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.