Is Buddy Hield the boy who cried wolf?
That might be the approach the Kings are taking to their sharpshooting guard, who reportedly isn’t returning phone calls from coach Luke Walton.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Kings understand that it’s the offseason, they know that Hield is a tireless worker and they expect him to be ready for the start of training camp and the season, whenever that might be.
A lot can change between now and the start of the 2020-21 season (or just 2021, as it might become due to the coronavirus pandemic). The draft is set for Nov. 18. The start of free agency still is being negotiated, but the Kings must also make a decision on the future of restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic.
It’s possible that new general manager Monte McNair assesses his team and finds that he can’t have both Bogdanovic and Hield on the same squad. Then, a decision will have to be made.
Hield has become the squeaky wheel, but this isn’t new. He was unhappy with head coach Dave Joerger, who on more than one occasion yelled at Hield for making in-game mistakes.
Hield became disenchanted with general manager Vlade Divac after he earned the richest contract in Kings history but wasn’t happy with the final figures.
When he was moved to the bench by Walton, Hield once again voiced his displeasure with the situation, albeit in sometimes cryptic ways.
“Y’all know me,” Hield said following the Kings’ final game of the restart in the Orlando bubble. “Y’all know how I talk, y’all know how I feel with all the stuff. Y’all can read me well, so I’ll let y’all answer that for yourselves.”
Hield's behavior has become a pattern, and the Kings are well aware of the issue. The Kings also understand that Hield is a hard worker who professionally does his job once he steps onto the court.
The situation might be different if Hield refused to go into a game, or it was apparent that he was playing at less than 100 percent. But that isn’t who Hield is. He loves the game of basketball, and he would never think to disrespect it while the game clock is running.
This isn’t the way that you want to kick off a new four-year contract that pays a player $24.4 million in Year 1, but the Kings hold the cards and Hield is doing nothing but hurting his own reputation and value around the league with his off-court antics.
Perhaps the Kings will pull the plug on the Buddy Hield experience during this offseason, but they won’t have their hands forced. They will want value for the 27-year-old, who is considered one of the best 3-point shooters in the NBA.
If they don’t get that value or McNair deems him irreplaceable in the run and gun system the team wants to be implemented, then Hield will be a King next season and, possibly, for the duration of his contract.
This is the reality of Hield’s situation. Everything else is just noise at this point.