Talk is over. There is no more time for speculation. When 3 p.m. PT hits, the Kings need to be on the ground in a full sprint.
The first item on the agenda is retaining free agent center Richaun Holmes. Holmes’ team has been looking for a contract in the four-year, $80 million range, which the Kings, as well as most other NBA teams, can’t fit under their current cap structure.
Whether the market expands for Holmes’ services is a huge question mark, but rumors of his return to Sacramento have been well documented over the last week.
Marc Stein reported Monday that the Kings appear to be prepared to offer Holmes an “Early Bird” offer that is tapped out at four-years and somewhere around $50 million.
“The Kings are said to be preparing an offer in the $50 million range to bring back in-demand center Richaun Holmes – with Holmes said to be seeking bigger numbers,” Stein writes via substack.
If Holmes does in fact sign for the Early Bird exception, it’s a major coup for Sacramento and opens up the remainder of their offseason.
Capologist Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders states that the Early Bird exception is for a minimum of two years and maximum of four, although there can’t be an opt out clause until after the second year.
If Holmes signs the Early Bird, he could come back to the Kings in two years and try to work a new deal, but under full Larry Bird Rights, which strip away the salary constraints.
With Holmes in the fold, the Kings could then turn their attention to trades that focus on getting value for players, instead of relieving salary cap burden.
It also opens up the possibility for the team to use the mid-level exception to sign another quality free agent.
Sacramento is still expected to complete the trade from Friday that will send Delon Wright to the Atlanta Hawks in a three-way deal that brings in veteran big man Tristan Thompson.
General manager Monte McNair still has plenty of holes to fill in his rotation. But if he has Holmes, Thompson and Harrison Barnes guaranteed on the frontline, as well as young players like Chimezie Mete, Damian Jones and Neemias Queta, it gives him more opportunities to shop both Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley for better fit pieces, as well as attack the free agent market in a different way.
This is the first domino the Kings need to topple. Once they know where they stand with Holmes, the picture becomes much clearer.