NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.
The Kings burst way past expectations last season. They were the NBA’s most fun team. They played fast, hard and joyfully.
They also missed the playoffs.
Still trying to end an NBA-high 13-year active playoff drought, Sacramento filled several key gaps this summer:
- Big wing
- Reliable starting center
- Backup point guard
After trading for forward Harrison Barnes at last season’s trade deadline, the Kings re-signed him (four years, $85 million). That’s a high price, but Sacramento has been spurned by free agents so often. An overpay was probably required. The deal also seemed preordained since the Kings acquired him and even more so by the time he opted out.
Sacramento also signed Trevor Ariza (two years, $25 million with $1.8 million of $12.8 million guaranteed in second season). As another wing with small forward size, Ariza will allow Barnes to spend time at power forward, Barnes’ optimal position. Ariza is a good glue guy… when engaged.
The Kings lost starting center Willie Cauley-Stein in free agency, but they can replace him from outside and within. Dewayne Dedmon (three years, $40 million with $1 million of $13,333,333 guaranteed in third season) is more dependable on both ends with an underrated versatile game. Marvin Bagley III can replace Cauley-Stein’s above-the-rim finishing.
Cory Joseph (three years, $37.2 million with $2.4 million of $12.6 million guaranteed in second season) steps in at backup point guard. He’s a solid defender and upgrade over Yogi Ferrell, who still got his $3.15 million salary guaranteed this summer.
Sacramento also signed Richaun Holmes (two years, room exception). Though it’s fine at that price, I’m not sure the Kings needed another center.
Behind Dedmon, Sacramento has Bagley and Harry Giles. Those promising young players could be in line for bigger roles as they develop – especially with Dave Joerger getting fired and replaced by Luke Walton.
Joerger did well coaching Sacramento last season. He found the right system and got the team to play with attitude. It was enjoyable while it lasted, in part because of the rough edges.
The Kings are trying to become more polished bow. I’m not convinced everything comes together as cleanly as they hope. Even if it does, that might not be enough to make the postseason in a loaded Western Conference. Progress isn’t always linear.
Sacramento still has its young core intact, improved around it on paper and did so at mostly reasonable costs.
Offseason grade: C+