Despite how he’s enjoying a productive 2019-20 season as the team’s top scorer and preparing to enter the first year of a lucrative four-year contract extension, Sacramento Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield reportedly isn’t happy with how things currently stand, specifically when it comes to his erstwhile off-the-bench role on the team.
Quoting a report from The Athletic‘s Shams Charania, Sam Amick, and Jason Jones, Bleacher Report wrote on Wednesday that Hield has become “frustrated” with his current status as the Kings’ sixth man. The three Athletic writers cited an unnamed source reportedly familiar with the situation, pointing out that the former lottery pick “might” demand a trade if he remains unhappy coming off the bench for Sacramento.
“He believes he is a starter in the NBA and there’s no guarantee he’ll get that job back, given how the team has played lately. And unlike last season, when he never criticized [former head coach Dave] Joerger publicly and even refrained from doing so after their well-chronicled January 2019 run-in at Golden State, Hield has shown a willingness to criticize [current head coach Luke] Walton that has proved at times problematic.”
As pointed out by Bleacher Report, Hield and Walton had their share of issues earlier in the season, particularly when the Kings lost a tight game to the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime and the 27-year-old shooting guard barely got to play when it mattered the most. To be precise, Hield was only utilized for five out of the 17 minutes comprising both the fourth quarter and the overtime period, which led him to complain to reporters about how some coaches have “trust issues” with certain players.
Kings win their 6th of their last 8 games, take down the Spurs 122-102 and Buddy Hield has a historic night, going 9/10 from three's – becoming the quickest to 800 career 3's. pic.twitter.com/eMsnFskXlv
— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) February 9, 2020
While Hield quickly apologized for his pointed comments, the Kings recently demoted him to the second unit, as he has been coming off the bench for the team’s last nine games. Despite the change in role, he has remained a productive player on the stat sheet, and is still Sacramento’s leading scorer, averaging 20.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 53 games, per Basketball-Reference. His shooting, however, has declined slightly from the season prior, as he is making just 43.2 percent of his shots from the field (down from 45.8 percent) and 38.7 percent of his three-point attempts (down from 42.7 percent).
Rumors of Hield’s uncertain future with the Kings — who are presently ranked 13th in the Western Conference with a 21-33 record — have been swirling since the lead-up to the 2019-20 regular season. In October, it was reported that the former Oklahoma Sooners standout was stalemated with Sacramento management as he and his agent tried to negotiate a more financially rewarding extension. A few days later, he agreed to a four-year extension worth $106 million — a deal that is set to take effect in the 2020-21 campaign.