NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard shares credit with his Raptors teammates
NBA executives and player agents will be waiting by the phones when this summer’s much-anticipated free-agency bonanza begins at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Nearly half of the players in the league could be available, with 226 entering restricted or unrestricted free agency, including eight All-Stars. Twelve teams have more than $20 million in projected salary cap space and five others have at least $10 million to spend.
The Kings, among the teams with the most cap space, could be major players in the free-agent market. According to Spotrac, the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks lead the league with nearly $70 million each followed by Sacramento at about $59 million. The Kings could free up another $3.1 million if they waive guard Yogi Ferrell before his 2019-20 contract becomes guaranteed July 4.
The summer’s marquee free agents include superstars such as the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, both of whom are rehabilitating from serious injuries, the Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard, Boston’s Kyrie Irving and Philadelphia ’s Jimmy Butler.
The Kings are unlikely to bring in one of the game’s greats, but they have been linked to a few players in the next tier of talented free agents.
A league source said Thursday the Kings are interested in Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley. Beverley, 30, spent the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers. He is viewed as a defensive-minded point guard who was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team in 2017.
Sacramento’s biggest offseason priorities will be re-signing small forward Harrison Barnes, upgrading at the center spot and finding depth at the point guard and wing positions. The Kings could match any offer for center Willie Cauley-Stein if he becomes a restricted free agent, but Roger Montgomery, Cauley-Stein’s agent at Roc Nation Sports, told The Sacramento Bee his client would prefer to find a new team.
One of the most high-profile players the Kings have been connected to is All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, who averaged 20.8 points, 12 rebounds and 3.8 assists last season. The Athletic has reported on the Kings’ interest in Vucevic for months and reiterated it in recent weeks, but NBC Sports California has reported the Kings will not pursue Vucevic.
Other centers the Kings could go after include Al Horford, Marc Gasol, Brook Lopez, DeAndre Jordan, Jonas Valanciunas and Dewayne Dedmon. Sacramento is also believed to be exploring the possibility of making a trade for Houston Rockets center Clint Capela or Oklahoma City Thunder big man Steven Adams.
The Philadelphia Enquirer reported in May the Kings were one of several teams expected to make a push for All-Star forward Tobias Harris. The Athletic’s Shams Charania identified Sacramento as a potential suitor for Harris as recently as Wednesday, noting the Kings could fit Harrison Barnes and Harris under the salary cap and move Marvin Bagley III to center instead of bringing in another center via free agency.
The Kings are also believed to be looking to improve their depth at point guard to take some of the burden off De’Aaron Fox. Charania reported the Kings are expected to show interest in Cory Joseph, a backup point guard who spent the past two seasons with the Indiana Pacers.
Other top free-agent point guards include Ricky Rubio, Derrick Rose, Terry Rozier, Elfrid Payton and former King Isaiah Thomas. Another point guard Sacramento could consider is Jeremy Lin, who attracted interest from the Kings before the February trade deadline.
A number of small forwards available would give the Kings depth behind Barnes if they’re able to keep him. That list includes Trevor Ariza, Jabari Parker, Kelly Oubre Jr., James Ennis, DeMarre Carroll, Thabo Sefolosha, Danuel House, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Mario Hezonja. If the Kings lose Barnes, they might target someone like Khris Middleton or Bojan Bogdanovic.
Sacramento will also have to decide what to do with restricted free agent Troy Williams, who is currently under a two-way contract with the Kings, and unrestricted free agents Corey Brewer, Alec Burks and Kosta Koufos.