Following Quiet Draft Night, Expect Monte McNair & The Kings To Have A Busy July

Jun 28, 2022, 12:44 PM | Updated: Jul 12, 2022, 11:46 am
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 14: Donte DiVincenzo #0 of the Sacramento Kings celebrates a three p...
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

As last Thursday’s 2022 NBA Draft approached, it was widely expected that the Sacramento Kings would be one of the more active teams in the trade market throughout the evening.

Rumors of a potential Harrison Barnes-John Collins swap took Kings social media channels by storm on Tuesday night. The possibility of trading the fourth-overall pick in a package to acquire a star player remained a possibility.

Instead, draft night came and went without any blockbuster deals for Sacramento. Trades happened, sure: The Kings’ 49th pick was traded to Cleveland in return for the rights to EuroLeague forward Sasha Vezenkov. Later on, Sacramento general manager Monte McNair dealt the 37th pick to Dallas for two future second-round picks.

Talk about earth-shattering.

As we prepare for the start of the NBA’s free agency negotiation period (Thursday, 3 p.m. PST), one has to wonder: Is this the time for Monte McNair to shine? What are the options for the Sacramento Kings in free agency?

As far as forking out the big bucks to lure marquee free agents to Golden 1 Center goes, Sacramento has little-to-no financial flexibility this summer. The Kings are over the cap and will likely have to make their biggest moves via trade rather than on the free-agent market.

McNair will have the mid-level exception ($10.5 million), biannual exception ($4.1 million), and veteran/trade exceptions ($4 million) to work with in free agency.

Donte DiVincenzo enters restricted free agency looking to secure a payday in the range of $10 million annually, as sources close to his camp recently shared optimism that there are teams that will offer the 25-year-old the mid-level exception. Of course, McNair will have the final say on any offer sheet DiVincenzo signs with a team. Sacramento is expected to match offer sheets on the versatile guard unless the money greatly exceeds the mid-level exception range.

McNair has had eyes for DiVincenzo for quite some time, having traded for the guard twice over the past three years β€” the failed Bogdan Bogdanovic sign-and-trade was the first attempt before the Kings acquired the Villanova product during February’s trade deadline.

Prediction: the Kings ink DiVincenzo to a three-year, $33 million deal

Outside of negotiating a deal for DiVincenzo, McNair has a few holes to plug this summer via free agency or trade:

Sacramento Kings And Defense

As we all know, Sacramento’s defense has been abysmal for the better part of 16 years.

The Kings haven’t placed 19th or higher in team defensive rating since the 2005-06 season β€” the team’s most recent playoff appearance. McNair’s hiring of former Golden State Warriors associate head coach and defensive expert Mike Brown will assuredly improve the team’s performance on its own, but the right personnel is needed to really change the tides.

Retaining DiVincenzo, a guard with an active motor on the defensive end would be a good start to the offseason. There are players on the free-agent market Sacramento could take a run at, most notably defensive-minded Warriors guard Gary Payton II.

After floating around the league for the better part of six seasons, the 29-year-old burst onto the scene for the NBA champs in 2021-22, providing Golden State with a defensive punch off of the bench.

Players like Payton are what this Kings team needs: a pesky, relentless, athletic presence to complement its star guard De’Aaron Fox in the backcourt. DiVincenzo, Payton, and current Sacramento guard Davion Mitchell are all players who appear to be cut from the same cloth of defensive aggressors.

Brown has a relationship with Payton from the pair’s time in Golden State. Could the 2022 champions reunite a little further down I-80 in Sacramento?

As mentioned earlier, the Kings don’t have much to work with financially. League executives expect Payton to receive offers in the range of $6-7 million, meaning that it would likely take a majority of (if not all of) Sacramento’s mid-level exception. McNair might want to use the exception on a different position of need like the small or power forward spots rather than another guard.

Speaking of the forward positions, McNair will need to bring in help for both forward positions this summer.

The selection of Iowa forward Keegan Murray with the fourth-overall pick already has improved Sacramento’s depth chart at the power forward spot and added more length (6’11 wingspan) and defense (1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks per game) to the roster.

If the Kings look to utilize its greatest trade asset in Harrison Barnes to free up cap space or bring back another asset, options like Otto Porter Jr. or Victor Oladipo could be intriguing as defensive options for McNair.

What Can The Sacramento Kings Do To Improve Shooting

Following the stunning deadline deal that sent Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield to Indiana in return for All-Star center Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento was left with little three-point shooting on its roster for the remainder of the season.

Outside of Barnes’ team-leading 39 percent clip from beyond the arc, only two other Kings shot 36 percent from three-point range or higher: DiVincenzo and Trey Lyles (both shot 36 percent).

If the Kings truly want to take a leap in 2022-23, the shooting concerns begin with the team’s current backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell. Both players shot under 32 percent from deep, something that just can’t happen in today’s NBA. The three-point aspect of the game is imperative to having success and is something that will only become more prevalent in the years ahead.

Fox, Mitchell, and Sabonis will need to work on their shots, something that Sabonis has already been doing with famed NBA shooting coach, Lethal Shooter, but more perimeter help is needed on this roster.

Richaun Holmes was clearly uncomfortable in a reserve role following the Sabonis trade, averaging just 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per game over eight limited appearances. In light of Damian Jones’ success down the final stretch of the season, McNair could look to flip Holmes for shooting help and re-sign the free agent Jones to back up Sabonis next season.

There are mixed signals on if the Los Angeles Clippers are looking to deal sharpshooting guard Luke Kennard, but he’s a player that the Kings could look to acquire in a Holmes swap. The 26-year-old shot 45 percent from three-point range during the 2021-22 season and has shot 42 percent from beyond the arc during his five NBA seasons.

Some additional free agent options for Sacramento:

  • Malik Monk: De’Aaron Fox’s running mate at Kentucky, shot 39 percent from three-point range in 2021-22
  • Bryn Forbes: shot 41 percent from three-point range in 2021-22
  • Gary Harris: shot 38 percent from three-point range in 2021-22

For more on potential free agent targets for the Kings, check out the latest edition of the Return of the Roar podcast:

Who’s Your Forward(s)?

The Sacramento Kings have options at the guard spots.

De’Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, Donte DiVincenzo (if he’s re-signed), and Terence Davis are currently in line to head Sacramento’s backcourt rotation next season. The forward spots need some work.

Behind Harrison Barnes, the Kings have Chimezie Metu, Moe Harkless, Trey Lyles, and recently-drafted rookie Keegan Murray at the forward spots.

Sacramento needs upgrades at both the small and power forward positions, most notably the starting power forward spot. If Murray is the choice to start on opening night, a lot will be riding on the Iowa product. Behind Murray, the Kings would have Chimezie Metu (deal is not guaranteed for 2022-23) and Trey Lyles as the team’s power forward depth.

The power forward spot has been a revolving door for quite some time in Sacramento. Marvin Bagley III’s tenure was a train wreck. Nemanja Bjelica had a fun run at the position. Metu and Lyles combined for 40 starts in 2021-22.

McNair needs to find stability at the position and find Domantas Sabonis a formidable front-court partner that can be relied on for years to come. Is that partner Murray?

Time will tell, but the Kings need stability at the four-spot more than any other starting position.


In conclusion, Monte McNair and the Kings front office are about to have a very busy month of July.

To put it bluntly, McNair has to nail this free agency and trade period. Upgrades are desperately needed across the board for this franchise as Sacramento aims to put an end to an NBA-record 16th-consecutive season streak without a postseason appearance.

McNair’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season, meaning that the third-year general manager will need to create progress in order to lock down another deal from team owner Vivek Ranadive.

It all starts on Thursday at 3 p.m. PST. Buckle up.



WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 18: Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings dunks the ball in the secon...
Frankie Cartoscelli

Kings claim seventh-straight road win, close in on top spot in West

The Sacramento Kings won its seventh-straight road game on Saturday night as they inched closer to the top spot in the Western Conference.
2 days ago
Associate coach Jordi Fernandez of the Sacramento Kings talks with Kevin Huerter #9 during the firs...
Joseph Jarosz

Jordi Fernandez says the Kings are deep enough if Kevin Huerter is out multiple games

Sacramento Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez joined Cattles and Ramie Friday to discuss the latest news around Kevin Huerter's injury.
3 days ago
Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings looks to pass as Nic Claxton #33 of the Brooklyn Nets ...
Frankie Cartoscelli

Sabonis passes Thorpe for most rebounds in a single season during the Sacramento era

Domantas Sabonis made history Thursday surpassing Otis Thorpe (1987-88) for the most rebounds in a single season during the Sacramento era.
3 days ago
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 09: Kevin Huerter #9 of the Sacramento Kings reacts after making ...
Frankie Cartoscelli

Kings get good news on Kevin Huerter’s hamstring injury

Sacramento Kings guard Kevin Huerter is considered day-to-day after an MRI on his hamstring came back clean.
3 days ago
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 16: Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings dribbles during the sec...
Frankie Cartoscelli

Streak Broken: Kings clinch first winning season since 2005-06

For the first time since 2006, the Sacramento Kings will end a season with a winning record following Thursday's win in Brooklyn.
4 days ago
Head coach Mike Brown of the Sacramento Kings celebrates a 176-175 double overtime win over the LA ...
Joseph Jarosz

Mike Brown nearing top 10 all-time wins among Sacramento era Kings coaches

Since Rick Adelman left the Sacramento Kings, 11 coaches have come and gone. And in less than one season, Mike Brown has already surpassed five of them with wins.
4 days ago
Following Quiet Draft Night, Expect Monte McNair & The Kings To Have A Busy July