In the NBA, most teams spend in free agency until they don’t have any more cap space to spend. A few teams even keep going after that.
This hasn’t always been the case for the Kings. In the later stages of the Maloof era, the team ran the lowest payroll in the league. One season they even traded for Marquis Daniels, after he had suffered a season-ending neck injury, just to get to the salary floor.
Spending money on player salaries or arena expenditures or building a vibrant downtown area hasn’t been an issue during the Vivek Ranadivé era. But finding the right players to spend money on has been a problem.
For instance, Kosta Koufos is the only free agent signing in the Ranadivé era to finish out a contract of more than two years. He lasted all four, even if he played sparingly in the final year.
It’s early, but things feel a little different since general manager Monte McNair took over. He didn’t attack this summer’s free agency window tilting at windmills like Don Quijote. He took more of a surgeon’s approach, signing mostly his own free agents, while adding some veteran depth.
Each individual piece might not earn the highest grade, but if you zoom out, you might be able to see the forest through the trees.
Contract: Two-years, $9 million
This was the first shoe to drop in Sacramento.
McNair appears to have used what little functional cap space he had to sign the 28-year-old. Harkless is long, versatile and has plenty of veteran experience. He’ll likely be used off the bench, depending on what the Kings finally land on at power forward. Harkless struggled with his shot in his 26 game audition with the Kings last season after coming over at the trade deadline, but he's a strong rotational piece and a plus defender at both forward positions.
Outside of Bogdan Bogdanovic, there may not have been a player that was missed more than Alex Len last season in Sacramento.
The 7-footer was impactful for the Kings during the 2019-20 season, but he left in free agency and was replaced by Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside might be a better statistical player, but Len is a much better fit with the Kings. He’s an experienced backup that can run the floor, rebound, block shots and hit an occasional three. He’s also a no-nonsense player that doesn’t mind mixing it up and can handle some of the bigger centers in the game.
Len might not be the best reserve center in the league, but he might be the best fit for the Kings.
Contract: Two-years, $8 million
Davis put on a show at the end of last season when both De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton were on the shelf, averaging 16.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists in the final 10 games. Davis is long, athletic and he plays hard on both ends of the court. The 24-year-old will be counted on to provide a punch off the bench and he’s on a nice budget contract for the next two seasons. There should be a lot of excitement about the second unit pairing of Davis and rookie Davion Mitchell.
Contract: Four-years, $46-55 million
The Kings hit a home run when they landed Holmes on a two-year $10 million contract in the summer of 2019. Bringing him back for another four seasons with the Early Bird exception is a coup.
Holmes is a perfect fit for the Kings’ rotation. He runs the floor, is extremely efficient on the offensive end and he can defend multiple positions. More than the numbers, Holmes is the heart and soul of the Kings’ roster. When you find a diamond in the rough and a fan favorite, locking him up long term is a very good idea.
None of these acquisitions make the Kings a playoff contender on their own, but the group adds depth and talent to the roster. If the team had this type of offseason last year, they would have won four or five more games at a minimum.
The focus clearly was on the defensive end of the court, where the Kings were historically bad last season. When you mix in the addition of Mitchell in the draft and Tristan Thompson via trade, there is major potential for improvement.
With these four filling out the rotation, McNair now can turn his focus to rebalancing the roster and searching for a trade that changes the fortunes of the franchise. It may not materialize in the coming weeks, but the team is poised to act.
This might not seem like an incredible haul for a major market team, but in Sacramento, this might be the best start to an offseason in a long time. The Kings still have options to make trades and they have the mid-level exception to add another piece.