SACRAMENTO -- Build through the draft, add the right pieces when the timing is right. That is a formula that has worked for other NBA teams, and now the Kings are implementing the plan in the early hours of NBA free agency.
With young building blocks in De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles in place, the Kings attacked the free-agent market Sunday like never before.
The first line of business was to re-up Harrison Barnes on a four-year, $85 million contract extension. With one of their forward positions in place, Kings general manager Vlade Divac hit the nitro button.
Sacramento bolstered its center position, agreeing with former Hawks big man Dewayne Dedmon on a three-year, $40 million contract. The Kings backed that up with another forward, and agreed to a two-year, $25 million contract with Trevor Ariza.
How do the additions fit?
Barnes slides right back into his starting small-forward role, but now new coach Luke Walton has plenty of options to move him around as the team makes adjustments throughout the game.
With Barnes’ ability to play either forward position, the Kings needed depth at the three. Ariza’s arrival gives Sacramento another shooter on the wing and a strong defender.
After being shipped to the Wizards last season, the 34-year-old averaged 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.2 steals in the final 43 games of the season. At 6-foot-8, 215 pounds, he gives the Kings more size and depth than they had at the position for most of last season.
Dedmon is a perfect fit for what the Kings are trying to do. At 29 years old, he still has plenty of life in his legs and checks some extremely important boxes for the Kings.
The 7-footer out of USC averaged 10.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game last season. He can run the floor and protect the rim, and he shot 38.2 percent from behind the arc on 3.4 attempts per game last season.
Dedmon’s ability to stretch the floor opens up running lanes for Fox and gives Bagley room to work in the post. He likely slots into the starting five alongside Fox, Hield, Barnes and Bagley.
Barnes was always going to cost the Kings. They knew that when they acquired him via trade from the Dallas Mavericks in February. He saved the team money when he opted out of his $25.1 million deal for this season. His four-year, $85 million deal reportedly declines in value, which is perfect for when Divac is going to have to pay the young core.
Ariza’s initial hit is pretty big, but in the same ballpark of what Kings paid guard Iman Shumpert last season. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, Ariza's second year is only partially guaranteed.
This deal has a partial guarantee in the second year, I'm told. https://t.co/nsbXp676Gl— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 30, 2019
Ariza turned 34 on Sunday, and his play last season would lend you to believe he has plenty left in the tank. If the Kings need an upgrade at the position next season, Ariza will likely have enough trade value to be moved.
All of the numbers aren’t in on Dedmon yet, although early reports suggest only the first two years are guaranteed. This is perfect for Sacramento. If Bagley or Giles show they are ready to take over the position, the Kings can opt out in year three and look for younger options. If not, they have an affordable option while they search for answers.
Without having the exact numbers, it’s hard to estimate where the Kings are in relation to the cap as of right now. If we ballpark the numbers for this season, Barnes will make $23 million, Ariza will take home around $12.5 million and Sacramento is likely on the hook for around $14 million for Dedmon.
If these estimates are close, the Kings have roughly $91 million in dedicated salary for next year with 10 roster spots filled. They have team options on Yogi Ferrell ($3.2 million) and Frank Mason ($1.6 million), but they are also in search of a backup point guard.
If they choose to walk away from Ferrell and Mason, they still have an estimated $18 million in salary-cap space, as well as a room exception of $4.7 million.
The Kings improved their overall talent level and bolstered major positions of need in the first hours of free agency. They have more work to do, but they made additions while keeping their cap flexibility for the future when they’ll have to pay their young core.
Sacramento likely will use some of its cap space to add another point guard, and potentially a fifth big who can play center behind Dedmon and Giles. Like last season, the Kings might walk into opening night with additional money, which could come in handy early in the season or at the trade deadline.