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Clippers Blockbuster Trade Opens Door for Kings’ Playoff Push

(Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)

by Matt George

The Sacramento Kings currently are the NBA team with the longest playoff drought, having played 12 seasons without reaching the post season. After the Minnesota Timberwolves broke into the playoffs last season, Sacramento became the only NBA team with over a decade of mediocrity. The 2018-2019 Sacramento Kings have been a great story thus far, rapidly evolving from a disorganized mess to a young and promising threat. At 28-25 through 53 games, currently a full game out of the 8th seed in the West, the stars may finally be aligning for the Kings to break through that postseason barrier.

Late Tuesday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported a trade between the 8th seed Los Angeles Clippers and the Eastern juggernaut Philadelphia 76ers:

Despite having beaten the Kings three times already this season, and leading the West for a good portion of the 2018-2019 campaign, the Clippers have fallen to just a desperate grip on the final playoff spot. With hungry teams like the Kings, Timberwolves, and Los Angeles Lakers just a few games behind, the Clippers elected to make the better move for their future, shipping the talented Tobias Harris, who’s contract expires at the end of the season, to the 76ers for a haul of role players and future draft picks.

Not only do the Clippers appear comfortable to sacrifice their chances at a playoff run this season for a brighter future, making the playoffs negatively affects their 2019 draft. If Los Angeles makes the postseason, they lose their upcoming draft pick to the Boston Celtics. On top of that, moving on from Harris gives the Clippers the cap space to try and sign a big-name free agent like Kawhi Leonard this summer, and the acquired future picks could be used as part of a trade package to get Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. It was recently reported that the Clippers were one of four teams that Davis would re-sign with if he was traded there.

The only negative to the situation for the Kings, other than the fact that Harris is making the 76ers a very serious NBA Finals threat, is that Philadelphia is reportedly budgeting to be able to re-sign Harris long-term, making Sacramento’s chances of getting him this summer slim. However, with the Clippers getting immediately worse for hopes of a better future, the door is now wide open for the Kings to make their way firmly into the playoff picture.

With the trade deadline coming Thursday, the Kings are running out of time to take advantage of their significant cap space by taking on a bad contract or two in order to acquire a starting small forward or future draft pick. While general manager Vlade Divac has done well to keep things quiet, the opportunity for a playoff breakthrough may be too great for him to simply sit on his hands.

The Sacramento Kings face the Houston Rockets, who are currently 5th in the West, three games ahead of the Kings, Wednesday night inside the Golden 1 Center.