The Sacramento Kings must make Harry Giles a priority this offseason.
It may prove too late to salvage the relationship between the front office and Harry Giles, but the Sacramento Kings must try and rectify the damage caused by declining the young man’s rookie extension.
Giles is not the most well-known name in basketball, but early in his career, he was touted as one of the most promising young players in the country.
ESPN’s Chad Ford once remarked that Giles was the best high school prospect since LeBron James.
That was until the injuries.
"“Giles’ ceiling is so super high, but the risk is also, in most peoples’ mind, super high… I can’t think of another prospect that I’ve covered in the last 10 years with his upside but with his medical concerns that really have teams in a conundrum.”"
It all started during the under 16’s FIBA Americas tournament in 2013 where Giles suffered a horrendous fall, injuring his MCL, ACL, and meniscus in his left knee.
The injury kept Giles out of basketball for an extended length of time, only for him to tear the ACL in his other leg that following year.
Despite spending his entire senior year on the bench, he was still recruited by Duke, even if it was for a very minor roll off the bench, averaging just 11 minutes per game.
Due to this cocktail of injuries, Giles was never able to prove himself in the college circuit, and as a result, slipped down the draft boards and was selected at No. 20 overall.
In his first two seasons, Giles has shown glimpses of the unique talent and skillset he possesses. Averaging seven points, four rebounds, and almost two assists in 14 minutes off the bench, Giles acts like every minute he’s on the court could be his last.
He is constantly working, looking for ways to outmaneuver his often much larger opponent. Although he has been known to make the odd defensive error, his offensive alone should be enough to instill hope into Kings’ fans.
Giles has made the most of the opportunities he’s been given in the last year, with constant injuries to fellow Duke alumni Marvin Bagley allowing him more time on the court.
What we were able to witness this season has been fantastic and even though his defensive inefficiencies are still there, his confidence at the offensive end has gone through the roof.
He’s gone from a tentative rookie to a Kevin Garnett like personality on the court, growling after a big dunk and talking trash after a block. But it’s not just his energy, it’s his ability to be aggressive while simultaneously playing a very skillful and delicate game that speaks volumes.
Throughout the 2019-20 season, coach Luke Walton began to run plays for Giles in the high post. With plenty of time on the shot clock, Giles was able to analyze the situation and often find a very clean back door cut or a bullet pass out to a roaming Buddy Hield on the three.
He would not only make the pass but often would make it with flair – behind the backs, no looks, alley-oops you name it, he’s got it. His ability to see these routes while not giving away his intentions are crucial to successful playmaking, especially as a big man. Somewhat similar to Nikola Jokic in terms of his passing, Giles always finds a way to thread the needle.
This ability to make plays in the half-court is a massive bonus for the Kings and they have prospered with him there. The Kings offense so often relies on out-sprinting the opposition, which is never easy in a stop-and-start game. Giles gives another option and allows for the likes of Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic to play off-ball where they prosper.
If Giles is able to stay healthy and play significantly more minutes then he could absolutely be the missing piece for this young Kings team.
With three-quarters of the Kings’ big men out for the beginning of the NBA re-start, Giles was presented with more opportunities to show what he can do.
In one of his first games back against the Orlando Magic, he notched 23 points and 8 rebounds in just 19 minutes as one of the only Kings players with a positive plus/minus.
He is a game-changing piece to this King’s side and Walton must figure out how to keep him on the court for extended lengths of time. This year his per 36 numbers were 17 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists.
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When you pair this up alongside a healthy Marvin Bagley you get a very aggressive front-court that wants nothing more than to get buckets.
Even from a small sample size, it is easy to see what a positive impact Giles has on the offense. When he’s on the court, the Kings’ offense jumps from 111 to 117 while the assists go from 57 percent to 61 percent.
On October 31st, 2019, the Kings (now former) GM Vlade Divac made the decision to decline Giles’ rookie extension, waiving all rights to him going forward. This left fans pondering the following:
What did the Sacramento Kings have to lose?
Giles rookie extension would have been worth $3,976,510 for the 2020-21 season, which would place him as the second cheapest player on the roster — not exactly clogging up the remaining cap space.
What have the Sacramento Kings gained?
Heading into free agency, the Kings will now have an extra $4 million in cap space to spend, leaving them with around $18 million total in cap space.
Who can the Sacramento Kings sign with this money?
If the Kings manage to resign Bogdanovic then that would leave around $3-4 million in cap space remaining.
That’s how much they would have paid Giles for the upcoming year and if you think they can improve on his position with $3-4 million then I have some bad news for you.
Maybe as a contender, they could underpay a player or two, but Sacramento will be getting no favors come this free agency.
I hope Divac had a plan of action to retain Giles going forward but I just don’t see the logic behind his contract decision. With Divac gone heading into the next season, Giles could easily fall off the Kings’ radar and onto the lap of another team.
In saying this, many teams may be reluctant to take a risk on him due to his injury history. If another team does offer him a contract, I just hope the franchise has done enough to make him reluctant to leave.
Giles has made a home in Sac-Town and would love to stay, but with the front office declining the extension, perhaps the damage has already been done.