When the clock struck 9:01 pm PST last night, Sacramento Kings fans were braced for big news. Jabari Parker, Zach LaVine, and Mario Hezonja had all been discussed as likely targets for sizable offers from the Kings.
But no news came. And while it’s not exciting, it’s probably a positive sign. Almost every roster move in the league will have some effect on Sacramento, even if it’s indirect. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at how the market has shaken out in the first twelve hours of the free agency period. I’ve broken down all the signings from last night into four categories, based on what they might mean for the Kings.
(Note: Many of these deals are not finalized and some salaries are inexact, though they are based on reliable reports.)
Beyond the Tax Line
Chris Paul - 4 years/$160 mil - HOU
Kevin Durant - 2 years/$61.5 mil (PO) - GS
Fred VanVleet - 2 years/$18 mil - TOR
Paul George - 4 years/$137 mil (PO) - OKC
Jerami Grant - 3 years/$27 mil (PO) - OKC
Aron Baynes - 2 years/$11 mil (PO) - BOS
Nikola Jokic - 5 years/$148 mil - DEN
Will Barton - 4 years/$54 mil (PO) - DEN
Congratulations to Houston, Golden State, Toronto, Oklahoma City, Boston and Denver on being good and having good players. You guys think you’re real special, don’t you?
The important takeaway here for the Kings is that each of these six teams is falling deeper and deeper into their tax payments. Something will have to break soon enough, and future assets be on offer for any franchise willing to give them cap relief.
The Nuggets in particular are widely expected to be putting a 1st round pick on the table in exchange from being saved from the luxury tax, which their ownership has been historically unwilling to pay. If the Kings want back in to the 2019 draft, these signings could be their best hope.
Disappearing Cap Space
DeAndre Jordan - 1 year/$22 mil - DAL
Trevor Ariza - 1 year/$15 mil - PHO
Ed Davis - 1 year/$4.4 mil - BRK
Joe Harris - 2 years/$16 mil - BRK
Doug McDermott - 3 years/$22 mil - IND
Marco Belinelli - 2 years/$12 mil - SA
Rudy Gay - 1 year/$10 mil - SA
These contracts may not be that shocking at first glance, but when placed in the perspective of this summer’s thin market, some of them should be. Less than 24 hours ago, twelve teams had $10 million or more in cap space. Now its down to six. Any free agent looking for a new home and starter-level money will have to pick from Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Sacramento, and Orlando.
Considering how few of the players on this list are expected to really move the needle, it’s jarring how many teams have already cashed in their chips. The Kings appear to have moved up the list for many players simply by standing still.
Derrick Rose - 1 year/$2.1 mil - MIN
Gerald Green - 1 year/$2.4 mil - HOU
Nik Stauskas - 1 year/$1.6 mil - POR
There’s not too much to say about this group, but in an effort to give a complete picture, these contracts should be included. One thing we know for sure is that Nik Stauskas won’t be a King this upcoming season. So have a little spring in your step this Sunday, Sacramento.
Jabari Inches Closer
Ersan Ilyasova - 3 years/$21 mil - MIL
Finally, in the most puzzling move from last night, the Bucks signed a role player in his thirties who has been on five different teams in the last five years to a multi-year deal that effectively takes them out of the market. Even more puzzling is that they did it without having Jabari Parker under contract.
Parker, a former 2nd overall pick, is only 23 years old. And while he has been seriously hindered by injuries, there is no doubt that he has a tremendous ceiling. There have been conflicting reports about exactly how interested Sacramento is in him, but the Ilyasova signing has made a potential pursuit of Jabari far simpler.
We can’t know what the Bucks are planning, but we do know that they are now going to have to pay a sizable tax bill to keep him on board. Ultimately I can only speculate, but it seems likely that the $18 million in cap space the Kings have to offer would be enough to steal him away from Milwaukee.