Kings

NBA free agency 2019: Examining Kings' current roster construction

NBA free agency 2019: Examining Kings' current roster construction

The 2019 NBA Draft is over and now the real work begins for the Sacramento Kings. They have massive holes to fill in their roster and a Brinks truck full of cash to spend.

Free agency begins June 30, although no one can officially sign until July 6. Teams around the league are lining up for big fish like Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Khris Middleton, Kevin Durant, Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler and Al Horford.

Sacramento is an up-and-coming team with a solid core and a play style that should be attractive to free agents. Whether they can land a big fish is still in question, but they have the cash to be a player.

Long-term flexibility is still a priority, but adding a major piece or two is a necessity at this point with the improvements throughout the Western Conference.

Cap Space 

$60.8 million (with seven minimum scale -- 7 x $900,000 = $6.3 million) cap holds and without the contracts of Yogi Ferrell, Frank Mason and three second-round selections

Current Roster

(Guaranteed contracts): De’Aaron Fox ($6.4 million), Buddy Hield ($4.9 million), Bogdan Bogdanovic ($8.5 million), Marvin Bagley ($8.6 million), Nemanja Bjelica ($6.8 million), Harry Giles ($2.6 million), Caleb Swanigan ($2 million)

Options: Yogi Ferrell ($3.2 million team option July 4), Frank Mason ($1.6 million team option Oct. 15)

Free Agents: Kosta Koufos (UFA -- $16.6 million cap hold), Willie Cauley-Stein (projected RFA -- $6.3 million qualifying offer, $14.1 million cap hold), Alec Burks (UFA -- $17.3 million cap hold), Harrison Barnes (UFA -- $32.7 million cap hold), Corey Brewer (UFA -- $2.4 million cap hold)

Dead Money: Matt Barnes ($2.1 million)

Roster Space: Without counting any of the three second-round selections, the King' roster currently stands at seven, but that number could grow to nine if they pick up the team options on both Yogi Ferrell and Frank Mason.

Needs: Center, Small Forward, Defenders, Overall Depth

Trade Chips

In past season, the Kings have had at least a few veteran players on expiring contracts. That is not the case this year. If they are going to improve their roster, it has to come through free agency or as a soft landing spot for a salary dump.

If the team extends a qualifying offer to Willie Cauley-Stein, they can possibly facilitate a sign-and-trade, but there is limited value in this scenario. The team could also dip into their young core, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Expectations

The Kings have holes to fill and this is a strong free-agent class. Vlade Divac has to dip his toe in Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the group, even if that means overpaying or swinging and missing.

He also needs to get on the phone and see if he can improve his team by taking on a significant contract from a team that is either over the luxury threshold or in need of a reboot.

[RELATED: 10 options to replace Willie Cauley-Stein in free agency, trade]

Last summer the team took a cautious approach to free agency. That cannot be the team’s approach this year.

The Western Conference has loaded up. Teams like the Lakers and Jazz have already made significant strides forward. If the Kings hope to compete for a playoff spot, they need help and they need it now.

Kings' De'Aaron Fox battles through nagging injuries in win vs. Warriors

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USATSI

Kings' De'Aaron Fox battles through nagging injuries in win vs. Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO -- No team needed the All-Star break more than Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox. An early-season ankle injury was getting heavy. Bumps and bruises were adding up and the time away was an opportunity to both heal up and mentally reset.

That worked for all of one game. 

Fox woke up on Friday morning with a sore left shoulder. He’s had it taped up the last two games, but he’s playing through the issue.

In the team’s 112-94 win over the Warriors on Tuesday, Fox disappeared to the locker room due to tightness in his right groin. He returned to the game and looked no worse for wear.

Fox is fighting through the pain because his team needs him on the court if they have any hope of continuing what has become a hot streak. 

“It’s motivating,” veteran wing Kent Bazemore said of Fox playing through pain. “You can see him wincing out there, but he’s pushing through. It means a lot that he’s bought in. We have his back and he is still demanding a lot of attention, dominating the game.”

Against the Warriors, Fox stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 21 points, five assists, two rebounds, a steal and a block in 32 minutes of play. He shot just 4-of-9 from the free-throw stripe, but that has nothing to do with the nagging issues he’s currently struggling with.

“I don’t know,” Fox said when asked about shooting freebies. “I think we just gotta get there and get better. I don’t really know what else to say about it.”

Is there concern that the injuries will take Fox off the court or decrease his effectiveness? Absolutely, but in the NBA, injuries always are part of the game.

“They tell me he’s good to go, I asked him at halftime and he said, ‘play me’,” Luke Walton said. “Between our medical staff and talking to him, I feel confident. He came out and made some big-time in that second half and seemed to be alright.”

The team will be cautious with the 22-year-old budding star, but they also are going to forge ahead. 

[RELATED: Bazemore is ingredient Kings missed during early struggles]

“We’ll go about it smartly and we’ll give him off days where he needs it and rehab and treatment and all that,” Walton added.

Fox is averaging 19.9 points and 6.9 assists for the Kings this season. He’s taking another leap forward in his production and growth, but Sacramento needs him at full strength if they are going to continue to stay in the hunt for the postseason. 

Kings takeaways: What we learned in satisfying 112-94 win vs. Warriors

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Kings takeaways: What we learned in satisfying 112-94 win vs. Warriors

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- These aren’t your championship Warriors. 

The Kings walked into Chase Center Tuesday night and while it wasn’t always pretty, they put the smackdown on the team from the Bay Area.

Golden State struggled from the perimeter, hitting just 4-of-28 shots from long range. Sacramento countered by knocking down just 19-of-34 from the free-throw line to let the Warriors stick around. 

In the end, it was too much Buddy Hield in the fourth for Golden State (12-46), and the Kings came away with the 112-92 win.

Here are three takeaways as Sacramento (24-33) picked up their third straight victory to improve to 24-33 on the season.

Better late than never

Hield had a quiet game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, scoring just seven points in 15 minutes of action. 

The Kings’ leading scorer got off to a slow start at Chase, but then let it fly to open the fourth. Hield hit the Warriors with three straight 3-pointers to open up a 17-point lead with 10 minutes remaining.

Hield scored 15 of their 19 points in the final period and chipped in six rebounds. Buddy showed up when his team needed it and put the game away. 

Barnes does it again

Harrison Barnes came into Tuesday averaging 17.2 points on 54.8 percent shooting from 3-point range over his previous five games. He put on another show against the Warriors.

The Kings’ starting small forward posted 14 points in the first quarter to get the ball rolling. He was quiet late but still managed to post 21 points on 9-for-12 shooting including a pair of makes from long range.

Barnes decided back in December that he wouldn’t shave his face until the team got to .500. He now seems to be harnessing the power of the beard. 

[RELATED: Bazemore is ingredient Kings missed during early struggles]

Making an impact

After failing to notch a double-double in his first 87 career games, Harry Giles almost got a streak going.

The second-year center scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds against the Warriors' frontline. He struggled in the pick-and-roll against Marquese Chriss, but was active and made an impact on the floor. 

If Giles can continue to play like this, Walton will have plenty of options in the post when Richaun Holmes eventually returns to the court.