With more spending money than they had at the start of free agency, the Kings will host free-agent point guard Rajon Rondo today, a day after meeting with shooting guard Wesley Matthews.
Late Thursday, NBA.com reported that Matthews rejected an offer from the Kings in favor of one from the Dallas Mavericks.
The Kings began the free-agency period with about $10 million under the salary cap to spend but increased that to approximately $26 million by agreeing to trade guard Nik Stauskas and forwards Jason Thompson and Carl Landry on Wednesday night to Philadelphia for the draft rights to two international players and a second-round draft pick.
The Kings also surrendered a first-round draft pick to the 76ers in 2018 that is top-10 protected and gave Philly the right to swap first-round draft choices with the Kings in 2016 and 2017.
With Thompson traded, Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins is the only player left from the team when it was purchased by Vivek Ranadive’s ownership group in 2013.
Sacramento came under heavy scrutiny for allegedly giving away too much in the trade. It could prove to be a big price to pay if the Kings do not eventually sign Matthews or Rondo – or acquire help in a trade.
ESPN.com reported Thursday that Sacramento offered Matthews $64 million over four years, $1 million more per season than he was seeking, but that he preferred Dallas, which lost Monta Ellis in free agency.
Ellis signed a four-year, $44 million contract with Indiana on Thursday. ESPN reported that Ellis turned down a four-year, $48 million offer from the Kings.
Much like the trade with Philadelphia, the free agents the Kings are pursuing come with risks.
Matthews tore his left Achilles’ tendon in March but is said to be ahead of schedule with his rehab.
Matthews could have improved the Kings’ three-point shooting. He has averaged 39.3 percent from three-point range for his career and averaged 15.9 points for Portland last season before his injury.
This was Matthews’ second opportunity to play for Sacramento. He was an undrafted rookie on the Kings’ summer league team in 2009. Matthews chose to go to training camp with Utah because the Kings had several guaranteed contracts with guards and he had a better chance of making Utah’s roster, which he did.
There are also concerns about Rondo.
Rondo is a four-time All-Star but hasn’t been at that level since 2013, when he tore his right ACL while with the Celtics. He also has received league-wide criticism for having a surly attitude in the locker room since his days in Boston.
Rondo was a key part of Boston’s success, including winning the 2008 NBA title, when Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce were with the team. He was traded to Dallas in December and was expected to help the Mavericks contend for the NBA title.
Rondo, however, didn’t mesh with coach Rick Carlisle and was suspended for one game for conduct detrimental to the team. While the Mavericks lost to Houston in the first round of the playoffs, Rondo left the team because of a back injury. But league sources said Carlisle banished him. His teammates later chose not to give him a share of the team’s postseason bonus.
Rondo averaged 9.3 points and 6.5 assists in 46 games with Dallas, both below his career averages of 10.8 points and 8.3 assists.
The Kings would hope Rondo could regain his All-Star form under coach George Karl, who ideally would give Rondo more freedomthan Carlisle did.
In Philadelphia, Thompson said he looks forward to a fresh start with the team he grew up cheering for in New Jersey. He leaves as the Kings’ all-time leader in games played (541) in the Sacramento era, even though the team often brought in players to challenge him for his position.
“You look at them, and those guys have had success in other organizations,” Thompson said. “No offense, but there’s got to be something here why guys don’t develop like that and they don’t stick around that long. I’m one of the ones who’s been here for a while, seen different things, but still built great relationships.”
The Kings did agree to sign guard James Anderson on Thursday. Anderson, who already was on the Kings’ summer league team, was selected 20th overall by San Antonio in the 2010 draft. He spent two seasons with the Spurs before stints with Houston and Philadelphia.
Anderson played in Lithuania last season.
WHAT KINGS GET
- Rights to Arturas Gudaitis (47th pick in 2015)
- Rights to Luka Mitrovic (60th pick in 2015)
- A future second-round pick
WHAT 76ERS GET
- Carl Landry
- Nik Stauskas
- Jason Thompson
- 2018 first-round pick (if not in top 10)
- Right to swap first-round picks in 2016
- Right to swap first-round picks in 2017