When the Kings were sitting at No. 9 in the 2021 NBA Draft, Arkansas’ Moses Moody fell right into their lap. The 6-foot-6 19-year-old projects as a 3-and-D wing with potential for more at a major position of need for Sacramento. The Kings passed.
Davion Mitchell, the player the Kings selected at No. 9 is a potential franchise-changing personality. He is a defensive rock star and brings a no-nonsense brand of basketball to the court.
Unfortunately, Mitchell doesn’t play small forward, where the Kings need depth in a major way. Harrison Barnes is set to eat major minutes at the position, but coach Luke Walton also likes to use him at the four. The Kings will utilize three-guard sets with their stack of guards, but this still is a position of need.
The draft is over and now it’s on general manager Monte McNair to fill the holes in the roster through free agency and trade. Here is a look at some of the options they have when free agency opens Monday at 3 p.m. PST.
The Guy You Know: Moe Harkless
While Harkless shot just 24.7 percent from 3-point range in his 26-game audition with the Kings, he still did enough to earn the trust of head coach Luke Walton. The 28-year-old started 20 games for Sacramento after joining the squad at the trade deadline, and he still has a ton of basketball left in him. At last check-in, the Kings still were very interested in bringing the veteran combo-forward back for another tour of duty.
He’s like a budget player at this point that will earn something around the bi-annual exception that comes with a $3.7 million salary in year one or two years at $7.65 million. He’s a valuable defender and brings veteran leadership that fits well into the Kings’ system.
Major Swing: Kelly Oubre
This is an interesting add to the list. Oubre and De’Aaron Fox played on the same AAU team and have been friends for a long time. Just 25 years old, the 6-foot-7 small forward has high-end potential, but he also runs a little hot.
He didn’t have a great shooting season at Golden State, but he plays with a fire and force the Kings need and he would be fun to watch in an up-tempo offense. After making $30 million combined over the last two seasons, the Kings would have to get creative to sign a player like this, but it might be worth the trouble, especially if they can land him on a short-term MLE deal.
The Gamble: Otto Porter
Before the Kings added Harrison Barnes, Porter was a hot name in Sacramento during the Vlade Divac era. He’s missed huge chunks of time over the last two seasons and enters free agency as a player that needs to rebuild his value. There might be a team willing to throw the full MLE at Porter, but that’s a gamble. If he returns to health, he’s a solid vet that can pass, shoot from distance and plays defense.
The Gamble II: Justise Winslow
Like Porter, Winslow’s career has been sidetracked by injuries. He’s a player with tons of potential and an interesting skill set, but he’s played in just 37 games over the last two seasons. He’s a little all over the place as a 3-point shooter, but he’s a physical player that can act as a secondary distributor and has defensive potential. Winslow has to completely rebuild his value. He might have to sign for a league-minimum deal and show that he can stay healthy, but he’s only 25. On a side note, Winslow was on the same AAU team as Fox, Oubre and former King Justin Jackson. The Houston Hoops had a pretty solid squad.
Secondary Options: Kent Bazemore, Reggie Bullock, Furkan Korkmaz, Torrey Craig
Baze made a tremendous impact on the Kings roster during a short stretch in the 2019-20 season. At 32 years old, he still has a spring in his step, but he’s more of a 15-20 minute per game vet off the bench. He knows a lot of the players, fits the system and might be available on the cheap this season.
Bullock has turned himself into a 3-and-D wing during the course of his career. He shot 41 percent from 3-point range last season and started 64 games for the Knicks. He’s likely heading back to the big apple, but the Kings could use a player like this on a short-term deal. He’s probably not an MLE player, but he might get close, which makes things difficult for the Kings.
Korkmaz is the youngest of this group, but he’s also a player that can really stretch the floor. Philly has Bird Rights to the 24-year-old wing, but they also are pushing the luxury tax. There have been rumors of the Sixers still having interest in Buddy Hield. Could this be a piece that makes sense for both teams in a sign-and-trade?
After struggling to find time in Milwaukee, Craig found a rotational spot in Phoenix on their run to the Finals. He’s a defensive-minded player that has improved as a shooter over the last few years. Craig likely is looking at a minimum scale deal or slightly more, but if the Kings are serious about turning around their defense, he’s a nice veteran role player.