Kings Blog

Kings Q&A: What free agents are realistic targets? Is Skal’s spot in danger?

Kings forward Skal Labissiere (7) is fouled while being defended by Brooklyn Nets forward DeMarre Carroll (9) and Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) at Golden 1 Center on Thursday.
Kings forward Skal Labissiere (7) is fouled while being defended by Brooklyn Nets forward DeMarre Carroll (9) and Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) at Golden 1 Center on Thursday. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Throughout the season, Jason Jones answers readers’ questions about the team in a weekly Twitter mailbag. Tweet your questions with the hashtag #JonesHoldsCourt.

Q: Who do you see the Kings realistically getting in free agency?

– dtrilly, @DT916

A: It might be easier to start with what I don’t expect. Throwing big money at a veteran point guard is not an option. There will be no more George Hill situations because the Kings are all-in on De’Aaron Fox.

The Kings need size on the perimeter, and a target is likely to be Mario Henzonja.

The 6-foot-8 swingman was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, but Orlando declined to pick up his option for next season back in October. Hezonja is averaging 9.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists.

The scoring and rebounds are career highs, but not the kind of return a team would expect from a top-five pick. Orlando’s current front office did not draft Hezonja.

He’s the kind of player the Kings could land on a short-term deal and figures to be a high priority. He has fans in Sacramento’s front office, and is still only 23. He’s played better lately and is coming off a solid February where he averaged 15.5 points and connected on 40.4 percent of his 3-pointers.

If Hezonja keeps up the solid play, the Kings might have to come up with a hefty salary to secure him.

Hezonja might have been the Kings’ first-round pick in 2015, but the Kings had the sixth pick and with Hezonja off the board, the Kings drafted Willie Cauley-Stein.

Q: Which of the veterans with player options do you think return next season?

– Jesus Wenceslao, @jcwkings

A: Kosta Koufos, Iman Shumpert and Garrett Temple all have player options for next season. The market for players who are not in the elite category of a LeBron James or a Paul George isn’t expected to be robust. So it’s likely all three Kings pick up their options for next season.

Shumpert is due $11 million next season. He’s still recovering from knee surgery and it makes no sense to enter free agency coming off a season derailed by injuries.

Koufos is due $8.7 million. For perspective, that’s more than what Los Angeles Clippers stellar sixth-man Lou Williams will make on a three-year extension he signed last month, worth $24 million, an average of $8 million. Seems logical that he’d pick up his option, too.

Some inside and outside of the Kings’ organization believe would be most likely candidate to move on would be Temple. He’s a solid player, due $8 million next season, and could help a lot of contending teams. But Temple, who will be 32 to start next season, might be taking a risk by walking away from guaranteed money in hopes of a bigger payday.

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Q: If the Kings draft a big does that mean Skal is gone? Does the coaching staff value him?

– Dustin, @DThrill55

A: The short answer is no, Skal Labissere would not be sent packing. A center like Deandre Ayton would not impact Labissiere. That’s not to say he has any reason to feel comfortable about his standing on the roster.

Labissiere’s biggest push might come from Harry Giles. If the Kings select a center, that would mean more minutes at power forward for Willie Cauely-Stein, too, pushing Labissiere further down the depth chart.

Labissiere has a chance to earn the coaching staff’s trust now, because while they like him, this is about results. And if Labissiere does not produce, he could find himself on the way out of Sacramento in the near future.

Q: How are the veterans handling sitting?? Do they get a choice or preference of games they’d like to play in?

– JT, @JJT12380

A: They don’t like it. Not one bit. But they accept this is what the Kings are doing. The veterans didn’t like it last year, either.

They do have some say in when they play, which could be based on nostalgia, family, or personal connections.

Zach Randolph played in Memphis, where he was a two-time All-Star. Vince Carter, who played at North Carolina, played in Charlotte. They all know ahead of time when they will sit.

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Now for this week’s non-Kings question:

Q: Whats your favorite Wrestlemania?

– R., @gullyblanchard

A: For childhood reasons, it’s WrestleMania VI with Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior in the main event. I was a kid who didn’t like Hulk Hogan, so it was thrilling to see Hogan lose.

As I get older, WrestleMania’s X-Seven ranks among my favorite. The TLC tag-team title match was great and The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin in the main event were the highlights.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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