Apr 6, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Portland Trail Blazers small forward Nicolas Batum (88) brings the ball up the court during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Trailblazers defeated the Mavericks 99-97 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
This is the third 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.
The never ending search for a Small Forward continues in Sacramento. Last year's acquisitions of Travis Outlaw and John Salmons failed miserably, and in the end, the team opted to play Tyreke Evans out of position to try to cover up Sacramento's awful wing depth. One player that did play rather well at SF for Sacramento was Terrence Williams, who was signed late into the season, and came off the bench.
Evans at the three is not a long-term solution in my mind, nor I think the Kings' organization. Something has to be done. Ideally, the Kings can get their SF of the future in the draft, maximizing youth, potential, and cost. A trade is also an option. Of course, we'll be discussing the Free Agent option, which happens to be the least likely, in my humble opinion.
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
|Nicolas Batum (R)||23||17.3||0.575||5.2||12.6||7.9||1.7||2.6||11.2||20.5|
|Derrick Brown (R)||25||14.7||0.556||7.3||11.6||8.5||1.8||0.6||10.5||16.8|
|Alonzo Gee (R)||25||13.2||0.516||6.1||14.3||10.6||2.4||0.7||15.0||18.7|
|Donte Greene (R)||24||11.8||0.491||2.6||16.9||6.8||1.2||2.7||9.9||18.0|
|Sam Young (R)||27||9.7||0.412||6.0||13.1||6.2||2.4||1.2||10.4||18.9|
|Alan Anderson (R)||30||8.7||0.519||2.1||6.5||9.5||0.6||0.5||13.7||18.6|
|Devin Ebanks (R)||23||8.3||0.465||7.7||7.6||4.6||1.5||1.1||14.7||14.2|
*Andrei Kirilenko spent last season in Russia, and Jeff Green dealt with a heart condition, so their stats are from the 2010-11 season.
One name stands out among all the others on this list. Nicolas Batum. Batum is everything the Kings would want from their SF: young, athletic, efficient, unselfish, and a good defender. However, Batum is a Restricted Free Agent, which severely complicates things. Portland definitely wants to retain Batum as part of their rebuilding effort, and will likely match most offers. To get Batum in Free Agency would likely require overpaying him to the point where he doesn't look as good anymore. Still, there's no doubt Batum would be a near perfect solution for the Kings' SF problem.
One solution the Kings tried last year was signing Andrei Kirilenko. Kirilenko however, opted to remain in Russia with CSKA Moscow, who are paying him $7 million a year. Kirilenko is less ideal than Batum because of his age (he'll be 31 next season), but he would still be a great fit. Kirilenko can do a little bit of everything, and is particularly adept on the defensive end. Kirilenko also can play either the 3 or the 4, which is a plus.
Former King Gerald Wallace is also on the market this summer, after he opted out of the last season of his contract, worth $9.5 million. It's safe to say he'll be looking for a bit more than that, as well as a starting role. Luckily, if the Kings wanted Wallace back, they could offer both. Wallace is still a very good defender and rebounder, but his outside shooting isn't that great (31.8% from three for his career). If Wallace was the Kings' SF, Tyreke Evans would likely have to play off the bench in order to maintain proper spacing.
Terrence Williams, a similar player to Wallace, probably wouldn't be a great option as the Kings' SF of the future, but I really liked what I saw from him this past season in Sacramento. He essentially played the role of "Point Forward" off the Kings bench, and ended up with the second highest assist rate on the team. He also showed tenacity on defense and on the glass. Like Wallace, Terrence also has a poor outside shot and would probably be best suited as a bench player. I hope the Kings do re-sign Terrence to a couple year deal.
A name that has come up among Kings fans in the past that will be available this summer is Michael Beasley. Beasley has had a rocky career since being taken 2nd in the 2008 NBA Draft. He's never lived up to his potential, although there have been flashes of brilliance. Unfortunately, they've been few and far between. Beasley can shoot and rebound, but he's a poor defender and takes up a high number of possessions. Can he eventually figure it out? Probably, but I have a hard time seeing him figure it out on the Kings.
Jeff Green is another player kind of like Beasley, although Green has his head on straighter. His heart issue that kept him out this season shouldn't be a long term problem, but the problem I have with Green is that he's essentially a rich man's Donté Greene. Speaking of Donté, I hate to say it, but I think his days in Sacramento are over. Last season was his best, statistically speaking, but it still wasn't good or even average.
As a spot-up shooting option, the Kings couldn't do much worse than Steve Novak. Novak led the league in 3P% last year at 47.2%. That's an absurd rate, and he's at 43.6% for his career. On a team featuring Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, being able to bring a shooter like Novak off the bench to spread the floor wouldn't be a bad option. Shooting is about all Novak is good for though.
A temporary solution for the SF position could be Sacramento's own Matt Barnes. While writing this, I didn't think Barnes would look as good as he does statistically. But Barnes is a versatile player, who can defend, rebound, and pass. He's not a great outside shooter though (32.9% from three over his career). I know some don't like Barnes, but if the Kings opt to be cheap, they could do worse than bringing back Barnes.
Another L*ker the Kings could take a cheap flier on is Devin Ebanks. Ebanks hasn't had much time to play in Los Angeles over his first two years, and his statistics aren't the greatest. However he has amazing length and good potential as both a defender and scorer. Then again, so does Tyler Honeycutt.
Unless the Kings are willing to break the bank, I don't foresee the SF puzzle finally being solved through Free Agency.
(Tomorrow: The Power Forwards)