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SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 26: Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Sacramento Kings looks on against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first half at Golden 1 Center on December 26, 2019 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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Marvin Bagley III To Begin Season Outside Of Luke Walton’s Rotation

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Jeff Schwartz–Bagley’s agent–shared the “baffling” news on Tuesday night

It was a quiet offseason for the Sacramento Kings–until the very last night.

After speculation that forward Marvin Bagley III could begin the season on the bench, Bagley’s agent Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports confirmed that the number-two overall pick in 2018’s NBA Draft will indeed begin the year on the outside of head coach Luke Walton’s rotation.

“SACRAMENTO HAS INFORMED MARVIN BAGLEY HE IS NOT IN THE OPENING NIGHT ROTATION.
WHICH IS COMPLETELY BAFFLING. IT’S CLEAR THEY HAVE NO PLANS FOR HIM IN THE FUTURE.
AND YET. PASSED ON POTENTIAL DEALS AT LAST YEAR’S DEADLINE AND THIS SUMMER
BASED ON “VALUE”. INSTEAD, THEY CHOSE TO BRING HIM BACK BUT NOT PLAY HIM,
A MOVE COMPLETELY CONTRADICTORY TO THEIR “VALUE” ARGUMENT. THIS IS A CASE
STUDY IN MISMANAGEMENT BY THE KINGS ORGANIZATION.”

Bagley’s agent Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports – October 19, 2021

Walton told the media on Monday morning that he was looking at beginning the season with an eight-to-nine person rotation, meaning that two of Bagley, guard Terence Davis and center Alex Len would begin the year on the outside looking in.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Walton said of the team’s depth during practice on Monday afternoon. “Ideally, you’re at eight (players in the rotation), maybe eight-and-a-half, nine in my opinion, and we have 12-to-13 guys here that I feel confident to go out there and help us win.”

Speculation surrounding Bagley’s status began after Thursday night’s preseason finale when Walton shared that the 22-year-old was active, but was not part of that night’s gameplan.

The dark cloud that has been hanging over the Bagley-Kings marriage appears to have grown even larger, as the news of Bagley’s benching comes just 24 hours after the rookie scale contract extension deadline passed without a deal between the two parties.

Bagley will become a restricted free agent at the end of this season, but the Kings will have the right to match any offer sheet that the forward signs if the extend a qualifying offer.

As far as that process goes, there is a catch, per James Ham or NBC Sports:

Bagley’s qualifying offer will be $14.8 million if the Kings decide to extend the offer, but that number will drop to $7.22 million (Ham later clarifies the updated figure) if the former Duke star does not start in at least 41 games or play 2,000 minutes this season.

Whether or not Bagley remains on the team throughout the season remains to be seen, but the disconnect between Bagley and the Kings front office has been messy for as long as one can remember.

Just last season, Bagley’s father publicly requested a trade–on several occasions. Earlier in the offseason, Bagley was seen ‘liking’ a tweet that read “We gotta to get Bagley outta Sac, man”.

With Bagley out of the rotation, it has become crystal clear that the Bagley-Kings marriage is all but officially over. Walton is opting to run with a rotation that includes defensive minded players like Moe Harkless and Tristan Thompson, citing that defense is the priority this season after an abysmal 2020-21 season.

Sacramento bolstered its defense by drafting guard Davion Mitchell with the ninth-overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, reuniting with center Alex Len and bringing back Harkless and Davis after both players performed well at the end of last season.

Bagley’s defense has always been a massive question-mark and one that appears to be the deciding factor in holding him out of the rotation.

The opening night rotation for Sacramento will likely appear as follows:

  • PG: De’Aaron Fox
  • SG: Tyrese Haliburton
  • SF: Harrison Barnes
  • PF: Moe Harkless
  • C: Richaun Holmes
  • PG: Davion Mitchell
  • SG/SF: Buddy Hield
  • SG/SF: Terence Davis
  • PF/C: Tristan Thompson

Be sure to get all of your opening night Kings vs Blazers coverage right here on Sports 1140 KHTK, with pregame coverage beginning at 3:00pm PST on The Jason Ross Show.