February 6, 2020, 9:17 pm
The Kings sat on Dewayne Dedmon’s trade request for a few weeks, and perhaps they were lucky to have done so. The free agent bust has recently cracked the rotation again with Sacramento’s rash of frontcourt injuries and lack of alternatives.
It’s possible that that recent run did just enough to pump Dedmon’s value back up around the league – people tend to throw anchors rather than lifesavers when you have no leverage – but the Hawks are familiar enough with Dedmon’s game that they can probably overlook a terrible few months and bank on the bigger picture.
That raises the question of exactly why Atlanta was so eager to acquire Dedmon at his new, inflated rate, especially a day after they brought in Clint Capela to become the team’s long-term starter at center. Odds are that the pair of second-round picks they received weren’t the tipping point.
In Jabari Parker and Alex Len, the Kings have a pair of former lottery picks to examine. The real motive, however, may become more obvious in the summer.
The status of impending RFA Bogdan Bogdanovic looms over Sacramento’s upcoming summer, and by dumping Dedmon and his $13.3 million salary and taking on Len’s expiring deal plus Parker’s $6.5 million option, the Kings have opened up an extra $7 million or so to work with.
The Kings were asking for a lot to part with Bogdanovic, unsure that they would be willing and able to match a huge offer sheet for a player who is ultimately the team’s sixth man. The recent change to start Bogdanovic and bring Buddy Hield off the bench may be a legitimate move or the Kings simply trying to massage egos in a tricky situation, but either way the team is far more inclined to put up as big a fight is necessary to retain Bogdanovic going forward.
The notion that the Kings needed this extra cash is a little misguided, however. Even if they renounce the $28 million cap hold on Kent Bazemore (duh) and other non-essential free agents, they’ll still be operating over the cap. Regardless of the money saved by this transaction, it changes nothing for the Kings and Bogdanovic from a salary cap perspective. If the savings open up space for a Bogdanovic extension in the organization’s internal budget, that’s one thing. But the Kings technically didn’t need to do this to make it happen, and insinuating as such glosses over the good work done in the trade.
It also more or less plants the seed that $7 million is somehow meeting the organization’s collective market price on pursuing a Bogdanovic extension, which is curious to say the least.
Anyway, the Kings clearly wanted to move on from Dedmon, and giving up just two bottom-10 picks in separate seasons to erase a big summertime mistake is a worthwhile endeavor. As far as jettisoning a player and contract that you obviously don’t want, the two picks conceded don’t make for much of a sweetener.
Now, for what the Kings actually brought in.
In Len, they’ll get a reserve center who figures to provide more spacing than Dedmon and his .197 mark from 3-point range did, though Len is a worse 3-point shooter than Dedmon over their respective careers. It would be a mistake if Len occupied a role larger than the one Dedmon leaves behind when the Kings are healthy, however, though the health of Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes obviously plays a major factor. An upcoming UFA, it’s highly likely that Len is only destined for a pit stop in Sacramento.
Parker’s a more intriguing player and is also far more likely to spend next year with the Kings given his current shoulder issues and a $6.5 million player option. He can be used as a go-to scorer off the bench, and while he doesn’t really fit the run-and-gun game that the Kings can thrive on, Luke Walton hasn’t seemed interested in exploring that further anyway. How Parker gets deployed in the forward rotation, which includes Bagley, Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica, Harry Giles and Bazemore – note, no true small forwards – probably determines the ultimate utility of the deal beyond getting Dedmon off the books.
This feels a lot like the recent trade of fellow free agent arrival Trevor Ariza, where the Kings worked their way out of a questionable deal by taking back similarly unwanted players from their trade partner.
Finagling your way out of bad moves is objectively good. Having to do it so frequently, and in this case so early into the journey, is probably more illuminating.