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How Zach LaVine's signing would affect Kings, from roster competition to trades

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine averaged 16.7 points in 24 games with the Chicago Bulls last season.
Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine averaged 16.7 points in 24 games with the Chicago Bulls last season. AP

Editor's note: This analysis was posted shortly after the Kings signed Zach LaVine to an offer sheet. A couple hours later, the Bulls decided they would match the offer. Read the update here.

The Kings talk a lot about making smart decisions in the offseason.

So would signing restricted free agent guard Zach LaVine to a four-year, $78 million offer sheet fall into that category?

Outside of the fact LaVine plays the same position where the Kings already have two players they like (Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield), LaVine fits the criteria the Kings set for this free agency period.

LaVine, 23, can grow with the core that includes De'Aaron Fox, Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley III. The Kings did not want to tie up multiple years in older players, as they did last year with Zach Randolph and George Hill.

The supremely athletic LaVine can also play the fast-paced style the Kings desire to use this season.

Opinion

And most importantly, LaVine, is a needed upgrade in talent.

Chicago has 48 hours to match the offer. If the Bulls match, LaVine could not be traded to the Kings for a year.

So what does the Kings' move mean?

1. The Kings are serious about upgrading their talent

Sacramento failed to land free agent small forward Mario Hezonja, but didn't play the role of the spurned lover. They continued exploring ways to upgrade.

The Kings have the longest playoff drought in the NBA at 12 seasons and bad teams must add talent, regardless of position.

LaVine, who was averaging 18.9 points before he tore his left ACL in February 2017, could easily step in as a starter.

Adding LaVine would create a logjam of minutes at shooting guard, but competition would be good for the Kings.

2. The Kings must be active in the trade market

If the Bulls do not match the offer, the Kings would have a viable trade piece in Hield, a great perimeter shooter still on his rookie contract. Bogdanovic showed he belonged in the NBA last season and was a leader in the locker room, so there would be interest in him, too.

The Kings, of course, do not have to move Hield or Bogdanovic and could rely on three-guard lineups that could include Fox pushing the pace.

Sacramento also has four expiring deals in Zach Randolph, Iman Shumpert, Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos that could be in play.

The Kings would like to acquire a first-round pick in next year's draft. They also still need a small forward with second-year player Justin Jackson the only one on the roster.

3. Actual competition for playing time

Rebuilding teams can easily fall into the trap of giving young players minutes simply because they are young.

Adding LaVine would mean the Kings aren't proceeding that way.

The Kings aren't abandoning their plan to develop their young players, but nothing will be guaranteed, even for players they like, such as Hield and Bogdanovic.

Jackson would have to play well enough to give coach Dave Joerger incentive to not to go with three-guard lineups.

The competition that was clearly going to take place at power forward/center would then be extended to shooting guard.

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