SACRAMENTO -- Contract negotiations can be brutal. Things are said. Information finds its way into the media. Lines in the sand are drawn.
And then with a flick of a wrist, the contract is signed and all is forgiven.
Buddy Hield is the proud recipient of a new four-year, $86 million contract extension with the Sacramento Kings. He’ll have an opportunity to make another $20 million in incentives over the course of the contract, which could push the deal over the $100 million mark.
While the talks were contentious at times, the two sides eventually came to an agreement. On Tuesday morning, Hield sat alongside general manager Vlade Divac to express relief that the situation is over.
“Sacramento is home for me,” Hield said. “I think the way I’ve been elevating my career in the past couple of years, I don’t think it would be the same going somewhere else.”
Hield was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract. The 26-year-old had a breakout season with the Kings last season where he led the team in scoring at 20.7 points per game and set a new franchise record with 278 3-point makes.
“I’m so happy that we came to the agreement that both sides are happy and we still are going the way we planned a few years ago to keep our young core,” general manager Vlade Divac said. “Buddy is one of the most important pieces of our core moving forward and (we’re) building something special here in Sacramento.”
Hield is the first of four members of the Kings’ young core to go through the extension process. It was clear over the last week that negotiations were heating up, but there were times where Hield allowed his emotions to spill out into the media.
In the end, Hield and Divac stayed up until 2 am hammering out details, with the Kings’ shooting guard pitching his case to the team’s front office.
“I was just trying to plead my case to them, but that’s done with,” Hield said. “I’m here as a King now, so I’m just wanting to win games now and just try to take us to the playoffs, that’s the main focus.”
Divac greeted Hield after practice almost every day over the last week. The two could be seen joking around, but there was a clear tension in the gym.
“Me and Vlade have a great relationship, it goes back to when he first traded for me,” Hield said. “Just seeing the vibe around him and Peja [Stojakovic] and just being around the organization and [owner] Vivek [Ranadivé]. There was nothing directly or insulting to Vlade, that’s our relationship.”
It was clear that while negotiating a contract extension, Divac was still focused on making sure that Hield wasn’t taking anything personally. The business side of basketball can be ruthless. With the season just days away, the two sides wanted to get a deal done without feelings getting hurt.
“I felt pretty good that either way, what we built here is special,” Divac said. “This is something that we had to figure out, but we know where we want to be and we worked together to get there. This is one step forward.”
Acquired as part of the trade that sent All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, Hield was not even slated to start for the Kings last season. A late summer knee injury to Bogdan Bogdanovic opened a door and Hield took full advantage.
In his third NBA season he blossomed next to point guard De’Aaron Fox. In one year, he turned himself into a viable starter moving forward and a player worthy of a huge contract extension.
Born in Freeport, on the island of Grand Bahamas, Hield has come a long way in his journey to become an NBA regular. With a tireless work ethic, he successfully turned himself into one of the game’s best perimeter shooters and he still has more room to grow.
“Where I came from, 10 years [ago], who would have thought I would sign an $86 million [contract],” Hield said. “If I would have told a friend that, he would have said you’re talking BS.”
Hield now has financial security moving forward and can return his focus to the court.
“I’m just extremely blessed, I’m happy to be here and happy to get things rolling,” Hield said.
Hield sighted the low-key environment of Sacramento as one of his selling points. He has a young daughter and Sacramento has become his home away from home during the last two and a half seasons.
The drama is over. It’s time to get back to the game of basketball where the Kings will open the season Wednesday evening in Phoenix against the Suns.
Sacramento is looking to snap a 13-year playoff drought and a happy and healthy Buddy Hield could go a long way towards making that a reality.