Zach Lowe had an article the other day called "The Power of the 'Pretty Good" Guys": The mid-level or higher guys on your team that aren't stars but are still essential cogs in the machine. The two big examples he used were Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza for the Wizards, as well as guys like Courtney Lee and Wesley Matthews.
The Kings recent history of such signings hasn't been very good at all. Here's a list of players that I wouldn't consider possible stars that the Kings have paid mid-level or higher salaries for more than a year in recent memory:
- Carl Landry (Signed a 4 year, $26 million deal in 2013)
- Jason Thompson (Signed a 5 year, $30.1 million deal in 2012)
- Marcus Thornton (Signed a 4 year, $31.2 million deal in 2011)
- Chuck Hayes (Signed a 4 year, $22.4 million deal in 2011)
- John Salmons (Had 4 years and $30 million left when Kings traded for him in 2011)
- Francisco Garcia (Signed 4 year, $23.2 million deal in 2010)
- Andres Nocioni (Had 4 years and $29 million left when Kings traded for him in 2009)
- Beno Udrih (Signed a 5 year, $32.3 million deal in 2008)
- Mikki Moore (Signed a 3 year, $16.8 million deal in 2007)
- Kenny Thomas (Had 4 years, $39 million left when Kings traded for him in 2006)
- Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Signed a 5 year, $30 million deal in 2005)
That's not a great list. Now to be fair, some of those guys probably would have fared better if they were given smaller roles, but on a team whose best players between 2008 and 2013 have been Kevin Martin, Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, those guys were asked to do a lot more than they were really capable of.
Now though, a core is starting to form on the Kings, assuming they are able to retain Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas, and a better supporting cast has been identified as an area of need for the Kings. They'll need a "pretty good" guy or two as complements. For all we know, they might already have one on the roster in Carl Landry, who missed most of last year due to injuries.
Unfortunately the Kings don't really have a lot of cap space to work with, especially if they retain both Gay and Thomas (the preferable result for most Kings fans). For now at least, the Kings will likely look for some cheap help, guys on minimum contracts or close to it. We saw a bit of that in play last year with all the D-League call-ups, the acquisition of tough bruisers on small contracts like Quincy Acy and Reggie Evans, and our draft pick of Ray McCallum.
That changes should Rudy Gay opt-out and leave though, or if the Kings don't re-sign Isaiah Thomas. Then there's some money to play with, and getting a "pretty good" guy might be on the table.