The waiting game is on in Sacramento.
In his first opportunity in NBA free agency as a lead executive, Monte McNair has shown remarkable restraint.
McNair hasn’t flooded his roster with veteran overpays. He hasn’t traded away any assets or blown out his salary cap for the next five years, outside of inking De’Aaron Fox to a max money extension that will kick in next year.
It appears that McNair and his front office team are waiting patiently to see what happens with restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic, and will then finish out the rotation accordingly.
The initial hope was that McNair would find a soft landing spot for Bogdanovic in a sign-and-trade that would bring back an asset. It appeared that the Kings had that worked out in a swap with Milwaukee Bucks, but that deal is long gone now and still being investigated by the NBA.
The Atlanta Hawks are one of the few teams remaining with cap space and according to a league source, they have interest in Bogdanovic and can match his reported four-year, $72 million asking price.
The Hawks don't need to involve Sacramento in a sign-and-trade, although they would be gambling that the Kings would just match.
A salary of $18 million per season for Bogdanovic sounds like a lot, but it’s the going rate at this point in the NBA, especially for a versatile player like Bogdanovic.
It appears that there might be at least one additional team in play.
The Indiana Pacers struck out on a Gordon Hayward trade with the Boston Celtics when a source confirmed that Boston’s trade demands became too excessive. Indy was willing to part with center Myles Turner in the transaction, but when the Celtics asked for more, the Pacers passed.
Hayward then bolted for a reported four-year, $120 million with the Charlotte Hornets.
Would the Pacers, who sources say have shown interest in Bogdanovic, consider a similar swap?
The salaries wouldn’t be difficult to work out. In fact, Turner has three years and $54 million remaining on his contract with the Pacers, with each of those seasons coming in at the $18 million mark, the same amount Bogdanovic is projected to receive.
The 24-year-old matches the Kings’ player arc and his skill set might work perfectly with Marvin Bagely’s. He averaged 12.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He is also a career 35.7 percent shooter from 3-point range and could help space the floor in the Kings’ offense.
With Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes making a combined $47 million this season and De’Aaron Fox set to jump over $28 million next year, McNair has to be cautious.
The Kings have plenty of contracts coming off the books next season, but how much should they commit to a roster that will likely struggle to gain traction in an extremely competitive Western Conference next season.
But if he can land a player like Turner, who projects as another building block for the franchise, you would think he has to at least consider something like this.
If McNair strikes out in a sign-and-trade, there is always the possibility that he matches an offer sheet for Bogdanovic, although it’s unlikely at the current projected number.
Bogdanovic is versatile enough to play the small position, especially after the addition of guard Tyrese Haliburton on draft night. But unless McNair can clear out a major contract, it’s hard to see where Bogdanovic fits financially.
This is the first real test for McNair. Will he extend himself and match a potential offer sheet for Bogdanovic? Does he have the blessing of ownership to go into the red during a pandemic season where fans likely won’t be allowed in Golden 1 Center? Can he afford to let Bogdanovic walk out the door without compensation?
According to a league source, the Kings have interest in veteran center Hassan Whiteside and he would come in at a much lower clip that Turner. He’s also 31 years old and doesn’t fit the team’s style of play.
There are also reports that the team has left the door open for a second tour of duty for wing Kent Bazemore, although nothing has materialized yet. If the team loses Bogdanovic, Bazemore makes a lot of sense on a two- or three-year deal.
McNair’s restraint is impressive, but eventually he needs to make at least a few additions to fill out the roster. We’ve already learned a lot about his approach over the last week, but now that the dust is settling on a crazy free agency period, this might be the moment to make his mark.