Kevin Huerter trade grade: Kings' offseason plan gains clarity with Hawks swap

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Grading Kings' trade with Hawks to add shooting in Huerter originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

OK, so that’s what Monte McNair was up to.

The Kings’ most mysterious move of the young offseason was opting not to extend wing Donte DiVincenzo a qualifying offer and letting him walk in free agency, where he later found a home with the defending champion Warriors.

Two days later, it makes more sense.

On Thursday, Sacramento signed guard Malik Monk to a two-year deal. And on Friday, the Kings reportedly pulled off a trade with the Atlanta Hawks for sharpshooter Kevin Huerter.

McNair, entering his third season as Kings general manager, has made his offseason priority crystal clear: Sacramento needed to add shooting, shooting and a bit more shooting.

In exchange for the 23-year-old shooting guard Huerter, the Kings sent 33-year-old Justin Holiday and 29-year-old forward Moe Harkless to Atlanta. Sacramento also packaged a lottery-protected 2024 first-round pick, one that ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports becomes top-12 protected in 2025 if the Kings are in the draft lottery in ’24, and top-10 protected if it’s pushed to 2026.

Nothing the Kings gave up in the trade will hurt them. Holiday and Harkless are two veteran players who really didn’t have a clear or, frankly, important place in the projected rotation and are entering the final year of their deals. And no matter how things go next season, Sacramento still owns its 2023 first-round pick.

On the flip side, Huerter makes the Kings better.

At 6-foot-7, he gives the Kings more length at the two-guard position (Monk is 6-foot-3) and becomes another needed consistent 3-point threat.

As a team last season, Sacramento ranked 29th in catch-and-shoot 3s per game (7.8) and drained them at a 35.8 percent clip, which ranked 22nd. Huerter knocked down nearly two catch-and-shoot 3s per game for the Hawks last season at a 41.9 percent clip.

Add Huerter to the mix along with forward Harrison Barnes (42.4 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s) and Monk (41.9 percent) -- and don’t forget about the efficient incoming rookie Keegan Murray -- and the Kings suddenly have impact 3-point shooters to surround attacking guard De’Aaron Fox and big man Domantas Sabonis.

DiVincenzo, by the way, had a catch-and-shoot clip of 36.2 percent last season.

Defense remains an issue in Sacramento. DiVincenzo definitely has the edge there. Huerter, limited by a 6-foot-7 wingspan, is known for his shot much more than his defensive presence. His old backcourt mate Trae Young wasn’t much help on that end of the court, but it might not be too much different for Huerter alongside Fox, also a weak defender.

Here’s what might be most exciting, though: The Kings now have a talented, young core in place all 24 years old or younger in Fox (24), Monk (24), Huerter (23), Davion Mitchell (23) and Murray (21). Sabonis is 26 and just entering his prime.

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Mitchell and Murray are on rookie deals. Fox and Huerter are under contract for the next four seasons, while Monk and Sabonis have two years left. The Kings certainly are hoping they can establish a winning culture over the next year or two to entice Sabonis to sign a long-term extension with Sacramento.

Point being, with all the roster turnover of the last few years, the Kings’ new young core has time to settle in, figure it out together and establish themselves as winners in the NBA.

McNair's last two moves -- signing Monk and trading for Huerter -- have plenty of upside. And he might not be finished just yet.

Grade: A