Mar 24, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; Charlotte Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin (14) drives to the basket against New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams (8) during the first half at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
This is the first in a five part series in which I analyze the 2012 Free Agent market by position. As a source I used ESPN's list of 2012 NBA Free Agents and for statistics I used Basketball-Reference. This list of Free Agents only includes players that were on a teams roster at the end of last season. Also, please keep in mind that while I will use John Hollinger's PER (Player Efficiency Rating), this is not a be-all, end-all stat. There are several deficiencies, particularly that it is not a reliable measure for a player's defensive acumen, so keep that in mind.
Once again, the Sacramento Kings head into the offseason with a large amount of cap room, and a desperate need to improve. Last season's acquisitions were disappointing all around, but to be fair, the Free Agent market was not very strong. That is not the case this year.
The Kings have a lot of depth at the guard position currently but probably could still add some depth there. Isaiah Thomas had a phenomenal rookie season, but he's probably the only player on the entire Kings roster you could call a typical Point Guard. He led the team in assist rate, but the next two behind him were Terrence Williams (a Small Forward) and Tyreke Evans (a Guard-Forward). The player the team drafted in the lottery last year to play Point Guard, Jimmer Fredette, is more comfortable spotting up for shots than leading the team.
Fortunately, there's quite a few good options available on the market this year if the Kings want to add another Point Guard.
Clicking on a Player's name will direct you to their Basketball-Reference page. Player Age is how old they will be at the start of next season.
(R) = Restricted Free Agent
(P) = Player Option
(ETO) = Early Termination Option
(T) = Team Option
|D.J. Augustin (R)||25||14.1||0.493||1.9||7.2||38.9||1.3||0.1||16.9||21.3|
|John Lucas III||30||16.3||0.496||3.4||8.1||25.8||1.4||0.1||10.1||26.0|
|Walker Russell (R)||30||7.2||0.401||2.3||6.6||26.0||2.7||0.2||24.0||17.8|
|George Hill (R)||26||15.7||0.557||2.8||10.5||18.8||1.7||1.1||10.8||17.2|
|A.J. Price (R)||26||11.5||0.454||2.6||9.4||23.9||1.9||0.3||14.5||17.7|
|Mo Williams (P)||30||15.0||0.53||1.8||6.2||18.5||1.9||0.4||11.7||22.9|
|Darius Morris (R)||22||5.2||0.5||1.4||8.8||19.1||0.6||0||29.2||17.6|
|Lester Hudson (R)||28||13.9||0.483||2.3||13.8||20.6||2.2||0.7||15.1||28.6|
|Sundiata Gaines (R)||26||15.0||0.465||3.8||12.2||27.2||3.7||0.2||14.2||21.1|
|Armon Johnson (R)||23||12.9||0.515||0.9||11.6||16.1||2.1||0||11.6||19.1|
|Jordan Farmar (P)||26||17.4||0.592||1.0||7.8||29.0||1.5||0.2||16.6||22.6|
|Jeremy Lin (R)||24||19.9||0.552||2.2||11.1||41.0||3.0||0.8||21.4||28.1|
|Jameer Nelson (P)||30||14.6||0.524||1.9||10.4||34.0||1.2||0.2||17.3||21.4|
|Lou Williams (ETO)||26||20.2||0.525||2.0||8.3||22.4||1.7||0.8||7.2||27.4|
|Aaron Brooks (R)*||28||13.2||0.489||1.8||5.2||28.9||1.3||0.2||13.2||25.9|
|Patty Mills (P)||24||21.5||0.604||1.8||10.3||25.9||2.0||0.3||16.0||28.4|
|Jerryd Bayless (R)||24||17.7||0.561||1.3||9.5||30.7||1.8||0.5||14.4||24.6|
|Ben Uzoh (R)||24||10.9||0.377||6.0||15.1||26.8||2.5||0.7||15.0||16.1|
|Jamaal Tinsley (T)||34||10.9||0.461||1.3||8.9||36.3||1.8||1.3||25.9||17.8|
*Aaron Brooks played in China for the lockout shortened season so his stats are from the 2010-11 season.
The Kings have enough guards that can score (sorry Lou Williams). What they need is someone who can come in and distribute the ball at a high level, defend, and not be a complete offensive sieve.
Deron Williams is obviously the best option available and the marquee name of the 2012 Free Agent Market. However, despite the fact the Kings can offer Deron a max-contract, he will probably not come here. Reports have indicated that Williams is likely to choose between staying in Brooklyn or going to Dallas. So while I'd LOVE to add Deron Williams to the team, there's no point in getting our hopes up.
Similarly, Steve Nash is not coming to Sacramento. Nash will be 38 next season and will probably seek out a chance at a title, something Sacramento cannot offer. Still, I'd like to take a moment to just go ahead and admire Nash's advanced stats. 62.5% True Shooting % and an absolutely absurd Assist Rate of 53.1%, meaning he assists on just over half of his possessions. Absolutely ridiculous. I hope he does find a team that he can help win a championship, because he definitely deserves a ring.
Jason Kidd is another veteran playmaker who will be available this summer, but unlike Nash, Kidd is not still playing at an All-Star caliber level. Kidd's assist rate last season was relatively pedestrian (although it would have been the best on the Kings) and his age limited the amount of minutes he played. Regardless, even if the Kings wanted him, Kidd probably doesn't want to spend the twilight of his career on a rebuilding team.
Jeremy Lin would be an interesting addition to the Kings, but there is almost no chance the Kings could get him. Under current rules for players who joined teams as second round draft picks or went undrafted, Lin can only be offered around $5 million, which the Knicks can easily match.
(Ok Aykis, stop telling us who we can't have and get to the guys who we can!)
Of PGs that the Kings might actually be able to get in Free Agency, the most tantalizing option is Goran Dragic. Dragic, a Slovenian lefty just like former King Beno Udrih, had a breakout season for the Houston Rockets last season and enters Free Agency looking to get a big pay day. Dragic has excellent size and athleticism for a Point Guard, and got to spend his first two and a half years in the league learning from behind the great Steve Nash. Now, Dragic isn't a phenomenal passer or anything, but he is better than anyone the Kings have now, and he's still young enough that he has room to improve. Dragic also can score from just about anywhere, being able to attack the basket, hit the mid-range jumper, or spot-up from three. He'd certainly be a talent upgrade for the Kings, but how much would it cost to get him? It seems to me that Isaiah Thomas can probably post similar production at a much cheaper price.
Ramon Sessions is a different player from Dragic, primarily an attacking Point Guard without a reliable jump shot, but he's also a better distributor than Dragic. Sessions last deal was for the MLE and he'll probably be seeking more this time around as well as the starting spot, which is why he opted out of his final year with the Lakers.
If Sacramento is desperate to add a veteran presence, Andre Miller is still very capable of running a team. Miller also has family roots in the Sacramento area so it might not be too hard to convince him to sign. Still, Miller isn't a long term option or anything.
A younger veteran that could be a longer term veteran is Raymond Felton. Felton had a down year last year, coming into camp very out of shape after the lockout. Portland probably isn't looking to retain him after their experience with him this season. But if Felton can return to the player he was with Charlotte and New York, he could be a valuable addition to the team. While not great offensively, Felton is a good defender and a good playmaker.
A cheaper veteran option than Felton would be someone like Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich has been on the decline for several years now, dealing with various injury concerns as well as simple aging. Hinrich used to be known as a very good defender for his position, but that's probably not the case at this point in his career. He also hasn't been a very good plamaker for a few seasons no, seeing a marked dip in his assist rate. That could be from playing on Atlanta teams that featured ball-dominant players like Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford. Hinrich can still hit his open shots though, so for a one or two year deal, he might not be a bad pickup as a backup Point Guard.
Delonte West might also be available. West had a pretty decent season for Dallas this past year, and he's proven throughout his career that he can be a valuable contributor to whatever team he's on. West is only a mediocre playmaker, but he can hit his open shots and defend very well. He does have real, documented mental problems that may not make him a great fit for a young team though.
The Kings have expressed interest in Nate Robinson before, and might do so again. Robinson had a very good year in Golden State's high pace system, and actually played Point Guard rather than diminutive Shooting Guard. My qualms with the Kings' interest in Robinson in the past has always been the fact that Robinson was primarily a scorer, but last year he changed his tune a bit and assisted at a much higher rate while still keeping his scoring ability. Robinson and Isaiah are very good friends as well, and that might influence a possible signing decision. I wouldn't mind last year's version of Nate Robinson as the Kings' backup Point Guard. But was last season a fluke or real change?
Jordan Farmar is a player I've been lukewarm on throughout his career, but he did emerge a bit last year in New Jersey. He may or may not be a Free Agent, as he has a Player Option. If he is, a team like the Kings could use his shooting and passing. Last season, Farmar hit 44.0% of his threes, and is at 36.7% for his career. However, if he does opt out, he's probably looking for a starting spot, not something I'm sure he can beat out Isaiah for.
Jameer Nelson is a similar case to Farmar in that he may or may not be a Free Agent, but unlike Farmar, I have no interest in Nelson. Nelson has never recovered from the shoulder injury he suffered during his lone All-Star year. He's also a defensive sieve. He can shoot and pass the ball though, so there's that.
A couple of the Restricted Free Agents do intrigue me, but by default, Restricted Free Agents are very hard to take away from teams. D.J. Augustin was the player I initially wanted in the 2008 NBA Draft, but he hasn't had the success I envisioned he would in the NBA. Still, the promise is still there. Not only is Augustin a good passer, but he does a great job of taking care of the ball as well. He also can really shoot the ball, although last year is not a great indicator. On a team with more talent and offensive threats than the Bobcats, I think Augustin can flourish. If I were the Kings' GM and I could only pick one PG on this list to throw money at (that I believed was a realistic option), Augustin would be the one I'd pick.
The other RFA that interests me is the guy a lot of Kings fans wanted in 2008 until the Kings got "Pritch-slapped": Jerryd Bayless. Bayless has had a disappointing career to date, but there have been flashes of brilliance along the way. His last season in Toronto was all set to be a breakout year for Bayless but for an injury that cut his season in half. Primarily an attacking guard, Bayless has also improved his shot every year he's been in the league, to the point where he hit 42.3% of his threes last season. He also has become better as a distributor in each year, while not turning the ball over. Bayless may be tough to snag away from Toronto, desperate for a Point Guard, but that may change come draft day if the Raptors draft someone like Damian Lillard.
George Hill doesn't particularly interest me aside from how many times Jerry would say "IUPUI" if he was on the Kings. Hill is more of an undersized two-guard than a true Point, posting a Jimmer-like Assist rate. He is a good defender and scorer though.
Patty Mills is a name that has come up before amongst Kings fans, and he has a player option that he may use. He only played sparingly for the Spurs in 16 games this season, so don't take the numbers too seriously. Mills is an excellent shooter and an average playmaker. One thing that worries me though is he's exceptionally ball dominant, posting a 28.4% Usage rate, and 26.0% for his career. That's too much for a Point Guard who doesn't exactly make a ton of plays.
Jonny Flynn came very close to being a Sacramento King in 2009 (he was apparently 2nd on the Kings draft board behind Tyreke Evans) and Kings fans should be thankful that he was not. Flynn has been a big bust so far, playing for three teams already. He's been a particularly inefficient shooter (40.0% from the field and 33.8% from three) and not a really prolific playmaker. He did a better job last season in 18 games in Portland. If the Kings had any interest in Flynn now, it would probably only be as a backup.
So there are definitely options out there. We'll see what the Kings opt to do this summer.
(Tomorrow: The Shooting Guards)