In 2018-19, the Sacramento Kings came as close to postseason qualification as they have been in quite some time, ultimately falling short of making the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06. The most encouraging part of their entire campaign was the fact that their improvements came through internal development, rather than expensive signings or shortsighted trades. De’Aaron Fox, for example, has upped his game and become one of the best young floor generals the NBA has to offer. Buddy Hield has turned into a 20-plus point-per-game scorer, and one of the best three-point marksmen in the league. Marvin Bagley, despite not being quite on the level as a rookie as some of his 2018 draft counterparts, showed a lot of promise as a high-flying big man with good touch from the outside. Bogdan Bogdanovic upped his marks across the board. And trading for Harrison Barnes showed foresight and filled a hole on the wing.
Now, the Kings will have to take the next step as a franchise, finally get over the hump and get back to the playoffs next year. That has to be their top goal for 2020, and this offseason should be used to help make that goal a reality. Luckily for Sacramento, they have the young core to make it happen, as guys like Fox and Hield look like two legit franchise cornerstones, and as they continue to get better, so will the Kings as a whole.
GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
Marvin Bagley: $8,567,040
Bogdan Bogdanovic: $8,529,386
Nemanja Bjelica: $6,825,000
De’Aaron Fox: $6,392,760
Buddy Hield: $4,861,207
Harry Giles: $2,578,800
Caleb Swanigan: $2,033,160
NON-GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
Yogi Ferrell: $3,200,000
Frank Mason: $1,618,520
Harrison Barnes: $25,102,512
Willie Cauley-Stein: Restricted
This season, the Kings proved that through internal development, they are right on the cusp of the playoff picture, so their wisest course of action this summer may be to not rock the boat much. With Fox, Hield, Bogdanovic, Barnes and Bagley signed through next season, Sacramento should look at the free-agent market to secondary targets who can fill the crevices of their rotation and provide complementary play to the team’s focal points. Since Cauley-Stein is set to hit restricted free agency, the Kings could look at cheap free-agent big men who can defend and, more importantly, play alongside Bagley. Outside of roster construction, Sacramento needs to decide what to do with head coach Dave Joerger, who clearly doesn’t have a great relationship with the team’s front office, even if that means moving on from him this offseason.
POTENTIAL FREE AGENCY TARGETS
Jonas Valanciunas: A throwback big man whose toughness down low would mesh wonderfully with Bagley.
Robin Lopez: A mature, veteran big man who can protect the paint and won’t take paint touches away from Bagley.
Patrick Beverley: The Kings may have a need to fill at backup point guard, and Beverley, thanks to his playoff experience, locker-room presence and defense, would be the perfect candidate to fill it.
Jeremy Lin: An experienced backup ball-handler who would be fine with a bench role, score as a reserve and not take too many minutes from Fox.
Rodney Hood: Sacramento needs scoring punch, and Hood could provide it off the bench.
Jeremy Lamb: A more consistent version of Hood.
POTENTIAL TRADE TARGETS
Nicolas Batum: Veteran wings who can defend should top Sacramento’s list of trade targets, and Batum would be a very good one for them to go after.
Robert Covington: If the Minnesota Timberwolves initiate a full rebuild, Covington and his expensive deal could be one they look to move. His game would fit perfectly with what the Kings needs.
Andrew Wiggins: Speaking of a Wolves rebuild, Wiggins could be another candidate to move. His deal is even more expensive than Covington’s, but he also possesses much higher upside than his teammate. What’s more, if he finally realizes his potential with Sacramento, trading for him would be a complete coup.
Evan Turner: A veteran who can create for others, won’t take too many shots away from the team’s talented young scorers, as well as defend on the wing.
2019 DRAFT ASSETS
With the Kings out of the playoff picture, so went their chances of having a first-round pick in 2019. If they land the No. 1 overall pick through the lottery, it goes to the Philadelphia 76ers. If the pick falls between No. 2 and No. 14, though, it goes to the Boston Celtics. As far as their second-round pick, Sacramento keeps whichever is lower between theirs and Milwaukee Bucks’ second-rounder, along with the more favorable between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers second-round pick, and the Orlando Magic’s second-round pick.