The Sacramento Kings played their final game before the All-Star break on Wednesday, and there is one player on the club’s roster that seems in need of a fresh start.
Jimmer Fredette has seen his playing time plummet in recent weeks, and the Kings’ impending elimination from playoff contention may prompt general manager Geoff Petrie to consider dealing the guard before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reported on Feb. 1 that there was interest by Kings to deal Tyreke Evans but have been hesitant to make a trade that would increase the club’s payroll before the impending sale from the Maloof Brothers to a Seattle investor group.
While Evans might be sticking around, Fredette may be on the move based on his contract. The sharpshooter has two more full seasons under his deal that is paying him $2.34 million in 2012-2013. The Kings, who are loaded at guard but light in the frontcourt, could be interested in dealing for an expiring contract to free up even a small amount of salary cap space to attract a free agent in the offseason.
A logical destination for the former BYU star would seem to be the Utah Jazz, who are in position to make the playoffs and have eight players with expiring contracts. However, the Jazz also have plenty of depth at guard, and are at a respectable 10th in three-point shooting (36.3 percent).
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Another possible destination for Fredette might be the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers have three different players with expiring contracts that can be swapped for Fredette under the salary cap rules, making them a logical trade partner. The Blazers, who are fighting for the final playoff spot in the West, rank No. 28 in three-point shooting and lack strong guard play off the bench.
While there haven’t been specific trade rumors involving Fredette, a deal may be the right move for both the combo guard and for the Kings. As the No. 10 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and after a stellar college basketball career, the expectations were high for Fredette. A strong reason for his lack of production is his lack of playing time, which is at just 14.2 minutes per game.
Fredette’s playing time has also been erratic in recent weeks. Head coach Keith Smart kept Fredette out of the game or played him minimally for a stretch in late January, and did the same in games earlier this week.
Fredette has had his moments this season. He has had seven games of scoring 15 points or more. The 23-year-old is also shooting 42.1 percent from beyond the three-point arc. The lack of playing time might be a reason Fredette was denied an opportunity to compete in this weekend’s Three-Point Shooting Shootout.
Meanwhile, the Kings are in danger of finishing the season with the worst record in the Western Conference. Evans has been the only player on the squad who has missed significant time with injury, yet the club has a 19-35 record.