- DeMarcus Cousins ($15,851,950)
- Rudy Gay ($12,403,101)
- Carl Landry ($6,500,000)
- Jason Thompson ($6,431,250)
- Darren Collison ($5,013,559)
- Ben McLemore ($3,156,600)
- Nik Stauskas ($2,869,440)
- (Wayne Ellington $882,630)1
Restricted Free Agents/Cap Holds
Unrestricted Free Agents/Cap Holds
- Guaranteed Salary: $53,108,530
- Non-Guaranteed Salary: $2,637,394
- Options: $0
- Cap Holds: $29,537,201
- Total: $85,283,125
For the ninth straight time, the Kings suffered a losing season and failed to make the playoffs. The hope, from Sacramento’s perspective, is that the team will finally take a quantum leap forward in its long rebuilding process. Time, however, is running out for that procedure to include star DeMarcus Cousins, who lately has been the subject of a bevy of trade rumors. This offseason is a particularly important one for the Kings because of the front office shakeup the franchise experienced and the fact they will be playing their last season at the old arena before moving into their new downtown arena in the fall of 2016.
Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
While the Kings have seven players under guaranteed contracts for next season, that doesn’t mean they necessarily have depth, and they are without several areas that are in need of improvement. Cousins is locked in for three more seasons for a total of $47MM, and he had a terrific year, with averages of 24.1 points per game and 12.7 rebounds per game. He will turn 25 going into the 2015/16 seasons, with his first five seasons in the league ending without a playoff appearance. Yet despite four consecutive draft lottery selections, the Kings are yet to find a secondary star with the ability to support Cousins.
This might be the season the Kings ditch him and move in an entirely different direction, according to recent reports that claim coach George Karl has an intense desire for the Kings to trade him. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports Karl and some members of the team’s front office have expressed to executives and coaches from other teams that they hope to have owner Vivek Ranadive’s blessing to trade the All-Star soon.
Ranadive and vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac have insisted time and again that the team has no plans to trade Cousins, however, according to Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Divac has said the team is looking for players who will complement Cousins’ skills.
“That is not happening,” Divac said about the possibility of moving Cousins, “but I would love to do something, a smaller move, before the draft. We have a lot of changes to make. The league is much more up-tempo now, and we need more three-point shooting. If we don’t get that in the draft, we’ll be active in free agency and see about making trades later in the offseason.”
Still, the Lakers, Celtics, Knicks and Nuggets have been tied to Cousins as potential suitors and trade partners. The Nuggets’ interest is tied to the fact that both Denver’s coach and GM were let go by the Kings. The Nuggets have been increasingly viewed as a team likely to go after Cousins since Denver’s hiring of ex-Kings coach Michael Malone this month, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
The idea that he might be on the block was ignited earlier this season amid Sacramento’s pair of midseason coaching changes. Cousins, who connected with Malone, released a statement expressing support for then-candidate Karl. The Kings also hired Divac late in the season and displaced GM Pete D’Alessandro, who’s now with the Nuggets. Cousins has asked not to be traded, as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee notes (Twitter link).
Cousins has privately feared that Karl wanted him out, especially after Karl’s remark in April that he’s never had one player who would be untradeable, tweets Jones. One player that Karl would reportedly like to have replace Cousins is free agent big man JaVale McGee, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). McGee previously played for Karl in Denver.
For now, at the very least, Cousins is on the Kings, and small forward Rudy Gay is his partner on the perimeter, with three years and $40MM left on his deal. Gay, too, has been a subject of trade rumors. Kings executives believe it’ll be tough to find value for Cousins and believe they have a better chance to find the right trade for Gay, according to Wojnarowski in the aforementioned piece. Sacramento is pursuing trades for Gay and the rest of its roster, Wojnarowski reports.
Cousins and Gay aside, the Kings do not have much else in terms of dependable talent. That, of course, is part of the reason they experienced another losing season. There were a few exceptions. Point guard Darren Collison, who is signed for two more years at $10MM, played well in his return to a starting role. Ben McLemore, after getting more minutes, improved his shooting statistics to respectable figures. McLemore improved his field goal percentage from 38% in 2013/14 to 44% this past season.
Depth and improved shooting are two major areas of concern this offseason for the Kings — besides, of course, the Cousins saga. The Kings, who have some cap space this summer, but not much wiggle room, have been a poor shooting team for a couple of years now, and that didn’t change this past season. They ranked 28th in both 3-pointers made and 3-pointers attempted. Sacramento has about $53MM in guaranteed salary against a projected $67.1MM cap for next season, not counting its first-round pick at No. 6., but with the team seemingly checking in on so many potential trades, it’s challenging to predict how much the Kings will have in terms of money and assets.
Ty Lawson is someone who can help in the area of shooting and has been linked to the Kings recently. The Nuggets and Kings have discussed a deal involving Lawson, but the sides have found little traction, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Karl is “enamored” with the notion of trading for Lawson, Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler, Berger writes in another piece, presumably in a deal that ships out Cousins.
Another name is soon-to-be free agent Rajon Rondo. The Kings and Rondo have mutual interest, as the idea of signing a one-year deal with Sacramento to rehabilitate his value around the league intrigues the point guard, Wojnarowski reports. Sacramento has long coveted Rondo, as reports have indicated, and the Kings were apparently among the teams who spoke with the Celtics shortly before Boston traded him to Dallas in December. Rondo is a name that makes sense for the Kings, with or without Cousins, because of how much Karl likes to push the ball in an up-tempo offense.
While it appears the team will be active on both the trade and free agent markets, the Kings also have the No. 6 pick in the draft. It’s an asset they are likely to move, however, tweets Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. If the Kings hold on to the pick, I would expect them to scoop up a big man. It’s a good year for big men in the draft, and the Kings have a hole at power forward because Jason Thompson is among the least productive starters in the league. What’s more, the Kings are intrigued by the pairing of Frank Kaminsky and Cousins, according to Mannix (Twitter link). Kaminsky had a strong workout with the Kings on Monday, Mannix adds.
It’s already shaping up to be an intriguing offseason for the Kings, who have a new coach, new vice president of basketball and franchise operations and a new arena on the way, yet have suffered the same fate for nine straight seasons. Whether or not the team moves Cousins dictates the rest of the summer, one that Divac has promised would be the last the Kings go through as a team with a top-10 draft pick.
1 — The Kings waived Ellington in August 2014 and used the stretch provision to spread his remaining guaranteed salary over the next three seasons.
The Basketball Insiders Salary Pages were used in the creation of this post.