NBA free agency: Richaun Holmes interested in Kings re-signing

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Why Holmes should be Kings' No. 1 offseason priority originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SACRAMENTO -- When the Kings decided to add at the NBA trade deadline and not subtract, they set themselves up for a challenging summer. Instead of cashing in on the productive play of center Richaun Holmes, they now risk losing the veteran for nothing when free agency begins on Aug. 2. 

Holmes is the No. 1 priority for Sacramento this offseason, or at least he should be. After signing a two-year, $10 million contract with the Kings in the summer of 2019, the 27-year-old has flourished under head coach Luke Walton. 

As the Kings prepare for a long offseason, players dropped by for exit interviews with the media on Monday. Holmes, who missed the final two games of the season with a knee issue, spoke glowingly about his time in Sacramento, although he didn’t make any promises regarding a return.

“We’re going to see what happens,” Holmes said during his Zoom session. “Definitely have a love for Sacramento, what we’re trying to build here, what we built this season. I definitely have an interest in trying to go beyond that.”

Holmes hasn’t removed Sacramento from his list of potential playing spots for next season, but this is the first time he’ll walk into free agency as a bonafide starter and he’s ready to reap the rewards of his strong play -- and rightfully so.

“Honestly, I really don’t know how to approach it, I’ve never really been in a situation like this before,” Holmes said. “I’m just going to enjoy the summer. I’m going to enjoy it, train, like I normally do and get ready for next season.” 

The former Bowling Green star is a huge success story for the Kings. Brought in to compete with Harry Giles as the reserve center behind Dewayne Dedmon, the journeyman stole the job away after just four games in his first season.

This season, he ranked second in the NBA in field goal percentage and posted career-highs in points (14.1), rebounds (8.3), assists (1.7) and blocks (1.6) per game. 

Walton saw the fit with his lineup and Holmes took full advantage of the opportunity. That relationship might come into play as the 6-foot-10 big hits a summer of uncertainty.

“I just gotta thank coach Luke for having the trust in me,” Holmes said. “Trusting and going to me, looking to me as an option and seeing what I can do and put me on the floor. He definitely gave me a big-time opportunity and I appreciate that.”

Holmes had started a total of 24 games through his first four seasons in the league with the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns. In the last two seasons in Sacramento, he has gotten the nod 99 out of a possible 105 games, including all 61 contests he appeared in this season.

Not only is there an opportunity for Holmes to continue as a starter in Sacramento, but he might also be swayed by how the Kings fanbase has embraced him and his parents, doctors Lydecia and Richard Holmes. 

The Holmes’ have found their voice in the Kings community with their celebrations after wins. The couple even has a new single out called, “Who got that win.”

While that won’t be the final determining factor, there is something about finding an NBA home. Not every player is so lucky, and Holmes knows that.

“I love playing here in Sacramento, the things we have been building here in the last two years and where I can see the potential of this team going is great,” Holmes said. “So for me, I love Sacramento, have loved playing here every second and definitely want to continue that.”

Holmes likely will get some big offers as an unrestricted free agent. The Kings can try to sign him using the early bird exception, which would pay him a starting salary of roughly $11 million per season with eight percent raises every year. That equates to roughly a four-year, $50 million contract.

Outside of the early bird rights, the Kings have limited cap space. They will have to clear room if Holmes’ demands jump past that number. He has put in the work and this is his one big shot to land a substantial, life-altering contract.

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This is a player that worked his way into the league as a second-round pick. He has made less than $15 million total in his six-year career, which by NBA standards is very little. He has a chance to set up both he and his family for the long term with this contract. 

While there will be other opportunities out there, the Holmes’ know that they’ve stumbled onto something special in Sacramento. But whether or not that will be enough to lure the family back for another tour of duty is the huge question.