DeMar DeRozan trade: All-Star to join Kings via sign-and-trade that sends Harrison Barnes to Spurs, per report

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DeMar DeRozan is set to join the Sacramento Kings through a sign-and-trade agreement, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, is a three-year, $70-plus million agreement, and will send Harrison Barnes to the San Antonio Spurs. The Bulls will receive former first-round pick Chris Duarte and two second-round picks for cooperating in the deal. Sacramento will also give San Antonio an unprotected 2031 pick swap.

The Kings were a surprise No. 3 seed in the Western Conference in 2023, but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors. Last season, they fell to the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference, and their offense, which had just had the most efficient season in NBA history, fell to the No. 13 ranking. Sacramento had been linked to a number of big names, including Brandon Ingram and Zach LaVine, in an effort to try to get back up to the top half of the Western Conference standings.

The Bulls, meanwhile, have pivoted into a bit of a rebuild. They acquired Josh Giddey in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Alex Caruso, and as a primary ball-handler who doesn’t shoot many 3s, Giddey was not a strong fit next to DeRozan, an isolation scorer. It had been widely reported, therefore, that DeRozan would not return to the Bulls, so they helped him get the contract he wanted and picked up a young guard and a couple of picks for their troubles.

The Spurs, after using a slice of their cap space to sign Chris Paul early in free agency, accomplished two things with this trade. First, they got a functional starting NBA forward as they transition from an outright tanker towards a winner built around Victor Wembanyama. Barnes may have been salary ballast from Sacramento’s perspective, but he’s still a good player on a reasonable, two-year deal. He can help the Spurs push for the Play-In Tournament this season. Second and more importantly, they pick up an unprotected pick swap from a Kings team that, frankly, has a pretty dysfunctional history. Sacramento has made the playoffs just once since 2006. That pick swap will come right in the middle of Wembanyama’s prime, giving the Spurs another chance at a premium asset.

The fit of DeRozan in Sacramento is going to take some work. De’Aaron Fox is already in place as a primary ball-handler. Malik Monk is also a high-usage scorer when he plays, and while Kevin Huerter doesn’t need the ball to be effective, he is an offense-first player as a shooter. Defensively, the Kings have Keon Ellis on the perimeter and not much else. DeRozan struggles on defense, and as a limited 3-point shooter, it’s unclear how much he’ll be able to help Sacramento on offense when he doesn’t have the ball. His late-game shot-making is obviously quite valuable, but the Kings already have Fox, the 2023 Clutch Player of the Year, to drive their late-game offense. This is going to be a work in progress.

But the Kings wanted to make a major talent upgrade. They did so without giving up any first-round picks outright. From that perspective, they accomplished their goal without significantly hampering their ability to make future moves. Sacramento has never been a destination market, but the Kings just lured the most accomplished free agent still on the market.

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