Since taking over as Kings general manager in June 2013, Pete D’Alessandro may be the busiest executive in the NBA.
D’Alessandro’s quest to revamp the roster while maintaining financial flexibility for more deals continued Wednesday when the Kings traded guard Jason Terry and two second-round draft picks to the Houston Rockets for the non-guaranteed contracts of forward Alonzo Gee and guard Scotty Hopson and a trade exception.
The Kings will send their 2015 second-round pick if it falls between 31 and 49 and New York’s 2016 unprotected second-round pick in the trade.
This deal, the Kings’ third this offseason, wasn’t about an immediate improvement to the roster.
The Kings will waive Gee and Hopson and save salary, hoping the flexibility will facilitate trades for players who can help the Kings become a playoff contender.
The team also was seeking more financial freedom to add free agents – possibly another ballhandler on the perimeter and another big man who can provide shot-blocking and athleticism – without paying the luxury tax.
The Kings already added one player Wednesday, agreeing to a one-year contract with former Los Angeles Clippers center Ryan Hollins, who will back up DeMarcus Cousins.
Before the Terry trade and last month’s deal that sent forwards Travis Outlaw and Quincy Acy to New York for guard Wayne Ellington and center Jeremy Tyler, the Kings were about $2 million below the luxury tax line of $76.829 million. Paying the luxury tax as a non-playoff team is usually a sign of a franchise saddled with bad contracts.
That’s what many said about the Kings in mid-July after they signed point guard Darren Collison without making moves that would free the glut at power forward and create more space under the salary cap.
With D’Alessandro’s last two moves, he’s shipped out more than $9 million in salary for the 2014-15 season while acquiring players without guaranteed deals.
The only player who had a contract guaranteed for next season was Ellington, who was waived. His $2.5 million salary will count against the Kings’ cap for the next three seasons under the “stretch” provision. Tyler also was waived.
Without the past two trades, the Kings probably would not have signed Hollins. Also, the Kings will bring back for the league minimum forward Omri Casspi, who cleared waivers after being released by New Orleans. Casspi’s signing will become official after he takes his pre-training camp physical.
The Kings, however, aren’t done tinkering with the roster.
Sacramento is still concerned about the power forward position, which is eating a sizable portion of the team’s salary. Between Reggie Evans, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry, the Kings are paying nearly $14 million for players who don’t fit in their long-range plans. The Kings would like to find a player who can come in and take command at power forward and allow the team to cut salary.
Besides Collison at point guard, the Kings are inexperienced in terms of facilitators and wouldn’t mind adding another ballhandler.
One concern could be the Kings parting with next year’s second-round pick after not having a second pick in this year’s draft. Those draft picks are valued around the league because they can be used to fill out a roster with young players at a low salary.
The Kings believe they can still find second-round talent after the draft and secure them as free agents. They recently did that by signing two of their summer league big men, Eric Moreland and Sim Bhullar.