SACRAMENTO -- Spending money just to spend money is never a good move.
The Sacramento Kings are the lone NBA team with any sort of salary-cap space, and they still have a couple of roster needs. Finding the right piece to the puzzle is extremely important to taking the next step in the franchise's future.
NBC Sports California can confirm an earlier report that the Kings have kept in contact with the Washington Wizards in regards to the availability of small forward Otto Porter. Nothing is imminent, but according to a league source, the Kings definitely like the potential fit with the six-year pro if the deal is right.
Sacramento showed interest in the 25-year-old wing during the summer of 2017 when he signed a four-year, $106.5 million offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets as a restricted free agent. The Kings backed off when it was clear the Wizards would match any offer for the former Georgetown star.
Porter is having a down year for the Wizards, averaging 11.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, two assists and 1.5 steals in 29.4 minutes a night. He's shooting just 36 percent from 3-point range, down from the 44.1 percent he shot last season, but he is a long, versatile athlete who fits the Kings' player age arc.
Hamstrung with big money contracts to John Wall and Bradley Beal, as well as the remaining two years of Porter after this season, the Wizards are well over the NBA's luxury tax. At 8-13, they are expected to join the ranks of sellers in the coming months.
Porter is in the second year of his contract with Washington. He's owed $26 million this season and $27.3 million in 2019-20, and he has a player option at $28.5 million for the 2020-21 season.
The Kings are the only team in the league that can provide massive cap relief in a deal. They currently sit $11 million under the NBA's $101.9 million cap, and they have four veterans on expiring contracts, totaling just under $37 million. They’re also an estimated $60 million under the salary cap next summer.
Sacramento doesn't have a 2019 first-round draft selection, and it can't trade its 2020 first-rounder either due to the Stepien Rule. The Kings do have a few young pieces that might work in a trade, as well as a bevy of future second-round selections.
The Kings have two second-round picks in 2019 and three in both 2020 and 2021.
The Wizards currently sit at $131.8 million in guaranteed salary for this season. They are a little more than $8 million over the league's $123.7 million luxury tax line. The luxury tax bill for Washington would be an estimated $12.75 million at its current rate.
Next season, the Wizards are in trouble. Wall's massive extension kicks in, doubling his current $19 million salary and pushing the team near the luxury line with just six players under contract. Not only are they in line for a massive tax bill, but it would be compounded as a repeat offender.
For the first $5 million over the tax, the Wizards would be on the hook for $2.50 for every dollar over the tax as a repeat offender. That rate goes up to $2.75 for the next $5 million and $3.25 for every dollar between the $10 million to $15 million range.
While they might not be willing to give up one of their young core players, the Kings can provide real value in a deal by absorbing salary. In theory, they could create a deal centered around two expiring players in the $17 million range and use their remaining cap space to eat the difference in Porter's $26 million salary. They could sweeten the deal with some of their future second-round selections or a player or two not in the current long-term plan.
A deal structured like potentially could save Washington $9 million in salary offset and an additional $12.75 million in luxury tax in this season alone. It also would drop the Wizards below the tax threshold and avoid the potential repeat offender tax next year.
This might not be a perfect scenario for the Wizards, but the Kings are the only team in the league with the ability to save them major money and put them back on the right financial path.