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Buddy Hield isn’t happy in Sacramento and could be close to requesting a trade, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Sam Amick and Jason Jones.
Hield — a former No. 6 overall draft pick — was pulled from the starting lineup last month and replaced with Bogdan Bogdanovic, a move coach Luke Walton insisted wasn’t a punishment but rather an effort to snap a six-game losing streak.
That move worked in the short term. The Kings beat the Chicago Bulls that first night, and Hield dropped 21 points off the bench. Yet he hasn’t made his way back to the starting lineup since that Jan. 24 game, something that’s been extremely frustrating for the former Oklahoma standout.
He believes he is a starter in the NBA and, per The Athletic, may request a trade in the near future if he remains displeased with his role as a bench player.
Continued frustration in Sacramento
This isn’t the first time Hield has been upset this season, either. He appeared to slam coach Luke Walton in comments following their double overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in December — a game he played just four minutes in the fourth quarter and only 71 seconds in the first overtime.
“Seems like we’re all over the place — coaches and everybody,” Hield said after that game. “Trust issues going on, I guess. Guys stop believing in players. It is what it is. They have who they have playing out there and I just have to be supportive.”
Hield didn’t specify the “trust issues” he was talking about, but hinted that the coaching staff didn’t trust him in late-game situations.
“I like to be on the court,” he said. “That’s why I’m on the court, right? I want to make plays, make shots. I feel like I wasn’t trusted the past two games to be on the court.”
Hield has averaged 20.4 points and 5.1 rebounds so far this season, his fourth in the league, and agreed to a four-year, $94 million extension with the Kings in October — something else that was a cause of animosity for the Bahamian.
His play has improved since he was benched, too. He’s put up a team-high 22.2 points per game while shooting nearly 53 percent from the field. He even dropped a career-high 42 points against the Timberwolves last month, and the team has gone 6-3 since the move, too.
Still, though, Hield isn’t happy. His issue isn’t with Bogdanovic, either, a player who is considered to be one of his best friends on the team, per The Athletic.
His beef is with Walton. And apparently, Hield isn’t alone on that front, either. Owner Vivek Ranadive and others in the ownership group have apparently grown frustrated with how the team is being run by the front office and coaching staff, and he’s aired out his grievances in a group message with Walton and others all year.
If things with Hield aren’t fixed soon, he may try to find a way out of Sacramento this summer. And if the team keeps underachieving, like Ranadive feels they are, bigger changes may be on the horizon.
“We share our fans’ frustrations with how the season has unfolded and are working hard to improve,” the Kings said in a statement to The Athletic. “We remain confident in [general manager Vlade Divac’s] leadership in building the winning team that our fans and city deserve.”
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