The NBA trade deadline came and went, and Jimmer Fredette remains a member of the Sacramento Kings.
General manager Geoff Petrie was able to make a deal before Wednesday’s deadline, with the Kings acquiring Patrick Patterson, a former teammate of DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky, along with Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas in exchange for Thomas Robinson, the Kings’ No. 5 overall pick in 2012, and Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt.
The key piece for Sacramento was adding Patterson, and trimming payroll. However, the Kings were already loaded with depth in the backcourt, and it will now be more crowded with the arrival of Douglas, who primarily plays point guard.
Where does that leave Fredette? Well it’s certainly not good news for the young guard, who averages just 14.3 minutes per game. Douglas has averaged 18.6 minutes with the Rockets this season, but will also likely see a decline in playing time on a Sacramento roster that includes Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons, and Aaron Brooks.
More than likely, the 23-year-old sharpshooter from BYU will have to split more time with bench players trying to get on the court behind starters Evans and Thomas, who each played 31 minutes in the Kings’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Head coach Keith Smart, whose substitution patterns have received mixed reviews, has played Fredette more in the past two games with the combo guard logging 19 minutes in a road game against the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 13, and 21 minutes against the Spurs on Feb. 19. Fredette may struggle to get those types of minutes again with Douglas’s arrival.
Fortunately for Fredette, he has a skill that stands out from his teammates: he’s a pure shooter. Fredette is shooting a very strong 42 percent from beyond the three-point arc, which clearly tops guards who are receiving more playing time: Evans (32.8 percent), Thomas (31.9 percent), Thornton (35.1 percent), Salmons (36.5 percent), and Brooks (38.4 percent.)
There are other aspects of Fredette’s game that extend beyond shooting. While Fredette failed to get on a hot streak in recent games aside from a spurt in the second quarter against the Spurs, he has not committed a turnover in his last 48 minutes on the floor. That is major improvement, and perhaps a sign of increased focus for Fredette, who is No. 61 in turnovers per 48 minutes with 3.2.
Fredette’s continued presence on the Kings may be disappointing for some who believe that he deserved an increased role. Pure shooters often need to find a rhythm by getting a steady amount of playing time, and by having a distinct role in the offense. While former players such as Craig Hodges, Dell Curry, and Steve Kerr have thrived in such favorable circumstances, Fredette has been rather deprived of playing a true complementary role on a rotation that utilizes an outside threat.
Fredette staying put seems a little surprising considering there are playoff-contending teams who could have used a shooter off the bench. The playoff-hopeful Portland Trail Blazers, who recently suffered a home loss to the lowly Phoenix Suns, are just one club that could have been energized by Fredette’s perimeter presence.
Sacramento also would have preferred to trim more payroll, as they did in dealing Robinson. Like Fredette, Robinson was a recent first-round pick, and the Kings could have saved salary-cap space by trading Fredette, who earns over $2.3 million and is under contract for two more full seasons.
It will be interesting to see how much playing time Fredette will receive with 27 games remaining on the Sacramento schedule. The Kings have been out of playoff contention for several weeks, and Smart is expected to tinker with the rotation to build for next season, whether the club plays in Sacramento or Seattle, or whether he is the coach next season or not.
Fredette is averaging 7.3 points per game, and shooting 41.2 percent from the field and 89.7 percent from the free-throw line.