Look, it’s August 14th. I think it’s important that we at least acknowledge the fact that it’s the slowest time of the NBA year before I fire off 700+ words about two players that might not be on the roster when the Kings begin their Quest For NBA Relevance on October 17th.
A recent Instagram post by Good Guy, Hard Worker Ben McLemore working out in Sacramento, complete with new Kings gear, showed up on my feed this morning when it finally hit me; are the Kings going to keep Ben McLemore around for the 2018-19 season after all?
When the Kings traded Garrett Temple to the Memphis Grizzlies for Ben McLemore, Deyonta Davis, a 2021 second round pick, and cash considerations, I, like NBC Sports California Kings Insider, James Ham, speculated that one or both of McLemore or Davis would be waived. We haven’t heard anything to suggest that won’t be the case eventually, but a few weeks ago McLemore was spotted (again) on Instagram looking for a place to rent in Sacramento. Fast-forward to today, and he’s back in Sacramento working out.
These are not the actions of a player who has been notified that he won’t be around next season.
Deyonta Davis’ plan remains a total mystery. I have no idea what he’s been up to this summer, where he’s working out, if he’s been to Sacramento, etc. Both his Twitter and Instagram profiles still feature pictures of him as a Memphis Grizzly, so, yeah.
The reason behind early speculation that one, or both of Davis and McLemore would be waived is because the Kings were heading into free agency with a ton of cap space and limited regular season roster room available. Part of the reason they traded Temple in the first place was to open up playing time for some of the kids, and to give a guy who deserved playing time a chance to play somewhere else. Adding two players in McLemore and Davis to the fold long-term just didn’t seem realistic.
This is still the case despite McLemore’s Instagram activity forcing me to reconsider what I thought would be two obvious waive targets. The Kings have roughly $10 million in cap space remaining. They still have the flexibility to make significant moves this summer, but the roster space issue isn’t going to solve itself.
The Kings have 16 guaranteed contracts right now. This doesn’t include Wenyen Gabriel’s two-way contract and Jamel Artis’ training camp invite. Those don’t count against the guaranteed roster limit. This is perfectly fine under the current CBA through training camp, but once the season starts, the Kings will need to cut the roster down to 15. At least one player has to go.
The most-likely scenario based on what we’ve learned from McLemore’s Instagram account, financial responsibility, and roster construction, would be to waive Davis at some point before the roster cut-down deadline and head into the season with McLemore on the roster. I know, I’m as shocked as you are that round 2 of the Ben McLemore experience is coming to Sacramento, but it looks like things are heading in that direction.
Waiving Davis would only cost the Kings $1.54 million in dead money against the cap for the remainder of the season vs. McLemore’s $5.4 million. The Kings could probably use another perimeter player over a big man, so McLemore has that going for him, but we’re really splitting hairs at this point.
It’s also worth mentioning that if the Kings waive McLemore today, for example, they can’t trade him or his $5.4 million in salary, and they might need that $5.4 million to facilitate another move. Keeping both of them around this summer gives the Kings slightly more flexibility. I’m not criticizing the organization for dragging this out, it makes sense that they would, it’s just interesting that they have, coupled with McLemore’s Instagram posts that make you believe he is operating his life under the assumption that he will be a Sacramento King this season.
On the other hand, if the Kings know that McLemore and Davis will be waived at some point, it’s kind of common courtesy around the league to let those guys go so they can pursue other opportunities while those opportunities are available, either in the G-League, the NBA, or overseas.
And this has been 735 words on Ben McLemore and Deyonta Davis. Happy August 14th.