June 11, 2018, 11:57 pm
The upcoming unrestricted free agent market has a few major names that will entice teams. However, most of the major names aren’t expected to move from their current team.
Kevin Durant has already pledged his allegiance to the Golden State Warriors and that became even more certain after they won the championship again, and Chris Paul seems destined to return to the Houston Rockets on a max deal. Those two guys were never going to be attainable for the Kings anyway, so we can sweep them under the rug. A familiar face in DeMarcus Cousins is also on the unrestricted market, but a return to Sacramento seems unlikely at this stage.
The Kings could have as much as $24 million in cap space to work with if they renounce both Vince Carter and Bruno Caboclo, who currently have cap holds of $16.9 million combined. Kosta Koufos and Iman Shumpert have already opted into their contracts for next season, and the Kings are still waiting on Garrett Temple’s decision regarding his $8 million player option.
Sacramento should have significant cap space to work with regardless and, outside of the three names mentioned earlier, there are some players worth looking at once free agency begins on July 1.
Hoop Ball’s Jon Schifferle went over some restricted free agent options for the Kings. You can read that HERE.
We’re going to run through the pros and cons of a handful of upcoming unrestricted free agents. Players with pending player/team options have not been considered.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – G
2017-18 averages: 74 G | 74 GS | 33.2 MP | 13.4 PTS | 5.2 REB | 2.2 AST | 1.4 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.3 TOV | 42.6 FG% | 38.3 3P% | 78.9 FT% |
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a surprisingly good campaign with the Lakers last season. He was a restricted free agent last summer and didn’t receive much interest on the market. He was renounced by the Pistons and that led to him signing a one-year deal with Los Angeles.
His scoring was down, but he had his most efficient season to date and that’s notable. Caldwell-Pope was inconsistent during his time with the Pistons and that was likely a big reason why they decided to move on. His 42.6 percent clip from the field and 38.3 percent mark from three were both career-highs. The Lakers play with pace, much more so than the Pistons, and Caldwell-Pope seemed to fit well in a system that is looking to push the ball on offense.
KCP’s overall numbers won’t blow anyone away, but he did more good than bad last season and that’s certainly commendable for a guy who’s been criticized frequently during his short time in the league. His offense is reliable and he’s above average defensively. On a poor defensive team like the Lakers it’s hard to gauge how effective he really is, but he’s got a decent reputation in that department and won’t hurt the team too much there.
Caldwell-Pope is better off scoring in transition and on spot-up jumpers. The negative aspects of his play start to creep in when he tries to do too much with the ball. He operates in a similar fashion to Kings guard Buddy Hield. Hield is probably better at creating his shot and is a better shooter overall, but Caldwell-Pope isn’t too far behind and brings more defensively to the table than Hield.
Why shouldn’t the Kings consider Caldwell-Pope in free agency? The team already has a few solid options on the wing. The aforementioned Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic seemingly have the two-guard locked down for the foreseeable future. Iman Shumpert recently decided to pick up his player option for next season so he’ll be on the squad, and Garrett Temple has until the end of June to decide on his option. That’s potentially four shooting guards already on the roster, and if the Kings draft someone like Luka Doncic that position only becomes more crowded.
The players mentioned above could all potentially slide between the two wing spots and so could Caldwell-Pope; it could still work if the team wanted it too. Pursuing KCP should only be on the table if the Kings go for a big man in the draft and another guard or two is moved prior to free agency.
With the team’s current makeup, adding Caldwell-Pope doesn’t make a ton of sense. However, he’s still an option should the Kings make a few moves during the offseason.
Derrick Favors – F/C
2017-18 averages: 77 G | 77 GS | 28.0 MP | 12.3 PTS | 7.2 REB | 1.3 AST | 0.7 STL | 1.1 BLK | 1.1 TOV | 56.3 FG% | 22.2 3P% | 65.1 FT% |
After an injury-impacted 2016-17 campaign, Derrick Favors took a promising step towards returning to form last season. His numbers were pretty much up across the board and he managed a career-high in field goal percentage. Favors spent a lot of time next to Rudy Gobert and together they formed an intimidating defensive front line.
The jury is still out as to whether Favors can get back to the form he displayed from 2014-16, but he showed enough last season to give potential teams some hope. He’s still just 26 years old and a team like the Kings could probably afford to take a chance on him.
Favors is likely looking for a long-term deal, much like Caldwell-Pope, so the Kings would have to offer him multiple years. Money wise he’s probably after more than $10 million per season, and this seems reasonable given his increased productivity last season. It’ll likely come down to whether he wants to chase a championship with a contender, which would mean taking a pay cut, or whether he’s wanting to cash in on a bigger deal.
Where would Favors fit in with the Kings? The team already has Skal Labissiere, Zach Randolph, Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos and Harry Giles as their frontcourt options, so Favors would be taking the playing time of one or two of those guys. If the Kings go with a big man in the draft, you can pretty much rule out Favors as a possibility because of the log-jam it would create.
However, if the Kings decide to move one of their young big men and maybe the contract of Randolph, playing time will automatically present itself to a player like Favors and he presumably slots straight into a starting spot. Whilst Giles is on track to play next season, it’s a stretch to expect major minutes out of him straight away. The team will likely continue to instill patience and bring him along slowly.
Much like the Caldwell-Pope situation, a few different factors will have to be considered before adding a frontcourt option such as Favors. Nonetheless, there is some intrigue in adding a guy like him because of his age and what he can potentially do for a team.
Mario Hezonja – G/F
2017-18 averages: 75 G | 30 GS | 22.1 MP | 9.6 PTS | 3.7 REB | 1.4 AST | 1.1 STL | 0.4 BLK | 1.1 TOV | 44.2 FG% | 33.7 3P% | 81.9 FT% |
The former fifth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft finally made some strides last season, however, his improved play came after the Orlando Magic declined his fourth-year player option for 2018-19. This means he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer and will be free to sign with any team he desires, if interest is mutual, of course.
In February (11 games) he posted averages of 15.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 27.6 minutes per game. He shot an impressive 46.2 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from three. Hezonja was not only a knockdown shooter, but he showed an ability to get to the rim and create his own shot. In April, Hezonja was impressive yet again with averages of 13.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 30.2 minutes per game (seven games) on 42.5 percent shooting and 42.1 percent from three.
After his strong conclusion to the season the Magic are probably best inclined to bring him back, but Hezonja may be ready to move onto another team that could utilize his skill set more effectively. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee mentioned that Hezonja could be an option for the Kings this summer, so there is history, to a degree, between the two sides.
From the Bee:
“The Kings need size on the perimeter, and a target is likely to be Mario Hezonja,” said Jones. “He’s the kind of player the Kings could land on a short-term deal and figures to be a high priority. He has fans in Sacramento’s front office, and is still only 23.”
He won’t be incredibly expensive to obtain for Sacramento and could be worth a gamble. He probably wouldn’t eat into Bogdanovic or Hield’s minutes, it would more so be the minutes of Justin Jackson and the minutes Vince Carter has left behind. At 6-foot-8, he’s more than capable of playing small forward and is probably better suited there anyway. Does he fit well next to the current two-guards on the roster? Potentially. They’re all somewhat similar players but with the limited shooting at point guard and in the frontcourt, having scorers on the wing would be optimal for the Kings.
Of the options mentioned above, Hezonja could actually make the most sense and he’ll almost certainly be the cheapest. He’s someone worth keeping an eye on during the free agency period, and don’t be surprised if you hear his name linked to the Kings.
May 29, 2020, 7:43 pmEric GordonSG, Houston Rockets
Rockets guard Eric Gordon has improved his diet, focused on sprints, and has apparently shed 12 pounds in the process, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
Gordon has battled knee ailments for essentially his whole career and has dealt with his fair share of nagging injuries this season as well. Losing weight to create a lighter frame would seem sensible, especially with the knee issues. The Rockets, remember, fully adopted the "small ball" lineup and move fast so Gordon is smart to keep his endurance and fitness at high levels. He's going to have to play well and make shots for the Rockets when the NBA returns to action, otherwise coach Mike D'Antoni won't be able to justify giving Gordon minutes. We don't anticipate much fantasy value out of him if and when the league starts back up.
Source: The Athletic
May 29, 2020, 6:03 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that the NBA is planning for a Board of Governors vote on Thursday, during which they are expected to approve Adam Silver's proposal for re-starting the season in Orlando.
The trend lines are all moving in this direction, and this adds another bullet point on the schedule as the league prepares for launching games on July 31. Adam Silver has been able to bridge any divides between ownership and the players, and has been taking into account all his key constituent's views as we approach approval of a plan for moving forward. We still have plenty of items to resolve before we see game action, but the NBA is gaining momentum as these details come into place.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 4:44 pmBradley BealSG, Washington Wizards
On Friday, the Wizards resumed holding voluntary workouts at their practice facilities.
The Wizards have joined a chorus of teams that are returning in limited capacities to their facilities at this point. The NBA as a whole is continuing its march towards the resumption of play with a target date of July 31 now established. The District of Columbia also entered phase one of reopening today, and it makes sense for the team to proceed on a similar trajectory.
Source: Candace Buckner on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 4:03 pmJulius RandlePF, New York Knicks
Part of the Knicks' off-season thinking is to shape the roster around RJ Barrett, and it unclear where Julius Randle will fit in those plans.
Barrett and Randle have similar offensive styles, as they typically have an advantage relying upon their strength to attack the basket, but neither has a component deep ball at this stage in their careers. As Barrett is the younger option it makes sense that the Knicks want to sign shooters to give him more space to operate with. Randle's lousy percentages and turnovers has made for a disappointing season with the Knicks thus far, and Barrett will also need to make some strides in the shooting department to become a 12-team asset. Randle is under contract for next season is owed at least $4,000,000 in 2021-22.
May 29, 2020, 3:46 pmJayson TatumSF, Boston Celtics
On Friday, the Celtics' announced that their practice facilities would reopen on June 1.
That leaves us with four NBA teams without access to their facilities. Things are beginning to accelerate throughout the league as teams ramp up activities in hopes of resuming competition in Orlando on July 31. So far so good, but the NBA still has many hurdles to overcome on the path to resuming the season.
Source: Celtics PR on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 3:40 pmRJ BarrettSF, New York Knicks
The Knicks reopened their practice facility for voluntary workouts on Friday.
Another step in the right direction for the NBA's return to action at the end of July. It's still unclear if the Knicks will even be involved in whatever plan is agreed upon, but it is good to learn that the players can now access their facilities in New York. Only five team facilities have not opened up in some capacity at this point.
Source: Knicks PR on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 3:15 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
On a call with the Board of Governors on Friday, Adam Silver and the league office confirmed July 31 as a target date for the resumption of the NBA season, according to a report from Shams Charania.
We have to imagine that this is just one of the possible options on the table, as the league still has much to figure out. Charania adds that the league has four scenarios for the return: 16 teams move directly to the playoffs, 20 teams engage in group/stage play, 22 teams have games to determine seeding with a play-in tournament, and all 30 teams reconvene for a 72-game season with a play-in tournament. It's seemed unlikely that we'll have a full 30-team return given the stated priorities for player safety. There are still tons of logistical hurdles to clear but the NBA is getting its ducks in a row for a potential return.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
May 27, 2020, 9:06 pmAndre IguodalaSF, Miami Heat
Andre Iguodala returned to South Florida after living in California since the NBA season was suspended.
Iguodala returning to the market where his team is could mean that he believes team workouts will begin soon. However, there is no official timetable on when team workouts will begin and Jimmy Butler has yet to return to Miami.
Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter
May 27, 2020, 7:52 pmZach LaVineSG, Chicago Bulls
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Bulls were cleared by the Governor of Illinois and are in talks with city officials to open practice facilities on Friday for voluntary workouts that would follow the NBA guidelines.
The NBA's guidelines currently state that a maximum of four players are allowed in the facility at any given time and there can only be one player per hoop. The Bulls are currently eight games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls may not play again this season given how far behind they are in the standings and the recent reports of proposals to not continue the regular season.
Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter
May 27, 2020, 7:08 pmLuka DoncicPG-SF, Dallas Mavericks
Marc Stein of the New York Times has reported that the Mavs plan to open their practice facility on Thursday.
This news would make the Mavs the 23rd team to have their facilities open for "voluntary and socially distanced player workouts". Continue to monitor the wire as we should learn more about the potential of the league resuming in early June.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter