I come to Sactown Royalty just about every day to check what is going on. Lately, all the comments have been focused on Isaiah Thomas and how Pete killed our chances to keep him by signing Darren Collison. This presents us with three very different paths as we go forward:
The first path is to match whatever IT is to get on the open market. This situation isn't necessarily a good one for the pockets of Vivek and company, but it is what the majority of the fans want (depending on the price). The second path is where we part ways with Isaiah without compensation. The third path is where we sign-and-trade Thomas for someone else. This could be a possibility to get a player like Josh Smith. These have all been well discussed, but what is truly best for the future of our beloved franchise?
Option #1 - retain Isaiah:
As of today (7/7/14), our roster looks like this:
PG: Darren Collison, Ray McCallum
C: Demarcus Cousins
According to Realgm (I know, it's not official. It's still pretty accurate.), we are about 3.6 million dollars away from the luxury tax. That 3.6M is definitely not enough to retain the pizza guy so let's explore going over the cap. According to Larry Coon, there is an incremental tax rate that will be enforced on teams who exceed the luxury tax at season's end. The first tier ($1-$4,999,999) is a $1.50 tax on every dollar spent over the tax level.
If Pete D'Alessandro decided to match an offer that hit the end of this tier, it wouldn't be the worst thing to happen. IT's contract would be in the neighborhood of 8.6 million the first year. That's pretty reasonable as long as the structure of the contract stays at a base or declining rate. The tax would be $7.5 million dollars. I understand that it looks steep, but the Kings have two options at this point: (1) pay it for one year and then retool the roster next season (the Rudy expiring helps a LOT) or (2) make trades/cuts before the end of the season to make it under the tax level. If we could sign IT to a contract at >8.6 million (34.4M over 4years), we just have to shave 5 million off the books before season's end (with the current roster). That could mean simply trading Derrick Williams for cheap. I know it won't be that easy, but it's definitely doable.
If we stay put and go over the tax, this option doesn't hurt next season very much at all. The cap for the 2015-16 season is projected to be at about $66.5 million and the tax level at $81.0 million. Our cap hold (in this scenario) will be eight contracts:
(Demarcus + Landry + McLemore + McCallum + Thompson = $34.52 million) + Darren Collison (~$5.5M) + Stauskas (~$2.4M) + IT (~$8.6) = a grand total of ~$51.02 million.
That leaves them about $15 million in cap space to sign a free agent or two and resign Rudy (priority number 1). If Rudy wants to stay, he can let Petey D pick up a few people before he resigns. If not, he could just resign @ 10-13 million per year with us.
Option #2 - Let Isaiah walk
Pete seems to have a ceiling on how much he will pay for each of his players. Last year, it seemed that the ceiling for Tyreke was surpassed by the Pelicans and the Kings decided to S&T him. Pete must have a ceiling on IT, plus the pressure of the luxury tax. This is all speculation because the Kings haven't let anything leak about what they think IT is worth. There have been rumors that they see him as a super 6th man. The salary of a 6th man can vary, but just for kicks lets name four people off: J.R. Smith ($5.6 million), Manu Ginobili ($7.5 million), Taj Gibson ($7.55 million), and Tyreke Evans ($11.8 million). I would hope that the Kings see that IT is worth more than J.R. even though his contract is a bad value. Manu is being paid a discount, so that leaves us at Taj and Tyreke. This could be situational due to positional needs, but I don't think the Kings value IT more than the $7.55M that Taj is getting paid. I think if they let him walk without compensation, it will be because he is offered more that $7 million per year.
Option #3 - S&T Isaiah
This option seems to be the most likely, but with so many possibilities, I won't discuss this much. According to Greg Wissinger, there seems to be six suitors for Isaiah's services: Pistons, Mavericks, Lakers, Heat, Suns, and Celtics. There are plenty of players from each of those teams that we would like to have, but we won't have a clear picture of who would even be a possibility until Lebron and Carmelo sign with their teams.
So what do you think WILL happen with our Kings? What do you WANT to happen?