Having more than $60 million in available salary-cap space is both a blessing and a curse for the Sacramento Kings.
On the one hand, they need to spend at least $50 million to get to the NBA’s salary floor. On the other hand, they don’t want to spend, just to spend.
While the team hopes to be a player in free agency, there is a full menu of ways to improve the team. One of those options is to package a future asset and some of their coveted cap space, and trade for an established NBA player on a long-term deal.
Steven Adams was the first major center to potentially come available, but it looks like he won’t be the last. The Rockets reportedly are trying to make a play for Jimmy Butler, and they're willing to deal away a couple of their key players.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that one of those players is center Clint Capela.
Reporting w/ @ZachLowe: Houston’s offering Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker individually to teams w/ space to absorb salary. Rockets trying for best available first-rounder for any of those three, hoping to redirect pick to Philly in pursuit of Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 26, 2019
Capela checks all of the boxes for the Kings. At 25 years old, he fits the team’s player arc, and he is the rim-running, shot-blocking rebounder they desperately need.
He’s also locked up on a four-year, $72 million contract that is completely affordable for a player who averaged 16.6 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game last season in Houston.
It likely would cost the Kings a top-10-protected first-round draft pick, but the team is young enough to withstand another year without a selection. Sacramento also has seven second-round selections over the next two years to sweeten a deal.
If the Kings were feeling generous, they could make a mega-deal out of the situation. They have the available cap space to absorb Capela ($16.4 million), Eric Gordon ($14 million) and P.J. Tucker ($8.3 million), freeing up just under $40 million for the Rockets.
In a scenario like this, the Kings still would have more than $20 million per year to pay Harrison Barnes. They also could clear $22 million off the books next season when Gordon and Tucker expire and Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic come up for extensions.
Whether or not the Kings have held discussions with the Rockets is unknown at this time, but Sacramento needs to be aggressive in all facets of the summer schedule. The team knows Willie Cauley-Stein wants out, and there are options to replace him on the market.
But very few offer the contract, numbers and age fit that Capela does.
Kings general manager Vlade Divac selected three players in the second round, but the likelihood of any of them making an impact this season is minimal. If the Kings are going to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, they have to take risks in free agency and on the trade front.
A deal for Capela would add another impact player to the foundation of the team. It would come with future costs, but it’s hard to imagine finding a better fit than the 6-foot-10 center.