Kings

Can Kings extend Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic before deadline?

Can Kings extend Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic before deadline?

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.

Rookie Options

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.

Prediction

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.

Extensions

Bogdan Bogdanovic

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.

Prediction

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.

Buddy Hield

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.

Prediction

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.

[RELATED: What we learned about Kings in blowout loss vs. Pacers]

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.

How Kings' Cory Joseph stopped James Harden after quirky walk-through

How Kings' Cory Joseph stopped James Harden after quirky walk-through

The Texas two-step is turning into a nightmare for NBA opponents. Twenty-year-old phenom Luka Doncic is taking the NBA by storm, and he has transformed the Dallas Mavericks into one of the better teams in the Western Conference.

James Harden is averaging 38 points per game for the Houston Rockets and he has Russell Westbrook riding shotgun in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense.

For the beat-up Kings, Sunday and Monday’s back-to-back against the Mavs and Rockets looked like a pair losses before they even hopped on the team bus. But that’s not the way it worked out.

Cory Joseph got away with a touch foul on Doncic in the final seconds and the Kings escaped Dallas with a 110-106 win. There was no time to celebrate. Sacramento boarded a flight for Houston to face Harden fewer than 24 hours later without even a shootaround to prepare for the league’s leading scorer.

In a stroke of genius, coach Luke Walton and his staff created a game plan and then used a roll of tape and the team’s hotel ballroom in Houston to walk through an idea.

“When you can’t get to a gym because you’re trying to get the guys more rest, we grabbed some tape, put a little key down on the floor and walked through sets that we need,” Walton told media following the 119-118 win over the Rockets.

Like the previous game against Doncic, Walton used Joseph, his best perimeter defender, on Harden and ran a box-and-one defense for much of the game. The plan worked to perfection.

Not only did Joseph help limit Harden to 8-of-19 shooting from the field and eight turnovers, but he also played defense without fouling.

Harden came into the night averaging 12.8 free throw makes on 14.8 attempts per game. If he continued at that pace, he would finish second all-time in free throw attempts per game.

Joseph didn’t bite on the up fakes or let Harden tangle him up when he sprawled out for 3-point attempts Monday. He didn’t reach and get his hand caught in the cookie jar and when he did make a play at the ball, he came away with two steals and just one personal foul in 38 minutes of action.

“It was a good win for us, back-to-back," Joseph said Monday. "It’s never easy, but we kept the mentality and we were strong. We turned it up mentality wise from the start to the finish of the game. We felt like these last two games, we competed at a high level and that’s what we’re going to need to do night in and night out to give ourselves a good chance.”

Sacramento paid Joseph handsomely in the offseason to back up De’Aaron Fox. An unlucky accident in practice has cost Fox major time, but Joseph has stepped in and kept the Kings afloat over the last 14 games as a starter.

Joseph isn’t the dynamic scorer that Fox is, but Walton has played to the strengths of his team without his starting point guard. He has taken the ball out of Joseph’s hands on most offensive possessions to save him for the defensive end and improve the flow.

Things will change when Fox returns, but like Nemanja Bjelica, Joseph has proven his worth to the team.

It should be noted that Joseph tweaked his lower back against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday and was questionable against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday and the Mavs on Sunday.

“You go into what Cory did, we had him on Luka last night, we had him on Harden tonight,” Walton said. “Three days ago he couldn’t even walk, we didn’t even think he was going to play. As we talk about culture and what we’re trying to build, the example that he sets with that type of effort every single night is pretty good for our group.”

Over the last three games, he has fought through the injury and averaged nearly 35 minutes per game against some of the best scorers the league has to offer.

At 10-13, the Kings continue to stick around the .500 mark in the standings despite their slow start to the season. Joseph is a big reason why.

[RELATED: Watch Westbrook say game over, then Kings hit game-winner]

The Kings flew home after the win, and they’ll face another tough guard in Chris Paul on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.

There is a chance that Marvin Bagley will return to the court against the Oklahoma City Thunder after missing the last 22 games with a broken thumb. Fox stayed behind on the four-game road trip to rehab his ankle, and he is getting closer to a return as well.

Watch Russell Westbrook say 'game over' just before Kings' game-winner

Watch Russell Westbrook say 'game over' just before Kings' game-winner

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

That message might need to be relayed to Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, as he assumed he had just won his team the game after driving and finishing over Kings center Richaun Holmes with only one second remaining Monday night in Houston.

Buddy Hield had just hit a miraculous 3-pointer on the previous possession to tie the score, and Westbrook assumed there was nothing the Kings could do to win the game in one second after his layup.

Suffice it to say, the former NBA MVP was incorrect.

Nemanja Bjelica sent the Kings home with another road win, and stunned the Rockets with this DEEP buzzer-beater.

[RELATED: What we learned as Bjelica, Kings stun Westbrook, Rockets]

So much for Clutch City.