Why Jimmer Fredette no longer made sense for the Sacramento Kings

Jimmer Fredette makes his move against Alex Len of the Phoenix Suns. (Photo: Tobin Halsey)

In less than a year on the job, Pete D’Alessandro has completely reshaped the Sacramento Kings.  After today’s buyout of Jimmer Fredette, only DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Jason Thompson and Travis Outlaw remain from last season’s team.  The Geoff Petrie era is all but a faint memory.

D’Alessandro’s moves have added athleticism and talent to a team that has been absolutely abysmal on the floor for the more than a half decade.  From both a financial and a basketball standpoint, the moves have made sense on some level.  But it’s difficult to place the Jimmer news in that category.

“This was a very tough decision, but we’re confident that the agreement reached today represents the most productive path forward, both for Jimmer and the Kings,” D’Alessandro said of Jimmer’s buyout in the Kings’ official press release. “Echoing a sentiment that everyone who knows him appreciates about Jimmer, he’s a tremendous person and a consummate professional. We thank him for the meaningful contributions he made to the team and in the Sacramento community. On behalf of an entire organization, we wish him nothing but great success in the future.”

The harsh reality is that the Kings have picked in the NBA lottery for seven straight seasons and only Cousins, Thompson and rookie Ben McLemore are left from those drafts.  Jimmer joins the ranks of Spencer Hawes, Tyreke Evans and Thomas Robinson as failed experiments for Sacramento’s fans.

After nearly three years  in a Kings uniform, we are left with more questions than answers when it comes to Jimmer Fredette.

Why didn’t Jimmer fit the Sacramento Kings?

This is a conundrum, a head-scratcher and a perplexing failure of so many.  In 2011, Jimmer finished his senior year at BYU as one of the most decorated players in NCAA history.  After averaging 28.9 points per game in his final college season, Petrie and then-coach Paul Westphal chased Jimmer for his ability to shoot and his potential fit as a player next to Tyreke Evans.  For long-time followers of the Kings, the hope was that Jimmer and Evans would become a version of the Mike Bibby and Doug Christie backcourt from the Kings’ hey day.

The combination never materialized as the duo was a bad fit from the beginning.  Neither player was used to playing without the ball in his hands and that was just the on-court issues.

Adding to the dysfunction on the floor, Jimmer was caught in a perfect storm of instability.  After an extended lockout that ate away most of the offseason, preseason and training camp, Westphal was relieved of his duties just seven games into an abbreviated, 66-game season.  You can add in all of the relocation drama involving Sacramento as well.  The Kings were a mess from day one.

When Keith Smart took over the helm, he quickly turned to Thomas as his starting point guard.  Coming into year two, Petrie brought in Aaron Brooks to compete with Thomas, leaving Jimmer as a third option at point.  With shooting guard overloaded with Evans and Marcus Thornton, there were not enough minutes for everyone to play.

This season has never been about wins and losses.  It has been about rebuilding the culture of the Kings and rebuilding the roster on the fly.  That meant playing players for the sake of increasing their trade value.  We saw this with Thornton, Greivis Vasquez  and even Luc Mbah a Moute.  The term “showcase” is now part of the Kings media vernacular.

Why buy him out?

This decision was made on Oct. 31 when the Kings decided decline Jimmer’s fourth year option.  His departure was an inevitable at that point.  Either the Kings were going to trade Jimmer, buy him out or he would walk at the end of the season.

Buying Jimmer out does a couple of things.  First, it allows Jimmer to shop his services now and possibly catch on with a playoff team or a team with a major need at guard.  He will get an audition of sorts that may lead to something bigger this summer.

For the Kings, it allows them an opportunity to give major minutes to rookies Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum.  It also gives them the chance to look at a player like Orlando Johnson or possibly Trent Lockett, who is currently playing for the Reno Bighorns.  Sacramento knew Jimmer wasn’t going to be a member of the Kings next season and it was time to look at different types of players to see how they fit with the team’s core.

Did Jimmer get a fair shot in Sacramento?

This might be the most commonly asked question we have heard over the last few weeks.  The easy answer is no.  But the NBA isn’t little league and not every player gets to play.  You have to create your own fortunes in the NBA, which is something that Isaiah Thomas has done time and time again.

Jimmer was the tenth pick in the 2011 draft, while Thomas was the 60th.  Both of them have played through the exact same instability in their three years in Sacramento.  The difference is that one of the two was just bought out of his contract while the other is looking at a huge payday at the end of the season.

You can spin that information any way you want, but for whatever reason, Jimmer was never able to gain traction in Sacramento.  He leaves with an incomplete grade because he neither truly failed, nor succeeded in a Kings uniform.

What does all of this mean?

It means that after a 48-hour waiver window, Jimmer is free to go wherever he pleases.  For the first time in his professional career, he can look for a team that fits his style of play and has a need for what he brings to the table.

Not only can Jimmer shoot the ball at an elite level, but he is one of the best citizens the league has to offer.  He comes with an incredible independent fanbase that supports him both in the cyber world and at the turnstyles.

The Kings weren’t going to play Jimmer, so they did the best thing they could possibly do for the 25-year guard.  They set him free.


James Ham

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