What’s up next for the Sacramento Kings’ 2014 offseason?
The first shoe has dropped in the Sacramento Kings’ 2014 offseason. On Thursday night, the Kings stood pat and drafted Nik Stauskas out of the University of Michigan with the eighth overall pick. Stauskas addresses several areas of weakness for the Kings, particularly shooting, playmaking and basketball IQ.
When it comes to remaking the roster ahead of the 2014-15 season, the franchise isn’t done yet. The addition of Stauskas is just the beginning of what will surely be an eventful offseason for the Kings.
Figuring out what to do about Isaiah Thomas
Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro said the franchise’s next priority this offseason is deciding what to do about the 25-year-old point guard. After three seasons in the league, Thomas is set to hit free agency for the first time in his career on Tuesday. The Kings have made him a restricted free agent by offering him a qualifying offer worth approximately $1.1 million. This means they own the right of first refusal to match any offer he signs with another team in the open market.
The Kings would like to keep Thomas depending on his price. Multiple reports have suggested his annual salary could range anywhere from $4-6 million. If he signs a contract above that range, the Kings have to consider going above the league’s luxury tax next season, which is projected to be around $77 million.
After the draft on Thursday night, D’Alessandro said that they’ve had a number of conversations about potentially adding another veteran point guard to the roster. Earlier in the week, Sam Amick of USA Today Sports reported that the Kings might have interest in veteran guard Shaun Livingston, who will hit the free agent market on Tuesday as well. Regardless of a purported interest in Livingston, their desire to retain the last overall pick of the 2011 draft does not change, so long as the price is right.
“I think as we look into free agency, we have a really good point guard in Isaiah right now who will be restricted,” D’Alessandro said. “And so we feel that we’re gonna have to be very strong in free agency with him. And then we’ll kind of look and see how we can fill in some gaps.”
Adding big man depth
The Kings don’t have a shortage of big men on their roster. As they stand today, the Kings have six bigs under contract for next year in DeMarcus Cousins, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, Reggie Evans, Quincy Acy and Derrick Williams. However, Cousins and Thompson are the only two bigs that come close to scratching 7-feet.
Following the draft, D’Alessandro said that after Thomas, the Kings’ next priority is to add more size to their roster. Considering that Cousins is not known for blocking shots and that the organization has several bigs who provide energy and rebounding, it’s no surprise that D’Alessandro has gone on record saying they’d like to bring in a rim protector. Adding a big man with length who can contest shots would also address the lack of perimeter defenders the Kings have in their backcourt.
If they re-sign Thomas and aren’t interested in paying a luxury tax bill this year, the Kings will explore their big man options on the trade market. Considering the frustration he experienced this past season, Thompson’s name is likely to continue surfacing in trade rumors the rest of this summer. The 27-year-old forward was most recently attached in a proposed deal for Josh Smith of the Detroit Pistons.
Don’t be surprised if Landry’s name pops up in talks as well. There is a sense of buyer’s remorse among some in the organization after signing the 30-year-old forward to a four-year deal, estimated at roughly $26 million last summer. Landry appeared in just 18 games this past season after suffering a myriad of injuries, beginning with a torn hip flexor last October.
More activity to come
After hearing plenty of conjecture leading up to the draft, many fans were understandably disappointed when the Kings stood pat. However, they were actively engaged in a bevy of conversations that could eventually yield deals as the offseason plays itself out.
“The great thing about the draft is you’re so active, (but) it’s all this talking that doesn’t actually happen,” D’Alessandro said. “But trades happen on the second or third ripple and that’s, in my experience, the way it’s been. So draft day and trade deadline, those are fantastic for getting things done. But those are fantastic for planting the seed for a future deal.”
A major move may not have been made on draft night, but there’s still plenty of time for another shoe to drop before the start of the Kings’ next season.
Updated 5:23 pm: Story changed to reflect that power forward Willie Reed was cut by the Kings. Real GM was first to report.