NBA rumors: Nerlens Noel on Kings' radar if Richaun Holmes exits

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Report: Noel on Kings' radar if Holmes leaves as free agent originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Are the Kings figuring out a “Plan B” if center Richaun Holmes leaves via free agency?

According to Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype, Nerlens Noel is a name to keep an eye on for Kings fans.

“A couple of teams have Nerlens Noel on their free-agent radar,” Scotto said on The Hoops Hype Podcast. “Among those teams -- the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors, I’m told.”

“Regarding Sacramento, it depends on what happens with their own free agent center, Richaun Holmes,” Scotto added.

Holmes is an unrestricted free agent and according to a source with knowledge of the situation, he is looking for a new contract in the range of four years, $80 million. 

Whether he lands that type of offer in free agency is unknown at this time, but the Kings can’t come close to that figure without clearing out major cap space. As of now, they can only go as high as a four-year, $50 million contract using the NBA’s “early Bird” provision.

Noel just finished off a productive season in New York, averaging 5.1 points, 6.4 points, 2.2 blocks and 1.1 steals in 24.2 minutes per game for the Knicks. He’s more of a defensive specialist, but he’s long, athletic and may find success in Sacramento as a rim runner and lob man in the same way that Holmes did.

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After signing a one-year, $5 million contract with the Knicks last season, Noel might be in line for a bump in pay this offseason. There is a possibility he is still in the NBA’s bi-annual exception range, which is a starting salary around $5 million per season. That is how the Kings acquired Holmes two summers ago in free agency.

According to league sources, the Kings are still hoping Holmes returns for another tour of duty with the team. He made a tremendous leap in production in Sacramento, averaging 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game as the Kings’ starting center last season and the team views him as an important piece to their squad.

Holmes is the superior offensive player and a very good defender as well. Noel is a dynamic defensive player who was one of the league leaders in defensive rating and defensive box plus/minus.