Since the Maloofs declared their intention to keep the Kings in Sacramento this past week, one common theme that they've been repeating in their various interviews is that they will spend to improve the team during the offseason, starting with trying to re-sign Samuel Dalembert and Marcus Thornton as well as adding another piece or two through free agency.
This worries me a little bit. Don't get me wrong, I think the team should be spending money this offseason; we have the most cap space in the league.
But just because we have the most cap space doesn't mean we should go on a spending spree if its not warranted. While spending extravagantly can boost your team's fortunes in the short term, it can be just as bad (if not worse) in the long term as choosing to not spend at all.
Back in 2009, Detroit had the most cap space in the league and they were looking to make a splash. They ended up using their entire cap space by giving Ben Gordon a 5-year, $58 million contract and Charlie Villanueva a 5-year, $37.7 million contract. That didn't work out so well as Detroit won only 26 games the next year and 30 this year. Both players are locked into contracts until 2014, not to mention the fact that the Pistons still have Rip Hamilton signed through 2013 for $12.5 million per.
Another example was this past year's Milwaukee Bucks. They wanted to build off a nice run to get into the playoffs (and almost knocking off the Hawks in the first round). They traded expiring contracts for Corey Maggette's obscene contract, re-signed 31-year-old John Salmons to a 5-year, $39.2 million contract, and also gave Drew Gooden a 5-year, $32 million deal. Milwaukee dropped 11 games this year and are now stuck with an inflexible cap situation.
The most similar situation to where the Kings are now is probably New Jersey last year. With plenty of cap space, the Nets wanted to attract one of the big names, and when they failed, instead of opting for patience they spent most of their cap space on role players: Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow. Outlaw is the most egregious error, as he has the biggest and longest contract, despite having a terrible season and falling out of the starting lineup as the season went on.
There are other cautionary tales, but perhaps the scariest part is that we KNOW that Geoff Petrie has a habit of overpaying for contracts (see almost everyone signed or re-signed in the last five years, and be thankful Bonzi Wells passed up on his contract offer). We're finally out of most of our bad contracts, and the ones we do have (Beno Udrih and Francisco Garcia) aren't as bad as they used to be.
There aren't any marquee names out there in free agency this year like there were last year either. The best ones are either restricted (meaning the teams with their rights can match all offers) or past their prime. That isn't saying there aren't players that wouldn't be useful for the Kings to get, but we shouldn't be breaking the bank for most of these guys.
This doesn't mean the Kings can't take advantage of their cap space in other ways; I'm all in favor of a trade for a proven player that brings more money in than we take out. Who knows what will happen with a new CBA? The Kings have the most flexibility out of anyone and could perhaps be well prepared to take advantage of trade situations where teams have to get rid of salary and can't ask for much in return.
So spend if you will Maloofs, but spend with the future in mind.