SACRAMENTO — Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox’s name is circulating throughout the league as a big-time player who can potentially be moved by the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline.
The Philadelphia 76ers canvassed the prospect of a Fox-Ben Simmons trade package as recently as a few days ago, but dialogue remains exploratory due diligence, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Kings have received an abundance of interest in Fox and second-year guard Tyrese Haliburton, but the internal plan is to build around those two cornerstones in the backcourt rather than shipping them out, sources said.
However, no player on the Kings’ roster is deemed untouchable. Sacramento is 17-27 and 11th in the Western Conference standings.
“You definitely think about potentially being traded because we are struggling,” Fox told Yahoo Sports after leading the Kings with 29 points in a 125-116 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night. “If you do have a change of scenery, it changes everything. I’ve been here for five years. I’ve built a life here, a family here. But once I’m on the court, all that is out the window. You’re not thinking about anything else that can happen outside of your control.
"But I’ve been through some deadlines. I’ve seen people get traded at the last second. You try not to think about it, but you know it’s a business and anything can happen. I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Obviously, you see reports on Twitter. Am I worried about it? No. Can it happen? Yeah, it can definitely happen.”
Fox. 24, has yet to reach his full potential and many NBA onlookers attribute that to an inferior supporting cast as well as enduring a rotating coaching carousel throughout his career. His numbers are down this season overall, but in January, Fox is averaging 24.1 points and shooting 48.4% from the field.
Yet, the Kings are 2-5 in that span.
“I have to keep being persistent and keep playing,” Fox told Yahoo Sports. “I go out there and if I’m getting 30 points, I get 30. If I’m not playing well, I try to get through it. I’ve had good stretches, I’ve had bad stretches. I don’t think I’ve had as bad [of] stretches as I’ve had this year, for sure. But you just have to keep going. It’s a long season. You play a lot of basketball games and you're going to play well and you’re going to play bad. Do I think I’ve had the greatest season this year? No. I know I haven’t played too well. But I try to control what I can control and do the best that I can do.”
Part of Fox’s developmental hindrance is figuring out a consistent role. He’s been asked to play certain ways depending on the coach and the lineup he’s paired with. Fox said he takes "full responsibility” for his shortcomings, but with this season marking half a decade in the league for the guard, he said he has an understanding of the best way he can be utilized in order to reach his full potential.
“I think I’m a scorer,” Fox told Yahoo Sports. “Just with the work that I continue to put in and knowing what I do when the cameras are off. Just being one of the best scorers in the league, truthfully. I think I’ve proven that I can facilitate at times when need be. I was top five in assists before, but my game is more of being a scorer. Just being able to put all of that together and being one of the best scorers.”
The Kings, under second-year general manager Monte McNair, are expected to be aggressively active at the trade deadline, sources said. The front office has been given the green light by team owner Vivek Radavine to survey all options with the goal of drastically improving the roster.
With a little under a month before the trade deadline, Fox says his primary focus will be on sustaining consistency and helping turn the team around in an effort to break the NBA’s longest playoff drought of 15 years. But he’s very much aware of what’s around the corner.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I want to get traded, but anything can happen in this business,” Fox told Yahoo Sports. “You've seen the best players in the league get traded. You can’t think you’re safe. But I love being here because for years, the Kings were the only professional team in the city. Kings fans love the Kings. That’s what I’ve always loved about it. And me coming from Kentucky, that’s how it was. Even when we were good at football, no one cared. It was a basketball school. This is a basketball city and these fans have a genuine love for the Kings and the players, and it’s something that I love.”