The Sacramento Kings still have many needs following the NBA draft. Last week Vice President of Basketball and Franchise Operations Vlade Divac told the media he would like to sign a point guard in free agency.
After finishing 26th in assists and 28th in 3-point makes, steals and points allowed, the Kings can’t afford to be picky.
If Sacramento doesn’t extend a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Derrick Williams, the team will have roughly $10 million to throw around. That keeps the Kings out of range for LeBron James, Kevin Love and other max money commanders, but within reach of a rotation player or two.
Franchises can begin courting free agents on July 1 and officially sign them on July 8 when the 2016-17 salary cap is determined. Trades can be arranged any time.
Below are 11 veteran backcourt targets linked to the Kings, including their own free agents.
*UFA = PPG = points per game, RPG = rebounds per game, APG = assists per game, SPG = steals per game, TPG = turnovers per game, MPG = minutes per game
Eric Bledsoe – Phoenix Suns
2014-15 stats: 17.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.6 SPG, 3.4 TPG, 34.6 MPG – 81 games (81 starts)
On paper, a Suns-Kings trade with Bledsoe makes sense. Phoenix is seeking to dump the veteran’s four years and $57.8 million owed, while Sacramento would love to upgrade their backcourt with a two-way star and DeMarcus Cousins’ college teammate.
Bledsoe’s value has slipped since joining the Suns in 2013 but he’ll fetch a pretty penny. The 25-year-old’s punishing play style lends himself to injuries and his shooting has been spotty. Yet at his best his impact can be replicated by few.
The Kings can offer Ben McLemore and/or Nik Stauskas with Jason Thompson’s soon-to-be expiring contract, which may be enough if the Suns are committed to clearing their payroll. SportingNews’ Sean Deveny expects Phoenix to patiently mull trade proposals.
Monta Ellis – unrestricted free agent
2014-15 stats: 18.9 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 4.1 ASG, 1.9 SPG, 2.5 TPG, 33.7 MPG – 80 games (80 starts)
The explosive-scoring Ellis was a target of the Kings two summers ago when he jumped ship in Milwaukee for the Dallas Mavericks. A suspect long range shooter (29.4 percent from 3-point), Ellis makes his money with a quick first step and a variety of offensive tools. Sacramento wants more playmakers and Ellis is exactly that. He would provide Karl with a strong third scorer and his aggressive style on defense would lead to plenty of easy baskets. He will cost plenty and the Kings will have competition for his services, but he may fit well in the Kings’ starting backcourt.
Danny Green – unrestricted free agent
2014-15 stats: 11.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.1 TPG, 28.5 MPG – 81 games (80 starts)
A Popovich-coached, half-decade Spurs starter like Green will always be a hot commodity. While the 28-year-old could improve his dribbling and driving, the former undrafted player can turn it on from deep with the flip of a switch and lock down his perimeter opposition. Green won’t come cheap and he may find a destination like Portland more favorable than Sacramento.
Corey Joseph – restricted free agent
2014-15 stats: 6.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.8 TPG, 18.3 MPG – 79 games (19 starts)
The lack of name recognition and track record could make Joseph a better alternate to his Spur teammate. The 29th pick in 2011 finally established himself in the Spurs rotation and supplanted Patty Mills as the first guard off the bench in 2014-15.
Joseph can score inside and out, handles the ball well and doesn’t back down on defense. The 23-year-old looks to shoot first and dish later, which isn’t ideal for the Kings.
The kicker here is his price. San Antonio can match any offer for Joseph, but their recruitment of LaMarcus Aldridge could force them to allocate resources. If this is the case, Sacramento can pry the next Beno Udrih.
Ty Lawson – Denver Nuggets
2014-15 stats: 15.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 9.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 2.5 TPG, 35.5 MPG – 75 games (75 starts)
Lawson thinks he’s joining the Kings, but he may just be blowing smoke?
The offensively gifted point guard is due $25.6 million for the next two seasons, and troubling behavior behind the scenes has made him radioactive. With his value at an all-time low, Sacramento’s Thompson and a choice of McLemore or Stauskas could sell Denver on trading its damaged goods. Lawson would definitely welcome a change in scenery, as well as working with a coach he trusts in George Karl.
Wesley Matthews – unrestricted free agent
2014-15 stats: 15.9 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.4 TPG, 33.7 MPG – 60 games (60 starts)
A consistent downtown scorer and reliable stopper, Matthews would solve Sacramento’s struggles at the two.
What’s problematic is that Matthews wants an annual salary of $15 million, and the 28-year-old ruptured his Achilles tendon in March. No harm in contacting his agent, Rudy Gay’s representative Jeff Austin regardless.
Andre Miller – unrestricted free agent
2014-15 stats: 4.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.3 TPG, 15.5 MPG – 81 games (0 starts)
In 30 appearances for the Kings last season, Miller breathed new life into a stagnant offense. But beyond his halfcourt assists and pinpoint bounce passes, the soon to be 40-year-old was exposed for his limitations shooting the ball and guarding the league’s more aggressive backcourt scorers.
Miller has said he’d like to re-sign with Sacramento, but the team will mull its options before offering the veteran a minimum deal.
Jameer Nelson – unrestricted free agent
2014-15 stats: 8.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 4.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.7 TPG, 22.3 MPG – 63 games (29 starts)
If the Kings can’t land Lawson, how about his backup? The 33-year-old Nelson is surviving as a spot-up shooter and sound facilitator at this stage in his career, but the undersized, gritty point would make a better fit than last offseason’s experienced addition, Ramon Sessions.
Sacramento will need to offer more than the minimum to lure Nelson away from sure playoff contenders. That’s the going price for a steady hand.
Rajon Rondo – unrestricted free agent
2014-15 stats: 8.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 7.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 3.1 TPG, 29.7 MPG – 68 games (68 starts)
Yahoo! Sports reported a week ago that the Kings and Rondo shared mutual interest. The former Celtics champion would assumably ink a one-year, make-good contract with the intention of rebuilding his value after a disastrous stint with the Mavericks.
Needless to say Rondo suiting up for Sacramento is a major gamble. His long jumper remains as wild as ever, and his effectiveness on defense has steadily declined.
As long as Rondo continues to be selfless, the 29-year-old should have an exponentially Andre Miller-esque impact flipping dimes. Having Gay as a friend in his corner will help if he initially stumbles.
Rodney Stuckey – unrestricted free agent
2014-15 stats: 12.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.7 TPG, 26.4 MPG – 71 games (36 starts)
Stuckey shot a career-high 44 percent from the floor in a bounceback year for the Pacers. According to RealGM, the Kings have interest in the 29-year-old, but there’s no guarantees what to expect from one of the NBA’s streakiest shooters. What’s fact is Stuckey will want more than the one-year, $1.2 deal he earned last season.
Lou Williams – unrestricted free agent
2014-15 stats: 15.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.3 TPG, 25.2 MPG – 80 games (0 starts)
Sweet Lou and his buttery stroke are a sound solution to the Kings’ downtown deficiencies. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year is also an adept on-ball defender and plays both backcourt positions.
RealGM reports that the Lakers, Nets and Knicks will pursue him along with the Kings. The 28-year-old Williams is expected to re-sign with the Raptors barring a change of heart.