The Sacramento Kings, who have been very bad for a while, were pleasantly, surprisingly not as bad last season, in part because of Buddy Hield’s breakout performance. The guard led the team in scoring last season and will likely do so again this season, but he’s recently made some noise about how the Kings have yet to lock him in with a new deal.
Hield came to Sacramento in the DeMarcus Cousins trade as an underperforming lottery pick, and he blossomed into one of the best shooters in the game. His 278 three-pointers last season are the seventh-most in NBA history, and he owns the league record for most made threes in a player’s first three NBA seasons. Hield’s eligible for an extension before this season starts, which is where we start to run into trouble.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Kings have offered Hield a four-year, $90 million extension, but the player would like something more like four years and $110 million. If the two sides don’t get a deal done by Monday, Hield will become a restricted free agent this summer and likely be in high demand in a thin 2020 class.
With the deadline drawing closer, Hield squeezed the Kings at a press conference earlier this week, where he said he didn’t want an offer that’s an “insult.” He went on to make fun of Sacramento, a “low market” that needs to pay to retain its core players. “Name one big free agent who came to Sacramento,” Hield said. Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet would like a word.
(Damian Lillard, who was in a similar situation with the Trail Blazers, recommends that Buddy tread lightly.)
In terms of pure numbers, four years and $90 million is certainly low. Harrison Barnes, a man who has perhaps never passed in his life, received four years and $85 million this summer from the Kings. Hield does deserve more, and even if he remains the same player he was last season, the shooting he brings to the offense is worth it. The Kings’ future revolves around De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley, and though paying them eventually will require pruning a very deep but young roster, to fail to see Hield as a foundational piece who excels at the game’s most important skill would be to harm the young core before it truly gets started.
Hield will almost certainly get more than four years and $110 million this summer, so if the Kings wait to let Hield reach restricted free agency, they’ll lose him for nothing or wind up paying him even more. From a bloodless, fake-GM standpoint, it makes sense to pay him now. The Kings also got by on chemistry last season and seem to be building something special. Why jeopardize it for $5 million a year?
Thankfully, this one video of Hield and team GM Vlade Divac laughing at practice indicates that everything is fine. Nothing to worry about. Cool!