George Hill, Georgios Papagiannis, and Malachi Richardson are out. Iman Shumpert, Bruno Caboclo, a second round pick, and the scent of Joe Johnson’s fleeting presence are in.
Now that the dust has settled after the flurry of activity over the trade deadline, it’s time to take a look at where Sacramento stands with their salary commitments, as well as the condition of the asset cupboard.
Yesterday’s moves cleared out quite a bit of cap room for the Kings, which puts them in an advantageous position heading into the summer. The monstrous contracts handed out in 2016 combined with the Warriors complete dominance over the league have swirled together to create a small, tight market for pending free agents.
Swapping Hill for the expiring contract of Johnson and the player option that Iman Shumpert possesses significantly increased the options available to our Front Office come July. Currently, the Kings are on the books for about $81 million in salary next year:
Future Cap Sheet
|First Round Pick||$5,420,500||$6,348,200||$6,650,600|
|Second Round Pick||$1,184,385||$1,378,242||$1,618,520|
The salary cap is projected to be right in the range of $101 million, although the final number won’t be announced for a few months. Assuming the Kings sign their first and second round draft picks to similar deals as listed above, Sacramento will have a minimum of $20 million in cap space and only one available roster spot. Vince Carter and Bruno Caboclo are likely to be off of the team, but the two new draftees will take up those slots.
Although that scenario is technically plausible, it’s highly unlikely that everyone sticks on the team, even if our management doesn’t make a single trade. Iman Shumpert, Kosta Koufos, and Garrett Temple all have player options for next season, and there won’t be enough playing time to go around for the three veterans. I don’t believe it’s any great stretch to say that Koufos will likely seek employment elsewhere, with one of Shumpert and Temple doing the same.
The possible combinations of which two players could possibly leave are too annoying and arduous to walk through, so I’ve decided to simplify things by averaging the three players salaries, and assuming two of those will be walking at the end of the season. The inexactness is worth the brevity.
Two veterans opting out would add approximately $18.5 million in space to the Kings wallet, bringing the total to just about $39 million and three open roster slots. That would place Sacramento in the desirable position of the second most available cash on the market, second only to the Lakers.
Approximate Cap Space
|Los Angeles Lakers||$60 million|
|Sacramento Kings||$39 million|
|Philadelphia 76ers||$30 million|
|Chicago Bulls||$24 million|
|Dallas Mavericks||$22 million|
|Atlanta Hawks||$21 million|
|Phoenix Suns||$17 million|
|Brooklyn Nets||$15 million|
Prior to the deadline, it was reported that the Lakers were resetting their expectations for the 2018 free agent class, but their cap-clearing trade with the Cavaliers likely changes those goals. Los Angeles will probably be chasing names such as Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, and they’ll at least make a desperate call to LeBron James.
Meanwhile, the Kings can chase the young rookie-scale free agents that many of us have fawned over for the past couple of months: Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood or Marcus Smart.
The maximum contract for the players listed above is 4 years/$108.6 million according to Larry Coon’s CBA guide. Aaron Gordon is probably the only player who deserves that sort of commitment, and the only teams immediately eligible to offer him that incentive would be Sacramento, Orlando, Philadelphia, and possibly Chicago. If the Magic are hesitant to re-sign their high flying power forward, the Kings have a decent shot at landing him. Similar situations, albeit with smaller contracts, could be targeted with any of the other players.
The cap room can also be used to take on an albatross contract in exchange for compensation. There are almost too many of those deals to list, but here are a few of the contracts that Sacramento could absorb and still have plenty of spending money for fun:
|Ian Mahinmi||Wizards||2 years, $31.3M|
|Nicolas Batum||Hornets||3 years, $76.6M|
|Evan Turner||Blazers||2 years, $36.4M|
|Brandon Knight||Suns||2 years, $30.2M|
|Joakim Noah||Knicks||2 years, $37.8M|
|Chandler Parsons||Grizzlies||2 years, $49.2M|
|Loul Deng||Lakers||2 years, $36.8M|
|Tyler Johnson||Heat||2 years, $38.4M|
|Bismack Biyombo||Magic||2 years, $34.0M|
Those are 10 players from 10 different teams and another dozen or so could easily be added to the list. There’s likely to be a valuable market available in helping teams clear bad contracts, and the Kings are in a prime position to do just that.
Vlade also managed to slightly restock the asset cupboard, although he was unable to reacquire a 2019 first rounder after sacrificing his own in the name of inexperience and stupidity.
The Kings currently possess the following draft picks:
|2018||SAC 1st round pick|
|2018||SAC 2nd round pick|
|2019||SAC 2nd round pick|
|2019||second best of ORL/POR/CLE/HOU 2nd round pick|
|2020||SAC 1st round pick|
|2020||SAC 2nd round pick|
|2020||MIA 2nd round pick|
|2020||DET 2nd round pick|
Sacramento has eight selections coming up in the next three years. Unfortunately, only two of those opportunities will be found in the first round. On the flip side, our Front Office is in great shape when it comes to the currency of arm chair GMs, second round picks. Vlade, or whoever is in charge at the time, will have six chances to hit on a wildcard over the next three years. There’s no guarantee that those picks will turn into anything meaningful, but having those minor assets can help to grease a future transaction, or can be used as shots in the dark in June.
Overall, the bargaining and spending position of the organization was improved over the past couple of days. The level of trust in our management team to actually spend that extra cap space in a responsible manner is a debate for another day; but there’s no question that the Kings will have ample opportunity to make a mark this off-season if they manage to make wise choices.