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A hole at small forward, young talents and trades: Kings have options in free agency

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker will be a restricted free agent, but the Kings are already loaded with bigs.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker will be a restricted free agent, but the Kings are already loaded with bigs. AP file

NBA free agency begins at 9:01 PST on Saturday, and most of the focus is on where LeBron James will play, if Paul George decides to become a Laker and whether Kawhi Leonard be traded.

The Kings won't have enough salary cap space to pursue the upper-echelon free agents if veteran guard Garrett Temple opts in for his $8 million salary for next season. Sacramento would be approximately $17 million under the projected salary cap of $101 million.

That doesn't mean the Kings will sit back and not attempt to improve the roster. Here are some ways they could make things interesting this summer:

Searching for a small forward

The Kings need a veteran small forward to address a need for size and experience on the wing. Orlando free agent Mario Hezonja will be a top target.

Hezonja averages 6.9 points on 41.8 percent shooting (33.2 percent from 3-point) for his career. He was the fifth-overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, but has been underwhelming, even though he did play better last season, averaging a career-high 9.6 points.

The Kings do not want to tie up long-term money in a player who isn't a part of their nucleus for the future, but Hezonja might be able to be secured with a one or two-year deal, depending on interest from other other teams.

Hezonja is an unrestricted free agent.

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The restricted free agent market

The Kings could target young restricted free agents, as they did last year with Otto Porter Jr.

Milwaukee's Jabari Parker, Cleveland's Rodney Hood and San Antonio's Kyle Anderson are all restricted free agents whose futures could be dictated by what their teams do in free agency. Those players aren't likely to command the same salary as Porter, who signed a four-year, $106.5 million deal with Washington last July.

Parker, however, is more of a power forward and after drafting Marvin Bagley III it wouldn't make sense to add another big.

Trade watch

The Kings have four expiring contracts (including Temple) in Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos and Iman Shumpert that could be valuable in the summer and as the season progresses.

The Kings also have no first-round draft pick in 2019, so they could perhaps move some of their expiring contracts to take back a player with an undesirable deal if a first-round pick is attached to it.

A trade is also how the Kings might add a veteran small forward.

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