In the lead-up to the 2011-12 NBA season, we'll ask 24 questions about the Sacramento Kings. We hope to answer at least a couple of them.
The Kings have as much cap space as any team in the league, primed to make a huge splash to upgrade the team. There's just one problem: this free agent class is kind of terrible.
There are three strong centers, a number of decent to lovely scoring guards and a few intriguing young cats. That's about it. Unless you start counting vets like Grant Hill, the All-Star depth here is painfully low; no one would be surprised if the top four free agents -- Marc Gasol, Nene, Tyson Chandler and David West -- were completely shut out of the All-Star and All-NBA teams in the future.
In fact, maybe there's not a single free agent in 2011 who will win any flavor of official NBA accolade going forward, excepting Marcus Thornton's obvious 2013 MVP bid. Trades could help, too ... but the Kings haven't been involved in a major rumor since draft day (Tony Parker) and aren't remotely in play for the names du jour (Chris Paul, Dwight Howard). We'll be happy to be surprised, but it hardly seems like destiny that the Kings will pull a star in a trade.
We know where some of the team's cap space will likely go: Marcus Thornton. His re-signing seems like as much of a no-brainer as any move since ... uh ... when was the last time the Kings signed their own free agent? Jeez. It's been a while. (50 ZillerBucks to whoever gets this.)
Samuel Dalembert could get some more; even if both sign, the Kings should have more left over just to reach the payroll floor.
The amnesty auction system is madly intriguing, and Geoff Petrie indicated on Wednesday that the Kings will be looking at it. Cross your fingers that all of these teams claiming they won't be waiving players are lying; otherwise, welcome to the Travis Outlaw lottery. There's also the possibility to beef up 2011-12 salaries for incumbent Kings who will become unrestricted free agents in July; that list of players currently stands at
The Kings will get to the $49 million salary floor. That means adding $17 million and change in new salary. Petrie could do it in the "cheapest" long-term way possible by pumping up Thornton's first-year salary, bringing Dalembert back on a short deal, and going for a mid-rung guy. Or he could shoot high and come away with a big fish in free agency, trades or the amnesty auction.
As is usually the case with Petrie, we have basically no idea which path the Kings will follow. But it will be important. Stay tuned.