SACRAMENTO (AP) — When the point guards the Sacramento Kings were targeting went off the board before they were set to pick at No. 8, general manager Vlade Divac didn’t hesitate to trade down and bolster his frontcourt instead.
Divac had a busy draft night Thursday, trading the rights to eighth pick Marquese Chriss and backup guard Marco Belinelli in two separate deals that gave the rebuilding Kings three first-round picks.
The deals netted the Kings two big men in 18-year-old Greek center Georgios Papagiannis and Kentucky freshman Skal Labissiere, and Syracuse wing player Malachi Richardson.
“We had our guys at the No. 8, but obviously they were picked before,” Divac said. “So we made a decision to go down and turn that pick into three more and build our team for the future.”
While Sacramento seemed to have a big need at point guard where last season’s starter Rajon Rondo will be a free agent, Divac ended up taking two more big men to add to All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins and last year’s first-round pick Willie Cauley-Stein.
The Kings got the 13th and 28th picks, along with a 2020 second-round pick and the rights to Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic in the deal that sent Chriss’ rights to the Phoenix Suns.
Phoenix then took Papagiannis with the 13th pick on behalf of the Kings. The 7-foot-1 Papagiannis played 21 games last season in the Greek league for Panathinaikos, averaging 6.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.
“He has everything,” Divac said. “He’s just young. He has to learn maybe a style of basketball. He has lot of talent. I’m very happy. He’s somebody who down the road can be probably an All-Star player.”
Divac said he considered moving up to get a point guard but the price was too high so he moved down for Papagiannis instead.
Papagiannis is considered agile, strong defensively with a good touch near the basket but might need more seasoning before he’s ready to contribute in the NBA. He is expected to come over to the NBA this season and looks forward to playing alongside Cousins.
“He has a lot of skill moves in the post,” he said. “Tough, tough guy to play against. I love his character. He’s mean for the game. He’s hungry.”
Before the draft started, the Kings sent Belinelli to Charlotte for the 22nd overall pick, a person familiar with the deal said on condition of anonymity because the trade won’t be official until the new salary cap season begins in July.
The Hornets selected Richardson on Sacramento’s behalf. Richardson averaged 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in his only season at Syracuse when he shot just 36.9 percent from the field.
“This draft was a little hectic at first,” Richardson said. “There was a lot of guys still sitting in the green room that everyone thought would be picked earlier and there were a lot of people picked that no one really thought about.
A lot of things happened and I got slotted down a little bit, but I’m just thankful to be in this position that I’m in.”
The Suns then took Labissiere for the Kings with the 28th pick. Labissiere was considered one of the top prospects entering the season but struggled at Kentucky when he averaged 6.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
“I’m very skilled and I’m ready to show that,” Labissiere said. “I can do a lot of different things, put the ball on the floor. I can score many different ways offensively. I can pass the ball. On defense I can guard smaller guys on the perimeter and I run the floor really well and block shots.”
Divac said Labissiere might have the “best upside” in the draft.
“I think that was a steal for us,” Divac said.
Sacramento used its final pick on Oklahoma point guard Isaiah Cousins, taking him 59th overall.
Bogdanovic, the 27th pick in the 2014 draft, is planning to stay in Europe for another year before coming to the NBA.
This is the start of a big offseason for the Kings, who hired Dave Joerger as coach in May and are looking to have a competitive team in place when they move into a new downtown arena to start next season.
While the Kings won 30 games this season for the first time since 2007-08, they missed the playoffs for the 10th straight season as coach George Karl failed to fix the problems on the court. The defense has once again been a major problem with the team allowing a league-worst 109.1 points per game and giving up an NBA-record 839 3-pointers.