The Sacramento Kings finished two games out of a play-in spot despite having the worst defensive rating in NBA history. The Kings had an up-and-down season where they looked like a legit playoff contender at some points and like the worst team in the league at others.
Even though consistency was a major issue, Sacramento will bring Luke Walton back as head coach. During his season-ending media availability, general manager Monte McNair said he’s happy with the team’s direction under Walton and acknowledged that the defense was a major area that needs to improve next season.
Zach Harper of The Athletic did a deep dive on what each of the NBA teams that missed the playoffs need to address this offseason. To no one’s surprise, Harper said fixing the defense is at the top of the list for the Kings.
This will sound pretty basic, but find some guys who can play defense and win. The Kings have 15 years without playoffs. They’ve committed to keeping Walton around for at least another season. Fox hasn’t been good enough. Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes haven’t been good enough. Richaun Holmes is about to get paid, and the Kings have to figure out if they’re a team that can win those sweepstakes. If not, they’re going to have a massive hole in the middle that Bagley hasn’t proven he can fill yet. This team just needs a lot of turnover on the roster.
Sacramento has roughly $71 million committed to De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes next season. Although all three players bring a lot to the table on the offensive end, each of them finished the year with a defensive rating north of 116.
McNair has said on several occasions that he would like to maintain financial flexibility while rebuilding the roster, so we could see one of Hield or Barnes dealt this offseason.
The Kings have five regulars who are up for free agency, including center Richaun Holmes, who will likely command the highest salary of the bunch. Sacramento is hoping for some lottery luck as well.
We don’t know yet where the Kings will end up when it comes to the NBA Draft Lottery odds, but they will have a 1 in 5 chance at moving up into the top four. Adding another cost-controlled building block to play alongside Fox and Tyrese Haliburton will help set the team’s core up for years to come.
But as Harper mentions, bringing in players who can defend is paramount this offseason. Terence Davis, Moe Harkless and Delon Wright were among the best on the team when it came to defensive rating. All three were in the top five amongst Sacramento players who played at least 25 games. Only Wright is under contract for next season.
How do you think the Kings can address this offseason? Do you think it is worth re-signing Holmes?
On to some links:
Marvin Bagley has averaged less than 40 games over his three-year career. Although the former No. 2 overall pick has shown flashes, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz suggests trading Bagley to an Eastern Conference team this offseason will be a good move.
Haliburton looks to be the steal of the 2020 NBA Draft. The No. 12 pick is among the finalists for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award. (Sac Bee)