Sacramento Kings: Day 1 of Free Agency Sees Losses, Not Gains


On a day where every team in the league becomes obsessive fan boys of grown men, one Yahoo reporter breaks more news than the Kings break hearts each season. With that, the free agency sprint began in the NBA’s offseason.

There are many big-name players looking for big-time deals this year, including LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwyane Wade, and more.

The Sacramento Kings, historically, haven’t been able to lure many names of this caliber during free agency.

Take the fact that Sacramento is a small market team, mix in a history of losing, stir in a history of terrible ownership regimes (now unstable ones), and you have the usual reasoning as to why big-ticket players are hard to find in the capital city.

The Kings only real offseason signed player who went on to have productive seasons in the last few years were Ramon Sessions and Carl Landry (prior to the injury bug). It’s hard to lure players away from the bright lights of a big city or a history of winning.

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Even if there was a great player actively wanting to go to Sacramento prior to Wednesday, the Kings would have been hard-pressed financially to sign him. Even with a decent amount of salary cap room, there is not enough space for the kinds of deals that superstars want. This is the reason the Kings executed a salary dump late into day one of free agency.

Sacramento traded recent first-round pick Nik Stauskas, aging Jason Thompson, and big money Carl Landry to the Philadelphia 76ers yesterday, acquiring quite literally no one in return.

Technically, the Kings traded these three players, a future first round pick, and the right for Philly to trade first round picks with Sacramento twice at some point in the future in exchange for the negotiating rights of two European players who are unlikely to come to the NBA anytime soon.

All in all, this allowed the Kings to rid themselves of contracts the big men were earning, but it cost them their misused young guard in the process.

Most of the internet has been absolutely ripping the front office of the Kings all summer-long, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. The Kings believe that their salary dump will work, but very few others seem to be believers themselves.

What the Kings see is a move that nets them around $16 million in cap space. This means they have around $25 million total to go spend on a big free agent or two, comfort Demarcus Cousins and Coach, George Karl, and become a playoff contender in the West immediately.

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  • However, what seemingly everyone with a twitter account sees is a head-scratching move by a team still caught in their down-ward spiral of rumors, frustration, and confusion as of the last few months and decades.

    Getting rid of big contracts that aren’t performing makes sense, throwing in a young player with a lot of potential makes sense, but giving up a first round pick along with potentially two good picks swapped further back doesn’t.

    That is the point in which a salary dump trade seems to swing severely to the other team’s advantage.

    Obviously no team is going to take on big money players without getting real assets in return, but this high of an asking price seems like the deal a front office should take a step back from and try to counter.

    Even if you look past the high cost of gaining all this cap space, there’s still a large inherent risk associated with a preemptive dumping of contracts.

    It’s no secret the Kings have been targeting the likes of Rajon Rondo, Wesley Matthews, and Monta Ellis in this year’s free agency shuffle.

    The idea of having enough money to sign one or even two of these big targets is exciting. It’s admittedly fun to imagine Cousins throwing down a lob from Rondo while Wesley Matthews drains corner three pointers all season. However, CSN recently reported that Matthews may sign a four-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks.

    It’s also common knowledge that each of these players will likely command yearly salaries of upwards of $10 million. Add that to the already big contracts of Cousins and Rudy Gay, and there will be very little wiggle-room to work with during the season given any injuries.

    However, there’s a negative thinker’s view of this situation as well.

    What happens if the Kings strike out on all their big targets? What happens if everyone passes on Sacramento and goes to the glitzy and lucrative cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Texas?

    The reality is that no matter how much money the Kings end up accruing this off-season, all of it may be in vein if they can’t actually sway anybody to join them in exchange for a one way ticket to a messy scenario of a team.

    Next: What does Cauley-Stein Mean For Cousins?