There seems to be a thought around the league that Sacramento needs to upgrade their Power Forward spot, or pair another big man next to DeMarcus Cousins. As Greg pointed out yesterday, there really isn't as glaring of a need for another big man as some make it out to be. Sacramento currently has DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes.
Now, that's not to say Sacramento couldn't use another big, particularly one who can block shots or help Sacramento with their defensive rebounding. Despite having DeMarcus Cousins, one of the better rebounders in the NBA, Sacramento was one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the NBA. Jason Thompson is an average rebounder, Chuck Hayes is slightly above average, and Patrick Patterson is below average (it should be noted that the Kings give up a lot of rebounding from having John Salmons at SF).
As a source I used ESPN's list of 2013 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.
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
|Ivan Johnson (R)||29||15.7||0.546||8.5||20.7||7.4||2.8||1.0||14.7||21.7|
|Jeff Pendergraph (R)||26||14.5||0.533||8.9||22.2||7.2||0.9||2.4||14.5||19.7|
|Tyler Hansbrough (R)||28||15.3||0.527||13.4||17.0||4.4||1.1||1.0||12.6||20.6|
|Jon Leuer (R)||24||10.4||0.485||7.9||15.5||6.8||1.7||0.0||12.2||15.9|
*Barron had a very small sample size
That's not a very inspiring list if Sacramento is looking for options. There are of course a couple big names: David West and Paul Millsap. West is an excellent player, one of the best shooting big men from mid-range in the NBA. He'd be potentially a good fit for the Kings, but he's also going to be 33 next season and likely looking to get his first NBA title. He got closer than he's ever gotten before this season with Indiana, and that's where I expect him to re-sign.
Paul Millsap is a more intriguing option because he can step outside and hit a jumper, or he can mix it up inside. He's also just entering his prime, and has shown he can be effective with a big man like Cousins after playing with Al Jefferson for several years. His last contract was for 4 years, $32 million and he's probably looking for something a little bit more than that.
In terms of other options, there isn't much that would upgrade Sacramento's bench rotation right now, but there are some.
Elton Brand would be a solid veteran presence as well as a good defender. Given his age and injury history however, he's not a long term solution. Still, I wouldn't mind him coming in as a veteran to mentor our young bigs like Cousins. The question would obviously be whether or not he'd want to do that at this point in his career.
Brandan Wright is probably the most intriguing option on this list. While he hasn't lived up to his lottery pick billing due to some unfortunate injuries at the beginning of his career, he's transformed into one of the better bench bigs in the NBA. He's extremely efficient offensively, able to shoot a jumper and particularly do well in the pick and roll. He's also an excellent shotblocker, with only Chris Andersen being better among these forwards. One thing he is not however is a good rebounder; As such, he'll likely never start for a good club.
Carl Landry is someone Mike Malone and Kings fans will be intimately familiar with. Like Wright, he's not a good enough rebounder to be a starter. He's incredibly good around the basket, which makes it all the more confusing why Paul Westphal had him standing outside shooting jumpers. I don't think Sacramento will be interested however as there's a proven history of him not working well with Cousins; Someone like Patrick Patterson who can stretch the floor better makes more sense.
Marreese Speights doesn't have quite the range as a guy like Patterson, but he can hit the jumper and is a decent rebounder. He's a bit like Jason Thompson. Chris Andersen would be a good rebound and defense guy, but I see no way he comes to Sacramento after winning a title in Miami. I also don't necessarily want him around the team.
Dejuan Blair doesn't have any ACLs and it seems to be catching up to him. Once a dominant rebounder, his rebounding numbers and percentage have declined each year he's been in the NBA. He lost his rotation spot to Tiago Splitter and never really saw much time after that.
Friends don't let friends sign J.J. Hickson or Andray Blatche.
Now, the Centers:
|Timofey Mozgov (R)||27||12.3||0.549||15.6||17.1||3.4||0.8||3.8||20.3||14.6|
|Robert Sacre (R)||24||3.4||0.407||5.0||13.2||4.3||0.0||3.6||15.9||13.8|
|Nikola Pekovic (R)||28||20.2||0.572||13.0||19.0||4.9||1.1||2.0||10.3||22.5|
*Andrew Bynum's stats are from 2011-12
Much like my disclaimer about Chris Paul, let me add a disclaimer about Dwight Howard: The Kings are not signing Dwight Howard. Let's move along.
This is not a great bunch of available big men. After Dwight there are three big names: Andrew Bynum, Al Jefferson and Nikola Pekovic. All three will require big contracts to sign.
Pekovic is the most attractive candidate to me but he's also the hardest to sign due to his restricted status. Pekovic is a brute inside, one of the best in the NBA at using his body to get good position. I'm a bit surprised that his rebounding isn't better, but that might be a case of playing next to Kevin Love, who gobbles up all the rebounds. Defensively, Pek isn't a shotblocker but he uses his strength well to keep opposing players from getting good positioning.
Al Jefferson is a bit like a more efficient but slightly smaller DeMarcus Cousins. He has a much more refined post game, can step out and hit the jumper, and even has learned how to pass the ball to the open man in the past few years. However, he's just so similar to Cousins that I don't think the two would be a good fit with each other. He's also got a history of knee injuries and that always scares me with big men.
Speaking of knee injuries, we reach Andrew Bynum. There's no question that when Bynum is healthy he's among the best big men in the NBA. He's good on both ends and is a phenomenal rebounder. But health is a huge issue. At just 26, Bynum has already missed significant time: Out of 640 available games in 8 seasons, he's played just 392. Bynum's potential is so big that there is going to be some team out there that will risk a lot and pay a lot to get him this summer. I don't want to saddle that much money into a shaky foundation.
Tiago Splitter is probably the best of the rest, performing very well in the Pick and Roll and just being a solid all-around big man. He got a big exposed in the NBA Finals against a non-traditional team like the Heat but that was a bit of a special case. He's better than most backup bigs in the NBA.
Still, I'd like Sacramento to retain Cole Aldrich. Aldrich showed last season that he can do exactly what he was brought in the NBA to do: rebound and play tough defense. Aldrich's above stats are brought down a bit from his time in Houston. In Sacramento, he had an insane 30% defensive rebound rate and a 6.3% block rate. He's had a few years waiting on the bench doing nothing for good teams, and he finally got a chance to show that he can play last year. I think he'll be inexpensive and very serviceable for Sacramento. He reminds me of Joel Przybilla, a guy who comes in, knows his role and plays it to perfection. Aldrich is still young, has a good attitude, and would seemingly pair well with any of the Kings current big men (except maybe Chuck Hayes).
Free Agency starts tomorrow. It will be very interesting to see what direction this new front office goes in.