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Sacramento Kings bet on themselves when it comes to making a splash

The Kings don't lack confidence in their product when it comes selling players on Sacramento.

Pete D'Alessandro watches the Kings take on the Magic from the tunnel. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

It’s no secret that the Sacramento Kings are still looking to aggressively reshape their roster. Following this year’s draft lottery, they immediately put the No. 8 pick on the block and on Monday, they made it known that they want in on the Kevin Love sweepstakes.

Only four players remain from the Geoff Petrie regime, with one of them (Isaiah Thomas) set to test free agency in July. However, Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro still believes there are more tweaks that need to be made to get this franchise back to respectability. When you win fewer than 30 games, there’s obviously more work to be done.

These days, the Kings are willing to take more risks because of a renewed confidence in themselves. They have an ownership group that’s given their front office the green light when it comes to spending money.

Take the Rudy Gay trade for example. The Kings acquired Gay when the veteran small forward’s value was at an all-time low. At the time of the deal, Gay was posting a career-worst true-shooting percentage of 46.8 while taking a beating from the analytics crowd who left his talent for dead. For their trouble, the Kings didn’t have to give up much, trading four role players to the Raptors in exchange for a borderline star.

The deal had its fair share of risk. It was valid to question whether Gay was worth potentially $37.2 million over the next two years, considering recent history suggested he was in decline. But the Kings were in need of talent and Gay fit the description. The deep pockets of the Kings ownership group minimized the financial risk and burden that came with Gay’s expensive price tag. After all, for an ownership group that had bought the team last spring at a previously record-setting price, adding $3.8 million in salary for one year, with the potential of an additional $12.3 million the next, looked like pennies in the grand scheme of things.

The reported interest in Love follows suit with the Kings’ new way of doing business. Though a deal is not likely, the Kings are showing confidence in themselves to announce that they’re willing to trade for a three-time All-Star with no guarantee that he stays for the long haul. Like they’ve done with Gay, they see a potential trade for Love as a one-year audition on their part for his services. From their line of thinking, it would be much easier to get a player to buy into what they’re selling when he’s already gotten a taste of the product.

“It was a year for us to recruit a player that was already ours,” D’Alessandro said last month of the strategy behind acquiring Gay, who can become a free agent this summer if he opts out of the final year of his previously $82-million contract. “Otherwise you get those two days at the beginning of free agency where everyone’s running in and it’s harder to sell. But when you come here, and players that come here know it, I think if you speak to some of the guys we traded for, they see the difference in the culture.”

That strategy applies not only to Gay or potentially Love, but to any player the Kings try to trade for who’s nearing the end of his contract. Rather than wait for free agency, this new regime is willing to bank on itself to deliver the goods to players looking to play for a winner.

The Kings are ambitious and want that to be known to their fans and the rest of the league. Good things like a new arena are coming soon to Sacramento. But until then, the Kings will have to aggressively bootstrap their way back to respectability. Gambling on themselves is a risk they’re willing to confidently take.

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