SACRAMENTO -- The NBA trade deadline is looming, and all but a few Kings are going to hear their names floated around the league.
De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley are untouchable, according to a league source. After that it gets a little murky.
One of the names that will continue to come up leading to the Feb. 6 deadline is Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Kings’ newly-promoted starting shooting guard. Bogdanovic, 27, is a player who can fit on any team, and his restricted free-agent status this summer makes him a short-term addition with long-term potential for any suitor.
Why would the Kings contemplate dealing their most versatile player?
Big-money extensions to Harrison Barnes (four years, $84 million) and Buddy Hield (four years, $86 million) are only the beginning. Fox will need an extension this summer, and Bagley is eligible the year after.
This money is already budgeted, but it was based on the Kings being a team on the rise, rather than the 18-31 team they are this season. Can Sacramento keep spending on a core that might not develop into a playoff contender?
Technically, the Kings can keep all five players, but it won’t be easy. Bogdanovic has a free-standing extension offer of four years, $51.7 million. But with a weak free-agent class, he likely is to get more than that on the open market.
Sacramento can match any deal this summer, but no one really knows what type of offer sheet Bogdanovic will receive. The Kings, according to a league source, understand that Bogdanovic might cost $15 million to 18 million a season, and Sacramento is willing to match a deal in that range and perhaps even a little higher.
If ever there was a player worthy of making a case for keeping, it’s Bogdanovic. The Kings are 3-2 since inserting him into the starting lineup five games ago. They are just 2-9 in games that he has missed this season.
He can play off the ball, work as a primary ball-handler, create for himself and others and score at all three levels. While he isn’t an outstanding individual defender, he is a solid team defender with an incredibly high basketball IQ.
The biggest argument that could be made for Bogdanovic is that all 29 other teams in the league would gladly take him. They would play him major minutes and move him all over the court.
The Kings aren’t in a position to overpay everyone who needs a raise. They also aren’t at a place where they can allow talent to walk out the door, especially if the player doesn’t bring back equal value.
There will come a point when the Kings have to make difficult decisions with their roster, but this isn’t that moment.
They can reset the roster in plenty of different ways this summer if the team needs financial breathing room. They can reevaluate the entire roster and make adjustments, potentially even shopping Hield or Barnes if they have to.
If they can’t deal center Dewayne Dedmon in the coming days, they can try to attach second-round picks to his contract this summer when he is entering the last year of his deal. They can even waive his $13.3 million contract and clear up nearly $9 million in cap space this summer via the league’s stretch provision.
This is a lost season for the Kings, but that doesn’t mean that it’s time to panic. Sometimes the best move is just to accept your fate and wait until the summer to work everything out.
Sacramento will have a lottery pick to work with and four second-round selections in the 2020 NBA Draft. The Kings also will have more flexibility when it comes to other contracts on the roster, and they can make the tough decisions then.
The Kings aren’t going to find a replacement for Bogdanovic in the draft and they aren’t going to find a better player willing to ink a deal in free agency, even if they had available cap space.
Barring an incredible offer that instantly improves the Kings’ roster today and moving forward, holding onto Bogdanovic and waiting for more clarity this summer is the move that makes the most sense. That might not be what the team does, but sometimes stepping back and gaining some much-needed perspective can make all the difference.