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Will the Kings bring back Chimezie Metu next season?

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The 23-year-old big man played some of the best basketball of his career late in the season.

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings will need to clear up their finances if they want to maintain the financial flexibility general manager Monte McNair has prioritized since being hired prior to the season.

The Kings have a little more than $98 million in guaranteed salaries on the books for next season. If you include Richaun Holmes’ $6.5 million free-agent hold and their incoming first-round pick’s contract, the team will be over the $112.8 million cap.

The good news is that Sacramento will have some assets to help add some depth to the roster. The Kings will have the $9.5 million midlevel exception plus $5.9 million in cash to send or receive in a trade.

Another avenue McNair could explore is guaranteeing the contract of a player like Chimezie Metu. The 23-year-old’s deal is non-guaranteed for the 2021-22 season, but he does have a couple of trigger dates. Metu’s contract has a clause that he will be paid $881,398 of the $1.76 million if he isn’t waived by Aug. 10. The contract becomes fully guaranteed if he isn’t waived by Dec. 1, per Spotrac.

Metu averaged 6.3 points and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 35.1 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season. He missed significant time after suffering a wrist injury in a Feb. 16 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Feb. 16.

With Sacramento missing several key players, Metu played some of the best basketball of his career during the stretch drive of the season. He averaged 10.3 points and 4.2 rebounds over his final 12 games and showed an improved outside jumper, something he’d flashed in the G League but not in the NBA. That allowed the Kings to play Metu at power forward in addition to center.

Like most of his teammates, Metu struggled on the defensive end. His 116.4 defensive rating was tied with rookie Tyrese Haliburton for the fifth-worst out of any Kings player who suited up for more than 20 games.

The Kings wanted to play faster during the regular season, and Metu helped in that aspect. Sacramento’s pace was higher when Metu was on the court, per NBA.com. Metu also looked more comfortable shooting the ball from beyond the arc. After only attempting four shots from outside the 3-point line over his first two NBA seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, Metu went 13-of-37 from deep with the Kings.

He proved to be an effective finisher at the rim as well, connecting on 78.9 percent of his shots from within three feet of the basket.

Metu still has plenty of room to improve, but he showed he could contribute at the pro level. McNair could retain the big man for cheap and give him the opportunity to earn some minutes next season.

What did you think of Metu’s time with the Kings? Would you like to see McNair bring him back for next season?