Entering his third season in the NBA, smooth shooting guard Jimmer Fredette is once again stuck behind a massive glut at point guard on the Sacramento Kings bench.
The 24-year-old made huge strides since entering the NBA, improving his shooting touch all over the floor, including from the three-point line last season. Fredette jumped to 42 percent shooting overall, and more than 41 percent from beyond the arc. Those numbers certainly helped the Kings offense overall, with the team ranked 11th from long range. In his lone appearance this preseason, Fredette lit up the Los Angeles Lakers for seven points, three assists, and two steals, on 3-for-5 shooting in 21 minutes.
But with the signing of Greivis Vasquez, a second round pick spent on rookie Ray McCallum, and another year for sparkplug Isaiah Thomas, Fredette’s chances of playing time under new head coach Mike Malone could be limited. With three players ahead of him and a third head coach in three years to impress, Fredette could fare far better on another NBA club seeking a top-flight shooter, and perhaps under-rated floor general.
According to Fox Sports veteran NBA reporter Sam Amico, the Denver Nuggets could be just the team to trade for Fredette. The Nuggets posted an NBA-best 106.1 points per game last season, but were 25th from beyond the arc at a .343 percent clip.
Denver’s bench was also among the best in the NBA last season with 41.5 points per game, but that production could be tested early due to injuries. Second-leading scorer Danilo Gallinari is not expected to return until late November at best from a torn ACL suffered last season. And while forward Wilson Chandler, who was first on the team last season with 41.3 percent shooting from three, is expected to return for Saturday's preseason game, new head coach Brian Shaw is being very cautious.
The Utah Jazz are another club that could use an infusion of health and youth at point guard. Salt Lake City has long been viewed as the best market for Freddette to shine, with his alma mater Brigham Young a mere 50 miles south of EnergySolutions Arena.
Utah selected rookie Trey Burke in the first round of the draft four months ago, but now the former Michigan star has a broken finger and is expected to miss the next two-to-three months, leaving the Jazz once again scratching their heads in the backcourt.
John Lucas III is now the starter, but the Jazz are also asking more from second-year point guard Scott Machado, the star of an Iona squad that gave up a 25-point lead to BYU in the NCAA tournament in 2012. After those two, Alec Burks could play some point guard, but his 6-foot-6 stature makes him a better fit at the two.
Utah also had a top-10 bench and a deft touch from three last season, but the addition of Fredette could put them over the top with little risk. Fredette’s rookie contract pays him roughly $2.4 million in 2013-14, with a team option of $3.1 million next year. The Jazz are also well below the salary tax threshold with $60.6 million devoted to player contracts this season.
The Kings are just under the cap threshold at $69 million, and since they are still in a rebuilding phase, could ask the Jazz for just second-round draft picks. The Jazz have two first-round picks next year, and picked up five second-round picks in their three-way trade with Golden State and Denver back in July.
While a first-round pick might be too high an asking price, Sacramento might be willing to accept second-round picks while easing their payroll. Utah would be adding a solid outside threat for their run at a playoff berth.