While relocation, renovation, or redevelopment cloud the future of Sacramento’s beloved Kings, GM Geoff Petrie must stay focused on what’s important for the continuing improvement of the team. This season marked their sixth consecutive campaign without a trip to the postseason, and this summer presents a golden opportunity for them to improve by bringing in quality pieces in the draft and free agency.
There are several valuable free agents this summer, and the Kings have a large bucket of cash to work with (if they choose), approximately $15 million.
One free agent that must be appealing is El Dorado Hills-own Ryan Anderson, the NBA’s Most Improved Player this season. Anderson has shown improvement in every season thus far, highlighted by his best this year.
During his first full season as a starter, he averaged career-highs with 16.1 ppg and 7.7 rpg, while leading the league from the power forward position with 166 three-pointers made.
Anderson has emerged as a considerable talent and fan favorite with Orlando, and has professed his love for the city and his desire to remain with the team.
He told the Orlando Sentinel, "I love it here in Orlando. This is a place where I've had an incredible opportunity. I love living here. I think that this is a place that fits my style of play. You know, it's hard. It's hard because at the end of the day, it is a business. You know, I want to get the most out of my career that I can."
His current GM Otis Smith has also made it clear that he wants Anderson to remain in Orlando, telling the Orlando Sentinel that the team will do "everything we can, and should, do to keep him in a Magic uniform."
Unfortunately, Anderson is a restricted free agent, and Otis Smith likely won’t make it easy on whoever chooses to give him an enticing offer sheet, as he has shown in the past by matching offer sheets on Marcin Gortat and J.J. Reddick.
There are several reasons a move like this would make sense for the Kings though.
For one, they have the money, and can make the investment in the young 24-year old.
Furthermore, Anderson would provide a deadly perimeter shooter that they sorely lacked last season. They were the second worst team in 3PT percentage at a lowly 31.6%, and having him on the floor could not only improve that mark, but also give Demarcus Cousins and company more room to work.
In addition, it wouldn’t hurt to have another good guy in the locker room, someone to balance out someone like Cousins. And all the while, he is a local guy with Sacramento roots, and a decent following around the Sacramento area.
Choosing to chase Anderson could mean the end of the Jason Thompson era in Sacramento, another restricted free agent this summer, but it would make more sense to have Cousins paired with Anderson than with Thompson. And Thompson will surely be looking for a larger contract from whomever he ends up with, even if it isn’t as sizeable as Anderson’s.
The Kings must decide how lavishly they want to spend this summer. There are several options for them to choose from, and they have the means to do so.
Luring Anderson away from Orlando and the continuing Dwight Howard drama might be a good move for both the Kings and Anderson. If they do, Orlando will certainly regret the choice they made back in January when they declined to offer Anderson a contract extension.
In January, GM Otis Smith told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel of his decision not to extend Anderson’s contract, "It could backfire, and we could have to pay more. But that's the risk we've chosen to take."
In the end, that risk could prove much more costly if Anderson chooses to switch coasts and join his hometown Kings.