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Free Agency 2019: Previewing Backup Forward Options

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Composing a list of 10 potential targets for the Kings

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Washington Wizards Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past two weeks, I wrote about multiple wings who could fill a need at the backup wing spot. The players ranged from Danny Green to Al-Farouq Aminu to Danuel House. The free agency class for wings isn’t exactly deep, especially for quality starters. Assuming the Kings re-sign Harrison Barnes on a 4 year, $88 million deal (which Carmichael Dave reported), the Kings don’t have to worry about a starter, just a backup. Corey Brewer, who became the primary backup to end the season, is also a free agent and Troy Williams, another wing on the roster, is a restricted free agent.

The Kings need a backup wing/forward who can ideally shoot the three at a respectable clip and be able to have the size to defend the 3 and 4, since the Kings have guys who can guard the 2 but being undersized isn’t massively concerning.

These ten players, along with some honorable mentions, are ranked based on film, advanced stats, affordability and fit.

10. James Ennis III, UFA

The soon-to-be 29-year-old has been in the league for five years but has played for six different teams. This past season, he played with both the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers, where in total he averaged 6.7 points and 3.1 rebounds on 46.9 percent shooting overall and 35.3 percent from three.

Ennis is a decent three point shooter (with a slow release) from the corners but struggles from everywhere else behind the arc. He doesn’t possess a mid-range game but finishes at the rim at a 62.5 percent clip. He’s a smart defender, can defend the 23 and jumps passing lanes and is also smart with the ball. If the Kings strike out on the better options, a two year, $6.5 million deal could be a bargain.

9. Trevor Ariza, UFA

After spending four years with Houston, Ariza signed a one year, $15 million deal with the Phoenix Suns who traded him to the Washington Wizards after 26 games. It was a weird year for the 34-year-old, who posted inefficient shooting numbers and wasn’t as great defensively even though he averaged more than a steal a game. For the year, he averaged 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and a career high 3.7 assists on 39.9 percent shooting overall and 33.4 percent from three.

He definitely has the size and ability to guard multiple positions but a down year on both ends of the floor is concerning. He had a -0.4 defensive box plus/minus, the first negative DBPM of his career and when opponents shot three pointers with Ariza guarding, they were 40.2 percent. On all attempts, they were 54.7 percent which are concerning numbers as well. Sure, the Kings can ignore this year because of the team’s he played on and assume he’ll be better next year, but I’m not sure I want to pay around $10 million (his likely range) to find that out on a bench role. I can see him signing for a potential contender at this point instead of a bench role with the Kings but I wouldn't be surprised if he accepts the offer with the most money either.

8. Corey Brewer, UFA

Every team loves a Corey Brewer type player on their roster. The Kings were the latest team to enjoy the energy he brings on both ends of the floor and his pesky nature on defense. Despite being 6’9”, he’s best guarding the 2 and 3 on the floor with his frame. For the Kings this season, he averaged 4.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 44.6 percent shooting overall and 33.3 percent from three.

I’d prefer Brewer to be an end-of-the-bench player rather than the primary backup getting good minutes. He doesn’t provide the consistent three pointer but makes up for it by being a scrapper on the floor. A one year, $4 million could definitely get it done but I’d explore other options first.

7. DeMarre Carroll, UFA

The soon-to-be 33-year-old has been with the Brooklyn Nets for two years where this past season he averaged 11.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists on 39.5 percent shooting from the field and 34.2 percent from deep.

I’ve written about him before with a more detailed analysis, but he’s a veteran with playoff experience and the Kings could use his leadership like the Nets did. He’s capable of playing both the 3 and 4, which he primarily played in Brooklyn and he plays it well despite some inefficient shooting. He's also a solid defender who I can see getting an offer in the $8-10 million a year range, which I wouldn’t offer if there’s other options available but certainly one to keep an eye on.

6. Thabo Sefolosha, UFA

I see Thabo as an under the radar signing for any team this offseason. His health concerns and age (35 years old) are some anent factors, but he was still impactful in minimal minutes this season. The 6’7” forward only averaged 3.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 0.5 assists on 47.7 percent overall shooting and 43.6 percent from three in 12 minutes a game.

The basic numbers don’t jump out at you, but take a look at some of these numbers. He played minutes at the 3 and 4 this season (definitely can guard the 1 and 2 if necessary) where he averaged almost a steal a game, had a DBPM of 2.6 and opponents shot the three at 23.6 percent when Thabo guarded (-11 DIFF%, a fantastic mark). On overall attempts, opponents were only 40.6 percent and those are great numbers. He only played 12 minutes a game but can clearly make an impact, so it would be a wise move to offer him a one year, $5.5-6 million deal and get your veteran guy who doesn’t need a ton of minutes to affect the game.

5. Danuel House, RFA

House is another forward I wrote about previously, and is definitely an option to consider. He was a two-player for Houston who played just 39 games in the regular season where he averaged 9.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists on 46.8 shooting overall and 41.6 percent from three.

The short sample size argument is definitely a fair one, but a solid offer could lure him away from a Rockets team facing some financial trouble. House played significant minutes at the 3 and 4 this season and definitely offers an offensive boost off the bench and can thrive in Sacramento’s fast-paced offense. He’s not a standout defender or better than other options but can certainly hold his own and isn't bad. He’s only 26 and the more I think about it, I’d really like a 2 year, $16 million offer for him. I enjoy House a ton and would love him on the Kings, but him being a RFA potentially limits the realism in luring him over.

4. Reggie Bullock, UFA

Bullock was having a career year in Detroit prior to being traded to the Lakers and is another wing I’ve written about. This past season, his total averages were 11.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 41.2 percent overall shooting and 37.7 percent from three.

His greatest strength is easily his shooting, especially on catch and shoot attempts or on dribble hand-offs, which would definitely be a great addition to the Kings bench. However, he primarily guards the 2 and 3 and additionally isn’t a great defender in general. Bullock is interested in going back to Detroit if the feeling is mutual, but I’d still offer a two year, $15 million deal which seems about right for his value.

3. Al-Farouq Aminu, UFA

The former Blazer is entering the market and is another guy I’ve profiled here. He’s been a key member of the Portland Trail Blazers team who had a solid playoff run before being inevitably knocked out by the Golden State Warriors. Aminu posted season averages of 9.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists on 43.3 percent shooting overall and 34.3 percent from deep.

The last three seasons has seen Aminu play the 4 for almost the whole time, but his first six seasons saw him playing at the 3. Aminu is a plus defender who can guard multiple positions, rebounds well and can stretch the floor despite inconsistent shooting numbers throughout the season. He also had the lowest usage rate on the Blazers and still provided sure, solid minutes. Aminu could have a much bigger role than just a backup forward on the Kings, a team who placed below the Blazers but adding him to the roster gives the Kings a lot of defensive flexibility and another guy who can stretch the floor but play inside as well. I’d offer a 3 year, $30 million deal.

2. Marcus Morris, UFA

Morris would be a great addition to this team and has been linked to the Kings, per Shams Charania of The Athletic, which is why he’s higher on the list but I went back and forth with this one. If the Kings truly have interest, then it makes sense for him to be higher. I go into more detail with Morris here, and I wouldn’t be against him as a King. This past season with the Boston Celtics, Morris averaged 13.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists on 44.7 percent shooting and 37.5 percent from three.

Morris had a big role with Boston and would definitely have a smaller role with the Kings but he’d be a valuable player who primarily plays the 4 but definitely has the body to guard the 3. The Kings could definitely utilize his offensive arsenal, ability to rebound and run the floor. I could definitely see someone overpaying for Morris which would probably make him hard to get, but could really be a great addition. I’d like a two year, $22 million deal which is fair for his skills and is an upgrade for his previous contract that saw him getting $5 million a year.

1. Terrence Ross, UFA

Ross is one of the best options on the market when you’re looking for a bench forward, which I also wrote about before. He played in 81 games this year and didn’t start any, but didn’t get much sixth man recognition even though he should’ve. He posted 15.1 points a game, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists on 42.8 percent shooting overall and 38.3 percent from three.

Ross is definitely a versatile scorer, being able to hit three pointers at a high clip, running isolation plays, knocking down mid-range jumpers, finishing at the basket, etc. His shot chart is an amusing green. He did have the second highest usage rate on Orlando behind Nikola Vucevic, which explains the rise in scoring. He’s an athletic wing despite being on a Magic team that operated in a slower pace with Vucevic being their main guy on offense. He also posted 2.6 defensive win shares, a career high. The main downside will be that he can’t guard the 4 spot, but played most of his minutes at the 3 this season. Like Morris, Ross is another likely player to get overpaid this summer. If the Kings can land him for a three year deal in the range of $12-14 million per year, I’d be okay with that. Ross immediately gives the Kings a scoring threat off the bench, can play starting caliber minutes if necessary and be a great bench option for depth.

Honorable Mentions:

Danny Green: Another wing I’ve written about, Green’s three point shooting and defense would be a fantastic addition, but because there’s like a 0 percent chance he chooses to sign with the Kings after a championship run, so I didn’t include him on the list for realistic reasons.

Wilson Chandler: Chandler is a 32 year old forward with a 6’9” height and can play the 3 and 4. This past season, he played for the 76ers and Clippers in which he averaged 6.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists on 41.8 percent shooting and 37.3 percent from deep. I wouldn’t be upset if the Kings got a cheap deal for him.

Dorian Finney-Smith: The RFA from Dallas can play the 3 and 4 and averaged 7.5 points. 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 43.2 percent shooting and 31.1 percent from three. Because he’s restricted and isn’t a proven shooter, I think it’s best to look elsewhere but there’s also defensive potential in him.

Stanley Johnson: I wasn’t going to include Johnson because he wasn’t a pleasing option as a RFA, but since the Pelicans made him unrestricted, I’ll embrace him here. Johnson has defensive potential to guard multiple positions but is not a plus on offense, especially with his shooting right now. Sure, the Kings can take him for cheap to see what they have in him but I wouldn’t want him as my primary backup right now.