SACRAMENTO – The Sacramento Kings didn’t lose an eye or limb. But phantom pains are a possibility.
The Kings dealt Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Greivis Vasquez to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for star Rudy Gay, prospect Quincy Acy and journeyman Aaron Gray, who all passed physicals on December 10. On paper it appears Sacramento pulled a heist, but the quartet’s absence will be felt for some time.
“All those guys worked really hard,” said head coach Michael Malone at Tuesday shootaround. “I appreciated their work ethic, I appreciated them buying in and embracing the change we were trying to make here, and I wish all of them nothing but the best.”
While past their primes, Salmons and Hayes were the Kings’ best defenders. Salmons and Hayes struggled mightily on the court this season (Salmons has seven free throw attempts in 445 minutes while Hayes is averaging a career-low 2.9 rebounds per game), but they could be counted on to run Malone’s plays. Salmons had been a King for four and a half seasons, whereas Hayes signed with the club in 2011.
“Chucky Hayes and Johnny Salmons, they were both very important because they were leaders on this team,” Malone added. “They were guys that had NBA experience. Right now we’re a very young team, a very young team. John and Chuck gave us a voice. They’ve been around playoff teams so they knew how to do things the right way.”
Patterson, who joined the Kings in February 2013, started the year in an ice-cold funk shooting the ball (23.1-percent from deep in 17 games), but his defense was also positive, and he was touted for crashing the boards.
“The one thing I was really pleased with Patrick, I challenged him, to start the season, about his rebounding, and that’s an area I think he really focused on and got a lot better at,” Malone reminisced.
As for summer acquisition Vasquez, he was the starting point guard who was valued for setting up teammates in stride. Isaiah Thomas had taken his fourth quarter minutes in recent contests, but the loss was still noteworthy.
“Greivis (was a) competitor, playmaker, unselfish, another guy that had a voice and a passion, and a terrific kid,” noted Malone.
Gay, Acy, and Gray don’t specialize in defense, rebounding or facilitation. But Malone is the voice they may need in their heads to bring out their best in these categories. Gay possesses a 7-foot-3 wingspan, which would allow him to be an effective perimeter and post defender if given the effort. For his NBA career, Acy collects 8.2 rebounds per 36 minutes, so the foundation is set to evolve into a stout glass cleaner. Gray is merely a wide body at the pivot, but holdovers Jimmer Fredette and Ray McCallum may step up to the challenge of relieving Thomas.
The Kings have new flashy toys, but the pet rocks deserve their due for holding it down. It will take weeks or maybe months for Sacramento to fill the void Hayes, Patterson, Salmons and Vasquez once inhabited.
Photo Credit: Hector Amezcua / Sacbee.com