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NBA Free Agency 2017: Kings won’t take Ryan Anderson “for free”

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Sacramento isn’t willing to take on $60 million for nothing else in return.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

In the wake of the big Chris Paul trade to Houston, in which Daryl Morey performed some cap wizardry to acquire multiple unguaranteed contracts to send to Los Angeles, the big sense is that the Rockets aren’t done dealing. Not all of those unguaranteed contracts went to the Clippers after all, and they could still free up a large chunk of space by dealing Ryan Anderson.

That might prove to be a bit trickier however. While the Kings could theoretically take on all of Anderson’s contract, it seems they don’t want to without any additional benefit. From Zach Lowe’s article on the Paul trade (emphasis mine):

Unloading Ryan Anderson to sign Paul outright would have helped Houston keep one of their outgoing guards, but the market for the three years and $60 million left on Anderson's deal was frigid. Not even the Kings wanted him for free. At least two teams would have demanded two Houston first-round picks in exchange for absorbing Anderson, according to several league sources.

Houston used a lot of their most attractive assets in order to acquire Paul, including Pat Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell and their 2018 first round pick. Houston currently doesn’t own any other future first round picks aside from their own, meaning the best they could offer the Kings or any other team is their 2020 and 2022 picks (due to the Stepien rule, which prevents future picks from being traded in back-to-back years).

Perhaps the Rockets could rope in a third team to give up assets to a team willing to take on Anderson’s contract, but that seems unlikely unless that team is also getting something of value.

I’m encouraged by the fact that the Kings wouldn’t simply just take Anderson’s contract off of Houston’s hands for nothing. That’s not how cap space should be used and while Anderson is a good player, committing $60 million to him for the next three years kills a lot of Sacramento’s flexibility. The Kings rightfully should want compensation in such a case, whether it’s Anderson or anyone else.