When the NBA season restarted in the Bubble, the Sacramento Kings didn’t get off to a great start. Just as they were set to travel to Orlando, the team announced that three players — Buddy Hield, Jabari Parker, Alex Len — and an unidentified member of the traveling party had all tested positive for COVID-19.
Hield had personally drawn criticism after a video emerged of him playing pick-up basketball in a crowded gym in Oklahoma where many people were not wearing protective masks. Regardless, after the mandatory quarantine, he was able to suit up for the Kings, who promptly squandered the slim chance they’d been afforded to quality for the postseason in the eight seeding games.
Hield, who had been benched earlier in the season, showed some frustration toward head coach Luke Walton after a game against the Lakers in August, offering a cryptic response to the question of whether he was happy with his role on the team. Now, it appears that relationship has deteriorated further, with Hield reportedly avoiding phone calls from Walton.
But for Hield, things have changed. According to league sources, Hield has soured on Walton to the point he will not answer his coach’s phone calls. Messages to Hield’s agent, Brandon Rosenthal, and Walton were not returned.
In February, The Athletic reported Hield’s frustrations with Walton and how his benching was handled could lead to Hield wanting to be traded after the 2019-20 season.
Hield is doing his part on social media to stir up rumors about a trade by liking an Instagram post linking him to being traded to Philadelphia and liking a news alert on Twitter about Doc Rivers being hired to coach the 76ers.
Hield signed a four-year extension with the Kings in the fall of 2019 for more than $106 million, while Walton likewise is under contract with Sacramento for the next three years and would be owed his remaining salary if they were to fire him.
Though Hield struggled in Orlando, he’d played well in a reserve role for the Kings prior to the shutdown, shooting better than 45 percent from behind the arc, and would certainly draw some attention from various suitors around the league if Sacramento did indeed decide to go that route.