We are learning more about Kings general manager Monte McNair each and every day. The 2020 NBA Draft was an opportunity to watch him work and add to the knowledge base of how he views the league and the roster he inherited.
He was methodical and waited patiently to land Tyrese Haliburton with the No. 12 overall selection.
Five days into free agency, the trend has continued. McNair has stood by and allowed nearly the entire 2020 NBA free agent class to select teams without even a real mention of Sacramento.
Outside of signing De’Aaron Fox to a massive max money contract extension in the opening minutes of free agency, the Kings have only garnered cursory mentions with players like Kent Bazemore and Alex Len, both of which signed elsewhere.
And then there is the Bogdan Bogdanovic situation.
McNair tried to ship Bogdanovic to the Milwaukee Bucks in a sign-and-trade deal that would have yielded the Kings a pair of young players in Donte DiVincenzo and D.J. Wilson. When that deal fell through (and is now under investigation by the league), Bogdanovic signed an offer sheet with the Atlanta Hawks for a reported four-years and $72 million.
On Tuesday night, McNair passed on matching the offer sheet, allowing Bogdanovic, the team’s starting shooting guard, to walk away without compensation.
This is all a stark contrast to what we have seen over the last five seasons in Sacramento. There wasn’t a veteran splurge on players like Rajon Rondo, Kosta Koufos, Marco Belinelli, Vince Carter, George Hill, Zach Randolph, Dewayne Dedmon, Corey Joseph or Trevor Ariza.
Of that grouping of players, Koufos (who the Kings should consider bringing back), is the only player on the list to finish out a contract of more than two seasons.
It’s a stark contrast because the Kings literally have done nothing. There is overpaying for veteran help and then there is not participating in the free agency period at all. You would expect there to be at least a middle ground somewhere.
Bogdanovic is gone. The Kings still have cap space. The free agent market is all but dried up. So what does all of this mean for the 2020-21 season?
First and foremost, it means the Kings are resetting the franchise once again. Bogdanovic’s exit is the first of likely many moves that will take place over the next few months.
Fox is the centerpiece going forward. Haliburton is the first piece to the rebuild. No one else on the Kings roster should renew their lease.
McNair has a vision for the future of the team. It’s clear that he does not want to forge ahead with the remnants of the Vlade Divac era of Kings basketball.
How does the decision on Bogdanovic grade out? The instant reaction is that this is a non-passing grade for McNair. Although I’m not sure if it’s instant, because we’ve had days to consider this possibility.
Bogdanovic was the most versatile player on the Kings’ roster. He's also the type of high basketball IQ individual the Kings should be searching out, especially if the plan is to go young.
At 28, Bogdanovic is outside of the player arc of a full rebuild, but every team needs veterans. Especially ones that coach from the floor and help their teammates improve.
The reason the grade is so low is because the Kings had options leading up to the draft and free agency and there is no clock ticking. Bogdanovic could have been matched and then McNair could have spent the next year making adjustments to his roster.
Would Bogdanovic have eaten too many of Haliburton’s minutes?
Not if you played Bogdanovic at the small forward position where the team now has a glaring hole. In an up tempo offense, Bogdanovic can easily play the three, like he has in the past.
Was Bogdanovic’s contract too rich?
Absolutely not. In a world where Davis Bertans signed for five years and $85 million, and Joe Harris earned $75 million over four seasons, Bogdanovic’s contract might even be a bargain.
What about the 15 percent trade kicker in Bogdanovic’s deal?
That is a tough pill to swallow, but if Bogdanovic wanted out badly enough down the road, a trade bonus is something that can be re-negotiated and even eliminated all together. According to cap guru Larry Coon and his CBA FAQ:
“A player and team can agree to waive all or any portion of a trade bonus, for any reason (previously a trade bonus could only be waived under specific circumstances). If a trade bonus (or any portion) is waived, the contract cannot be extended or renegotiated for six months following the trade (if otherwise eligible during those six months).”
Sacramento isn’t a free agent hot bed. No GM has ever been able to lure a bonafide star to the city. The No. 1 free agent acquisition in the Sacramento era of Kings basketball is still Vlade Divac from the 1998-99 lockout season.
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McNair doesn’t want to run it back with the same squad from last season, that’s clear. He wants a restart and it begins with standing down during free agency and walking into the 2020-21 season with a roster filled with holes.
In this situation, Bogdanovic was an asset and the Kings received nothing in return. At the end of the day, Sacramento isn’t a franchise or a market that can continue to lose talent without something in return.