NBA Trade Grades: DeMar DeRozan to Kings in three-team deal

NBA Trade Grades: DeMar DeRozan to Kings in three-team deal
NBA Trade Grades: DeMar DeRozan to Kings in three-team deal
NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Chicago Bulls

A handful of trades each year have clear winners and losers, but most are more murky, with maybe a clear winner but also a lot of mid.

Which pretty much describes the DeMar DeRozan three-team trade announced on Saturday. Let’s grade this trade out to see who did well and who is mired in mud. First, let’s break out how this three-team trade shook out.

Kings receive: DeMar DeRozan
Bulls receive: Chris Duarte, two second-round picks, cash
Spurs receive: Harrison Barnes, 2031 unprotected pick swap with the Kings

DeMar DeRozan: A

DeRozan is the big winner in this trade — he gets a three-year, $74 million new contract to play in Sacramento. While the third year of that is only partially guaranteed, at a minimum DeRozan will make close to $50 million over the next two seasons at age 34 and 35.

The Lakers were among other teams pitching DeRozan, but even with LeBron James offering to take a significant pay cut all Los Angeles could offer is the $12.8 million mid-level exception, about half of what DeRozan makes per year in this deal. DeRozan may have liked the idea of going home to L.A., but he’s still showing up in Kendrick LaMar videos no matter where he plays, so it’s all good.

Sacramento Kings: C

Usually, the team that gets the best player in a trade is a big winner, and DeRozan is not only the best player in this draft but also a talent upgrade for Sacramento. The fans in SacTown are already embracing him.

That’s all great, but DeRozan’s fit with the Kings is questionable. First, bringing in DeRozan adds a weak defender to a team that already struggles on that end of the court.

Second, DeRozan is a brilliant isolation scorer in the midrange, but playing to his strengths takes the ball out of the hands of other quality shot creators in De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis and Malik Monk (who the Kings re-signed this summer). DeRozan doesn’t space the floor when Sabonis and Fox are running dribble hand-off sets, and when he and Sabonis are on the floor the Kings need to make sure shooters like Kevin Huerter are for the spacing.

Sacramento is going to be a good team this season and with DeRozan its floor is higher. The Kings got better with this trade, but not meaningfully. In a very deep West that likely only lands them somewhere between seeds 6-10, and they have the kind of roster with a lot of places for an elite team to target in the playoffs. They are still headed for the low-to-mid 40s in regular season wins and a first-round playoff exit.

San Antonio Spurs: A

The Spurs need shooting to go around Victor Wembanyama and they just added some — Barnes averaged 12.2 points a game last season for the Kings knocking down 38.7% from 3 on nearly five attempts a game. Put him in the mix with Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson and just drafted Stephon Castle and the Spurs have a lot better floor spacing built into this roster.

Barnes has two seasons left on his contract. If he has a solid season next to Wembanyama, the Spurs could trade him and his then-expiring $19 million contract next summer.

What made this an “A” for the Spurs is the 2031 pick swap. Who knows how good the Kings will be seven years from now, possibly very good. However, with Wembanyama, the odds are that the Spurs will be elite in seven years, so chances are good that the Kings’ pick will be the better one in 2031. It’s a way to add talent in the middle of the Wembanyama era on the cheap.

Chicago Bulls: Incomplete

I’m tempted to give the Bulls a “D” for this trade because if they had made it a year ago, or even at the last trade deadline, they would have gotten a much larger haul for DeRozan. Instead, they decided to chase the play-in, so here we are.

Still, let’s be kind and say it’s too early to judge this trade for Chicago because it is just one step in an ongoing youth movement. So far this offseason, Chicago has moved on from Alex Caruso and DeRozan, and we can only assume Zach LaVine (if Chicago can find a taker, they reportedly are shopping him with a first-round pick and still finding a lukewarm market) and Nikola Vucevic will follow. Josh Giddey is in and will be a primary shot creator along with Coby White, and the Bulls re-signed Patrick Williams (and need him to step up).

At least the Bulls are not staying the course for another year. Change needed to happen, and that change is in progress. I’d like to do something seemingly rare in today’s media landscape: wait to see what the entire picture looks like before forming an opinion and giving their end of this deal a thumbs up or down.

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