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Seth Curry’s future depends on Kings’ willingness to keep him

Sacramento Kings guard Seth Curry (30) celebrates with teammates during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Monday, April 11, 2016, in Phoenix. Curry scored a team-high 20 points and had a career-best 15 assists.
Sacramento Kings guard Seth Curry (30) celebrates with teammates during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Monday, April 11, 2016, in Phoenix. Curry scored a team-high 20 points and had a career-best 15 assists. The Associated Press

After playing four games for three teams in his first two NBA seasons, Seth Curry last summer was uncertain about his NBA future.

A year later, he still wonders where he’ll play. He just knows he’ll be paid well.

Curry, who signed a two-year contract with the Kings for just under $2 million last offseason, opted out of the second year of the deal. The Kings extended him a qualifying offer Wednesday, making him a restricted free agent and giving them the right to match if he signs an offer sheet from another team looking for a point guard with shooting skills.

NBA free agency begins Thursday at 9:01 p.m., and the Kings are looking at players such as power forward Ryan Anderson and point guard Courtney Lee.

But the Kings might already have such a player if they can retain Curry. He cannot sign an offer sheet until July 7, and the first year of his contract cannot exceed the non-taxpayer mid-level exception – determined by the salary cap when it’s finalized; last year, it was $5.464 million – because he’s been in the NBA for only three seasons. The Kings would have three days to match or beat the offer.

The Kings signed Curry, a former Duke star and the younger brother of Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry, following a standout performance in the 2015 summer league with New Orleans.

Curry played a career-high 44 games last season, averaging 6.8 points and 1.5 assists. After the All-Star break, he averaged 11.1 points in 19 games while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 46.3 percent from three-point range. After averaging 14.4 points while starting nine of the Kings’ final 11 games, Curry decided to opt out of his contract to test the market.

Curry plans to meet with other teams, according to a league source, but his future hinges on the Kings’ willingness to match an offer to him. The source, who did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak on the matter, said no deal has been struck.

League sources and observers consider the Kings unpredictable in their pursuit of free agents. That’s one reason Anderson, a 6-foot-10 forward from Oak Ridge High School and Cal, is expected to pass on a chance to play for his hometown team and sign with a more stable, successful franchise.

The Kings’ reputation as dysfunctional is another deterrent. But the Kings believe hiring coach Dave Joerger and the moves they make this offseason will prove they are more stable.

That makes Curry’s restricted status important for Sacramento.

While Curry waits for offers, the Kings will explore their chances with Anderson, who averaged 17.0 points last season, and Lee, who finished last season with Charlotte.

Sacramento also has been linked to restricted free-agent guards Dion Waiters (Oklahoma City) and Allen Crabbe (Portland).

The Kings need more size and athleticism at point guard, shooting guard and small forward, especially to improve their defense.

Trades still might be Sacramento’s best option. The team’s surplus of centers after last week’s NBA draft makes reserve Kosta Koufos, for example, is expendable.

The Kings’ desire to improve at shooting guard also means Ben McLemore is available in a trade. The team already traded guard Marco Belinelli to Charlotte for the 22nd pick in the draft, which was used to select Syracuse guard Malachi Richardson.

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

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