Breaking down Kings' roster, needs heading into free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The 2020 NBA Draft is over and now the real work begins for the Sacramento Kings. While they brought in a nice haul on Draft night, they still have plenty of tough decisions on the make up of their roster moving forward.
Free agency begins Nov. 20 this season, although no one can officially sign until Nov. 22. It’s a not a great free agent class, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few diamonds in the rough for new Kings GM Monte McNair.
Long-term flexibility is always a priority in Sacramento, especially with De’Aaron Fox expected to sign a massive extension in the coming weeks. The Kings added depth and versatility on draft night, but they still need to help at both forward positions, a long-term answer at the five and potentially a fifth guard to add to the mix.
Cap Space: NBA salary cap set at $109.1 million - $104.7 million in guaranteed salary ($98.7 million guaranteed salary + $4.5 Million (5 x $900,000 minimum scale holds)) = $4.4 million in cap space. With Bogdan Bogdanovic’s qualifying offer, the Kings are considered over the salary cap.
Exceptions: $2.673 million trade exception (Dewayne Dedmon trade), $9.258 million Mid-Level exception, $3.623 million Bi-Annual exception.
Current Roster (Guaranteed contracts): Buddy Hield ($24.9 million), Harrison Barnes ($22.2 million), Cory Joseph ($12.6 million), Marvin Bagley ($9 million), De’Aaron Fox ($8.1 million), Nemanja Bjelica ($7.2 million), Jabari Parker ($6.5 million player option exercised), Richaun Holmes ($5.0 million), Tyrese Haliburton ($3.2 million salary slot), Justin James ($1.5 million).
Free Agents: Kent Bazemore (UFA - $28.9 million cap hold), Bogdan Bogdanovic (RFA - $10.7 million qualifying offer extended), Alex Len (UFA - $5.4 million cap hold), Yogi Ferrell (UFA, $4.1 million cap hold), Harry Giles (UFA - $4.0 million cap hold), Corey Brewer (UFA - $1.7 million cap hold - joined Pelicans as player development coach), DaQuan Jeffries (RFA, qualifying offer extended).
Roster Space: The Kings’ roster currently stands at nine player after the team decided to guarantees Bjelica’s one-year contract. We’ve added Haliburton into the known salary because first-round selections have salary slots, but Sacramento also has second-round selections Robert Woodard and Jahmi’us Ramsey to add to the mix. The team could use a two-way contracts on one of them. DaQuan Jeffries is also a near lock to make the non-G League roster at a league minimum salary after the Kings extended a qualifying offer to the 23-year-old forward on Thursday.
After Wednesday night’s draft, the Kings have plenty of draft assets. They have no outstanding first or second-round selections moving forward. In addition, they have three additional second-round selections in 2021, as well as one additional second-round selection in 2022, 2024 and 2025.
Sacramento also has a list of expiring contracts heading into the season, including Joseph ($12.6 million with a $12.6 million team option for 2021-22 with a $2.4 million buyout), Bjelica ($7.2 million), Parker ($6.5 million), Holmes ($5 million) and James ($1.5 million).
The Kings have a lot of work to do in free agency. Their first line of attack is to decide what to do with Bogdan Bogdanovic’s restricted free agent status. While the addition of Haliburton in the backcourt might make Bogdanovic slightly redundant as a player, there is still potential for him to re-sign with the Kings. He has the ability to play small forward, which might be the Kings’ best long-term solution at the position. With the league launching an investigation, the potential sign-and-trade with Milwaukee appears dead at this point.
Sacramento also has to decide if Joseph is a long-term fit with the team, especially with the addition of Haliburton. The veteran guard kept the Kings afloat last season through Fox’s injuries, but he isn’t built for an up tempo style of play. Can the Kings find a taker for his $12.6 million contract?
Parker wasn’t a part of the rotation last season, but he’s opted in to the final year of his contract. Can he work his way into coach Luke Walton’s rotation or will the Kings try to find a landing spot for him?
Will McNair value any of the Kings’ free agents enough to retain them? Giles is a fan favorite, Len was impactful when healthy and Bazemore helped turn the season around for Sacramento.
With uncertainty regarding Bazemore and Bogdanovic, the Kings are lean at the small forward spot. Barnes split his time between both forward positions last season and there is potential for a permanent swap to the four moving forward. The Kings need depth beyond Jeffries, James and Woodard at forward.
The center position is in flux as well. The plan moving forward might be for Bagley to permanently move to the five, but he played just 13 games due to injury last season. Holmes played extremely well last season, but he too had injury issues and he’s only under contract for the coming season. The Kings need depth at the position, preferably someone who can block shots and rebound.
With Ferrell unlikely to return, the Kings could use change of pace point guard, although Joseph’s presence and Haliburton’s ability to play both guard spots complicates the position. Guy is still locked in as a two-way player, but he’s more of an undersized two.