Sacramento’s Offseason: Success, Failure or Incomplete?

Sep 1, 2021, 12:05 PM | Updated: Sep 3, 2021, 10:42 am
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 25: Buddy Hield #24 of the Sacramento Kings talks to tammate De'Aaro...
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

With training camp only a few weeks away, the Sacramento Kings roster could be set for the upcoming season

The NBA offseason has felt like it has taken a million years, but it is nearing its final days.

Training camps for teams will open up in less than one month during the week of September 28th, meaning that if general managers are going to make any final moves or tweaks to their respective rosters, the time is now.

For the Sacramento Kings, it has been a mostly quiet and uneventful offseason aside from the abbreviated drama surrounding the Richaun Holmes free-agency.

The “what if Holmes leaves?” questions were answered almost immediately, with Holmes and the Kings reaching an agreement on a four-year, $55 million deal not even 24 hours after the free agency period opened up.

Sacramento retained its talented big man, an absolute win in the opening hours of what was looking to be a busy summer for Kings general manager Monte McNair.

Except, it wasn’t busy. Not really, anyways.

Sure, the Kings shored up bench depth by re-signing forward Maurice Harkless and guard Terence Davis. They also reunited with old friend Alex Len on a two-year deal and traded guard Delon Wright for seasoned big Tristan Thompson, but as far as moves go, this is what we have to asses as we head into September.

McNair has retooled the bench by bringing back Harkless and Davis, two players that made impacts during their short stints in Sacramento last year. There is no doubt that adding Len and Thompson’s toughness to the roster is a positive as well, giving the Kings a formidable frontcourt rotation that will run through Holmes.

Of course, one of those additions to the bench unit was ninth-overall pick Davion Mitchell, the reigning MVP of NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League.

Mitchell’s defensive presence is going to be welcomed with open arms on a Kings team that ranked dead last in defensive rating during the 2020-21 season. Being able to slide Mitchell into a lineup with Tyrese Haliburton, Harkless, Thompson and Len is quite the upgrade compared to last season’s bench unit of Glenn Robinson III, Hassan Whiteside and Cory Joseph.

While McNair has done an admirable job of filling Sacramento’s roster with solid depth, many are still waiting for ‘the big one’.

A move that will really move the needle, a trade that will bring the Kings a true difference maker.

One move that was seemingly a done deal took place on the eve of the NBA Draft. The trade that would have sent Buddy Hield to the Los Angeles Lakers in return for forwards Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell was squashed by the Washington Wizards, who swooped in at the last minute and sent former MVP Russell Westbrook to Los Angeles in place of Hield.

By missing out on adding Kuzma and Harrell, the Kings have mostly gone quiet on the trade front, with the Thompson deal being the lone completion.

Other names have been floated over the past couple of months, with disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons being the most mentioned possibility for the Kings. Just this week, it was revealed that oddsmakers have tapped Sacramento as the most likely destination for the All-Star talent.

While it is possible that Simmons is moved prior to the opening of the 2021-22 regular season, the reported asking price for the 25-year-old is steep, with Philadelphia reportedly asking teams for multiple first round picks and a player with All-Star potential.

Multiple league sources maintain that Philly’s asking price for Ben Simmons on the eve of free agency remains sky-high. At minimum, the Sixers are seeking control of at least four future first-round picks via direct trade or pick swaps, along with an All-Star-level player in most (but not all) scenarios.

David Aldridge of The Athletic

Shams Charania of The Athletic shared on Monday that Philadelphia is content with bringing Simmons back next season if the right deal does not present itself, but added that league executives say “it is a matter of when–not if” a trade is made.

Alongside the Kings in the running for Simmons are the Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors, but both teams have not made offers to Philadelphia’s liking, per Charania.

This brings me to ask you, the reader:

How would you evaluate Sacramento’s offseason so far? Would you call it a success, failure or incomplete?

At this very moment, here is the 2021-22 depth chart for the Sacramento Kings:

  • PG: De’Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell
  • SG: Buddy Hield**, Tyrese Haliburton**, Terence Davis, Jahmi’us Ramsey
  • SF: Harrison Barnes, Moe Harkless, Louis King*, Robert Woodard II
  • PF: Marvin Bagley III, Tristan Thompson, Chimezie Metu
  • C: Richaun Holmes, Alex Len, Damian Jones, Neemias Queta*

*two-way contract

**unknown who will start

How does a move for Ben Simmons shift your view of this roster?

Any trade for Simmons is likely to cost Sacramento’s first round draft picks from 2022 through at least 2025 and a young player with talent, most likely Tyrese Haliburton and/or Marvin Bagley III. It’s possible that the 76ers take Buddy Hield in a deal as well, but accepting Hield’s remaining three years and $60 million on his contract might be too much of an ask.

Sam Amick of The Athletic shared on Wednesday that Sacramento has no interest in including Haliburton or Fox in any deal for Simmons, adding that the Kings and 76ers have not talked in weeks.

According to a source with knowledge of their situation, the Kings spoke to the Sixers weeks ago and made it clear that neither De’Aaron Fox nor Tyrese Haliburton would be included in a possible Simmons deal. That stance, the source said, has not and will not change and the internal expectation is that the core of their roster will remain the same heading into training camp later this month. There are no current conversations between the two teams and, barring a drastic change in demands, it appears the Kings are an unlikely landing spot for Simmons.

Sam Amick of The Athletic

There is a very likely scenario the current personnel is the roster that the Kings will begin the regular season with. If the team stands pat, a consensus of predictions from around the NBA media circuit tapped Sacramento as the 11th-to-12th best team in the Western Conference.

Adding depth like Harkless, Len and Thompson is not moving the needle when it comes to Sacramento’s outside narrative, but that does not mean that this offseason has been a failure.

The Kings have not gotten worse. If anything, you could honestly say that they improved when it comes to the talent and depth of this roster. Adding depth, something that this team had little of until McNair acquired Wright, Davis and Harkless during last season’s deadline, is a win.

The only issue is this: other teams have also gotten better.

Sacramento improved, but so did Golden State, New Orleans, Memphis and even Minnesota. Klay Thompson is expected back sometime during the regular season, while New Orleans and Memphis have the young talent to make leaps this season.

Minnesota has two All-Star talents in Karl Anthony-Towns and D’Angelo Russell that can create a nightmare for opponents if both are healthy.

Last season, De’Aaron Fox played like an All-Star. Tyrese Haliburton was a finalist for Rookie of the Year. Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes had career-years. Buddy Hield drilled the eighth-most three-pointers over a single season in NBA history.

Yet, the Kings missed the 10th seed play-in spot.

Will this offseason’s acquisitions be enough to get this team into a top-10 spot in the Western Conference? A lot of things will need to go right once again.

Fox will need to replicate last season. Haliburton will need to take a leap. Barnes and Holmes will have to maintain the consistency they showed last season. Hield will need to be a force on the perimeter. In the last season of his rookie contract, Marvin Bagley III will need to show his true worth.

With all of those things going right plus help from a revamped bench, sure. The Kings have the ability to end the 15-year postseason drought.

While success might sound insurmountable, the key-point is that this team has gotten better, even if it’s by just a little. By adding bench depth and refraining from making any brow-raising moves, it’s hard to call this offseason a failure…it’s also hard to call it a complete success.

If Richaun Holmes were to have walked away from the Kings this offseason, would that make the offseason a failure? It’s hard to say anything other than retaining Holmes was a triumph, as slotting in Len or Thompson as the starting center changes the outlook of the starting five and rotation.

Does adding Kuzma and Harrell make this offseason a success? If the Hield trade went through, the Kings would have refrained from bringing back Harkless and trading for Tristan Thompson. Does this trade move the needle? It’s tough to say.

One thing that McNair seems to have wanted on this season’s team is toughness, a trait that both Harrell and Thompson posses.

Thompson has a reputation for his toughness and has been one of the stronger rebounders in the NBA over the past three seasons, averaging 9.4 boards per game and 12.4 rebounds per 36 minutes. Harrell is clearly a better player at this point in both player’s respective careers, but Thompson’s ability to rebound and act as an aggressor will help this Kings team.

Harkless and Len also have shown that they will not back down from any competitor in recent years, giving Sacramento one of its most physical benches in years.

Most importantly, Davion Michell, Thompson, Harkless and Len can all play average-to-above-average defense. That is Sacramento’s biggest need, and McNair has addressed it.

Does this mean the offseason has been a success, failure or incomplete?

I’ll let you decide.

With less than one month until training camp begins, we will see if this is the final product of the 2021-22 Sacramento Kings regular season roster.


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