The Sacramento Kings are focusing on improving one specific area this offseason. Head coach Luke Walton and general manager Monte McNair both alluded to the importance of becoming better on the defensive end next season.
The Kings were awful at that end during the 2020-21 campaign. Sacramento had the highest defensive rating of any team in NBA history. That will obviously have to change if the franchise hopes to end its 15-year postseason drought.
McNair was busy at the trade deadline and acquired three players who helped on the defensive end. The Kings’ defensive rating improved by 3.7 points per 100 possessions after trading for Terence Davis, Delon Wright, and Moe Harkless, per NBA.com.
Two of those three players are up for new contracts this offseason. Sacramento holds Davis’ early bird rights, while Harkless can hit the open market.
The 28-year-old Harkless averaged 6.9 points and 2.9 rebounds during his 26-game stint with the Kings. Although his offensive numbers aren’t anything to write home about, Harkless did have an impact on the defensive end.
His 113.3 defensive rating ranked fourth out of any Sacramento player who averaged more than 20 minutes per game. Harkless’ minus-1.5 net rating was second only to Richaun Holmes of any player on the roster who played significant minutes.
McNair has preached that he wants to maintain financial flexibility while the Kings try and add some pieces around their two building blocks in De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. Retaining a player like Harkless would help the team accomplish that goal for the short term.
Harkless earned $3.6 million last season. His minutes with Sacramento increased due to the plethora of injuries the team suffered down the stretch, but he has shown he can be a serviceable bench player who can contribute on both ends of the floor.
The one area Harkless needs to improve is his outside shooting. He shot just 24.7 percent from deep last season, which is eight percent lower than his career average. Harkless shot 58.2 percent inside the line, which was slightly above the league average last season.
Harkless isn’t a flashy player, but he would provide Walton with some veteran depth next season. The Kings have decisions to make when it comes to Holmes, Davis and Hassan Whiteside this offseason. But if Harkless is willing to re-sign on a cheap deal, he could be an ideal fit.
Do you think McNair should try and re-sign Harkless?