Ailene Voisin, sports columnist
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  • José Luis Villegas / jvillegas@sacbee.com

    The Nuggets' Andre Iguodala, right, has a unique skill set that would benefit the Kings greatly.

  • Andrei Kirilenko could fill the Kings' need at small forward. He opted out of the final year of his contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves and became a free agent.

  • Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin: D'Alessandro plans 'aggressive' move to boost Kings

Published: Sunday, Jun. 30, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 - 10:29 pm

Kings general manager Pete D'Alessandro has been at this less than two weeks, but with free agency beginning at 9 p.m. PDT today, the demands of the job are pretty simple.

Keep talent.

Find talent that fits.

After seasons repeatedly disrupted by coaching changes, massive ownership issues and chronic and oppressive threats of relocation, Year One of the new regime isn't the time to rid the roster of its two young stars.

Coach Michael Malone should have the chance to accomplish two things: (1) decide if the Kings' most talented couple – DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans – can establish a happy, fruitful and enduring marriage, or whether a split is in the best interest of all parties; and (2) figure out if Evans and rookie Ben McLemore can be paired effectively in the backcourt, preferably with a yet-to-be-acquired facilitating small forward.

That seems to be the plan.

Hit free agency hard. Pursue trades involving the Kings' role players. Pound the names of Cousins and Evans into the laptop. And experiment with an Evans-McLemore guard combination that, theoretically, puts the best players on the court.

"I'm going to be really aggressive," D'Alessandro said. "I feel I owe it to the team and the community to make an aggressive move, and I think because we're new, we're an attractive team. Smart players are going to look at us and realize that we're going to get things done. Whether it comes from the three (small forward) or one (point guard), we need better passing. I've said that from Day One. But small forward definitely, I do think there's a void there."

While Chris Paul is a lock to remain in Los Angeles and won't be coming to Sacramento until the next Clippers-Kings matchup, the list of available small forwards includes Matt Barnes, Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko and Andre Iguodala. The Chicago Bulls also are reportedly attempting to trade Luol Deng, an oft-injured but versatile three man.

Any of the above would be an upgrade, though D'Alessandro certainly doesn't need a nudge toward Iguodala; he spent the last three years in Denver and undoubtedly recognizes what the Nuggets' veteran swingman, who opted out of the remaining one year and $16.2 million on his deal, has to offer. Iguodala's unique skill set would improve the perimeter defense dramatically and ease the ballhandling and playmaking burden on the guards, which is critical for an Evans-McLemore backcourt to have any real chance at success.

Playmaking isn't Evans' greatest asset. Ballhandling isn't McLemore's strength.

"I love shooters and guys who attack the rim," D'Alessandro said. "McLemore and Evans seems to make a lot of sense."

Before completing any significant free-agent signing or sign-and-trade deal, the Kings have to resolve Evans' contract status. The one-year, $6.9 million qualifying offer they tendered last week (to retain his rights) counts as $13 million against the salary cap set at $58.5 million for 2013-14.

A restricted free agent, Evans, 23, can counter with a multiyear agreement from another team. But the Kings again have options. They can match any competing offer, negotiate their own long-term deal, execute a sign-and-trade or allow the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year to walk away and join another franchise – which is not going to happen.

D'Alessandro, an attorney and former player agent, is engaged in ongoing conversations with Evans' agent, Arn Tellem. But he isn't alone. The fifth-year guard is generating considerable interest, with his market value tentatively projected between $8 million and $10 million annually.

With Evans' situation and free agency in mind, D'Alessandro declined to pick up the options on James Johnson and Toney Douglas.

"You can always re-sign a guy," he said, "and we want to be one of those teams that gets out there and really goes after guys. I never worry about having too much talent. The talent has to blend, true, but I have creative coaches. And, look, we have a lot of work ahead, a lot of work ahead. We're going to be out there."

Listening. Looking. Eager to act and willing to spend, but unwilling to deal Evans unless the earth moves, Sleep Train Arena shakes, and a star drops into the Kings' laps. Cousins currently is an untouchable. Evans is a player. With a new coach and new front office, that's where it starts.

Call The Bee's Ailene Voisin (916) 321-1208 and follow her on Twitter @ailene_voisin.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Email: avoisin@sacbee.com
Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

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