Offseason In Review: Sacramento Kings

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2016 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2016/17 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Sacramento Kings.

Free agent signings:

Camp invitees:


Draft picks:

Waiver claims:

  • Claimed Lamar Patterson off waivers from Hawks. Later waived and re-signed him for D-League rights purposes.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Check out our salary cap snapshot for the Sacramento Kings right here.

It’s not a good sign when the defining moment of your offseason involves your franchise player tweeting, “Lord give me the strength.”Oct 27, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Arron Afflalo (40) during the game against the San Antonio Spurs at Golden 1 Center. The Spurs won the game 102-94. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

That was the reaction of All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins after the Kings used their No. 13 pick on Greek center Georgios Papagiannis. Cousins later explained away his tweet, saying he was talking about yoga and it was bad timing that the comment hit social media right after Sacramento made its selection.

Whether that’s true or not, Cousins has a history of being critical of the organization, and the Kings have given him plenty of material during his seven years in the NBA. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2005/06 and their 33 wins last season were the most since Cousins arrived in Sacramento.

But there is some optimism bubbling around the franchise, stemming from a group of veteran additions and a coaching change that brought in former Grizzlies boss Dave Joerger. The Kings gave Joerger a four-year, $16MM deal to try and change the culture of the organization and erase the memories of George Karl, who had an ongoing battle with Cousins from the time he was hired.

Joerger won five championships as a minor league coach and was a respected assistant before taking over as head coach in Memphis in 2013/14. He had a 147-99 record and three playoff appearances in three seasons with the Grizzlies, but was fired in May at the end of an injury-plagued campaign. He was only out of work for two days before the Kings scooped him up.

Sacramento was aggressive in free agency for the second straight offseason, trying to assemble a group of veteran players to complement Cousins and small forward Rudy Gay. The Kings bolstered the backcourt with the signings of Arron Afflalo (two years at $25MM) and Garrett Temple (three years at $24MM). They also added toughness by inking veteran small forward Matt Barnes for two seasons at $12.26MM. In addition, well-traveled combo forward Anthony Tolliver was brought in at $16MM over two years.

The Kings had to rebuild their backcourt after losing league assists leader Rajon Rondo to the Bulls in free agency. They decided to give the point guard job to holdover Darren Collison, who is missing the first eight games of the season with a suspension relating to a domestic violence case, and signed Ty Lawson to a non-guaranteed one-year, minimum salary deal to be his backup. Lawson has a lot to prove after being traded out of Denver, waived by Houston and then not re-signed by Indiana, all in the space of a year.

One of Sacramento’s 2015 signees, veteran swingman Marco Belinelli, was traded to Charlotte for the draft rights to Syracuse shooting guard Malachi Richardson, the No. 22 selection this year. Belinelli was a productive reserve for the Kings in 2015/16, averaging 10.2 points per night in 68 games, but his 3-point shooting percentage plunged to a career-low .306.

Of course, that wasn’t Sacramento’s most controversial trade of the summer. That deal, which may or may not have prompted Cousins’ tweet, came on draft night when the Kings sent the rights to No. 8 pick Marquese Chriss, an athletic power forward out of Washington, to the Suns in exchange for Papagiannis at No. 13, Kentucky center Skal Labissiere at No. 28, the draft rights to Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and a 2020 second-rounder that originally belonged to the Pistons.

It was a curious move from a franchise that drafted 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein in the first round the year before and already had Cousins and Kosta Koufos manning the middle. The Kings used the 59th pick of the draft on Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins, who was later waived.

Sacramento is entering another season with Cousins and Gay as its foundation, but it’s anybody’s guess how long they’ll be around. Gay, who averaged 17.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 70 games last season, has already announced that he plans to opt out of his current deal next summer and won’t re-sign with the Kings. The 12th-year small forward is making $13,333,333 this season and figures to get a nice-sized raise in free agency. Gay seems like a good bet to be dealt during the season so the Kings don’t wind up with nothing, and Miami has already emerged as a rumored trading partner.

Cousins is signed through the 2017/18 season, but the clock may be ticking on his time in Sacramento as well. For all his on-court success, the 26-year-old has clashed with coaches and management throughout his stay with the team and may have the same attitude as Gay once he begins to see his freedom. Cousins will make nearly $17MM this season, more than $18MM next season and seems like a lock for a max contract after that. Sacramento may have to start seriously considering offers soon, as Cousins’ trade value will only decline as he gets closer to free agency.

There are plenty of mixed feelings surrounding the Kings as they embark on a new season. The hiring of Joerger, the addition of the veteran free agents and the opening of an impressive new arena called Golden 1 Center are all signs that the franchise is looking up. However, the impending loss of Gay and the possible exit of Cousins after that could devastate the franchise. If the front office loses both players without acquiring some new stars, they will be the ones who will need divine intervention.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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One thought on “Offseason In Review: Sacramento Kings

  1. smittybanton

    for all the media narrative, the Kings have made fairly solid moves the last two years. Vlade paying the Sixers to get rid of Stauskas and Landry and Thompson has been vindicated so far. Neither of three has done a thing since Sacramento. The Sixers haven’t swapped picks with them, and it doesn’t look like the Kings will have a worse record than the Sixers this year, either.

    The value of the 2019 pick depends entirely on whether they can keep Demarcus.

    And towards that, they’ve made a coaching hire and signed decent free agents. Ben McLemore is coming around. They also drafted three centers in case Boogie leaves.

    Not horrible.


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