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Can Kings afford to lose Bogdanovic in NBA free agency?

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The 2020 NBA Draft is right around the corner, but the league will have to squeeze in an abbreviated free agency period if they're determined to start next season before Christmas.

New Kings general manager Monte McNair has his plate full already trying to gear up for picks No. 12, 35, 43 and 52. He also has decisions to make in free agency, especially when it comes to starting shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic's restricted free agency.

In Bobby Marks’ latest piece on ESPN, he lists Bogdanovic as a “top starter” with a salary ranging from $14 million to $16 million per season. This assessment seems fair.

Sacramento had a standing offer to Bogdanovic at four years for just under $52 million. That was the maximum the Kings could offer during that time, but once free agency begins, the restrictions on paying Bogdanovic change.

A starting salary of $14 million with 8 percent raises annually equates to roughly $63 million over four years. A starting salary of $16 million with eight percent raises is just a little over $72 million.

Sacramento has a few options with regards to Bogdanovic. The Kings can let him go out onto the open market and see what kind of offer he receives, and then determine if they are going to match or not.


If they match, they assume the contract that he negotiated with a different team and all of the complexities that come with that. If they decide not to match, they lose Bogdanovic for nothing.

McNair could also shop Bogdanovic in a sign and trade scenario. As long as a team doesn’t officially extend an offer sheet to Bogdanovic, a trade between the two sides can be worked out. This is more complex now than it used to be, but it should still be considered.

Lastly, the Kings could get an approximate value for Bogdanovic and then try to work out a long term contract extension for the 28-year-old. If they hope to retain Bogdanovic, this is the avenue that works out best for the Kings.

While Vlade Divac is no longer running the Kings' front office, cap expert Ken Catanella remans with the organization. The last two long-term deals the team signed with Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield both declined by 8 percent per season, which would make sense in this situation as well and has become a hallmark of Catanella’s negotiations.

The Kings currently own Bogdanovic’s Larry Bird Rights, which means they can go over the cap in order to retain the veteran shooter. They have an option of starting with a higher value first year salary and then taper it down, like Barnes and Hield.

Why would the Kings choose to design a contract like this?

First up, point guard De’Aaron Fox is set to sign a massive extension with the Kings this offseason, which won't kick in until the 2021-22 season. As Fox’s money goes up, Bogdanovic’s money, as well as Barnes and Hield’s, would decrease.

It also makes Bogdanovic’s deal more palatable for other teams in the future if the Kings decide to go a different direction down the road.

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McNair is faced with a difficult decision. He knows that his team as it’s currently constructed probably isn't a playoff team in the Western Conference. He also knows that the Kings aren’t a franchise that can lose talent. How do you balance these two ideas?

The easiest answer is for McNair to work on an extension for Bogdanovic now and then make roster adjustments down the road. This isn’t a great free-agent class, and the salary-cap uncertainty is a concern for every team.

Bogdanovic is the Kings’ most versatile player and someone who fits almost every NBA roster. Whether he’s a starter or a reserve, he’s extremely valuable, especially for a team like Sacramento that struggles to attract outside free agents.

This is all complicated, but it shouldn’t be. Bogdanovic is a very good basketball player who makes the Kings better. They might not be good enough to compete for a playoff spot with him, but they’ll take a substantial step back without him.