A tale of the Sacramento Kings, infamous trades, six losing seasons, and J.J. Hickson.
When the Golden State Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 draft off the Chicago Bulls, it closed one of the most incredible journies that a future draft pick has taken. From the Sacramento Kings to Cleveland, to Chicago, to Golden State, the draft asset has had longer careers than most NBA players.
Cast your mind back to just after the 2010-11 NBA season. The Dallas Mavericks had just upset the Miami Heat. Derrick Rose had just won the league MVP. Landry Fields made the All-Rookie first team, and Orlando’s Dwight Howard was the Defensive Player of the year. The Sacramento Kings were still the Kings of old, and they had too many wings. Shortly after the finals, two teams made a trade to clear up their log jams.
Trade one: June 30, 2011
The Sacramento Kings had far too many wing players on their roster. With John Salmons, Tyler Honeycutt, and Donte Green all needing minutes at small-forward, Omri Casspi was deemed expendable. As it turns out, Casspi was apparently even more underrated in 2011 as he is in 2017.
Regardless, the Kings had too many small forwards and were looking for another big to partner DeMarcus Cousins, who was coming off an impressive debut season.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Cavs post-LeBron looked grim. Real Grim. However, they had just drafted Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson with picks one and four in the draft a week earlier. With Thompson needing minutes at the Cavs looked to get rid of a big to make room. That starter to make way was going to be J.J. Hickson. If the existence of J.J. Hickson had gone missing from your minds, I don’t blame you. However, at the time, Hickson had a few seasons of starting under his belt and appeared to have some upside.
Hickson went to the Kings, and Casspi went to the Cavs. Along with Omri Casspi, was a protected first round pick. The protections of the pick were merely a throwaway line at the end of any article dissecting the trade but ended up being the longest serving piece. The protections on the pick were:
2012: Top 14
2013: Top 13
2014: Top 12
2015: Top 10
2016: Top 10
2017: Top 10
If the pick had still not made its way in those six years, Sacramento’s 2017 second-round pick would be traded.
Seems pretty straight forward, the deal would go through and the pick would change hands when the Kings stopped being horrendous.
Another tidbit is the ‘Stepien Rule.’ Teams cannot trade back-to-back first round picks. The Kings were not allowed to trade rights to a first round pick for any draft before 2019. The Kings did end up trading that 2019 pick. The story of which will have to be told another time, probably on a wine-fuelled rampage.
Anyway, back to the pick protection. The first round draft pick would change hands when the Kings became a somewhat average NBA side. With Boogie Cousins looking like having a nice career ahead of him it was only a matter of time. Well, so we thought.
March 19, 2012.
Power Forward, J.J. Hickson is waived from the Sacramento Kings.
End of the 2011-12 NBA season
The Sacramento Kings won twenty-two games and finished with the second worst record in the Western conference, ‘good enough’ for the fifth pick in the upcoming draft. The pick is top-fourteen protected. The Kings keep the pick.
The pick was Thomas Robinson who played fifty-one games with the Kings.
End of the 2012-13 NBA season.
The Sacramento Kings won twenty-eight games and finished with the third worst record in the Western conference, ‘good enough’ for the seventh pick in the upcoming draft. The pick is top-thirteen protected. The Kings keep the pick.
With the pick, the Kings drafted Ben McLemore, who recently agreed to a two-year $10 million dollar deal in Memphis.
July 16, 2013
Omri Casspi signed a multi-year deal with the Houston Rockets.
Trade two: January 6, 2014
In a push for a post-LeBron playoff birth, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Luol Deng via trade from Chicago. The Bulls received the shell of Andrew Bynum, and three future picks. One of which was the protected Sacramento Kings pick.
Now it was up to the Chicago Bulls to wait on the Kings being good enough for the first round pick to come through.
End of 13-14 NBA season
The Sacramento Kings won twenty-eight games and finished with the third worst record in the Western conference, ‘good enough’ for the eighth pick in the upcoming draft. The pick was top-twelve protected. The Kings keep the pick.
With the pick, the Kings drafted Nik Stauskas. Stauskas is traded to the Philadelphia 76ers after seventy-three games with the Kings. Again, await the aforementioned wine-fuelled rampage for that story.
Trade three: July 15, 2014
Omri Casspi is traded from the Rockets to the New Orleans Pelicans in a three-team trade that also involved the Washington Wizards. Additionally, Luol Deng left the Cavs and signed with the Miami Heat.
July 23, 2014
Omri Casspi is waived by the New Orleans Pelicans.
September 18, 2014
Omri Casspi signed with the Sacramento Kings. Again.
For those of you playing at home. The protected first round pick still has not been conveyed. The pick now belongs to the Chicago Bulls, who traded it for Luol Deng, who now plays for Miami. Omri Casspi has been on three other NBA teams and is back to the Kings. J.J. Hickson, the man the original trade was for, is bouncing around the league.
End of 14-15 NBA season
The Sacramento Kings won twenty-nine games and finished with the third worst record in the Western conference, ‘good enough’ for the sixth pick in the upcoming draft. The pick is top-ten protected. The Kings keep the pick.
With the pick, the Kings drafted Willie Cauley-Stein. WCS is still in Sacramento and is a big part of their future.
Trade four: End of 15-16 NBA season
The Sacramento Kings won thirty-three games and finished with the tenth best record in the Western conference, “good enough” for the eighth pick in the upcoming draft. The pick is top-ten protected. The Kings keep the pick.
With the pick, the Kings drafted Marquese Chriss, before trading his draft rights to the Pheonix Suns. The Kings acquired the rights to Georgios Papagiannis, Skal Labissière, Bogdan Bogdanović and the 2020 Detroit Pistons 2nd round-pick.
Trade five: February 20, 2017
The Sacramento Kings trade centre, Demarcus Cousins, and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans. Casspi played one game for the Pelicans before being waived and signing for the Timberwolves.
End of 16-17 NBA season
The Sacramento Kings won thirty-two games and finished with the tenth best record in the Western conference, ‘good enough’ for the third pick in the draft. As a result of another pick swap with the ill-fated Philadelphia 76ers trade – yes, the one with the upcoming wine-fueled rampage – the Kings had the fifth pick in the draft. The pick is top-ten protected. The Kings keep the pick.
With the pick, the Kings selected De’Aaron Fox.
As the full six years of pick-protection had eventuated, the Chicago Bulls were given the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA draft. The Chicago Bulls draft Jordan Bell.
Trade six: June 22, 2017
The Chicago Bulls trade the rights to newly selected Jordan Bell to the Golden State Warriors for cash considerations.
The Kings traded Omri Casspi and what turned out to be a second rounder six years into the future for J.J. Hickson, who they waived soon afterwards. The Kings since signed Omri Caspi again and traded him a second time. The Sacramento Kings had a selection in the top ten for six years straight, symbolising just how bad they have been. Furthermore, out of the six first round picks that never conveyed through the trade. Only two of them are still in Sacramento.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, the Bulls ultimately traded Luol Deng for 3.5 million in cash considerations, and a pick which ended up being Paul Zipser.
The Golden State Warriors traded cash considerations for Jordan Bell, 2017 Pac 12 Defensive player of the year. They also signed Omri Casspi this offseason.