as well, so Sacramento might be better off utilizing Huerter’s contract to acquire an upgrade in the form of DeMar DeRozan. For what it’s worth, the Bulls are “fans” of Huerter.

Chris Duarte did not impress last season with the Kings, but as a former lottery pick, he could be of value to the Bulls. The Kings, after trading away their 2025 first-rounder to the Hawks in exchange for Huerter, can only trade away a 2027 first-round pick at the earliest.

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