Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
Let's proceed on the premise that head coach Luke Walton isn't the problem. This will surely anger the loud contingent of Kings fans who are sure he is, but it feels too easy to make "change coaches" the top offseason priority. Instead, the focus should be on cutting loose the players who've underperformed and don't project as core pieces.
That starts with Marvin Bagley III and Buddy Hield.
The former never made sense as the No. 2 overall pick, and that's without even acknowledging that Luka Doncic was available. The theory of Bagley just didn't check out. He didn't project as a center because he couldn't protect the rim, but he was also a stationary pylon on the perimeter whom forwards could easily blow by.
Add to that a suspect three-point shot, no passing vision and limited use in the pick-and-roll, and it was always hard to see how he fit into a major role on a good team. It's even harder now. If there are takers out there for Bagley, the Kings should be givers. That's assuming anyone wants to deal with the prospect of his rookie-scale extension, which could come this offseason.
Hield is an elite three-point shooter, but he's in the way of Tyrese Haliburton at the 2. Good luck trying to get Hield to accept a bench role going forward. That never goes well. And even if he were willing to be a reserve, what kind of sensible roster-building plan features a backup one-way shooting guard who can't dribble but is also making $20 million per season?
Hield is also in his age-28 season. He doesn't fit on a team with a timeline built around De'Aaron Fox, 23, and Haliburton, 21.
The Kings are on pace to be the worst defense in NBA history, and while moving on from Bagley and Hield won't turn that performance all the way around, it'll help. Ultimately, those two players, once thought of as foundational, are both more valuable to Sacramento as trade chips.
Sacramento tried fishing with those two, and all it caught were L's. Now, it's time to cut bait.