Another Uncertain Offseason Awaits The Sacramento Kings
After missing the postseason for the 15th-straight season, the Kings will once again search for a change of direction this summer
15 years is a really long time. There’s no other way to slice it.
What were you doing fifteen years ago? Really. Take a second and think.
It has been a long, long, LONG time since the Sacramento Kings were ousted by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the 2006 NBA Playoffs.
Yet, here we are, not even a week removed from watching the Kings end their regular season with a blowout loss to the Utah Jazz that cemented the as the owner of the league’s longest playoff drought in league history (tied with the 1976-1991 Buffalo/San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers).
That forces me to ask the same question that I have already asked in a postseason article just like this one last season:
Where do we go from here?
With the question on who will be the head coach next season answered, the focus shifts to the roster for general manager Monte McNair and the rest of the front office.
For the Sacramento Kings, there are plenty of questions and only a few answers as to who will and will not be on the roster come training camp.
Former general manager Vlade Divac inked Richaun Holmes to a two-year, $9.7 million deal prior to the 2019-20 season and at this point, the Kings got the talented center for an absolute bargain.
Over two seasons in Sacramento, Holmes has turned into a fan-favorite while posting back-to-back career-years, with the 2020-21 regular season putting the 27-year-old in a strong place to get a multi-year deal for much more than the one he signed in 2019.
Holmes set career-highs across the board this season posting 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 blocks per game over 61 games while racking up 21 double-doubles.
The 6’11 big finished the season with the second-highest field goal percentage (63%) in the entire NBA, finishing just behind Utah Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert (67%).
While Holmes has stated that he is interested in returning to the Kings next season, the talented center might have played his way into a bigger contract than Sacramento can offer.
Since the team originally signed him to his current contract, the Kings have Early Bird Rights on Holmes. Sacramento can go over the cap to sign him to a deal worth 175% of his current salary.
Bobby Marks of ESPN recently shared that Holmes’ current salary projection is $11 million. Per Marks, league rules prevent the Kings from signing Holmes to a one-year, $11 million contract that would allow him to establish full Bird rights and sign a more lucrative contract in 2022.
Holmes told the Sacramento media on Monday that he is going to evaluate his options in free agency, but the center “can’t say enough how much I love playing here and how much I love Sacramento. We will see what happens this summer and see if that can continue.”
Expect the Kings to try and move salary around to retain Holmes, but in the end the talented center might have played his way into a larger contract than McNair and company can counter.
Buddy Hield & Harrison Barnes
With one year of Buddy Hield’s four-year, $94 million deal in the books, the Kings are in quite the predicament as the head into the offseason.
All of Hield, De’Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes will make $20 million or more in 2021-22 all while the team must also decide on what to do with Marvin Bagley III in the final season of his rookie-scale contract.
When it comes down to who is most likely to be moved this summer, the most obvious answer is Hield with the emergence of rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton. The Kings have no replacement at the small forward position, and Barnes’ leadership, financially declining contract (goes down to $18 million in 2022-23) could be enough for the team to bring him back and look to move Hield in a move to create cap space.
Hield drilled a career-high 282 three-point field goals this season (eighth-most in a single season in NBA history) on 39-percent shooting from three-point range while averaging 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists (career-high) per game.
Teams that are in need of shooting and scoring could look to trade for Hield, although it was reported that the Kings did not receive many offers in the shooting guard during this season’s trade deadline.
Barnes, however, did receive plenty of interest and is likely to be looked at in potential deals by many general managers this summer.
The 28-year-old veteran arguably posted the best all-around season of his career, averaging 16.1 points, 6.6 rebounds (career-high) and 3.5 assists (career-high) while shooting 49-percent from the field and 39-percent from the three-point line.
It’s unlikely that both of Barnes and Hield return next season, with Monte McNair needing to clear cap space to add more impact players to the rotation.
While Hield is the player that the team would most likely move in a deal first, Barnes is the player that holds the most value in the trade market.
Barnes is a player that could be an integral piece for a Kings team that will be looking to end the playoff drought next season, with no clear replacement for the 6’8 forward staffed on the roster.
It should be an interesting situation to watch unfold.
Marvin Bagley III
Another season plagued with unfortunate injuries has passed for Marvin Bagley III, who has now appeared in 118 games over three NBA seasons.
When Bagley was on the floor the production was there, as the 22-year-old finished the season with averages of 14.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game on 50-percent shooting from the field and a career-high 34-percent from three-point range.
The questions surrounding Bagley are not about his talent, but rather his durability and injury history as he heads into a contract-year in 2021-22.
Sacramento can choose to extend an extension to Bagley this offseason, but that seems unlikely due to the team’s financial situation. It’s possible that the Kings let Bagley play out the final year of his rookie-scale contract before letting the young forward test restricted free agency in the Summer of 2022.
Of course, the team could also move Bagley and his $11.3 million salary in a deal this offseason to create cap space or acquire an impact player if McNair and the front office do not view Bagley as a longterm fit in Sacramento.
Bagley’s father, Marvin Bagley Jr., came under fire early in the season after requesting that Bagley III be traded away from the Kings after head coach Luke Walton had Bagley on the bench during the end of games.
While Marvin Sr.’s attitude has changed as of late with the most recent tweets from the TeamBagley account even encouraging a Kings playoff push over the last days of the season, the questions still remain surrounding Marvin Bagley III’s future in Sacramento.
If one is reading the room, it feels as if Bagley will not be a longterm fit with the Kings–but at this point, anything and everything is on the table. The talent is there for the young big, but staying on the floor is all that could be separating the former Duke Blue Devil from being the player that many envision him to be.
Will Monte McNair choose to play Bagley as the starting center if Richaun Holmes departs in free agency? Could the team include Bagley in a deal with Hield or Barnes to bring back an impact piece?
There are plenty of possibilities surrounding the former number-two pick’s future.
Acquired during the trade deadline for a second-round pick, Terence Davis ended the 2020-21 season on a roll.
Over the final 10 games of the season, the 23-year-old held per game averages of 16.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 44-percent from the field and 37-percent from three-point range.
Davis will enter restricted free agency this summer, with the Kings likely to make an effort to retain the young guard after his efforts over the final half of the season.
While Davis has shown that he can be a strong player off of the bench, the team will likely take the guard’s off the court issues into account when deciding on bringing him back longterm.
Sacramento can offer Davis a qualifying offer of $1.8 million to make him a restricted free agent, giving themselves the right to match any offer.
NBA Draft Lottery
Sacramento is currently tied for the 8th, 9th and 10th spots in the lottery with New Orleans and Chicago (pick goes to Orlando if it falls outside of the top-four).
A coin-flip-tie-breaker will take place on the morning of Tuesday, May 25th to establish the team’s positions in June 22nd’s NBA Draft Lottery.
All three of Sacramento, New Orleans and Chicago will have a 20.3% chance of moving into the top four and a 4.5% chance of being awarded the number-one pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.