Kings

Reports: Joe Johnson signing with Rockets after buyout with Kings

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USATSI

Reports: Joe Johnson signing with Rockets after buyout with Kings

SACRAMENTO -- Joe Johnson, we hardly knew you. Reports early Saturday morning have the veteran wing in agreement of a buyout with the Sacramento Kings. 

According to multiple national reports, the seven-time All-Star will join the Houston Rockets once he’s cleared waivers from Sacramento.

Included in the Thursday’s three-team deal with the Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers, the Kings understood that a buyout was the likely outcome for the 36-year-old Johnson. It might even have been the reason they had him included in the deal.

“We knew looking at certain veterans that we’d have a set of options,” Brandon Williams said of Johnson following the trade. “No surprise to anybody in the room that veteran at that stage (of their career) might be looking at playoff teams. I think we think the same thing. So strategically, it’s right in line.”

The 17-year veteran posted 7.3 points per game over 32 games for the Utah Jazz this season. Once the buyout is complete, Sacramento will have an open roster spot to work with. 

Johnson joins an elite club that includes Sam Cassell, Larry Hughes, Roger Mason and Marquis Daniels. All of these players were acquired by the Kings at the trade deadline only to never play a game in purple and black. 

Source: Kings in recruiting phase with forward Nemanja Bjelica

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USATSI

Source: Kings in recruiting phase with forward Nemanja Bjelica

After a slow start to free agency, a source has confirmed to NBC Sports California that the Kings are in the recruiting phase with unrestricted free agent Nemanja Bjelica. 

No contract has been discussed, but the team is attempting to convince the Serbian forward that there is value in staying in the NBA.

News of potential interest between the parties first broke Wednesday afternoon.

Bjelica agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers on July 5, but he never signed on the dotted line and informed the team earlier this week of his decision to return to Europe this season.

The 6-foot-10 combo forward spent the last three seasons coming off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He posted 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game under coach Tom Thibodeau, but his opportunities were limited in the T-Wolves' system.

At 30, Bjelica is older than most of the Kings’ recent targets, but he potentially could fill a glaring hole in the roster as a shooter at both the three and the four. Bjelica split his minutes between both forward positions in Minnesota last season, knocking down a career-best 41.5 percent on 2.7 attempts per game from behind the arc. 

There is no word yet on the exact dollar figure offered by the Kings. Sacramento has a whopping $20.5 million in salary-cap space to work with, and the free agent market is nearly dried up. 

While four years older, Bjelica compares favorably as a player to the Spurs’ Davis Bertans, who signed a two-year, $14.5 million contract to return to San Antonio earlier this month as a restricted free agent. 

According to a source, Sacramento likes Bjelica’s versatility and believes he can eat minutes at small forward this season, as well as shifting over to play the four.

It will be a surprise if Ben McLemore or Deyonta Davis actually wear a Kings uniform

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AP

It will be a surprise if Ben McLemore or Deyonta Davis actually wear a Kings uniform

We have a trade. Garrett Temple is on his way to the Memphis Grizzlies. In return, the Sacramento Kings receive former King Ben McLemore, along with big man Deyonta Davis, cash considerations and a 2021 second round draft pick.

Temple opted in to the final year of his 3-year, $24 million deal in late June and was due $8 million this season. Lost in the shuffle of young players at shooting guard, Sacramento made it clear to the 32-year-old wing that he was not part of the plan for the 2018-19 season before he picked up his option.

Known for his work in the community and presence in the locker room, the eight-year NBA veteran posted 8.4 points on 39.2 percent shooting from long range in 65 games last season in Sacramento. 

After being drafted with the seventh overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft by Sacramento, McLemore spent the first four seasons of his career in a Kings uniform. He signed a two-year deal with the Grizzlies last season and will make $5.4 million this season. 

Davis struggled to find court time with the Grizzlies in his first two seasons out of Michigan State. The 6-foot-11, 237 pound center has potential, but he’ll join a crowded frontcourt in Sacramento. He averaged 5.8 points and four rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game in his sophomore season in Memphis. 

Why Temple?

Sacramento has struggled to find strong veteran leadership over the last decade, but Temple fit the bill. After working his way into the league on 10-day contracts and trips overseas, the LSU grad seemed to find a home with the Kings.

But the emergence of shooting guards Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield made Temple the odd man out in the rotation this season. The Kings were able to break his contract up into smaller pieces in this deal, which opens the door for more transactions. 

In a perfect world, the Kings may have looked to move Iman Shumpert instead of Temple, but his injury history and $11.4 million contract for this season is a tough sell in a cash strapped market.

Why McLemore and Davis?

It’s hard to see either of these players sticking around for very long. McLemore struggled to find playing time in his final two seasons in Sacramento and that’s before they had emerging players at his position. It’s unlikely he’ll get another shot at competing for minutes. He makes $5.4 million this season, which can be bought out and either stretched over three years to open more space or paid out in one lump sum this season.  

Davis is owed $1.5 million this season, making him an affordable reserve option if the Kings choose to keep him around. He’s on the final year of his rookie contract and is a restricted free agent after this season.

What’s next?

The Kings saved roughly $1 million in cap space with the deal, pushing their available total to approximately $20.5 million. 

This deal was more about adding another second round pick and clearing Temple’s $8 million off the books, while finding the veteran a soft landing spot. While the team has yet make their plans known, it would be a surprise to see either McLemore or Davis in a Kings uniform this season.