When Harrison Ford agreed to film a 4th Indiana Jones, optimistic viewers were delusional. Ford’s exorbitant salary was a value justified by his fading reputation. Like Paramount Pictures, Sacramento has an ugly sequel on its hands. The Kings have stumbled to 2-6 while their most expensive asset, John Salmons, has been ineffective.
When GM Geoff Petrie traded down in the 2011 NBA Draft and reacquired Salmons, he envisioned a stop gap at small forward who would provide perimeter defense, leadership and playmaking. The 6’6” swingman was owed roughly $31 million ($24 million guaranteed) for the next 4 years, but Petrie thought it was worth the odds.
Kings fans who embraced Salmons’ return recalled a man who created his own shot and brought flash to what were 3 forgettable seasons. Skeptics remembered a player who rarely passed and was coming off an inefficient campaign with Milwaukie.
In less than 17 months, we can officially declare the deal a disaster, next to Kim Kardashian’s holy matrimony. Salmons’ shot selection has failed to improve, and he has connected a hair above 40% floor accuracy since the reunion. His perimeter defense has also imploded, as shown by his -7 Player Efficiency Rating at the 3 last year (82games.com).
The most disappointing news was revealed by The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones, who had this to report in the offseason:
Salmons said it took about two months for his hip injury to feel well enough to play again. Been a prob, doesn’t think it will ever be 100%
— JasonJones (@mr_jasonjones) October 2, 2012
If recent expectations weren’t tempered enough, the Kings’ largest cap hold must now endure joint pain for the rest of his playing career.
To perpetual optimists, Salmons still brings a few tools to the table. Along with a warming personality, the 11 year veteran still occasionally swishes his trademark 20 foot leaners, and hassles opposing ball handlers for spurts. Salmons will likely find a niche as a 3 point specialist, and he has had a hot start (50% in 3 contests) after shooting a career low 29.5% from deep in 2011.
But accept that Salmons is keeping his area code (or the franchise’s next address), thanks to a deadweight contract and court contributions that would barely garner a minimum check elsewhere. Using the amnesty clause next offseason is highly unlikely as well, due to the Maloofs’ reputation to squeeze the value out of every dollar, even at the expense of a roster slot.
Reality has dawned, but this is also true: Salmons is not the the worst player in the NBA, or on the Sacramento roster. If you’d like to relive his scoring prowess, watch footage of the journeyman’s first go around with the Kings. If he doesn’t retire soon, we may overlook his past glory.