Kings

Buddy Hield close to setting new Kings' record in midst of career-year

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USATI

Buddy Hield close to setting new Kings' record in midst of career-year

SACRAMENTO -- Buddy Hield is having quite the season for the Sacramento Kings. He’s averaging nearly 21 points per game in his third NBA season and completely changed the conversation about who and what he is as a player.

Hield is also having a historic run as a shooter. With 11 games remaining, Hield is just three 3-pointers shy of breaking the Kings’ all-time record for 3-point makes in a season, held by the current assistant general manager, Peja Stojakovic.

“It’s a good honor to get it, but Peja, what he’s done for this franchise has been terrific, it’s been special,” Hield said.

Stojakovic drilled 240 3-pointers during to the 2003-04 season. He not only led the league in triples, but he broke Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond’s franchise mark of 225 makes, which was set in 1996.

The former player turned exec has worked as a mentor behind the scenes, helping Hield take a huge step forward in his development.

“He’s always on me and he’s always on me about how to get better, how to get my shot off quicker, how to use my pump fake,” Hield said of Stojakovic. “He’s still today doing that. A lot of my success comes from talking to him and trying to test him and pick his brain. It would be great if I can get the overall franchise record in threes made.”

Hield has 238 makes on the season. He’s averaging a shocking 3.4 makes per and is on pace to match Damian Lillard’s NBA record of 599 made 3-pointers over the first three seasons of a players career.

[RELATED: Dirk Nowitzki raves about future of Kings]

The 26-year-old slinger has 562 makes over his first three seasons. He needs 37 more makes to snap the record. He’s already surpassed Klay Thompson’s 545 makes to move into second place all-time for most 3-pointers in the first three seasons, although Thompson’s rookie campaign was marred by 16 missed games due to the strike-shortened season of 2011-12.

Hield will need a few more seasons to track down Stojakovic’s franchise record of 1070 career makes from behind the arc.

De'Aaron Fox finishes third in NBA's Most Improved Player Award voting

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USATSI

De'Aaron Fox finishes third in NBA's Most Improved Player Award voting

After a breakout second season with the Sacramento Kings, De’Aaron Fox finished in third place in his bid for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award Monday evening as part of the league’s postseason award show.

The Kings' starting point guard was one of three finalists for the award, but Toronto's Pascal Siakam took home the trophy after posting a big season for the Raptors. Nets' All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell finished second in voting.

Fox, 21, turned heads not just with his numbers, but with his ability to win with the Kings. Sacramento showed a 10-game improvement over the previous season and picked up their most victories since the 2005-06 season. It wasn't enough for Fox to take home the trophy.

The Kings missed the playoffs for a thirteenth consecutive season, but they are a team on the rise and Fox is the centerpiece of their rebuild.

After posting 11.6 points, 4.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds in his rookie campaign, Fox improved to 17.3 points, 7.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds in his sophomore season.

Selected with the No. 5 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Fox improved in almost every facet of the game, including his 3-point shooting. He jumped from 30.7 percent in Year 1 to 37.1 percent in Year 2.

[RELATED: Examining Kings' roster before free agency]

Sacramento has designed their entire offense around Fox and they intend to continue that trend in the coming seasons.

Siakam had a great season for the Raptors, finishing the year averaging 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds in his third NBA season. He was a huge part of Toronto's success this season, which culminated in the team's first NBA Championship.

NBA free agency 2019: Examining Kings' current roster construction

NBA free agency 2019: Examining Kings' current roster construction

The 2019 NBA Draft is over and now the real work begins for the Sacramento Kings. They have massive holes to fill in their roster and a Brinks truck full of cash to spend.

Free agency begins June 30, although no one can officially sign until July 6. Teams around the league are lining up for big fish like Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Khris Middleton, Kevin Durant, Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler and Al Horford.

Sacramento is an up-and-coming team with a solid core and a play style that should be attractive to free agents. Whether they can land a big fish is still in question, but they have the cash to be a player.

Long-term flexibility is still a priority, but adding a major piece or two is a necessity at this point with the improvements throughout the Western Conference.

Cap Space 

$60.8 million (with seven minimum scale -- 7 x $900,000 = $6.3 million) cap holds and without the contracts of Yogi Ferrell, Frank Mason and three second-round selections

Current Roster

(Guaranteed contracts): De’Aaron Fox ($6.4 million), Buddy Hield ($4.9 million), Bogdan Bogdanovic ($8.5 million), Marvin Bagley ($8.6 million), Nemanja Bjelica ($6.8 million), Harry Giles ($2.6 million), Caleb Swanigan ($2 million)

Options: Yogi Ferrell ($3.2 million team option July 4), Frank Mason ($1.6 million team option Oct. 15)

Free Agents: Kosta Koufos (UFA -- $16.6 million cap hold), Willie Cauley-Stein (projected RFA -- $6.3 million qualifying offer, $14.1 million cap hold), Alec Burks (UFA -- $17.3 million cap hold), Harrison Barnes (UFA -- $32.7 million cap hold), Corey Brewer (UFA -- $2.4 million cap hold)

Dead Money: Matt Barnes ($2.1 million)

Roster Space: Without counting any of the three second-round selections, the King' roster currently stands at seven, but that number could grow to nine if they pick up the team options on both Yogi Ferrell and Frank Mason.

Needs: Center, Small Forward, Defenders, Overall Depth

Trade Chips

In past season, the Kings have had at least a few veteran players on expiring contracts. That is not the case this year. If they are going to improve their roster, it has to come through free agency or as a soft landing spot for a salary dump.

If the team extends a qualifying offer to Willie Cauley-Stein, they can possibly facilitate a sign-and-trade, but there is limited value in this scenario. The team could also dip into their young core, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Expectations

The Kings have holes to fill and this is a strong free-agent class. Vlade Divac has to dip his toe in Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the group, even if that means overpaying or swinging and missing.

He also needs to get on the phone and see if he can improve his team by taking on a significant contract from a team that is either over the luxury threshold or in need of a reboot.

[RELATED: 10 options to replace Willie Cauley-Stein in free agency, trade]

Last summer the team took a cautious approach to free agency. That cannot be the team’s approach this year.

The Western Conference has loaded up. Teams like the Lakers and Jazz have already made significant strides forward. If the Kings hope to compete for a playoff spot, they need help and they need it now.