Sacramento Kings – Off Season Report

 

Portland Trail Blazers v Sacramento Kings

2015/2016 Record: 33-49

Ins:

Arron Afflalo FA – 2 years / $25m (3rd year partially guaranteed
Matt Barnes FA – 2 Years / $12.5m
Georgios Papagiannis DR – Pick #13
Malachi Richardson DR – Pick # 22
Skal Labissiere DR – Pick #28
Isaiah Cousins DR – Pick #59
Jordan Farmar FA – 1 year / $1.4m (Non-Guaranteed)
Lamar Patterson FA – 1 Year / $874k (Partially Guaranteed)
Ty Lawson FA – 1 Year / $1.3m (Non-Guaranteed)
Garrett Temple FA – 3 years / $24m
Anthony Tolliver FA – 2 years / $16m (2nd year partially guaranteed)

Outs:

Quincy Acy FA – Mavericks
James Anderson FA – Hornets
Marco Belinelli TR – Hornets
Caron Butler FA – Dallas
Seth Curry FA – Dallas
Duje Dukan FA – Cavs
Eric Moreland FA – Cavs
Rajon Rondo FA – Bulls

Off Season Analysis:

The Sacramento Kings yet again provided the biggest head scratching moment of the off season with their selection of Georgios Papagiannis with the 13th pick. Who? Draftexpress.com had him mocked at 22. The Kings second pick was at 22… See my point? Excluding their draft, the Kings, (arguably the biggest dumpster fire of an organisation the past 3 seasons) didn’t have a bad off season, it just wasn’t great. They signed former Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger, somehow convinced Charlotte to trade the 22nd pick for Belinelli, drafted three rookies all with potential, and signed solid vets in Barnes, Afflalo and Tolliver. Yet it’s a stark reflection of Sacramento’s last 3 years when you give positive marks for general competence. This off-season had one clear object; to keep Boogie happy, and in true Kings front office fashion they went about it in very confusing manner.

Boogie and the Centres

Demarcus Cousins is arguably the most dominant big man of the game. Not only is he a monster in the low block, he is one the game’s best big man passers, with an incredible deft touch for a 6’11” 250lb big man (He claims to have lost 20lbs this off season.) Scarily he even developed a 3pt shot last season that was over utilised under George Karl’s run and gun system. However, legitimate questions remain as to why he hasn’t carried his team to the playoffs, (that’s right, Boogie has never played past April.) Yet in the 17 games Cousins didn’t play last season, the Kings went 4-13. Moreover advance stats (below) highlight his positive impact on all stats when he is on the court (except offensive boards, but that’s understandable given he led the league last season in usage with rate of 35.4%)

screen-shot-2016-10-08-at-9-04-29-am

basketball-reference.com

Yet for all his notable failings; arguing with referees, arguing with the coach, with team mates, or getting scrappy with players he is a bona fide star and his passion for the game cannot be argued with.

So with the most dominant big man in the league, you think the Kings would surround Boogie with solid role players or even rookies that could grow to complement his game? Well it’s the Kings so no they didn’t, instead they drafted with their first pick the seventh highest ranked centre in the draft in Georgios Papagiannis. Oh and then they select the highly touted Skal Labissiere with their third and final 1st round pick. That leaves their depth at the centre position five deep:

1. Cousins  2.Cauley-Stein  3.Koufos  4.Labissiere  5.Papagiannis

No wonder Boogie tweeted:

capture-give-me-strengthGranted Papagiannis might not even see the floor this year, but further free agent signing complicate issues. Boogie should not be a four. He does not have the quickness or lateral agility to defend smaller stretch fours. So with Cousins rightly at the five, it means Cauley-Stein or Koufos will have to slide over to the four. That leaves Tolliver and Casspi struggling to find minutes. They cannot slide down to the three with Gay and Barnes already splitting minutes at their preferred position. However there is one positive in the league’s worst log jam; the flexibility it will provide new head coach Dave Joerger. Joerger can go big or small or whatever combination works best on the night. Importantly, it provides the Kings and Joerger with a team that will be able defend.

Questionable Additions:

Now onto to the rookies. As mentioned previously the Kings had 3 first round draft picks. They received two of these picks from draft day deals. The first being labelled by Nate Duncan as ‘the second best trade of the off season’: Marco Belinelli for Charlotte’s 22nd pick. If you’re not sure why it’s a good trade, check out his per 100 stats from last season, compared with his career averages:

bello

basketball-reference.com

This was followed up by trading their 8th pick to the Suns for Picks 13, 28, the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovich and a 2020 2nd round pick. As a result they had picks 13, 22, 28 selecting Papagiannis, Richardson and Labissiere. Big Papa is an interesting prospect: a 7’2” 260 lbs Greek big man who has been playing professional basketball in Greece since he was 14. Last season for Panathinaikos he averaged 5.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 67% from the field in only 10 minutes of action. He makes his living around the rim, not possessing a diverse offensive game with a timid defensive game according to Jonathan Givony at DraftExpress. What Big Papa will  bring to the to the Kings is his dad’s strong anti-Dragan Bender Twitter game:

capture-papagiannis

If the Kings were desperate after a project big man, I am unsure why they didn’t keep the 8th pick and select Marquese Chriss who projects to be a much better fit next to Boogie. If you are investing in a project big man like Chriss or even Papagiannis, then a second project in Skal is simply an unaffordable luxury in today’s NBA (RIP Hinkie). Malachi Richardson, the 22nd pick, was a questionable selection given the needs of the team. Richardson was a ball heavy scorer that is known for his ability to hit the contested shot and also his ability to take the unnecessary shot. And you could imagine another Gay-esque iso player would make Boogie really happy. The Richardson pick is made more confusing given highly touted SG/SF international prospects in Luwawu and Korkmaz were still available, and who are better able to provide greater spacing a Boogie needs.

malachi

draftexpress.com

On the topic of needs the Kings continually to ignore their need for a foundation point guard. Keep in mind the Kings have passed on Mudiay for Cauley-Stein, and on Wade Baldwin IV for Papagiannis. Then the Rondo experiment did not succeed, so now the Kings are left with Collison running the point. Don’t get me wrong, Collison is a solid player, but best served coming off the bench, not running a team desperately in the hunt for post-season success. There is also his legal troubles; recently pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge and the league subsequently suspending him for 8 games. The addition of Lawson possibly helps. If he works out great, if he implodes again, he is on a one year deal. Then there is the Garrett Temple signing; and what Nate Duncan calls one of ‘the worst contracts of this off season.’ Prior to the addition of Lawson, Temple was to slated to run the second unit, and as evidenced below he has never played as a pure point, nor has his stats ever indicated he is capable of doing so. Yet he is being paid $8 million a year, with a player option as 32 year old. What compounds this bad contract is that the Kings had a serviceable player in Seth Curry that proved he could run the second unit in the second half of last season.

However in early July the Kings rescinded the qualifying offer to Seth Curry after he declined his player option. As a result he became an unrestricted free agent. This for me is another typical Kings cap/roster mismanagement. Kings could have signed the QO and then assessed the market value for Curry. Instead they allowed him to walk and signed Temple for $8m. Curry eventually signed with Dallas as a free agent in Dallas for 2 years / $6m. Have a look at their stats from last year, and tell me if you would be comfortable paying Temple $6m more a season..

 

screen-shot-2016-10-08-at-9-01-07-am

For once it may be impossible to blame the coach

The one standout of the Kings off season is without a doubt the hiring of former Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger. Joerger alongside Vogel, were the two prized coaches available this off season. But Joerger made the most sense for the Kings. For all his shortcomings (not trusting rookies, not shooting the 3-ball, limited post-season success) he is an x and o’s wizard and a defensive specialist. But there are a few concerns as to whether his success at Memphis will carry over to Sacramento. He doesn’t have the calibre of players now; instead of Gasol, ZBo, Conley, Tony Allen he has Boogie, WCTS, Gay, Afflalo, Collison. The Grizzlies’ vets were self-policing, for the collection of egos and reputations he coached (Allen, ZBo, Barnes and Stephenson) you rarely heard of any disunity unlike the Kings. But Joergers players always played hard for him and he respected his guys immensely:

The real impediment to Joerger’s success won’t be the players but seemingly the Ranadive and the Front Office. There is the issue of Ranadive having a history trying to dictate the style of play, (he wanted to be a three-ball team in 2014/15 when McLemore/Casspi were their only options from deep, or when he proposed the idea 4 on 5 defence) Yet more than likely Joerger will want to slow things down and run the offence though Boogie on the high post, being a the combined player of Gasol and ZBo. However Joerger’s greatest contribution may not be his ability to execute a system that better suits his sole star, but to get the players, the FO and the fans to buy in and to bring stability to the organisation not seen for many years.

Grade: C

2016/17 Prediction: 39-43

League Pass Meter: 5/10

The 5 is for the x-factor this team will have each night. By X-Factor I mean Boogie. He is a star and a monster in the post. This team has potential to play solid basketball so tune in early to see what kind of team turns up this season.

Depth Chart:

PG: Collison Temple Lawson*  Farmar*
SG: Afflalo McLemore Patterson* Cousins*
SF: Gay Barnes Richardson
PF: Cauley-Stein Cassipi Tolliver
C: Cousins Koufos Labissiere Papagiannis

*Salary likely guarantees 10th Jan 2017

Salary Cap Situation:

2016/17 salaries: $95,046,853
2017/18 salaries: $43,522,230

Max room: -$903,853
Min room: -$4,182,822

Future Assets:

Incoming:
2018 2nd (Blazers)
2020 2nd (Pistons)

Outgoing:
2017 1st (Bulls Protected 1-10)
2017 1st (76ers swap, protected 11-30)
2017 2nd (Magic)
2019 1st (76ers)
2019 2nd (76ers)

2016/17 Questions:

Will Boogie still be a King come seasons end?

Will Papagiannis and Skal pan out or flame out?

Can this team achieve for the frist time since 2005/06  a.500 season?

Can Ty Lawson become relevant again?

Other than the rooks, which big/s will be riding the bench at the start of the season?

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