The thought process behind some of the decisions NBA executives make are hard to rationalize, and that’s been especially true for some of the choices Vlade Divac and the Sacramento Kings have made over the past few years — most recently with Harry Giles.
In November, the Kings declined the fourth year of Giles’ rookie contract. Giles’ career to date has been hampered by injuries, but the Kings knew it was going to take some time for Giles to develop after he redshirted his rookie season, or at least they should have known. Beyond that, there was no real immediate financial consequence of picking up his $4 million option. So, the question everyone has been asking since is: Why did they do it?
Thanks to James Ham of NBC Sports we have some semblance of an idea:
Giles went home last summer and according to multiple sources, the team was unhappy about the work that he put in. First, he wasn’t available to play in the California Classic and when he showed up to training camp, his knee swelled up on the first day and the Kings shut him down.
What exactly happened over the summer has remained mostly a mystery, but according to sources, Giles missed a meet-up with the training staff and the team believed he wasn’t ready to compete when camp opened.
There was a vote amongst members of the front office and while it wasn’t unanimous, the decision was made not to pick up the option and to force Giles into a “prove-it” season.
If that explanation doesn’t make you feel any better about the decision, it’s because it shouldn’t.
From what it sounds like, the Kings’ front office voted — which, correct me if I’m wrong, doesn’t seem like the norm an NBA front office — based on Giles’ behavior in the offseason. If they wanted to discipline Giles by shorting him $4 million, fine, but in doing so, they limited their ability to negotiate a new contract with him next summer. That’s like calling off a wedding with someone and then, a few months later, telling them “I just wanted to know that you were really committed to this. Let’s pick a new date.”
Staying with the theme of that metaphor, Giles’ future with the Kings is dependent on how many eligible bachelors there will be this summer. Giles, 21, was playing some of the best basketball of his young career before the suspension of the NBA season, and a rebuilding team like the Detroit Pistons or the Charlotte Hornets could make him an offer that exceeds the $4 million Sacramento can offer him in his first year.
If the money is pretty much the same, Giles will have to decide whether or not he even wants to return to Sacramento after they opted to decline the fourth year of his contract. Suffice to say, there are a lot of moving parts in Giles’ free agency and the Kings have little control over any of them because of a move they made before they needed to.
If Giles isn’t in a Kings uniform next season, this vote could be why.