The First 24 Hours Of Free Agency Couldn’t Have Been Better For The Kings
In a free agency class that included Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving, the Sacramento Kings have quietly made great signings without pursuing the top-tier names.
The Kings didn’t deviate from their plans in order to throw their hat into the ring for one of the best players available. Vlade Divac had a list of needs and he has checked every item off that list without straying too far off the plan.
The plans for the off-season started at the trade deadline for Sacramento with the Harrison Barnes trade. Locking Barnes up long term instantly became priority number one for Divac and the Kings.
After the 27-year-old opted out of his contract he signed with Dallas back in 2016, the Kings took their first step. They wasted little time by signing Barnes to a four-year, $85 million deal that declines annually, giving the Kings more cap space in several years. The long term deal also saved Sacramento money on Barnes average annual value, going from his $25.1 million player option to an AAV of $21.25 million.
The trade from February looks even better than before now because Divac was able to turn the 37-year-old Randolph and Jackson, who was inconsistent in his time with the Kings, into now four-and-a-half years of Barnes who is entering his prime. The Kings have had an issue filling the small forward position since the departure of Rudy Gay and re-signing Barnes gives the position stability.
The next step was improve the center position with Willie Cauley-Stein leaving in free agency. Enter Dewayne Dedmon. The 7-footer’s numbers might be slightly down compared to Cauley-Stein’s numbers but Dedmon can stretch the floor with his three-point shot ability.
Prior to the 2017-18 season, Dedmon had attempted one shot from beyond the arc but after signing with Atlanta, he expanded his game. In his two seasons with the Hawks, Dedmon went 133-for-358, 37.2 percent. Last season alone, he shot 38.2 percent from three, which would have fourth on Kings (minimum three 3PA per game).
Dedmon adds another wrinkle to the Kings offense. He can score underneath the hoop but can also extend out and allow Sacramento to space the floor out for other offensive weapons to thrive.
The Kings starting five is likely set with the signing of Dedmon. De’Aaron Fox at the one, Buddy Hield at the two, Barnes at the three, Marvin Bagley at the four, and Dedmon playing the five. The bench already included Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica, and Harry Giles. That left a few spots open on the bench and Divac filled those spots excellently.
The first move for the bench was the signing of Trevor Ariza. The forward turned 34 on Sunday but he’s shown he can still be a productive player. Last season with the Suns and Wizards, the forward averaged 12.5 points per game while shooting 39.9 percent from the field.
Ariza will be in a different role in Sacramento. Over the past decade, Ariza started in 658 of his 700 games played. Coming off the bench might drop his numbers but as long as he’s as effective, the minutes will come.
Where Ariza does shine is his ability to play defense. He’s a three and D forward who can shoot the ball from deep but gives the Kings a defensive presence off the bench on the wing.
Just like Ariza, Cory Joseph, who was signed Monday morning, gives the Kings another defensive player off the bench. Entering his ninth season in the NBA, Joseph is still just 27-years-old and will like take the backup point guard spot behind Fox.
Joseph has always been more of a role player in his career, starting just 95 of his 528 career games so he will be entering a role he’s used to unlike Ariza. He has the ability to defend both the one and the two and that will be valuable coming off the Kings bench.
The Kings most recent move helps with their versatility off the bench with the signing of Richaun Holmes. Holmes can play both the four and the five and will be the Kings fifth big on their roster. To have the flexibility to have a combo of bigs on the floor that can give spacing whether it be Bagley/Dedmon, Bagley/Holmes, or Holmes/Dedmon, there should be plenty of space for Luke Walton’s offense to operate.
Divac wanted to add depth and versatility to the Kings and he did that perfectly. Not only were these moves made with this season in mind but they were made for future flexibility. Each of these deals were made with the final year being a partial guarantee. With extensions due for Hield, Fox, and Bagley coming over the next few years, Sacramento should have the finances to lock down their franchise players.
Divac nailed the early days of free agency, there’s no way around it. The Kings now have a solidified starting five for at least the next three years and a bench to back it all up. While the Kings were tied to names like Nikola Vucevic and Al Horford, names that would have taken up majority of their cap space available, Divac spread the money out to make the Kings more balanced.