Grading the Sacramento Kings’ additions and subtractions
It’s been a quiet offseason for the Sacramento Kings. The team came into the summer with another high draft pick, but with very little cap room to spend. After running the team’s salary near the luxury tax threshold, general manager Pete D’Alessandro used a series of small moves to shave nearly $8.5 million off the books and put the team in solid financial shape.
But this was a 28-win team last season. Major upgrades at multiple positions were needed. The additions the Sacramento Kings made this summer appear conservative at best and their one major free agent departure may haunt them. With training camp opening on Sept. 27th, time is running out for a major roster shakeup. Have the Kings done enough to improve before the season?
After a year coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Clippers, Collison is getting another opportunity to run an NBA team. At 27-years-old, he is still young enough to make progress, but this is his fifth team in six seasons. Taking over for fan favorite Isaiah Thomas, Collison has big shoes to fill. He is a different style of guard than Thomas, but different doesn’t guarantee better. Sacramento wants to see Collison push the pace, distribute the ball and play tough defense. With only second-year guard Ray McCallum backing him up, the Sacramento Kings are counting on Collison to play major minutes this season as their starting point guard.
For a second-straight season, the Sacramento Kings added a shooting guard with their lottery pick. Stauskas can really shoot the ball, which instantly helps their offensive spacing. He has high basketball IQ and his ball-handling and passing skills add another dimension to the backcourt. Stauskas will face major competition for the starting job from 21-year-old Ben McLemore, but there is no one behind these two on the bench.
Casspi was an interesting addition by the Sacramento Kings, although he still hasn’t officially signed with the team. This is the second tour of duty in the capital city for the 26-year-old Israeli combo forward. The Kings want him to play the stretch four position and bomb away from the perimeter, but he will also get a shot to back up Rudy Gay at small forward. If Casspi can play his role as a 3-point specialist on offense and bring something different on the defensive end, then the Kings have a nice budget pick-up.
A late addition to the roster, Hollins is a veteran big man with defensive and shot-blocking skills. D’Alessandro likes to have an extra big man on the roster. The 7-footer out of UCLA is an upgrade over Hamady Ndiaye from last season and he also played with Collison last year in Los Angeles. Hollins is playing for his seventh team in eight years in the league, but you need insurance in the post during an 82-game schedule.
Moreland is a complete wild-card for the 2014-15 Sacramento Kings. He could make the team and play rotational minutes as a shot blocker, rebounder and defender. He could also get waived during camp or spend the season in Reno with the Bighorns. The Sacramento Kings loved what they saw from the 22-year-old undrafted free agent during summer league in Las Vegas and so did the fans. If he brings the same intensity and defensive presence to training camp and stays out of the way on offense, he has a shot.
Thomas was the heart and soul of last season’s Sacramento Kings squad, but the front office never saw him as a legitimate starter. The Phoenix Suns were more than happy to take the restricted free agent off their hands, signing him to a four-year, $27 million deal this summer. Coach Michael Malone needs Collison and the rest of his club to make up for the 20.3 points and 6.3 assists that Thomas put up a year ago.
Travis Outlaw, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray
Outside of Thomas, the Sacramento Kings losses were minimal. Outlaw played solid minutes at the shooting guard, small forward and stretch four positions last season, but not well enough to support his $3 million salary. Both Acy and Gray lost minutes down the stretch and have been replaced on the roster with players who are better fits.
The Sacramento Kings were at the luxury tax before making a series of cost-cutting moves. Outlaw and Acy were dealt to New York for Wayne Ellington and Jeremy Tyler, who were then waived. On Wednesday, Jason Terry was traded for the non-guaranteed contracts of Alonzo Gee and Scotty Hopson. Both Gee and Hopson are expected to be waived as well. After the signing of Hollins and Casspi, the Sacramento Kings should still have plenty of room under the luxury tax to work with and a $5.85 million trade exception. Don’t be surprised if D’Alessandro is aggressive again between now and the trade deadline.
The Sacramento Kings have left a lot unanswered coming into camp. Thomas is gone and Collison is in. Gay and Derrick Williams are in the final years of their contracts. The team has too many power forwards and only one veteran in the backcourt. The roster is still out of balance and there are holes to fill.
D’Alessandro took a conservative approach to the summer and set the team up again to be players at the deadline. But did he do enough to help coach Malone and his staff win more games?
With training camp just days away, how do you grade the Sacramento Kings’ offseason?