Why the time is ripe for Kings to take a major swing in free agency


Why the time is ripe for Kings to take a major swing in free agency

Get the bat off your shoulder and take a swing. 

Hours before the 2018 NBA free agency period is set to begin, the Sacramento Kings have a major dilemma. Should they open up the coffers and chase one of the handful of attractive players hitting the market? Or, should they stand pat and wait for next season when they (and the rest of the league) will have even more money to spend?

It’s not an easy decision. Most of the players in this year’s free agent class fall into one of two categories - star-level players or restricted free agents. There are a few unrestricted players that fall below star level, but not many.

Sacramento has never been a hotbed for stars looking for a landing spot, so you can pretty much cross off LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and even DeMarcus Cousins off that list. 

What is left? 

There are some nice young players that fit the Kings’ team trajectory, but most of them are restricted. Sacramento would likely have to overpay one of these players in order to steal them away from their current team and even that might not work.

The team currently lacks a starting-level small forward and they could also use a combo forward to help out as a stretch four. There are players out there that can fill these needs. 

Jabari Parker is an injury risk, but he can play both the three and the four. Zach LaVine is coming off an injury as well and would require the team to shift Bogdan Bogdanovic back to the small forward position. 

At 6-foot-8, Rodney Hood is a player that makes sense at the wing. Aaron Gordon is more of a four and he would take a max deal, but his talent is undeniable.

All four of these players are restricted free agents. They are also talent upgrades and fit the team’s age arc. 

They won’t come cheap. They might not want to come to Sacramento at all. But at some point, the objective has to be about winning more games. 

The Kings continue to gush over their bevy of cap space for the summer of 2019. As of today, they project to have $65-70 million in room. If they ink a player to a long-term deal this summer, that dollar figure would drop.

Vlade Divac and his group might not love the free-agent class, but in the NBA, talent wins. The perfect player might not be available. The perfect player may never be available. But that doesn’t mean the Kings shouldn’t participate in the madness. 

If Sacramento plays its cards right, there is no reason to think they can’t improve the talent on their roster. In the end, that should be the objective for any team, especially one that has missed the playoffs 12 straight seasons and doesn’t have a draft pick in 2019.

There isn’t some magical player coming up in the 2019 free agent class that can fix everything and make the Kings a contender. No, Klay Thompson isn’t walking away from the Warriors to make more money in Sacramento and even he can’t fix the hole at the wing.

So what are the Kings waiting for? Cap flexibility only matters if you have the power to make a move when the right opportunity arises. 

This is that moment. Sacramento is one of a very small group of teams with meaningful cap space. They also have the ability to stretch provision one or two of their veterans on one-year deals, deferring money for a time when they have even more cap space.

They should be prudent in their spending, but this is a moment to take advantage of a league-wide cash flow issue and jump at the opportunity to potentially accelerate their decade long rebuild.

There is no reason not to take a major swing if you are Sacramento. The lack of competition on the market is unheard of. And even if they land a major piece, they still have plenty of cap space next season. 

Improve the club. Make yourself a more desirable location by adding talent and showing future free agents that you are committed to spending if it helps create a winning culture.

Stephen Curry lauds De'Aaron Fox's progress, shares what greatness takes


Stephen Curry lauds De'Aaron Fox's progress, shares what greatness takes

SACRAMENTO -- Quiet. Reserved. Superstar.

Stephen Curry came into the NBA as a skinny kid out of a small school with a professional pedigree and a pure jump shot. He’s developed into the leader of one of the greatest NBA teams ever assembled.

Following shootaround Friday morning at Golden 1 Center, NBC Sports California was able to sit down with the two-time league MVP to discuss Kings sophomore point guard De’Aaron Fox. It’s an enlightening conversation from one of the game’s great players, as the Warriors star lays down the road map for success for Fox and describes what it takes to make that next step.

NBC Sports: What have you seen from De’Aaron Fox so far in Year 2? You guys both play the point guard spot, but he’s a different style of player.

Curry: He’s expanded his repertoire a little bit, obviously shooting the ball well, seeing the floor, controlling the pace of the game most of the time when he’s in his flow. You’ve got to deal with his speed, first and foremost, but he’s found other ways to use it to his advantage to create space and again, use the guys around him to play-make.

Obviously, he was extremely talented last year, just learning the ropes, but he’s taken another step in the right direction, which is cool to see.

When you came into the league, how long did it take to get comfortable running the point guard position?

It’s hard to say, it’s the continued evolution of things. Everything was building up toward that first playoff run. You can play regular-season basketball and know what that’s like and continue to get better and feel comfortable, and the game slows down.

When you get to a playoff-like environment, I think that was my fourth year when we first made it, that was a whole other level of basketball. That’s when you really get convinced, that yeah, I know what I’m doing.

You’re a guy who’s expanded your game time and time again. How do you do that as a young player? How do you look at your deficiencies and say, 'I’m going to get better at this aspect of my game’?

If you love the game and you really care about taking it serious, and surround yourself with good coaches and teammates that kind of help you and point you in the right direction for wisdom, on and off the court.

In terms of really investing in your game, you’ve got to put the time in over the summers to get better, be honest with yourself, in terms of where your deficiencies are and where you can work on your game, and not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone a little bit.

It’s a process, but the guys that really make that jump from potential to making an impact in this league consistently are the guys that just love the game and want to be around it, and again, put the time in.

Is there ever a point where you stop learning, stop trying to change?

Nah. Everything’s just different based on the context of the season, what goals you kind of put in front of you. I’m in my 10th year and still feel like I’m learning stuff about the game, about myself, and you’re constantly challenged.

For me, this team is different than it was last year or the year before, even though we’re chasing the same goals. It’s requiring a different level of focus and adjustments. So you’ve got to be on your toes at all times. 

Why Kevin Durant can see Kings attracting big names in NBA free agency


Why Kevin Durant can see Kings attracting big names in NBA free agency

SACRAMENTO -- Kevin Durant is getting in the habit of talking about the Kings.

First, he spoke glowingly of the team on the Bill Simmons podcast. Then, following shootaround Friday at Golden 1 Center, he was asked a few more questions about the team his Warriors were set to play later in the evening.

“I just like the growth of each player, I mean, you can see that these guys are getting better individually and they’re bringing it together as a unit and playing well off of each other,” Durant said.

The nine-time All-Star and former NBA MVP was asked a follow-up question about whether or not the Kings have become an attractive free agent destination. After taking a moment to think, he gave a thoughtful answer.

“Sacramento’s usually been a team that’s always tried to build through the draft, and they always have some young pieces, young assets,” Durant said. “But I feel like this is the first time since I’ve been in the league that they’re starting to come together even more and present a great product of basketball on the floor.”

“Hopefully guys start to look at this place as somewhere they want to go -- new arena, fan base is pretty excited about the team,” Durant continued. “Anything can happen in the NBA. All you need is just one guy.”

The Kings (15-12) are proving up a young core this season, and they are armed with an estimated $60 million in salary cap space for next summer when Durant and over 200 NBA players can become free agents.

Sacramento has the building, the fan base and talent, and the team is playing a fun brand of basketball. Like Durant said, “all you need is one guy.”

Expect to see that mantra printed on a purple T-shirt somewhere in Sacramento later this season.