SACRAMENTO — 48 minutes. Three players vying for time.
The Sacramento Kings aggressively chased Dewayne Dedmon on the opening day of free agency to fill the void at their center position. A day later, they continued their spending spree, signing Richaun Holmes to a 2-year, $10 million deal.
Dedmon and Holmes will join second-year big man Harry Giles in what should be a spirited battle for who plays and who sits at the center position.
“We can go with Dedmon who can space the floor for us, which can allow De’Aaron (Fox) to have that funnel right to the paint as often as we need him to,” Walton told NBC Sports California. “We’ve got Holmes, who is one of the most dynamic rollers in-game to play at the five. We have Harry, who is one of the best playmakers on our team from what I can tell from last year.”
Dedmon is the seasoned veteran. He’s bounced around the league over his six seasons in the NBA, but his ability to stretch the floor with the 3-point shot played heavily into the 3-year, $40 million contract he signed with Sacramento.
“Before Atlanta, coach didn’t want me to shoot threes,” Dedmon said during the Kings’ annual media day. “That didn’t stop me from working on it. Just working on craft every summer, every opportunity I had, and when the opportunity came, I was ready for it.”
The former USC star pivot 38.2 percent from long range with the Hawks last season and on paper, he looks like a perfect fit next to power forward Marvin Bagley. He’s also excited about the pace the Kings’ play at.
“This definitely fits my style of play,” Dedmon said of the Kings. “Fast, get up and down, run, it’s going to be fun.”
While Dedmon is known for his ability to shoot from downtown, Homes is a pick-n-roll specialist that loves to finish above the rim. An exceptional athlete, Holmes also posted tremendous defensive statistics last season in Phoenix.
“It’s going to be fun, we’re going to get better, we’re going to push each other every day,” Holmes said. “We’re a deep team and we knew that coming into it. There’s a lot of talented guys and I’m looking forward to throwing my hat in the ring and just getting a chance to compete.”
In addition to the two newcomers, Walton is going to have to evaluate Giles as well. He overcame a series of injuries to play 58 games in his rookie season last year.
“I’m just confident in my game and I know how I play,” Giles said. “I do what I do and I don’t think anybody else does it, so it just depends on what you want for whatever situation it is.”
A favorite of the front office, the former Duke Blue Devil has tons of potential and began to settle into his role with Sacramento last season before a quad injury shut him down late in the season.
Dedmon is the shooter, Holmes is the rim runner and Giles is an enforcer with soft hands and advanced passing skills.
“I think we all just bring different things to the table,” Giles said. “I’m ready to compete. That’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to bring different guys in, it’s the NBA, so it can’t be easy. At the same time, you have to keep it a challenge and you have to have depth too.”
When opening night tips off on Oct. 23, it’s likely one of these players is going to be out of the rotation, at least initially. Both Dedmon and Giles have a history of injuries, so depth at the position is welcome.
With only three days of training camp before the team ventures to India to open the preseason, Walton has his hands full trying to see who deserves time and which player combinations work best.
“Healthy competition, healthy competition,” Walton said. “I’ve been on great teams that are deep and they support each other. You try to go at each other every single day in practice. By doing that, you make the team better, you make yourself better and then at the end of the day, it’s up to me to make the choice on who’s earned those minutes.”
Walton said position battles will likely run all the way through the preseason schedule and they might even spill into the regular season.
The Kings paid Dedmon big money to be the starter, but he played 25 minutes last season in Atlanta and is likely going to see something similar in Sacramento early in the year. Holmes and Giles will battle for the backup spot, but they are a hungry duo and Walton is going to have a tough time keeping them off the court.