- DeMarcus Cousins ($13,701,250)
- Carl Landry ($6,500,000)
- Derrick Williams ($6,331,404)
- Jason Thompson ($6,037,500)
- Jason Terry ($5,850,313)
- Ben McLemore ($3,026,280)
- Travis Outlaw ($3,000,000)
- Reggie Evans ($1,768,653)
- Ray McCallum ($816,482)
- Rudy Gay ($19,317,326, Player)*
- Quincy Acy ($915,243)**
- Willie Reed ($915,243)
Free Agents / Cap Holds
- Aaron Gray ($5,112,663)
- Isaiah Thomas ($2,875,131 – QO)***
- No. 8 pick ($2,288,200)
- Jared Cunningham ($915,243)
- 1st Round (8th overall)
Guaranteed Salary: $47,031,882
Non-Guaranteed Salary: $1,830,486
Cap Holds: $11,766,262
You can say a lot of things about the Kings, but you can’t say they’re not aggressive. In December of last year, the Kings shipped Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson, and Chuck Hayes north of the border for Rudy Gay and spare parts. They made that trade even though Gay had become a human punching bag for his U.S. government level of inefficiency and had the ability to flee after the season. Even though they could go bust on their big gamble, they’re contemplating making an even bigger one.
If dealing for Gay while knowing that he could bounce months later was like playing roulette, gearing up to trade for Kevin Love without any assurances that he’ll re-sign would be like playing high-stakes roulette and craps at the same time. While other clubs would probably want a wink and a nod from a member of the All-Star’s entourage before making a deal, the Kings have no such reservations. The Kings have a rabid fan base supporting them and a new arena in the works, but what they don’t have is a proven winner. Banking on wooing Love to re-sign over the course of the season seems, well, crazy. On the other hand, one could argue that a small market team has to either make major gambles or tank in order to compete since they are disadvantaged in free agency. Forking over a package of young talent and draft picks for Love might be ill-advised, but shooting for the moon is a lot more entertaining than a string of sub-30-win seasons.
Even though they’re willing to take that risk, prying Love away from the Wolves won’t be all that simple as there are a number of teams circling like sharks. Still, according to at least one report, the Kings are the favorites in the Love sweepstakes. The Kings can build a package around the No. 8 pick, which the Wolves would reportedly use for either Julius Randle or Noah Vonleh. Beyond that, the Kings are said to be willing to throw in anything not nailed down or named DeMarcus Cousins. There might not be much of a supporting cast behind them, but a frontcourt of Gay, Cousins, and Love would do an awful lot of damage. Of course, with the Celtics, Lakers, Knicks, Warriors, Rockets, Cavs and Bulls working the phones, Love may wind up visiting California’s capital just once or twice next season.
So, back to the notable name that is more likely to be in purple and black next season. Gay seemed poise to take off his coat and stay a while back in January but he now appears to be waffling pretty hard on the matter. Not only is the small forward unsure of what he’s going to do, he’s unsure of the criteria that he’ll use to make his decision. Statistically speaking, Gay played the best basketball of his career during his Sacramento stint and one has to wonder if he could flourish the same way in a different system. He also won’t find teams lining up to throw money at him. As a player who hasn’t cracked the top ten of Hoops Rumors’ Free Agent Power Rankings, he’d be much better off in the short-term financially if he accepted his $19.3MM deal. Still, money alone won’t get it done and the Kings are bringing in the big guns – Chris Mullin and The Scorelord – to convince him to stay.
On top of that, the Kings also have a big decision to make when it comes to diminutive point guard Isaiah Thomas. The 5’9″ guard is a restricted free agent this summer and the Kings, unsurprisingly, will extend the $2.875MM qualifying offer to the fan favorite. Unfortunately for the Kings, their cap situation isn’t an ideal one as they have $47MM on the books without factoring in Gay’s option. Still, as long as things don’t get too out of hand, the Kings will keep their shoot-first point guard, whom they “think the world of.”
Jason Thompson, meanwhile, is under contract for another three seasons, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if he asks out. The pride of Rider University signed a five-year, $30MM deal two summers ago when he figured to be a cornerstone of the Kings’ lineup. This past season, he saw his role decrease to the point where he lost his starting job in March. The Kings are probably open to moving Thompson for a number of reasons. Thompson is one of the veteran holdovers from the Geoff Petrie era and seeing as how the club’s new regime deported Salmons and Hayes, it stands to reason that they could do the same with Thompson. The big man is also making $6MM a season, money that could be better allocated elsewhere. And, even if Love isn’t Sacramento-bound, they have two other power forward options in the returning Carl Landry and former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams (hey, I didn’t say great options, I just said options). It’s not clear exactly what they could get for him in a deal where he’s the featured piece, though it’s a safe bet that any deal for Love or another similarly high-salaried star would include Thompson in the package. Teams won’t be lighting up the phones to get him, but he does represent a very realistic reclamation project.
There are, of course, other trade pieces outside of Thompson. Williams still hasn’t realized his potential (and maybe he never will) , but he’s still only 23 years old and has upside. With a $6.3MM expiring deal, a team could acquire Williams without making a commitment to him beyond next season. The cost, in a simple one-for-one trade, could be as little as a second rounder. The Kings could also free up space by trading Jason Terry, or, more accurately, Terry’s contract. Unfortunately, the soon-to-be 37-year-old has been slowed down by injuries and could choose to retire or try and come back next season and play limited minutes. Terry’s deal, which ends after next season, is probably only intriguing to trade suitors as an expiring contract, so Sacramento would likely have to take back long-term money to ship Terry out.
Kings fans got the owner that they wanted, and a shiny new arena where they can cheer on their team is on its way. Now, they want to see a winner. Sacramento can do a lot of great things with their core, but they’ll have to augment it in the coming months in order to build a .500+ team for 2014/15.
* — If Gay opts out, his cap hold would be the greater of $18,783,379 or the maximum salary for a player with between seven and nine years of experience. That maximum was $16,441,500 this past season, so it’s a near-certainty that Gay’s cap hold would be $18,783,379 if he opts out.
** — Acy’s salary becomes fully guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before July 25th.
*** — GM Pete D’Alessandro has stated his intention to tender a qualifying offer to Thomas, but if he changes his mind, the cap hold for Thomas would be $915,243.