At the conclusion of the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Sacramento Kings had a record of 31-41 which placed them at 12th in the western conference and 20th in the league. The Kings had a disappointing season, failing to build on their breakthrough season last year. Their star, young players missed extended periods of time due to injury and were therefore unable to develop much further. There was some tension between Buddy Hield and the front office after they signed a hefty contract extension before stripping him of his starting role. There will be some pressure on the Kings to explore trades involving Hield and potentially even Harrison Barnes as they look to move in a different direction to get to the playoffs. The Sacramento Kings also have a new general manager in Monte McNair who may be wanting and willing to make drastic changes in order to take his team to the next level. This offseason, the Kings will need to make some clear decisions around extensions and contracts for some of their youth as well as focusing on obtaining some further rotational depth at just about every position, all while operating as an over the cap team. As of now, I can’t see the Kings improving to make the playoffs in an extremely competitive western conference next season, but it will be up to the new front office to make the right decisions now to set the team up for success in future seasons.
Currently, the Sacramento Kings have seven players with guaranteed contracts for the 2020-2021 NBA season. Nemanja Bjelica has a non-guaranteed contract which I expect to become fully guaranteed as soon as possible along with two-way player, Kyle Guy. Jabari Parker has a $6.5 million player option which he should be opting into. Parker has been bouncing around the league for the last couple of seasons and since joining the Kings, hasn’t been able to prove his value and therefore, I do not expect him to be offered any contracts above the tax-payer mid-level should he enter free agency. Due to this, I expect him to opt for security and give himself a full, stable season to increase his value for future free agency. Bogdan Bogdanovic is an important restricted free agent for the Kings along with two-way player, DaQuan Jeffries. Bogdanovic is expected to remain in Sacramento as it is unlikely any team will be able to offer a contract high enough for the Kings not to match it as he is a valuable piece in this team’s rebuild. The Kings have several unrestricted free agents in Kent Bazemore, Alex Len, Yogi Ferrell, Harry Giles, and Corey Brewer. The Kings project to have the full $9.2 million mid-level exception and $3.6 million bi-annual exception available to them as well as a $2.6 million trade exception.
Depth Chart –
The Sacramento Kings will enter free agency will some cap space available but once they match any offer for Bogdanovic, they project to be operating as an over the cap team which leaves them with very little options. With limited to no cap room it is hard to make any major changes in free agency and they will most likely be looking to retain their own free agents and improve via trades. Kent Bazemore will be their first priority as they lack any depth at his position. They will also be looking to retain Harry Giles over Alex Len at the backup center as he fits the teams timeline a bit better and will ultimately get more minutes in order to develop. The Kings cannot offer Giles a contract worth more than his cap hold due to his rookie scale team option being declined but I do not expect him to be fielding offers over $4 million. Yogi Ferrell has been a reliable and serviceable backup for the Kings over the last two seasons and I expect that to continue when he is ultimately retained by the Kings with early bird rights. Finally, Brandon Knight is an intriguing guard the Kings could look to bring in the with mid-level exception. Knight has been bouncing around the league over the past several seasons and increased his value significantly in his limited time in Detroit. If the Pistons are not wanting to retain him on a mid-level contract, I expect Knight to opt for the more valuable contract and go to the Kings, especially if they are looking to move on from Buddy Hield.
The Sacramento Kings will have the 12th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. The Kings will most certainly look to draft with this pick to add to their youth and depth going forward in this rebuild. They will be after a long-term replacement at the center position. While Holmes was serviceable this season, it is clear that the Kings are looking for someone else to take the mantle long-term and they could look to do so with this pick. With the 12th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings should look to select Aleksej Pokusevski, a 7’0” out of Serbia. Pokusevski is one of the more interesting prospects in this draft. He has enormous size but is quite lanky and could be compromised on the defensive end if he isn’t able to grow stronger. He can stretch the floor and handle the ball extremely well for a player his size and given time, could develop into a solid starter in the NBA. The Kings are still several years from contention in my opinion and could fit the timeline for Pokusevski.
The Sacramento Kings are in a critical stage of their rebuild where they must make decisions on their backing their young players or make drastic changes and start again. With limited to no cap room after retaining Bogdanovic, it will be difficult to advance through free agency, so they are most likely to look at trade offers for players like Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes. They may also take a risk in the draft on a player that could develop well over time and put all their hopes on future seasons rather than trying to make the playoffs now. Ultimately, I expect the Kings to remain where they are talent wise next season and stay just out of reach of the playoffs which could spell disaster for the head coach.
Projected Depth Chart 2020/21 Season –
Players IN: Brandon Knight, Aleksej Pokusevski
Players OUT: Alex Len, Corey Brewer
Trade Potential: Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield