2014 Sacramento Kings

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Sacramento Kings (Last Year: 28-54)

2013-14 Season Summary:
The postseason drought extended to eight years for the Sacramento Kings as they once again didn’t even come close to being a playoff contender in the Western Conference. While new management is in place and providing optimism for the future, turning the franchise into a relevant NBA team is still very much a work in progress.

Sacramento now enters the offseason with two major decisions regarding starters Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas. What ends up happening with those two players directly impacts the type of offseason the Kings will face this summer.

2014-15 Projected Depth Chart:

C: DeMarcus Cousins/Reggie Evans

PF: Jason Thompson/Derrick Williams/Carl Landry/Chuck Hayes

SF: *Rudy Gay/Travis Outlaw/^Quincy Acy

SG: Ben McLemore/Jason Terry

PG: #Isaiah Thomas/Ray McCallum

NBA Free Agents:

*SF-Rudy Gay (PO)

^SF-Quincy Acy (TO)

#PG-Isaiah Thomas (RFA)

C-Aaron Gray (UFA)

SG-Jared Cunningham (UFA)

2014-15 Team Salary: Approximately $47.3 million

NBA Offseason Team Needs:

1. Will Gay Stay?: Rudy Gay holds a $19.3 million option on the final year of his contract, so he has a pretty important decision that will determine the Kings’ gameplan this offseason. $19.3 million is A LOT of money to turn down, especially when Gay won’t sniff anything near that per year in a new contract from another club. Sacramento could try to offer Gay a long-term extension, but that wouldn’t seem to make sense with the direction the franchise is heading.

If Gay opts out of his deal, the Kings will have the cap space to be aggressive in free agency; a luxury they won’t have if Gay picks up the final year of his contract. If I were Sacramento, I’d be secretly rooting for Gay to leave since that additional cap space would go a long way in free agency or trying to acquiring new faces via trade and might actually be addition by subtraction.

2. Point Guard: Isaiah Thomas has been one of the biggest second-round steals of recent NBA drafts, but the Kings face a dilemma with him this summer. He is a restricted free agent and certainly due for a major raise. If I’m Sacramento, I am not sure I’m going to pay Thomas big-time money and ride him as my long-term point guard though. Do you think Thomas is a playoff-caliber starting point guard in the NBA? Still, the Kings cannot simply let him walk in the offseason without getting something in return. A best-case scenario would be Thomas agreeing to a reasonable extension that won’t cause the team to break the bank. If Sacramento does let him walk though, the club needs to find a new point guard since Ray McCallum is the only other floor general on the roster. Whether Thomas stays or leaves, somebody like Marcus Smart would make sense when the Kings are picking with the eighth-overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, especially since he would add the size and physicality that Thomas lacks.

3. Figure out their frontcourt: DeMarcus Cousins is the Kings’ horse down low. This isn’t news to anyone. However, Sacramento needs to figure out who his frontcourt mate is going to be moving into the future. The team acquired Timberwolves castoff Derrick Williams during the season, but he once again failed to find his niche. Jason Thompson simply isn’t a strong enough option, while veterans Marcus Landry, Reggie Evans, and Chuck Hayes are nothing more than role players.

Ideally, Sacramento would be wise to package a couple of the aforementioned names in a trade – possibly with Jason Terry’s expiring contract – to acquire a stable starter alongside Boogie. If the Kings are unable to do that, they might look at trying to snag either Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle of Kentucky, or Arizona’s Aaron Gordon with the eighth pick; if any of those guys end up falling to No. 8.

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