Kings exclusive: De’Aaron Fox Q&A on Monte McNair’s contract extension, NBA trade deadline

Craig Lassig/AP

One of the most pressing questions facing the Sacramento Kings was answered last week when general manager Monte McNair signed a three-year contract extension, avoiding a scenario where he could have left the team this summer.

McNair was in the final months of the initial three-year contract he signed when he was hired by Kings owner Vivek Ranadive in September 2020, and has overseen a drastic organizational turnaround. Assistant general manager Wes Wilcox was also extended.

The Kings were the No. 3 seed in the crowded Western Conference as they began a seven-game road trip Saturday with a stop in Minneapolis for two games against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Kings’ 27-21 record is their best 47-game start since 2004-05. The team is poised to end its 16-year playoff drought, the longest in NBA history and currently the longest in America’s major pro sports. The Kings have won 10 of their last 15 games. They have the league’s best offensive rating (117.6) and rank 23rd in defensive rating (114.6).

Key to the turnaround is point guard De’Aaron Fox, who’s having his best season as a pro and is in the conversation to make his first All-Star appearance next month in Salt Lake City. He signed a max extension with Sacramento in November 2020, weeks after McNair was first named general manager.

The deal was worth $163 million over five seasons through 2025-26. Fox turned 25 last month and has three more years remaining on the pact, aligning his contract with McNair and head coach Mike Brown, who signed a four-year deal when he was hired in June.

The Sacramento Bee caught up with Fox at shootaround Saturday at Target Center in Minneapolis to discuss McNair’s extension, where the roster stands ahead of the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline and the current road trip.

What was your reaction to seeing McNair sign his contract extension?

Fox: It’s great. Just to have consistency throughout the organization, you want that to be the last thing you’re worried about is no extension. Just from top to bottom, I feel like everybody wants to know that they have a little bit of security. I feel like you do your job better when you’re secure.

What’s your relationship with him been like since he was hired?

Fox: It’s been good, it’s been good. He asks me my thoughts on things, what we feel like we need, as a team, to work on and to go outside and get better at. It’s great to have someone who is talking to you and pretty much wants to help you win.

Were you curious as to how this process was going to play out? Was there ever a question in your mind whether or not this was going to get done before the trade deadline or before the season ended?

Fox: I was not actually curious, no.

So you were confident it was going to happen?

Fox: I thought it was going to happen, especially with the way that we’re playing this year. You want to keep that thing going for many years still. Like I said, a lot of it, it’s just really about consistency throughout your organization.

Did Vivek ask for your input throughout the process?

Fox: No.

What does it mean to have the general manager and head coach on the same timeline contractually when it comes to consistency within the organization?

Fox: I think it does a lot just from the standpoint that they’ve been on the same page already. So with them not having to worry about contracts and someone being gone and someone (new) being here, I think it just eliminates an element that you don’t have to think about any more.

With the trade deadline upcoming and this team being the No. 3 seed, where does this roster stand in your mind? Do you think it needs to be altered at all, or are you happy with where things are at?

Fox: I feel like every roster can continue to grow and continue to be better. So whatever they see fit. For us, we know we have to be a better defensive team. I don’t know what they’re going to do with that, but for the guys that we have on the court, the guys that we have here now, we have to be better. If trades happen, trades happen. But regardless of what that is, we know we have to be better on that end.

What do you think of the job McNair has done recently with all the moves he’s made?

Fox: I think it’s great. He added some of the most important things that you need in the game today, which is shooting and spacing. So I think this offseason we did a fantastic job as a team.

When it comes to this road trip, what’s the goal for you guys beyond winning games and playing with more consistency?

Fox: For us, on the road especially in the league, you want to be better defensively. On the road, sometimes shots just don’t seem to go in with the travel and just being on the road for a long time, not being at home. You want to be able to hang on your defense, especially in road games.