The Sacramento Kings are (roughly) two months away from the start of the regular season, and with multiple roster positions in question, the severe lack of competent point guard play on what is shaping up to be their final roster heading into training camp is (hopefully) still at the top of Vlade Divac’s ‘to-do’ list.
Selfishly, the point guard issue is making it hard to really dive into any sort of roster analysis, what the rotation is going to look like, what Dave Joerger can do with it, and all of that fun nonsense. We don’t know if Rudy Gay and/or Kosta Koufos and/or Ben McLemore will still be here by the start of the regular season, because Divac could theoretically have to ship someone out to fill the point guard hole, making whatever big-picture conversations about the roster now potentially irrelevant.
Most of the solid free agent point guard options are no longer available, and that is a bummer, because if Divac wanted to go the conventional hole-filling route, he had decent free agent point guard options, but opted to sign the likes of Anthony Tolliver, Arron Afflalo, and Garret Temple. All of those players will provide the Kings with something this season, and I’m not necessarily down on any of those signings, but when you could have brought players like Seth Curry and Quincy Acy back on the cheap, you would have been able to use some of that Affllalo, Tolliver, or Temple money on a better point guard option. It’s hard to pass complete judgement until the season starts, but that is where my head is at right now considering what the roster looks like, and how glaring that point guard issue still is.
The Kings have had their fair share of bad rosters in the past, but I cannot recall a more ‘incomplete’ roster this late in the summer. That ‘incomplete’ tag, as previously mentioned, acts a big old evaluation mental block. Sure, we could talk about the roster now, but it WILL change by the time training camp opens. Right? RIGHT?
You’ve heard all of this before.
Fortunately for Vlade Divac, there are some passable point guard options still available in free agency. It’s not a pretty group, but if Divac wants to open the season with the rest of his roster in tact, he’s probably going to pick up someone from the following list.
Unless, of course, he goes the overseas route. Vlade tried to land Nick Calathes last month, but he couldn’t pry him out of his contract with Panathinaikos. Divac should target Serbian National Team standout, Milos Teodosic, if he hasn’t already, but as Greg Wissinger noted, it will be hard, if not impossible, to steal him away from CSKA Moscow this summer. Vlade has been in Rio throughout the Olympics, however. He’s been able to witness some of the worlds best point guards over the last month, so it wouldn’t shock me to see him pursue someone like Argentina’s Facundo Campazzo, or other RIo standouts, but for today’s exercises sake, we’re going to stick with available NBA free agent point guards. Here’s the list.
Steve Blake, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Bryce Cotton, Jordan Farmar, Kirk Hinrich, Ty Lawson, Andre Miller, Xavier Munford, and Phil Pressey round out most of the ‘bigger’ names available. Like I said, some passable options are lumped in there.
Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole are probably at the top of this list in terms of NBA competence and their ability to still contribute on an NBA roster.
Steve Blake, Kirk Hinrich, Andre Miller, Jordan Farmar, and Ty Lawson fit into that ‘all of these players used to be solid members of an NBA rotation, but can they do it anymore?’ category. I wouldn’t touch Ty Lawson. Steve Blake, Andre Miller, Kirk Hinrich, and even Jordan Farmar are well past their primes, but an old, veteran point isn’t the worst stopgap option to get the Kings into the regular season when teams are more open to trading again. I’d probably prefer Hinrich out of that crop, but with any of the older guys, you have to wonder if coming to Sacramento at this stage of their careers would be worthwhile endeavors.
I added Xavier Munford to the above list because he played under Dave Joerger last year with the Memphis Grizzlies. He was ‘fine’ in limited minutes. I can’t tell you if the Kings have any interest, but it’s a name to file away.
Mario Chalmers, to me, represents the best of what’s out there. He played well under Joerger in Memphis last season before rupturing his achilles in March.
According to a ROTOWorld report by way of a SiriusXM NBA Radio interview, he could be ready to go by training camp -
Mario Chalmers said that he is two weeks ahead of schedule in his recovery from his Achilles tear.
This is excellent news and Chalmers also added that his main goal is to show teams that he will be ready in time for training camp. Chalmers played well for the Grizzlies before suffering the injury, so he should still generate plenty of interest as a free agent this summer even though his Achilles could keep his price down.
Signing Chalmers may be a gamble the Kings cannot afford to make. It wouldn’t be a financial gamble, to be clear, as Chalmers won’t command a large contract coming off of a very serious injury, but if Darren Collison is going to miss time with his pending legal issues, and if Chalmers isn’t ready to go by the start of the season, the Kings could be heading towards disaster.
Considering Chalmers’ injury concerns, Norris Cole is the most-healthy competent guard available. Our friends at The Bird Writes reviewed his 2015-16 season with the New Orleans Pelicans, essentially backing up any reservations I had about targeting Cole. Despite how I may feel about Cole as a player, at this point in free agency, at the relatively cheap price Cole should come at, it’d be hard to really criticize that signing. The Kings need a guard, despite my Chalmers preference, they probably need someone that can play right away, and Norris Cole can do that.
All of these free agents should be viewed as stopgap backup options, anyway. They all have warts, or they’d be on a team by now. None of them will challenge Darren Collison for the starting role, none of them will be in the rotation should a trade option present itself, but the Kings desperately need someone, and I’d hate to see them lose out on the few passable options out there. The clock is ticking.
This has been Point Guard Watch, Day I lost count weeks ago.