Kings in good position heading into the next two summers


Kings in good position heading into the next two summers

The NBA landscape is changing. After a few years of madness, salary cap space is once again becoming a valued commodity. With a tempered approach and a big move at the trade deadline, the Sacramento Kings have set themselves up as a player moving forward.

Sacramento’s plan is centered around the summer of 2019, when they are completely free of all veteran entanglements. 2018 is now back on the table after George Hill’s relocation to Cleveland, but the team might not have as much room as you think.

The evolving market could have an immediate effect on the Kings this summer, where the franchise will have anywhere from $25-53 million in salary cap space.

Last summer, the Kings entered the offseason with the assumption that veteran guard, Langston Galloway would opt in to his $5.4 million player option. He instead chose to become an unrestricted free agent, signing a three-year, $21 million deal with the Detroit Pistons.

It’s unlikely that the Galloway situation will repeat itself this summer. The NBA salary cap is projected to climb to $101 million, but much of that cap space is already spoken for.

Early projections around the league have the NBA’s middle class taking a major hit this summer with a lack of available money. If the players needed a reminder of the current state of the league, look no further than Lou Williams’ three-year, $24 million extension with the Clippers.

The 31-year-old guard is having his best season as a pro, posting 23.3 points per game for Los Angeles. In any other year, his market value would have been considerably higher.

Sacramento has three veterans with player options for next season and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see all of them stick around instead of risking their salaries on a tightening market.

Newly acquired Iman Shumpert has a player option for next season at $11 million. At 27-years-old, Shumpert could gamble that a team would offer him a long-term deal, but a series of injuries have damaged his value on the open market.

Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos are durable, team-first veterans known for their locker room presence. Temple is owed $8 million next season. He’s said he wants to win, but at 31, the safe bet is that he remains in Sacramento for one more season before testing the ever changing waters.

Every team has a need for a big man like Koufos, but like Temple, he might be better served waiting to see if the landscape improves in 2019. The soon-to-be 29-year-old has another long term contract in him as a reliable big that brings his lunch pail to work everyday.

If all three stay for the 2018-19 season, the Kings will have $25 million to spend this summer. They will have to pay another high draft selection, which will eat between $3.5 and $6.7 million of cap space, that still leaves plenty of room to add talent.

They can comb the free agent market for players that fit their current youth arc. Aaron Gordon, Zach LaVine and Rodney Hood are all young and could fill a need. They are also restricted free agents and their respective teams are more than likely going to match offers for their services.

The Kings can also use their cap space to free up other teams, taking back bloated short-term contracts attached to assets like young players or draft picks. They would love to get back into the 2019 NBA Draft after losing their pick in a salary dump in the summer of 2015.

Sacramento’s plan will still likely center around the summer of 2019 when they have a better idea of what they have in their young core. At that point, Shumpert, Temple, Koufos and veteran Zach Randolph will all be off the books.

With the cap expected to hit $108 million in 2019, the Kings will have upwards of $70 million in cap space to spend, if they haven’t tied up large chunks beforehand.

There are plenty of variables that still need to prove out, but the Sacramento Kings’ path is clear. They are set up to be players in the next two summers as they continue their rebuild.

The team has a lot of work in front of them as they search for the right players to complete their roster. They need to make quality decisions, both through the draft and with their cap space. They also need to prove up their talent while creating an environment that can entice the right free agent.

What does Nemanja Bjelica bring to the Kings?

What does Nemanja Bjelica bring to the Kings?

The Sacramento Kings had cash burning holes in their pockets. After nearly three weeks of inactivity in free agency, the team signed a second player in less than eight hours Friday afternoon.

Yogi Ferrell inked a two-year, $6.2 million deal to start the spending spree and, according to a source, Sacramento added Nemanja Bjelica to a three-year, $20.5 million deal just as most people were settling in for dinner. The final year of his deal is non-guaranteed.

The Bjelica transaction has been rumored for the last few days, although the exact dollars figures were unknown. The 30-year-old combo forward posted 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He initially agreed to a one-year, $4.4 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, but backed out of the deal earlier this week with the thought that he would return to Europe to play. According to reports, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic reached out to the Serbian-born forward in an attempt to keep him in the NBA and talk him into joining the Kings.

How does he fit with the Kings?

Bjelica split his time between the small forward and power forward positions last season with the T-Wolves, and will likely do the same in Sacramento. Listed at 6-foot-10, 230 pounds, Bjelica is known for his long range shooting touch, knocking down a career-best 41.5 percent from behind the arc last season.

The Kings have an overload at the power forward and center position, so it’s likely that Bjelica will play plenty of minutes at the small forward spot. He's a potential defensive liability against smaller wings, but he'll help to open running and passing lanes for De’Aaron Fox and the rest of Sacramento’s guards.

Who loses time?

There is a lot that can happen between now and the start of training camp. If the roster looks the same in mid-September as it does now, expect Bjelica to steal time from Justin Jackson at the small forward position and Skal Labissiere and Zach Randolph at the four.

His ability to stretch the floor will keep him on the court for plenty of minutes in Dave Joerger’s rotation.

Financial Impact

While we don’t have exact year-by-year numbers, Bjelica should eat up roughly $7 million a year in each of his guaranteed seasons. When combined with Ferrell’s $3 million salary for this season, the Kings still have more than $9 million of cap room and they will have to waive one player before making the signing official.

Source: Kings agree to three-year deal with Nemanja Bjelica

Source: Kings agree to three-year deal with Nemanja Bjelica

Europe can wait for free-agent forward Nemanja Bjelica.

The 30-year-old agreed to a three-year, $20.5 million deal with the Sacramento Kings on Friday, a source confirmed to NBC Sports California's James Ham. The third year is not guaranteed. 

Yahoo! Sports' Shams Charania first reported the news. 

The 6-foot-10 Serbian averaged 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game last season. A source told NBC Sports California's James Ham on Wednesday that the Kings like the Serbian forward's versatility, and believe he can play minutes at the small forward and power forward postions. 

Bjelica previously agreed to a one-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers this summer. He told the team on Monday that he planned on staying in Europe this season, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.