Welcome back to the Royal Mailbag! Let’s dive right into the responses!
From Rob Hessing via the comments: The Kings have $37 million in cap space this summer. How do you spend it?
Tim: Assuming that Harrison Barnes opts in and isn’t a part of the equation, I’m looking for solid depth upgrades without committing long-term, high-dollar amounts to anyone. If I had my druthers, Patrick Beverley would be the number one offseason target. The Kings have a severe lack of perimeter defense, especially in the guard department, and they’re torched by Western Conference scoring machines like Damian Lillard, Steph Curry, James Harden, Mike Conley, Devin Booker, and Donovan Mitchell on an almost nightly basis. De’Aaron Fox shows promise on the defensive side of the floor, but he’s not big enough to take on opposing shooting guards, and his offensive load is already massive. Beverley provides defense and toughness off of the bench, and his career accuracy of 38% from beyond the arc is a severely underrated part of his game.
Big man depth will also be a large need after Willie Cauley-Stein walks (please, please, please let him walk), and I don’t want to take away a ton of touches or minutes from Harry Giles or Marvin Bagley. Adding a deep threat to the floor will help De’Aaron Fox and his offensive attack, so Brook Lopez, Nikola Mirotic, or Dwayne Dedmon fits that bill.
If I can sign Beverley and a quality big man, I’ve probably spent a large portion of my cash. A backup wing is still needed, and players such as Corey Brewer, Jeff Green, or Mario Hezonja could be signed relatively cheaply. My goal this summer would be to prop of the talents of the core (Fox, Buddy, Bogi, Barnes, Giles, Bagley) without compromising my long-term flexibility or minutes distribution.
Call me if Tobias Harris wants to talk, though. He can have all of the money.
Will: I think the Kings are going to have themselves a calmer-than-expected-for-the-position-they’re-in off-season, and I’d be plenty happy with that. I’d love to see an Ed Davis, Dwayne Dedmon or Richaun Holmes type get picked up to add a little more nasty to the front court off the bench and think the Kings priority will be to get a guy that adds a bit more to what Joerger likes from his bigs. I think the Kings will absolute go for a Hezonja type off the bench to add some scoring punch and I wouldn’t mind seeing Corey Brewer back. Ultimately though, I want the Kings to hold onto some cap space to go into the season ready for another deal to come their way where they can eat some salary and grab another talented player to aid in a go at a second round playoff run, or to take a pick or two back for the Kings to try to swing at some talent in the mid to late first rounds in the near future. It’s rare to have playoff caliber squads heading into the season with cap space at all, and the Kings could do just that and wait for the season to start and see what people throw their way.
From 1951 via the comments: No playoffs, no first round pick: now what?
Tim: You continue to build patiently. The missing piece probably isn’t going to become available this summer, so there’s really no need to rush. It’s disappointing to miss the playoffs, especially with a 13 year drought in our rearview mirror, but the Kings are on the right path. They can’t afford to rush something, sign someone out of desperation, or do anything else that compromises the growth of the core. I foresee a major signing or homerun trade coming in the next 2 – 3 years, but Sacramento’s three most important players are 20, 20 and 21. We’ve got time to build.
Will: I think we as fans sit back and appreciate the season the Kings have had for awhile. When was the last time you ended a season and felt any sort of contentment with the situation in Sacramento? This is the first time in a decade and a half that a Kings squad exceeded the expectation set before the season. I’m willing to give the management and coaching staff some leeway on what they do, and how they do it. They want to pick a draft and stash with our second rounders? Sure. They think signing a big time free agent to an offer sheet is a good idea? Well, alright do your thing. I’m ready to give them a bit of rope to hang themselves with after offering up a thrilling season of Kings basketball. This is an entertainment industry, and this season for all the ups and downs has been just that.
From SayWhat? via the comments: I for one am not thrilled with the idea of WCS as our starting 5 going forward. How do you see his status playing out going forward, and if the Kings bring in another established big, who do you see in your crystal ball?
Tim: I would be very surprised to see Willie Cauley-Stein in the home locker room next season. More than anything, management wanted to see consistency out of the fourth year center, and his contributions have been all over the place. Combine that with Marvin Bagley’s stellar play and Harry Giles’ growth, and you’ve got the recipe for a severed relationship.
As far as who will replace Willie, the vibes out of the front office continue to scream Nikola Vucevic; however, there’s a distinct difference between interest and commitment. The Kings will likely need to offer a max contract of 4 years, $145 million to lure the 28-year old out of Orlando, and that’s a ton of money going to a somewhat redundant player. My crystal ball tells me that Vlade Divac will offer Vucevic something under the max, he heads back to Orlando, and the Kings snag someone like Dewayne Dedmon or Nerlens Noel to soak up some center minutes.
Will: Willie is going to end up somewhere else next season, I’d bet Buddy Hield’s house on it. Vlade has said time and time again that what he wants from WCS this season is to show consistency and the only thing consistent about Willie’s season is how wildly inconsistent he’s been. That being said I doubt that next season starts with a Bagley-Giles front court, as much as I doubt that the guy lining up with Bagley is making more that 15 million a year. The Kings know they have a split core of three guys under 21 and the other three around 26 years old, I doubt they’ll add a 28 year old center with a max contract to sit right in front of their talented young bigs that are near ready for big minutes. What I could see though, is them grabbing a guy in free agency who starts the next season or so until they’re sure Giles is the real deal. Imagine them grabbing a Thaddeus Young level guy for 12-14 million to play PF next to Bagley for a season before transitioning Giles into the starting front court and Young to a big piece off the bench.
From Wonderchild via the comments: What do you think the likelihood is of seeing Harrison Barnes in a Kings uniform next season?
Tim: The Kings traded for Harrison Barnes with the long-term in mind, and I’ll be very surprised if he’s in another team’s uniform next year. He must make the decision regarding his $25 million player option prior to the start of free agency, and while his agent can do some unregulated snooping to test Barnes’ market value, he’s unlikely to receive long-term interest at such a high number. Sacramento should try to lock Harrison up for something like 4 years, $80 million, and if the veteran wing isn’t interested in that deal, he’ll simply opt into the final year of his contract.
Will: 100% Likely. The Kings didn’t give up the future MVP of the Floaters Only Association and a chance to have Vivek shaka with Teyana Taylor for a full season to not have him back. Barnes fits this roster like a glove, his coach has openly said he loves having Barnes on the team and he’ll get to play meaningful basketball again for the first time since Lebron James forced the Warriors to woo Kevin Durant.
From adamsite via the comments: IMO this team is still a solid piece away from becoming a legitimate playoff threat. From that, keeping the core 6 of Fox, Buddy, Bagley, Barnes, Bogi, and Giles together may be tough financially long-term, while adding the needed piece. If the Kings were to move one for the homerun player to complete this roster, who do you move?
Tim: Bogdan Bogdanovic is the least essential part of the core moving forward. He’s a jack-of-all-trades rather than a specialist, and his skill set doesn’t fit as cleanly next to De’Aaron Fox as Buddy Hield’s does. Sacramento has a potential cap issue moving forward, especially if they max someone this coming summer, so I’m going to make a bold prediction. Bogdan Bogdanovic will not play with the Kings past his current contract, either due to a trade or a big offer in restricted free agency. Everyone else will stick around for the long haul.
Will: I’m kinda with Tim on this one after Bogdanovic’s off-season and seeming regression in a few key areas but I also think Bogi is an off-season of rest and adjustment from being right back to be being 75% of Manu Ginobi. I think if the Kings end up moving a guy for a homerun type player, it’s Giles. Giles has flash and fire and gobs of potential. Where Bogi is a starting sg in this league, Giles has the potential to be a team-changing talent. If the Kings don’t see it happening with them, he might be too special an enigma for teams to pass up when getting rid of their discontented superstar.
From andysims via the comments: What should the starting lineup look like, assuming everyone is healthy?
Tim: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley, and Harry Giles. Those aren’t only your future core players moving forward; they’re also the best player available at their individual positions.
Will: This makes me itchy considering that I don’t think Bogdanovic is healthy. If I could wave a magic wand to over these guys and everyone regains the pep in their step, I would really, really want to see Fox-Hield-Bogdanovic-Barnes-Bagley for the remainder of the season while bringing Giles in for that bench support. Remember how this season there were talking heads predicting that the Celtics could have the first even starting five with each player averaging over 40% from deep, and then NONE of their starting five averaged 40% from deep this season? I think the lineup I just listed has that type of potential.
From betweentheeyes via the comments: Can you assign “Spice names” to each of the StR staff?
Tim: Akis – Boss Spice, Greg – Sour Spice, Tim – Lowe Spice, Will – Sexy Spice, Tony – Chipotle Spice, Kevin – Bougie Spice, Bryant – Apricot Spice, Brad – Wacky Spice, Omer – Smarty Spice, Kimani – Artsian Spice, Sanjesh – Fresh Spice, Richard – Hipster Spice, Robby – Improper Spice
Will: Tzatziki Spice - Akis, Spotify Spice - Greg (Homewrecker Spice just didn’t have a ring to it), Instigator Spice - Tim, Salty Spice - Will, Tea Party Spice - Tony, Kongs Spice - Kevin, Scouty Spice - Bryant, Soliloquy Spice - Brad, Sue You Spice - Omer, Snapshot Spice - Kimani, Prospector Spice - Sanjesh, Beardy Spice - Richard, Stubble Spice - Robby (because Smoking Cigarettes On the Porch And Overhearing The Mountain Goats Playing in the Apartment Next Door Spice wouldn’t have fit on the album cover)