Welcome to the Sactown Royalty Offseason Preview! Every day this week, we’ll tackle one position. We’ll go over what the Kings have and what they could use at that spot, and how they they can address those needs via free agency or the draft. Today, we’re going to continue with the shooting guards.
Who do the Kings have?
The Kings have more talent at shooting guard than any other position, or at least that was the case last season with Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kent Bazemore. Next season could be a little different.
While the Kings technically have Hield under contract next season — as well as the three seasons after that — his future in Sacramento is uncertain. Last month, Jason Jones of The Athletic reported that Hield has “soured” on Luke Walton to the point where he won’t answer his head coach’s phone calls.
Since that report, there haven’t been any whispers that the Kings are actively shopping Hield — in fact, it’s been quite the opposite — but there are clearly a few problems that need to be sorted out between Hield and Walton. And if they can’t be sorted out, Hield will likely request a trade out of Sacramento; something that has seemed inevitable ever since Walton moved Hield to the bench in favor of Bogdanovic in March.
Speaking of Bogdanovic, the 28-year-old Serbian will be a restricted free agent this fall and the Kings won’t be the only team vying for his services. According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, the Milwaukee Bucks “love” Bogdanovic and would be willing to take on Harrison Barnes’ contract to get him.
Logistically, it’s hard to imagine how a trade of that magnitude would work, but that’s not the point: the point is other teams value Bogdanovic. The question then becomes: how much do the Kings value Bogdanovic?
Vlade Divac, the Kings’ former vice president of basketball operations and general manager, loved Bogdanovic and reportedly planned on matching any other offer the team got for him. The Kings’ new regime, led by Monte McNair, might not be as committed to keeping Bogdanovic — a non-star player — around when they already have so much money tied up to non-star players.
Hield could come back next season, Bogdanovic could come back next season, but right now there’s not much to go off of. Some of that has to do with the fact the transition of power in the front office, but it also has to do with the lack of noise surrounding Hield and Bogdanovic in the weeks leading up to the start of the offseason. We’ll see if that changes in the coming days.
Can the Kings draft a shooting guard at No. 12?
Yes, and they’ll likely have a few options to choose from at that position by the time they’re on the clock on Nov. 18. Anthony Edwards and Killian Hayes probably won’t fall to No. 12, but Devin Vassell, an exciting 3-and-D prospect out of Florida State University, might.
They could also try and go for the upside play with R.J. Hampton, but, in my opinion, the gap between Vassell and Hampton is pretty large, so if Vassell is off of the board, they should probably wait until the second round to draft a shooting guard. Isaiah Joe would be a great get for the Kings at No. 35, and Cassius Stanley could be worth rolling the dice on with their last two picks.
What about free agency?
Retaining Bogdanovic should priority No. 1 for the Kings this offseason, outside of working out a new contract with De’Aaron Fox, of course. What they do at shooting guard beyond that depends on what happens with Hield and what happens in the draft.
If Hield sticks around and the Kings draft a shooting guard with one of their four draft picks, they might not need much more depth than that behind Bogdanovic. That’s especially true because players like Cory Joseph and Kyle Guy are more combo guards than they are point guards.
If one or neither of the aforementioned scenarios happen, then the Kings might feel more inclined to bring Kent Bazemore back. Bazemore only appeared in 25 games for the Kings after arriving in a trade in January, but he quickly became a fan favorite because of his effort on the defensive end. And, best of all, he’s already expressed interest in re-signing a long-term deal with the Kings.
If Bazemore has a change of heart, or the Kings just don’t see him as an ideal fit with their roster, they’ll have to look elsewhere for a bargain bin shooting guard. Maybe Alvin Gentry can recruit E’Twaun Moore to Sacramento?
Again, though, none of this will matter if the Kings find a way to make Hield and Bogdanovic work together, which is ultimately the best outcome for them unless they’re confident they can get an impact player at position of need — like at center — in return for Bogdanovic. The Kings need talent around Fox, and Hield and Bogdanovic have plenty of it.