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We don’t need to spin the Dedmon trade

Let’s talk about the money saved in the Dedmon trade

Kimani Okearah

In the wake of yesterday’s trade between the Kings and Hawks, a very clear and unsubtle narrative was shouted from the rooftops.

The word from media is that this was a good trade because now the Kings can afford to pay Bogdan Bogdanovic. The problem, of course, is that the Kings could already pay Bogdanovic, as Tim detailed yesterday.

Trading Dewayne Dedmon reduces the Kings salary obligations next season, this much is true. Dedmon would have made $13 million, Jabari Parker can opt into his player option and make $6.5 million next summer. Alex Len is expiring. But that saving of $6.5 million? That isn’t cap space. The Kings will still be operating over the cap next summer. The Kings don’t suddenly have another $6.5 million to spend on a free agent. It doesn’t change the Kings ability, from a cap perspective, to retain Bogi. That option was always available.

The savings is a savings only to ownership. Now, if spending $6.5 million less elsewhere makes ownership more likely to open the checkbook to keep Bogdanovic, great. Keeping Bogi should be a priority. But if $6.5 million matters that much to Kings ownership, there are bigger concerns.

I want to be clear, we do not know if Kings ownership would have been worried about spending that money, but there’s a very clear message being disseminated via the media: The trade is allowing the Kings more financial flexibility to pay Bogi. It wasn’t necessary from a cap perspective, which suggests it matters based on the budget the front office believes they are operating under.

Which brings us back to the other reason this trade shouldn’t be celebrated: the Kings cap situation is nobody’s fault but their own. The Kings gave Dedmon that contract knowing Bogdanovic was going into restricted free agency. The Kings gave Harrison Barnes his new contract knowing that Bogdanovic was going into restricted free agency. The Kings gave Buddy Hield his knew contract knowing that Bogdanovic was going into restricted free agency. All of these moves were also made knowing that De’Aaron Fox will be due an extension next summer, and Marvin Bagley the year after that.

Dedmon was overpaid as a free agent. We accepted it because of the so-called “Sacramento tax” and because he seemed like a good fit next to Bagley. It didn’t work out the way anyone expected, which sucks but is fine. The Kings got rid of a player who was expensive, didn’t fit as expected, and who wanted out. They cut some salary obligation in the process. Teams make moves to save money all the time, and that’s fine. If I was an owner I wouldn’t want to be paying $13 million for a crappy bench player next season either.

The problem is simply the spin. Not every trade has to be a huge win. Sometimes trades can just be shuffling pieces and clearing bad money and past mistakes. The Kings could always keep Bogi under the rules of the cap. If the Kings needed to make this move to be able to afford Bogi under their internal budgets, then that shouldn’t be celebrated. That would be reason to be alarmed, as it would speak to poor planning by the front office or penny pinching from ownership. What would the Kings have done about retaining Bogi if Dedmon was playing well?

At the end of the day, I’m happy with any move that increases the likelihood that the Kings keep Bogdanovic. He’s one of the team’s best players and I’d like to see him retained. But it’s unnecessary spin to suggest the trade is the only way the Kings could have kept Bogi.