Vlade Divac and the Kings failed to make a big splash in free agency this summer despite entering the offseason as one of the few teams with significant cap space, putting the organization in a rare position of power that they won’t be able to leverage next summer when the rest of the league also has significant cap space available.
What the Kings did do, after the Chicago Bulls matched the Kings’ offer sheet for restricted free agent Zach LaVine, was go out and sign a couple of younger veterans to reasonable contracts that they probably wouldn’t have been able to land if they didn’t hoard their cap space for as long as they did. This was far from my preferred strategy, but at least they walked away with two players in Nemanja Bjelica and Yogi Ferrell that are still in their respective primes, fill positions of need, and they were able to do it under what I would consider team-friendly contracts.
While Bjelica’s role is slightly less defined, we know what Yogi Ferrell was brought here to do, and that’s run the Kings’ bench unit, or push 2nd year guard Frank Mason to run the Kings’ bench unit better than he did last season. It should be a fun crew to watch regardless of their production, but if they are one of the better bench mobs around the league, Ferrell will play a huge role in guiding them there, and the addition of Yogi could turn backup point guard into a real position of strength for the Kings this season.
It’s difficult to speculate what that bench unit might look like because the Kings’ entire rotation is a mystery. Outside of knowing De’Aaron Fox is the starting point guard, it’s hard to predict any other position with complete certainty. However the starting lineup shakes out, Ferrell is going to have some combination of young players and contract-year veterans out there with him, and while the Kings lack top-end NBA talent, they do have some legitimate depth, particularly if some of the young kids start to develop.
Our very own Baby Giraffe did an excellent breakdown of Ferrell vs. Mason back in August that highlights where Ferrell can excel for the Kings this season, and I’d also recommend checking out the player review our friends at Mavs Moneyball put together for Ferrell at the end of the 2017-18 season.
TLDR; Yogi Ferrell is a very competitive backup point guard in the same mold as our old friend Isaiah Thomas. I’m not calling him Isaiah Thomas, but he plays with a similar fire and passion for the game that every bench unit would be lucky to have. He can score with reasonable efficiency, he’s incredibly durable, and while he won’t blow you away as a passer, he’s perfectly capable of running an NBA bench unit. The Mavericks wanted to keep him, and Mavericks fans were sad to see him go. He’s a good player, and at 25-years old, he’s still getting better.
As a self-proclaimed stickler for efficient cap space allocation, my favorite part of the Ferrell acquisition was what Divac paid to get him here. The Kings signed Ferrell to a 2-year, 6.2 million contract on July 23rd, and that second year isn’t guaranteed. Signing a young player like Ferrell on that kind of low-risk contract is a win. Well done.
How much better does Yogi Ferrell make the Kings, though? That is the question. I’m pretty bullish on Yogi, but with so many bigger holes on the roster, I don’t know that we’ll see Ferrell’s night-to-night play have a big impact on the Kings’ record. A reserve guard can only do so much, but he’s still got some upside, and the Kings lacked exactly the kind of fire Yogi brings to the table last season, so I’m expecting an improved bench over what we’ve seen in recent years with a lot of that credit going to Ferrell even though the bench isn’t really what has been holding this team back. Hey, at least the Kings improved somewhere this summer.