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Morning Conversation: What should the Kings do with Anthony Tolliver?

The Kings have a tough decision to make.

Kimani Okearah

Welcome to ‘Morning Conversation’, a semi-regular, not-so-original thingamajig that I’m going to try and put together every non-gameday weekday morning, time and life permitting. There are aspects of the Sacramento Kings worth discussing that rarely get discussed, but may not warrant a full-blown post. As a Kings fan living outside of Sacramento, I’m pretty isolated. Nobody in Boston wants to hear about my fleeting Kings thoughts, but maybe you do?

Should the Sacramento Kings pick up Anthony Tolliver’s $8 million team option for next season?

The Sacramento Kings signed veteran sharpshooting forward Anthony Tolliver this summer in what doubled as a Ryan Anderson consolation prize, and a Quincy Acy replacement. At the time, I argued that signing Acy for the veterans minimum over Anthony Tolliver at $8 million was kind of a no-brainer. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Tolliver, I just thought there wasn’t a $7 million talent gap there for a player who probably wouldn’t see a ton of court time. I still agree with that assessment in the sense that I wouldn’t peg Tolliver as a $7 million upgrade over Acy, but he is certainly the better player, and has exceeded my expectations thus far.

I didn’t expect Willie Cauley-Stein to (deservedly) ride the bench. I didn’t expect Anthony Tolliver to be the Kings’ starting power forward in January.

The Kings signed Tolliver to a two-year, $16 million contract, with only $2 million of his $8 million annual salary guaranteed for next season. In other words, the Kings have all the leverage here. If they deem he’s worth $8 million they can keep him, if not, they can let him go.

In some ways, asking this question after 40 games is a bit unfair. With that being said, Tolliver’s stock as a Sacramento King has never been higher. If you wouldn’t keep him at his peak (now) for $8 million next season, then you wouldn’t keep him at all. I think it’s a fair question to ask with the qualifier of if he keeps playing this way very much in effect.

Despite how well Tolliver has been playing recently, despite the way the new CBA is structured, I’m still leaning towards letting him go at the end of the season, or at the very least, declining that team option. If you can get him to re-sign at a more team-friendly rate, I’d be very much into that.

Tolliver is a useful player, and a valuable locker room guy, but $8 million of cap room to play with this summer is a tough asset to surrender. I don’t think he’s worth losing the ability to do something else with that space. He’s starting now, but I don’t think starting Tolliver is a realistic option for long-term success. Kosta Koufos is still here. Cauley-Stein is still here. Skal Labissiere is here. Georgios Papagiannis is here. Considering all the help the Kings need elsewhere, I don’t know if tying up another $8 million in the frontcourt is the right call, even if Tolliver’s production is earning that salary. I wouldn’t say he’s overpaid as much as I would say the Kings really need some help at other positions, including a true starting caliber power forward.

It’s a close call. I don’t feel particularly strong in my opinion here, but that’s where I’m leaning.

What say you?

PS. If anyone has any name suggests for this series, I’m all ears. I understand how painfully boring and generic ‘morning conversation’ is, and I know a lot of you are infinitely more creative than me. I’ll even toss a $10 Chipotle gift card your way if I end up using it! Thanks.