Analyzing The Latest Kings Moves
Don’t read in too deep. I know that it’s hard not to. But try.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Sacramento Kings general manager Monte McNair got busy, making a few moves to round out the roster as training camp nears.
The reported signings for the 2020-21 season:
- Hassan Whiteside – Center (7’0, 265 lbs)
- Frank Kaminsky – Power Forward/Center (7’0, 240 lbs)
- DaQuan Jeffries – Shooting Guard/Small Forward (6’5, 230 lbs)
- Glenn Robinson III – Small Forward (6’6, 222 lbs)
- Chimezie Metu – Center/Power Forward (6’9, 225 lbs)
With the exception of Jeffries and Metu’s multi-year, partially guaranteed deals, the rest of these signings will be for one year and the league-minimum.
These moves come on the heels of losing Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harry Giles III, Kent Bazemore and Alex Len in free agency.
For a rebuilding Sacramento Kings team, why would these moves be made? Let’s take a look:
No, Hassan Whiteside was not brought in to become the center of the future.
Something that McNair has shown over his short tenure as Kings general manager is that he is not going to rush this process. He is not going to repeat the same mistakes made by previous management.
Signing Hassan Whiteside, who led the entire league in shot blocking last season (2.9 blocks per game), puts Sacramento in a place where they can have some flexibility.
If healthy, Whiteside is a double-double threat every given night.
On a Kings team that will in all likelihood struggle to pick up wins on a regular basis, Whiteside can play himself into a situation where teams come calling for his services come playoff time.
If Whiteside can even remotely replicate his production from the past four seasons (14.8 points, 12.7 rebounds, 2.2 blocks), teams will undoubtedly call McNair to take a flier on the 31-year-old.
The name of the game in almost all of these signings is gaining assets.
Could Whiteside help lead Sacramento to a respectable record? I’d say it’s a definite possibility. But what is even more likely?
The more likely scenario is that the seven-footer raises his stock and contenders deal a second-round pick or other pieces to Sacramento in return.
If Whiteside is healthy, teams will absolutely come knocking on McNair’s door for a center who can grab 13 rebounds and block three shots a game.
If the Kings can benefit off of Whiteside’s play beyond next season in the form of future picks or young pieces, they are going to utilize him and showcase his talents to boost interest around the league.
Glenn Robinson III
This acquisition is the most surprising to me.
Others around the league have also looked at this move by the Kings as a shock, signing one of the most talented wings on the free agent market to a league-minimum deal.
Robinson, 26, had his best season as a professional last year in stints with the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers.
The 6’6 wing averaged 11.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.9 steals last season while shooting 48-percent from the field and 39-percent from beyond the three-point line.
It was widely reported that the Kings were one of three finalists for Robinson, along with the powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.
All signs point to Robinson choosing Sacramento for the biggest elemental factor: playing time.
The veteran wing will take over the bulk of minutes left behind by Bogdanovic, sliding into the backup small-forward role behind Harrison Barnes. It’s also likely that head coach Luke Walton could opt to go small in certain situations, moving Barnes to the power forward spot and Robinson to the small-forward position.
Robinson is an extremely athletic wing that will be able to assist the Kings in defense, stretching the floor and the fast break.
Like previously mentioned regarding Whiteside, Sacramento could look to move Robinson this February at the trade deadline for assets. Robinson has already been a part of this process, being moved by a rebuilding Golden State team to Philadelphia last year in return for multiple second-round picks.
Of course, it’s also possible that Robinson stands out and solidifies himself as a piece of the future for Sacramento. At only 26-years-old, the wing could play his way into an extended role–or even play his way into a contract extension if McNair looks to move on from Harrison Barnes.
Either way, this signing will benefit the team in the long run.
One word sticks out the most to me when looking at this signing:
When the Kings acquired Alex Len last season, the move was similar in placing another able-bodied big behind Richaun Holmes and Harry Giles III.
The same notion applies to Kaminsky, who will in all likelihood slide behind Holmes and Whiteside in the rotation. It’s also possible Kaminsky gets some minutes at the four-spot behind Nemanja Bjelica, Marvin Bagley III and Jabari Parker.
Kaminsky was a solid role-player for the Phoenix Suns during the 2019-20 season, playing in nearly 20 minutes per game over 39 contests.
The veteran posted averages of 9.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 0.4 steals per game while shooting 45-percent from the field–most notably hitting 55-percent of his attempts from three-to-ten feet from the basket.
While this might not be a signing with intentions to flip for assets at the deadline, it places a solid backup option on the roster in the situation that Holmes or Whiteside miss any time.
If Holmes or Whiteside miss time, it could be possible for Kaminsky to play big minutes and maybe even raise his stock. Unless that happens, the Kings will have a backup option that they can feel confident of plugging into the lineup at the four or five.
DaQuan Jeffries & Chimezie Metu
Both of these players enjoyed successful stints in the G-League last season.
- Jeffries: 16.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 27 games, 31 minutes per game
- Metu: 17.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 25 games, 29 minutes per game
Both players only had limited appearances in the NBA during the 2019-20 season, with Jeffries and Metu only seeing action in 31 games combined.
Adding youth to the roster in Jeffries and Metu–both 23-years-old–is a solid move by the front office. Both players can benefit by getting extended looks this season on a roster that will likely look a lot different come the trade deadline.
If Whiteside and Robinson are to be moved, that slides both of these players into roles that could expand once the season gets into the final stretch of the season.
Until then, Metu and Jeffries could split time between G-League affiliate Stockton and the big league squad.
Adding these two players on minimum deals is a win-win. If they produce, you can bring both players back for the second year on their deals (both have team options for 2021-22).
The most important component of these deals is the aspect of saving money.
For years, Kings fans have watched Vlade Divac and his front office splurge on free agents. Just last season, Sacramento committed over $42 million in salary to Trevor Ariza, Cory Joseph, Dewayne Dedmon and Richaun Holmes.
This offseason, the team has only spent a little over $9 million on the players mentioned above.
The days of hamstringing cap space flexibility are long gone. Sacramento has De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes all on the books for nearly $20 million each next season.
Marvin Bagley III will need a contract extension next offseason if he produces this season.
In order for the Kings to keep their head above water–financially speaking–they will need to cut costs. This offseason, by only signing players to one year, minimum deals is a start.
Roster flexibility, youth and gaining assets.
That has appeared to be Monte McNair’s number-one goal. So far, it looks as if he is doing just that.