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Richaun Holmes wants to continue building in Sacramento

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The center is still keeping an open mind in free agency.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Richaun Holmes is projected to be one of the top centers hitting unrestricted free agency this offseason, along with Nerlens Noel, Serge Ibaka, and DeMarcus Cousins, among others. With that comes an opportunity for Holmes to cash in on his first large paycheck of his NBA career.

Holmes doesn’t know yet where that contract will come from, but he has a special fondness for the Kings after having the two best seasons of his career and turning into a starting center in Sacramento. During his exit interview Tuesday, Holmes expressed interest in continuing his career with the Kings.

“Definitely have a love for Sacramento, you know, what we’re trying to build here, what we built this season, and definitely have an interest in trying to go beyond that,” Holmes said. “I love playing here in Sacramento, the things that we’ve been building, we’ve been building here these last two years, and where I can see the potential of this team going is great. So for me, I love Sacramento, have loved playing here every second, and definitely want to look to continue that.”

That being said, Holmes did not outright commit to staying with the Kings. Sacramento obviously needs Holmes to be a competent team in the coming years; the Kings were 7.7 points per 100 possessions better with Holmes on the court, second only to Buddy Hield in on/off differential, and the team’s defense was particularly dependent on Holmes. That makes the 27-year-old center a valuable prize in free agency, and he knows that.

“I’m looking forward to the summer, looking forward to the opportunity, and it’s going to be a blessing,” Holmes said. “It’s definitely an exciting time for me for my family. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to it.”

The Kings can offer Holmes somewhere in the neighborhood of four years, $43 million on his next contract provided they don’t clear any additional cap space. The easiest way to do that would be to move Marvin Bagley III or Hield; ideally, Hield would be the candidate to move since he’s a bit older and Bagley has more upside. Whatever happens, it won’t be a good look for Sacramento if the front office fails to keep Holmes after missing an opportunity to move him for future assets at the trade deadline.

The good thing is Holmes seems to genuinely like playing for the Kings. He’s found a coach who empowers him in Luke Walton and a group of players who complement him, and Sacramento envisions Holmes as part of the team’s core moving forward. They all seem to be on the same page. Hopefully, that plays out in free agency.