Kings

How Kings' free-agency splurge impacts roster, salary cap position

How Kings' free-agency splurge impacts roster, salary cap position

The spending spree lasted all of 20 hours. Vlade Divac attacked the free agent market, checking off every box on his list of wants and needs.

It’s clear the Kings focused on adding players that fit their up-tempo style of play. They also prioritized flexibility for the future when their young core hits their second contract cycle and require major raises.

Lastly, the team brought in players who support the momentum that Sacramento built last season. 

Here is a look at the additions and what they mean long term to the Kings’ roster and salary position. 

Harrison Barnes

Barnes’ four-year, $85 million contract starts right around $24 million for the 2019-20 season and decreases by eight percent every season. A rough estimate of the contract broken down over the four seasons looks like approximately $24 million in year one, $22 million in year two, $20.3 million in year three and $18.7 million in the final season.

Barnes projects as the team’s starting small forward for the next four seasons. He played 28 games with the Kings last season after being acquired from the Dallas Mavericks. 

Dewayne Dedmon

Needing a replacement for Willie Cauley-Stein, Divac added Dedmon on a three-year, $40 million contract. According to a league source, the $40 million is broken down evenly over the three seasons at $13.3 million per year, with a $1 million partial guarantee for the final year. 

The 29-year-old 7-footer started 52 games last season for the Atlanta Hawks and will likely slide into the starting lineup alongside Barnes and second-year power forward Marvin Bagley on the Kings’ frontline. There is hope that Harry Giles will eventually develop into a starter at the position and until then, Dedmon is a quality rim protector who shot 38.2 percent from long range last season.

Trevor Ariza

Last October, the Kings walked into the season with Iman Shumpert and Justin Jackson as their depth at the wing. Divac successfully landed Barnes at the deadline, re-signed him as the team’s top priority and then inked a solid veteran in Ariza. 

According to an NBA source, Ariza’s two-year, $25 million contract starts at $12.2 million in year one and goes to $12.8 million in year two with only $1.8 million guaranteed in the second season. 

At 34 years old, Ariza put up solid numbers for the Washington Wizards last season and should be looked at as a rotational player behind Barnes at the small forward spot. 

Cory Joseph

Needing another perimeter defender, Divac chased one of the better backup point guards in the NBA. Joseph landed in Sacramento on a three-year, $37 million deal. According to a league source, Joseph’s deal breaks down to $12 million in year one, and $12.6 million in years two and three. The final year of Joseph’s deal has a $2.4 million guarantee.

Joseph averaged 25.2 minutes per game last season for the Indiana Pacers, but barring injury, he will see a substantial dip this season playing behind De’Aaron Fox. He’s an exceptional defender and posted a 3.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio last season. 

Richaun Holmes 

With Dedmon and Giles already lined up, Divac made another addition to his big rotation when he landed Holmes on a two-year, $10 million mid-level room exception contract. Holmes hasn’t put pen to paper yet because the Kings still have cash to spend, but he’ll make $4.767 million in year one and another $5.2 million in year two. 

Holmes is a big-time insurance policy with a huge motor and a tenacious style of play. He’ll be a fan favorite and at 25 years old, he fits the team’s player arc. 

Salary Cap

Sacramento walked into the summer with tons of cap space and they used almost all of it to support the young core. Divac had more than $60 million of the $109.1 million cap to spend. 

With $45.1 million already dedicated to Fox, Bagley, Giles, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica, Yogi Ferrell, Caleb Swanigan and the $2.1 million owed to Matt Barnes (stretch provision), Divac spread the money around.

The Kings general manager spent an estimated $61.5 million for the 2019-20 season on Barnes, Dedmon, Ariza and Joseph, leaving the Kings somewhere around $107.5 million in dedicated salary before adding Holmes’ $4.767 million. 

Sacramento has options and a roster spot or two. The Kings already signed Kyle Guy and Wenyen Gabriel to two-way contracts. They just signed second-rounder Justin James to a three-year minimum deal, according to a league source. With a little more cash left to spend, the Kings might have one more addition in their sights. 

[RELATED: Ariza excited to reunite with Walton in Sacramento]

Divac could also use the stretch provision on Swanigan and clear up another $1.4 million in salary and move closer to $3 million in space. Whatever Divac decides, they’ll need to use that space before Holmes is officially signed. 

After winning 39 games last season, the Kings will walk into the 2019-20 season with their highest payroll in franchise history. The team has filled holes in the roster without damaging their long term financial flexibility. Divac found players who are willing to support the young core with the hopes of snapping the franchise’s 13-year playoff drought. 

Kings player profile: Can Nemanja Bjelica be effective in reduced role?

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Kings player profile: Can Nemanja Bjelica be effective in reduced role?

Nemanja Bjelica was on his way back to Europe when he got the call from fellow Serbians Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic last summer. After three seasons in Minnesota, the sharpshooting big joined the Kings on a three-year, $20.5 million contract and instantly stepped into Sacramento’s starting lineup. 

While he struggled for a stretch in the middle of the season, Bjelica became a valuable member of the rotation and posted career-high numbers across the board for the Kings. 

His ability to create space and spread the floor opened up the Kings’ offense. His high basketball IQ made the players around him better.

Bjelica’s role is likely to change dramatically in Year No. 2 in Sacramento, but his ability to hit the 3-ball and impact the game in multiple ways will earn him minutes during the season. 

Strengths

Before a midseason slump, Bjelica was one of the Kings’ most efficient players. He started 70 games for Dave Joerger at power forward and he figured out ways to impact the game on a nightly basis. 

Through the first two months of the season, Bjelica knocked down 51.5 percent (35-for-68) from 3-point range. He finished the season at 40.1 percent from long distance on 257 attempts, providing some much needed spacing from an unlikely spot on the floor. 

Bjelica was particularly deadly from the top of the key as a trailer in the Kings’ uptempo offense. As the season wore on, he continued to attempt shots from further and further out, which hurt his 3-point percentage, but allowed gaps for De’Aaron Fox to work with

Not known as a leaper, Bjelica is crafty around the rim, hitting 63.5 percent on 189 attempts inside of three feet. He also was efficient from three to 10 feet, knocking down 52-for-118 for 44.1 percent. Bjelica took just 29 shots from 10 feet out to the 3-point line, showing nice shot discipline. On the offensive side of the ball, he knows who he is and plays to his strengths.

Despite limited athleticism, Bjelica averaged 5.8 rebounds in 23.2 minutes per. His 12.8 percent rebound percentage was fifth on the Kings last season and his per-36-minute average of 8.9 isn’t bad for a player who plays heavy minutes away from the rim.

Bjelica is a smart player who rarely gets out position. His opponents ran a -1.6 field goal percentage against, including a -5.3 percent from behind the 3-point line. He also blocked 0.7 shots per game, which ranked second on the team last season.

Weaknesses

Bjelica is who he is, which is a solid NBA stretch four. While he is an intelligent player, he lacks elite athleticism and quickness, which limits his ability to play multiple positions. 

The rigors of an 82-game schedule appeared to wear down Bjelica, especially with the pace the Kings play at. He needs to come into camp in great shape and ready to run, even if it’s as a trailer in the uptempo offense.

While he’s passable on the boards, second-year big man Marvin Bagley projects as a very good to excellent rebounder at the same position. With starting center Dewayne Dedmon more of a perimeter player, it’s unlikely the two play minutes together. 

On the defensive side of the ball, Bjelica is more of a stretch four/five than a three/four. His inability to guard small forwards will hurt him when Luke Walton goes to switching defenses.

Path to Improvement

It’s possible that playing deep into the summer with the Serbian national team will help the 31-year-old come into camp in prime shape. With the pace the Kings play at, it’s a must for everyone on the roster, but specifically for a player like Bjelica, who plays a different speed than most of his teammates.

There is a very good chance that Bjelica will see reduced minutes, which might be a good thing. If he can continue to be extremely effective in a reserve role, he can carve out a niche as a floor spacer alongside young bigs like Harry Giles and Richaun Holmes.

Projection

Bjelica was a quiet difference-maker for the Kings during the 2018-19 season, but he might get lost in the shuffle in head coach Luke Walton’s uptempo offense. 

Bagley is going to play 30-plus minutes per game at the power forward spot. Harrison Barnes will steal minutes at the four as well. Bjelica’s shooting is an elite skill that will keep him in the rotation, but he’s in a dog fight for minutes.

[RELATED: Is Ariza lost in Kings' shuffle?]

Walton is going to need a floor spacer to play alongside Giles and Holmes, but as the season develops, he might have other options. 

A conservative projection has Bjelica averaging 5.5-6.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and an assist in 12-14 minutes per game off the Kings’ bench. He’ll shoot over 40 percent from 3-point range, but it’s likely he’ll lose minutes to more versatile players.

Kings player profile: How good can Marvin Bagley be in sophomore season?

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Kings player profile: How good can Marvin Bagley be in sophomore season?

Vlade Divac took a huge gamble when he passed on Luka Doncic to draft Marvin Bagley with the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. Doncic went on to win the Rookie of the Year award, but Bagley showed flashes of brilliance, as well.

The final grade on this move will likely take years to resolve, but the Sacramento Kings feel very confident in their decision. Bagley is a perfect fit for the Kings' style of play and his potential is through the roof.

The 20-year-old will be asked to do a lot more in year two, although he’ll also need to show that he can stay healthy throughout an 82-game schedule. He has elite scoring and rebounding skills and an advanced game for a player moving into his sophomore season.

Can he lead the Kings in scoring? Can he be a perennial 20-10 player? Can he be a star? The answer to all of these questions is yes.

Strengths

Seldom does a one-and-done college player walk into the league with an advanced offensive game like Bagley. At 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, he runs the floor like a gazelle and he has low post moves of a 10-year vet.

He favors his left hand, but there are plenty of successful players with a dominant side. He has a half hook, a power move off the dribble and when he elevates in the lane, there isn’t a player in the league that can stop him.

For a rookie, the former Duke star had a remarkably compact shot chart. Bagley shot 69.1 percent at the rim on 256 shot attempts. From 3-10 feet, he knocked down 43.4 percent while shooting 95-of-219 from the field. Of his 706 shot attempts, 475 came inside of 10 feet.

While he didn’t take a ton of midrange jumpers, Bagley still managed to hit 40 percent on 135 attempts from 10 feet out to the 3-point line. He has a high release on his jumper and a refined shooting stroke.

The sample size was small, but there will come a time in Bagley’s career when he will be able to stretch the floor with a 3-point shot. He knocked down 31.2 percent on 96 attempts, although he was streaky during the season.

Despite his age and inexperience, Bagley still managed to get to the free-throw line 4.2 times per game, which was second on the Kings behind De’Aaron Fox. He has the potential to double that number as he becomes established in the league and gets more calls.

As a rebounder, Bagley crashes the glass and isn’t afraid to go outside of his zone for the board. He has an incredible second leap, which helped him finish the season tied with Kosta Koufos for the best offensive rebounding percentage on the squad.

Bagley averaged 7.6 rebounds per game in 25.3 minutes. That equates to 10.8 rebounds per 36 minutes, which is a good start for a rookie. As he gets stronger and learns the NBA game, that number has a chance to improve dramatically.

On the defensive side of the ball, Bagley was better than advertised. He has work to do as a team defender and he was vulnerable from the perimeter, but he held his opponent to minus-1.3 percent on 2-point attempts and minus-3.1 percent inside of six feet. He also averaged a block per game. 

Weaknesses

Bagley can’t go right. He’s really good with his left, but his inability to use both hands may limit his ability to reach his highest potential. He also missed 20 games with two separate knee injuries.

As a scorer, Bagley is a force to be reckoned with, but he has plenty of room to grow. If he can extend his range out to the 3-point line, he can open the floor for everyone else. He could also get stronger and do a better job of fighting through contact, but at 20-years-old, it will take time to grow into his body fully.

Sacramento moves the ball around well and everyone has an opportunity to get involved. Of the regulars, Bagley ranked last in assist percentage at just 5.9 percent. In fact, only Troy Williams, Ben McLemore and B.J. Johnson averaged a lower percentage on the team.

Bagley is going to draw double-teams and he needs to do a better job of finding his teammates and not forcing his offensive game. He finished the season with just 62 assists and that isn’t going to cut it. 

While Bagley did a nice job on the offensive glass, he has plenty of room to grow on the defensive side of the court. He posted a defensive rebound percentage of 15.5 percent, which is about half of what elite rebounders average. The Kings need Bagley to post double-figure rebounding numbers on a nightly basis if they are going to move up in the standings.

Like the rest of the young players on the Kings' roster, Bagley needs to improve on the defensive side of the ball. He often gets lost in rotations and is slow as a help defender. The makings of a good defender are there, but it will take time for him to develop.

Path to Improvement

Add minutes.

Bagley is an offensive star in the making, but he needs to get bigger and stronger if he hopes to stay healthy and play 30-35 minutes a game. He’ll likely move into the starting lineup alongside Dewayne Dedmon on the frontline, which should be a solid combination.

He likely spent the offseason further refining his shot, which will help him stretch the floor for Fox and others. It also will help him stay on the court longer as the Kings turn to players like Harry Giles and Richaun Holmes, who have less range.

While he is the focal point of the offense, he needs to move the ball and keep others involved. Averaging just a single assist per game might work in Year 1, but eventually, his teammates will key in on the issue.

Bagley has an incredible motor and the size and athleticism to be an elite rebounder. He needs to hit the defensive glass and impact the game on both ends of the floor.

[RELATED: Bogi named to 2019 FIBA World Cup team]

Projection

The sky’s the limit for Bagley. He was limited in his first season by injury and a lack of minutes, but it’s likely the training wheels are coming off in Year 2.

A perfect fit for the Kings’ style of play, Bagley is expected to take a huge leap. Conservative numbers have him posting 18-19 points and nine rebounds per game as a sophomore, but there is a chance for even bigger numbers than that, especially if he can get to the line more frequently.

Luke Walton will have the Kings flying up and down the court and there will be plenty of touches to go around. Bagley will score on the break due to his speed and athleticism, but he also also be a huge part of the team’s half-court offense.

He’ll need to work on the defensive side of the ball, especially when Walton turns to switching, but he is a high-effort player that should catch on quickly.   

Bagley should lead Sacramento in rebounding and there is a possibility for him to be the top scorer as well. He has All-Star potential and if his first season was any indicator, it won’t take long for him to become a go-to option for the Kings.