With the 2019-20 season just around the corner, the Kings have a series of decisions facing them with regard to some of their young players. Most of the items on the agenda are easy and won’t take long to determine, but there are a few more complex issues to deal with.
The NBA collective bargaining agreement can be confusing, especially when it comes to rookie scale contracts. It’s a standardized process for most first round selections, although shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic’s situation is unique.
Bogdanovic, along with Buddy Hield, is eligible for a contract extension that would kick in before the 2020-21 season. Both are considered major pieces of what the Kings are building and the team would like them to stick around long term.
Sacramento also has decisions to make on option years for De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley, Harry Giles and Caleb Swanigan. Each of these players has a team option for at least next season.
The Kings have until Oct. 21 to finalize decisions on all six of these players. Here is a look at where things stand a little over two weeks before decisions have to be finalized.
Fox ($8.1 million), Bagley ($8.96 million) and Giles ($3.98 million) are all locks to have their options picked up for the 2020-21 season. Fox and Bagley were both top five picks and so far, they have lived up to their draft position.
Giles is a slight risk with his history of knee issues, but the team has invested heavily in the 21-year-old big and they’ll need at least one more season of pressure-free evaluation before making any final decision on where he fits in.
Sacramento acquired Swanigan for Skal Labissiere at the deadline last season. The Kings liked the 6-foot-9 bruiser coming into the 2017 NBA Draft, but he jumped up to the No. 26 pick in the first round.
While Swanigan has done a tremendous amount of work to get himself in shape coming into camp, it’s unlikely that the Kings pick up Swanigan’s $3.7 million option for next season. His 2019-20 roster spot might be up for grabs as well if the team decides to keep a player like Tyler Ulis or Tyler Lydon instead.
Fox, Bagley and Giles are safe. Swanigan is on the bubble to make the roster, let alone have his 2020-21 contract picked up. The Kings are likely to decline that option and then decide his fate with the team over the next two weeks.
Bogdanovic is a rookie scale anomaly. The 27-year-old Serb waited a full three years after being selected with the 27th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. That allowed him to sign a contract outside of the constraints of the rookie scale salary slot.
Vlade Divac convinced the European star to join the Kings on a 3-year, $27 million declining value contract. He made $9.5 million in year one, $9 million in year two and the Kings are on the hook for $8.5 million this season.
Like every other first-round pick, Bogdanovic is still a restricted free agent after his third NBA season as long as the Kings extend his $10.7 million qualifying offer ($16.2 million cap hold) if the two sides fail to reach an agreement before the Oct. 21 deadline.
The maximum extension Sacramento can offer Bogdanovic is 4-years, $51.7 million. This figure is based on an estimated NBA average salary of $9.56 million for the 2019-20 season. He is eligible for 120 percent of that figure with eight percent raises each season.
Sacramento would love to lock up Bogdanovic long term and the figure above is extremely appealing. With Bogdanovic coming off a big FIBA World Cup, he and his agent may be looking for something more lucrative. The safe move for all parties is to sign the deal, but we predict that Bogdanovic will forgo the security and hit the open market as a restricted free agent next summer.
What a difference a year makes. Hield blew up in his third NBA season, averaging a team-best 20.7 points per game. He transformed his game from a three-point specialist to a scoring machine, and that bodes well for his bank account.
Hield is an elite shooter, but he’s still a work in progress with other aspects of his game. He’s shown improvement as a passer and rebounder and he is a perfect fit for the Kings’ uptempo offense. His defense still needs a lot of work.
Unlike the complexities of Bogdanovic’s contract, Hield is eligible for a massive extension up to 25 percent of the team’s salary cap. With the 2020-21 cap expected to come in at $116 million, down $2 million from earlier projections, Hield is eligible for a maximum 4-year deal around $130.7 million or a 5-year, designated player extension, right around $170 million.
Those numbers are the maximum Hield can earn. It’s unlikely the Kings will come close to either of those figures. It’s also unlikely that Hield lands one of the team’s two designated maximum player contracts. Those are likely earmarked for Fox and Bagley.
The former No. 6 overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft is living up to his potential and will likely want a huge payday. Sacramento could wait and make sure he can repeat last season’s numbers. They could also let him walk into next summer as a restricted free agent and let the market set his price.
There is a lot of excitement coming into this season and locking Hield into a long term deal would help build on that. If the Kings can get him on a 4-year, $85-95 million contract, the deal gets done.
If Hield’s people start talking max money, Sacramento has to consider the future deals of Fox and Bagley, as well as a potential in-house replacement in Bogdanovic.
The Kings want Hield to stick around. Hield likes Sacramento. There has to be common ground. If the two sides can quickly find a number that balances a breakout season, long term security and future salary responsibilities, a deal gets done.
If Hield plays hardball, the Kings have no choice but to see if Hield can repeat his big season and then play the restricted free agent game next summer.