Kings

NBA trade deadline: Kings have cap space, assets to be major players

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NBA trade deadline: Kings have cap space, assets to be major players

The build up to the NBA’s Feb. 7 trade deadline has already begun. If fact, it started for the Kings coming into opening night, when they walked into the season as the only team in the league with any real cap space.

The rumor mill is churning, but NBC Sports California continues to hear that the Kings have no intention of taking on any long-term deals, unless it helps the team win today and down the road. They also aren't in the mood to help another franchise save money, unless assets are attached.

Sacramento’s front office has worked hard to create the financial freedom they currently possess. They understand the power of their position in the market and they have a list of needs.

According to sources, high on the Kings’ priority list is adding more length and size at the small forward position, as well as a veteran point guard to bring off the bench.

The team is high on their young core, and would like to find a piece or two that fits with the style of play and direction the franchise is heading.

[RELATED: Marvin Bagley, Harry Giles give Kings fans glimpse into bright future]

Cap

The NBA’s cap is set at $101.869 million for this season, with the luxury tax threshold of  $123.733 million. Sacramento has $90.844 million on the books, including $10.8 million in dead money from Matt Barnes, Georgios Papagiannis, Deyonta Davis and Caron Butler.

Outside of the Kings and their $11 million in available cap space, no other team in the league is under the cap.

With available space, the Kings can act as a conduit to reduce other clubs’ cap space, potentially saving them millions in luxury tax. They can also accept more incoming money than they send out in a potential trade.

Expiring Contracts

In addition to $11 million in cap space, the Kings also have a bevy of expiring contracts to work with. Veteran big man Zach Randolph has yet to play a minute this season in Sacramento, and is in the final year of a deal that pays him $11.7 million this season.

Kosta Koufos is a valuable big on an affordable $8.7 million deal. At 29 years old, he is a veteran defensive presence and keeps himself in spectacular shape. With the Kings going young up front over the last two weeks, Koufos gets in a full workout following games to make sure he’s ready to play, either for Sacramento or elsewhere.

Ben McLemore, 25, is owed $5.5 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s found it difficult to get on the court with the Kings loaded at the wing, but he’s had a few moments when given an opportunity.

Iman Shumpert is in the final year of a long term contract he signed back in 2015 with the Cavs that pays him $11 million this season. Shumpert has started 32 games at the small forward position for the Kings and has provided a nice bump both on and off the court. He’s a defensive-minded wing and he’s shooting 38.6 percent from long range this season.

Lastly, starting center Willie Cauley-Stein is in the final year of his rookie-scale deal. He makes $4.7 million this season, and will enter the summer as a restricted free agent if the Kings extend a qualifying offer. Cauley-Stein has reached the NBA’s “starter criteria,” which means his qualifying offer has jumped from $4.5 million to $6.3 million this summer.

Not including Cauley-Stein, the Kings have roughly $37 million in expiring contracts. Shumpert is playing rotational minutes, and Koufos is a nice insurance policy for the team.

If the right deal were to come along, the Kings would have no problem taking back long-term money in exchange for a combination of expiring deals. Again, any deal would need to check the right boxes of improving the team in the short-term as well as down the road.

Picks

One of Vlade Divac’s first moves was to trade his 2019 first-round pick. That move really comes into play right now. Due to the Stepien Rule, Divac cannot trade back-to-back picks, so his first round selection in 2020 is off the table.

Sacramento can trade a first round pick further off in the future, like in 2021 or 2022.

Without a first-rounder to work with, the Kings have loaded up on second-rounders. The team doesn’t have their own second-rounder in 2019, but they have two incoming picks (second-most favorable from the Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets, plus the most favorable between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers).

The Kings also have their own second-round selection in 2020, as well as the Detroit Pistons' and Miami Heat's. In 2021, they have Miami’s second round pick again, as well as their own selection and the Memphis Grizzlies' pick.

Values of second-round picks vary, but the Kings have a total six second-rounders over the next three seasons. They have no restrictions, and can be used as sweeteners in a larger deal if necessary.

[RELATED: What went right, what went wrong in Kings' win over Blazers]

Assets

Sacramento has a lot of young and talented players, but they aren’t going to move any of them unless it means the team is making a massive long-term investment in a star-level player. Even then, there is a core group that is close to untouchable.

It’s an interesting roster. The Kings have nine players on rookie scale-contracts. Nemanja Bjelica is the only veteran with a guaranteed deal that extends beyond the 2018-19 season. They have plenty of expiring contracts, and a few young players that are out of the rotation.

What to Expect

Divac and Co. should be incredibly active. They’ve worked hard to be a player in the trade market, and they are the only team with available space. They can also change the look of the roster using open money and expiring contracts from players that aren’t part of the rotation.

The Kings have the ability to pull off multiple trades that could yield not only players to help with a playoff push, but add future assets as well.

Sacramento should be weary of taking on long-term salary that bites into their available cap space this summer, unless the player fits the age and salary trajectory of the team.

It would be shocking if they stand pat at the deadline.There will likely be a deal or two that could help change the course of the franchise for the better. At 23-21, this team has done their job on the court, but they could use a few reinforcements.

Kings' Harrison Barnes generously pays for Atatiana Jefferson's funeral

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Kings' Harrison Barnes generously pays for Atatiana Jefferson's funeral

Harrison Barnes signed a long-term contract that will keep him in Sacramento for the next four seasons, but before he joined the Kings, Barnes spent two-and-a-half years in Dallas as a member of the Mavericks.

The Kings forward still feels a connection to his previous home city, and that was extremely evident through the generous gesture Barnes and his wife made to the family of Atatiana Jefferson, a Dallas-area woman who recently was shot and killed by a police officer while in her own home.

Jefferson had been looking after her eight-year-old nephew when the officer, Aaron Dean, arrived at her open-door home and opened fire without announcing he was a policeman. The 28-year-old Jefferson was shot and killed, and Dean since has been charged with murder.

It's a terrible, heartbreaking situation for Jefferson's family, and Barnes sought to make things easier on them during these trying times by paying for her funeral.

"The biggest thing is, anytime someone has to go through that, the last thing you want to have to worry about is trying to come up with the money for a funeral," Barnes explained Thursday. "It's about the family, it's about everything they're going through. Our prayers are obviously with them, and it was a gesture my wife and I wanted to do for them.

"It was unfortunate. It should never happen," Barnes continued. "Just in general, gun violence in Dallas, recently. Andre Emmett, a guy that I played pickup basketball with for two-and-a-half straight summers -- another unfortunate incident. So when you see these type of situations continue to occur, you know that change needs to happen."

Barnes understands that while he's a basketball player by profession, he has a role to play that goes beyond the court.

[RELATED: Hield extension talks cast momentary dark cloud over Kings]

"I think that any time you come to a community, whether it's Sacramento, whether it's Dallas, whether it's Oakland, Chapel Hill or Ames, you always have a piece of that community that's with you and you always want to try to give back."

Buddy Hield contract extension talks cast momentary dark cloud over Kings

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Buddy Hield contract extension talks cast momentary dark cloud over Kings

SACRAMENTO -- "Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again."

Whether it’s the soothing harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel or the powerful bellowing of Disturbed frontman David Draiman, the opening lines of the "Sound of Silence" are ringing in my ears.

For more than a decade, drama finds the Sacramento Kings, whether they are looking for it or not. Often times the wounds are self-inflicted. Every once in a while, the issues are nothing more than the complexities of the NBA playing out in real-time.

Buddy Hield wants his money. His agent says so. He says so. Twitter says so.

Hield’s team has gone on the record with the number of $110 million over four-years to seal the deal. The Kings will not confirm whether the reported four-year, $90 million figure that has been put out there is top end for the team.

Sacramento had a similar situation last season when big man Willie Cauley-Stein went public with his wishes to get paid. Again, the two situations are similar ... but really they aren’t.

Hield accomplished last season what Cauley-Stein never could in purple and black. He lived up to his lottery billing and became a consistent impact player on the court for the Kings.

Part of the team’s exciting young core, Hield has made it his offseason mission to get locked up long term. In doing so, he is making things as uncomfortable as possible for general manager Vlade Divac and his staff.

Will it work? Will slaying the drama mean more to the franchise than the long term financial flexibility they have worked so hard to build? That is the $110 million question.

The Kings are on the clock and Hield has started to get personal.

The talented shooting guard has asked for what he believes is fair, but the value is in the eye of the beholder. During his post-game comments on Wednesday evening, he invoked two separate ideas that take aim at not only the franchise but his standing amongst his teammates as well.

"Name one big free agent that came to Sacramento," Hield told the larger media scrum. "I've been here three years trying to grow the program, grow the organization and I feel like I could be rewarded close to that. But that's just me. That's my gut feeling."

Long an NBA outpost, the good people of Sacramento, regardless of who is running the franchise, know where they stand in the tall pecking order of the league. Landing an 'A list' free agent has never been on the table.

While it’s a matter for some debate, Divac himself is likely the top free agent the team has brought in during the team’s 35 years in Sacramento. The franchise has found success bringing back their own big-name free agents, like Mitch Richmond, Chris Webber and Mike Bibby. But they haven’t been able to crack into the superstar free-agent market.

That leaves the franchise with two options: Draft potential stars and hope for the best or acquire talent via trade and hope for the best.

Hield is a combination of both. Sacramento didn’t draft him, but they traded for him during his rookie season and spent the last three seasons helping to develop him into the player he is today.

In addition to taking a shot at a sensitive issue for the franchise he plays for, Hield went where most players don’t want to go. He compared himself to his teammates and what might happen for them in the near future.

“It’s all about value and where they see me as a player and of course, if another young player comes up and they give them what they want, it shows how much they value me,” Hield told NBC Sports California following the main media scrum.

Hield is pointing directly at the franchise and how they might value De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley. Creating a list of who mom and dad like the best doesn’t work for siblings. In the NBA world, it’s a good way to get your feelings hurt.

Speaking to people within the walls of the Golden 1 Center, they understand that all of this is part of the process.

They still love Buddy Hield. They still view him as a big part of the franchise. This is just another day out of many in the history of the Kings and it too shall pass.

It should also be noted that Hield is fighting to stay in a Kings' uniform. He is asking the team to lock him up for the next five seasons in Sacramento so he can put permanent roots. He has visions of buying a house in the area and making this his NBA home. 

Between now and Oct. 21, Hield will either get an extension or he won’t. He is emotional about the process. He wants financial stability. He wants respect. He wants to know that he is just as important to the recent success of the franchise as anyone else. All of this is understandable.

[RELATED: Kings, Hield $20M apart in contract extension talks]

At the end of the day, this is a negotiation. The NBA is a business and it shouldn’t get personal. If a deal doesn’t get done now, the two sides have another bite at the apple at the end of the season.

The next few days building to the deadline could get wild, but like so many other situations with the Kings, the darkness will pass soon enough. A resolution, one way or another, will happen and the focus will shift to basketball and the task at hand.