The Summer of 2022 has been a year of great change for the Sacramento Kings. With many reports of GM Monte McNair still actively looking for moves to make, he went ahead and made one today that will likely fly under many people’s radars.
As reported by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Kings have signed free agent forward KZ Okpala to a 2-year deal according to his agent Aaron Mintz of CAA. Filling one of Sacramento’s last few open roster spots.
Free agent forward KZ Okpala has reached an agreement on a two-year deal with the Sacramento Kings, his agent Aaron Mintz of CAA tells @YahooSports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 15, 2022
The 23-year-old forward first entered the league in 2019 when he was drafted with the 32nd overall pick by the Miami Heat. Though he was unable to get a lot of playing time in South Beach, he had an opportunity to showcase his talent when playing for Kings coaches Mike Brown and Jordi Fernandez on the Nigerian National team.
Okpala, who is 6-foot-10 in shoes and has a 7-foot-2 wingspan to go along with a 37-inch vertical leap, has all of the physical abilities to be a disruptive presence on defense. He does not have the eye-popping stats that many fans look for in a new member of their team, but he does have the praise of a four-time NBA champion coach in Brown.
The Sacramento Kings are signing KZ Okpala to a two-year deal, per @ChrisBHaynes. Okpala played for Kings coach Mike Brown on Nigerian National Team.— Cameron Salerno (@cameronsalerno1) July 15, 2022
Brown said in 2021: “KZ is a remarkable talent. He can be a defensive player of the year candidate..." pic.twitter.com/y1k20LvfRF
In an interview last year, Brown raved about Okpala’s talent and commitment on the defensive side of the ball. He even stated that Okpala could make a run at DPOY with the right improvements to his game. As everyone knows, the Kings were atrocious on defense last season, ranking 27th in defensive rating. However, with Brown’s defensive mindset that made the Golden State Warriors a defensive nightmare last season and additions like Okpala, that ranking is going to skyrocket.
With his preexisting relationship with the coaching staff and skills that fill major needs on Sacramento’s roster, Okapala couldn’t have landed in a better situation. This pickup could be one to look back on when the Kings prove their doubters wrong next season.