After being drafted in the 2017 NBA Draft, De’Aaron Fox has now played four seasons in the NBA. Fox has developed into one of the top young guards in the entire league. Playing in Sacramento can be difficult due to low publicity and the unappealing free agency destination. So far, the 23 year-old guard has only experienced losing seasons playing for the Kings. As the Kings continue to lose, should Fox consider requesting a trade?
In his four year career, Fox’s play has improved each season. In the 2020-21 season, Fox posted a career-high of 25.2 points per game. Furthermore, Fox averaged career-highs of 9.1 field goals made and 1.8 three-pointers made per contest. The young guard became the center piece for the Kings franchise after averaging over 35 minutes per game and over 19 field goal attempts per game. Clearly, the Kings are happy with Fox’s trajectory after increasing his role even more.
Let’s look back at De’Aaron’s efficient season ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XBe44QBecB
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) May 28, 2021
Fox was truly special during the 2020-21 regular season. He could be considered a 2021 NBA All-Star snub. Fox missed the All-Star cut while averaging 25.2 points and 7.2 assists while shooting over 47%. Meanwhile, one 2021 All-Star guard Chris Paul averaged 16.4 points with over eight assists per game. Fox likely missed the cut due to the Kings’ losing record. Between a losing record and less exposure in Sacramento, it makes it quite difficult for Fox to take the next step in his career.
Fox’s Contract Situation
If Fox decided to request a trade, why can’t he wait until free agency? Fox recently signed a lucrative deal spanning five years worth roughly 163 million dollars. In the 2021-22 season, he will be in the first year of his five year contract. Considering this, Fox cannot wait till he is a free agent. If he wants out of Sacramento, Fox has to request a trade.
On the other hand, will potential trade destinations be comfortable with Fox’s large contract? The NBA has turned into a guard driven league. Fox is coming off an All-Star level season at only 23 years-old. In the first year of his five year contract Fox will make roughly 28 million dollars. In Fox’s fifth year on the contract, he will be due for over $37 million. With Fox’s current trajectory, he could be worth $37 million in four years. Something else to consider is how much will contracts increase in four seasons? In four years from now, an All-Star caliber guard like Fox could be a bargain at $37 million.
For the most part, nearly any NBA team would gladly take on Fox’s contract. Which potential suitors make sense for the young point guard? One team rumored to be a potential Fox landing spot is the New York Knicks. The Knicks could be very aggressive this offseason, looking to add one more star player. The Knicks’ guards are likely not good enough to win playoff games. Derrick Rose is a nice piece, but cannot be a winning playoff team’s leading guard. In addition, Immanuel Quickly had a great rookie season but could be better off ball as a catch and shoot player. Lastly, Elfrid Payton does not bring enough on the offensive end. Fox could be a good fit in New York and could take the franchise to the next level. Also, the young guard would likely fit well with Julius Randle.
Another destination to consider is the New Orleans Pelicans. Fox was born in New Orleans and could want a hometown reunion. From a roster standpoint, this could work well for the Pelicans. Lonzo Ball could leave New Orleans in free agency during this offseason. Also, Eric Bledsoe is on the decline after averaging his lowest point total since the 2012-13 season. Fox would be the Pelicans star guard to go along with Zion Williamson.
Staying in Sacramento?
After considering potential destinations, should Fox leave the Kings? The fact Fox just agreed to a five year extension with Sacramento shows his commitment to the franchise. Fox would probably not accept this extension if he disliked the Kings franchise.
Furthermore, the Kings have a pretty nice core around Fox. First, Tyrese Haliburton had a nice rookie season averaging 13 points and 5.3 assists while shooting 47.2% and 40.9% from three. Haliburton can be a guard off the bench or could even play shooting guard in the starting lineup. They have solid wings like Buddy Hield who is averaging about 16 points during his career. Harrison Barnes is another solid wing who averaged over 16 points during the 2020-21 season. In addition, Sacramento has some good big men in Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley. Holmes is coming off back-to-back seasons averaging over 12 points and eight rebounds per game while shooting over 60%. Alongside Holmes, Bagley is starting to find his footing after a career-high shooting year. The Kings’ roster is quite young and can get a lot better as well.
Considering the Kings’ roster, why are they still losing? Sacramento’s last winning season came in the 2005-06 season. The Kings have struggled to win games for well over 10 years now. The primary reason for losing right now is likely due to coaching. Luke Walton is the head coach currently and has two losing records in his first two seasons in Sacramento. Sacramento already announced Walton will be back for his third season. The Kings could need a coaching change to reach a winning season.
The roster is clearly there for Sacramento. They have a good young core that can improve quite a bit. Fox seems committed to the Kings franchise and should stick it out for a couple of more seasons. Sacramento could make a good hire if Walton ends up leaving, and then the Kings could be back to winning. With better coaching and young players further developing, the Kings could have a bright future. Two seasons from now, the Kings’ trajectory will be a lot more clear and then Fox can decide on his future. If Fox ends up requesting a trade, it will probably happen a year or two from now.
All stats courtesy of Spotrac and Basketball-Reference.