The Kings knew their team was too young. Though committed to a youth movement, they were reluctant to rely mostly on inexperienced players, hoping they quickly learn from the mistakes they’ll make.
And the Kings have made it clear they want to change their losing culture, too.
The Kings made two deals Tuesday that show they won’t be content simply letting their inexperienced players stumble through the season, reaching agreements with point guard George Hill and power forward Zach Randolph, league sources confirmed.
Hill agreed to a three-year deal worth $57 million, with a partial guarantee for the third year. Randolph agreed to a two-year deal worth $24 million.
In Hill, 31, the Kings added one of the top point guards still available in free agency to go with their rookie tandem of De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason III. Randolph, 35, a two-time All-Star, will be the Kings’ most experienced player.
The Kings will have nine players in either their first or second season in the league, so they wanted to make sure the young players would have some veteran leadership, players who could help teach them the habits of most winning teams.
And coach Dave Joerger said he wanted experienced players who could still perform at a high level, because their message would be lost on young players if they weren’t still good enough to earn playing time. Hill and Randolph fit that need.
Before adding Hill and Randolph, 10 of the 12 players expected to be on the opening-night roster had never been on a winning team in the NBA, largely due to their youth. Adding Hill and Randolph to veterans Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos gives the team much-needed maturity.
But the contracts with Hill and Randolph will alter some of the Kings’ plans. Those deals, along with the deal with Euroleague standout Bogdan Bogdanovic, means the King no longer are in the running for restricted free agent Otto Porter.
The Kings extended Porter an offer sheet on Sunday for four years and approximately $100 million. If Porter had signed it, they would have had $24.8 million of their approximately $52 million available under the salary cap committed to Porter while they waited to see if the Washington Wizards would match the offer.
Hill, 31, averaged a career-high 16.9 points last season with Utah, but played just 49 games due to injuries. Hill was a 2008 first-round draft pick (26th overall) by San Antonio, where he spent his first three seasons before being traded to Indiana. He played five seasons with the Pacers before being dealt to Utah before last season. In his nine NBA seasons, Hill has averaged 11.8 points and 3.3 assists.
Randolph, 35, averaged 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds last season for Memphis. He was the 19th overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft by Portland, where he spent his first six seasons. He’s also played for New York and the Los Angeles Clippers. He played for the Grizzlies the last eight seasons, and was an All-Star in 2010 and 2013.
Even though he primarily was a reserve last season, Randolph proved he could still be effective, averaging 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds in 24.5 minutes. He’ll also be a player the coaching staff knows well because he played for Joerger for three seasons in Memphis.
The Kings’ only other power forwards are Skal Labissiere, in his second season, and rookie Harry Giles, who was drafted out of Duke last month.
The Kings, who still could use help at small forward, might turn their attention to another Washington restricted free agent, Bojan Bogdanovic. His salary would be much lower than the deal the Kings offered Porter, one of the top small forwards on the market.
The Kings used the No. 15 pick they acquired on draft day to selected North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson, but they need another experienced player in that position.