Predicted finish: 14th in the West (5th in the Pacific, 24 in the power rankings)
Last seasons conference finish: 12th in the West
With Bogdan Bogdanovic walking in free agency, it feels like the Kings are in a weird place. Their contract extension of De’Aaron Fox would suggest they want to stay good as would the fact they haven’t traded Buddy Hield, Naman Bjelica or Richaun Holmes yet. However, by letting an in his prime 28 year-old guard walk for nothing and drafting another young guard, that would seem to point to a small step back. Frankly I hope it’s the latter. A Fox, Hield, Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley team had a hard ceiling of if everything breaks right, the what eighth seed? Now with Tyrese Haliburton, I hope they suck this year and acquire another good young player in the hopes of being really good next season. Outside of OKC, everyone in the west thinks they’re a playoff team. Why not tank by giving your young guys an exorbitant amount of minutes, finish bottom two in the west and get a great pick? For the last two years they’ve been stuck in this weird 10-12 seed purgatory and I hope the Haliburton pick causes a franchise reality check of what they actually are.
The big question for the franchise: How good is De’Aaron Fox?
They gave Fox a max and frankly he hasn’t deserved it yet. He’s shown signs of being that guy but the numbers he’s put up just aren’t $30 million a year good, sorry. The only thing stopping this team from being bad is Fox having a breakout All-Star type season and carrying them which would be fun for everyone involved. I just don’t see that in him which is why I think they’ll be bottom two in the west but if he wants to prove me wrong, go right ahead. For me though, this contract has the potential to be bad and I don’t get why no one is saying it. It feels like he has a quietly, randomly decently sized fan base on twitter that carries how he’s seen because otherwise, so far in the league he’s been good, not special. That max should be for special, it’s too much money to just throw around (ask the Wolves and Wiggins). Fox has a lot to prove this year whether his fans may believe or not, otherwise that contract could look bad quick.
One move I want to see them make: Trade Holmes and Bjelica
This should be pretty self-explanatory, as two veterans with value they need to get something for them. Especially because in the case of Bjelica it would open up minutes for Marvin Bagley (you know the guy they took over Luka). I’d keep Hield though because the contract I feel is a little harder to move than people realize and with his younger age I’d say it’s worth hanging onto. For Holmes and Bjelica, if they’re on the roster post trade deadline, that’s an organizational failure.
Offseason Grade: C-
Letting Bogdanovic go for nothing is a disaster, plain and simple. There’s no reason it should’ve came to that outside of organizational incompetence. Also, letting Harry Giles walk for basically no money in Portland only to pay Hassan Whiteside and Frank Kaminsky is mind blowing. The only saving grace from this F of a free agency is the absolute steal of Haliburton. His fit is so good on this team with Fox and Co. I just can’t fail them though their free agency is asking for it.
Young player I’m excited for: Marvin Bagley
Whether Kings fans like it or not it has to be said, this dude was drafted over Luka Doncic. As Doncic contends for an MVP Bagley needs to show something this year. The injuries are so far so bad they cost Vlade Divac his job and I see no signs of it turning around. He’s had flashes when he’s actually played but let’s all be honest on how often that’s actually been.
The Kings are going to be bad this year barring and unforeseen jump from Fox or Bagley. The good news is with Haliburton now in the fold, this team has a really intriguing young core and with the west so loaded, a high lottery pick in an outstanding draft could be another steal for the Kings. To me a small step back should be taken to make room for the shot of a bunch of big steps forward because at this point, this team has a bizarrely low ceiling that begs the question of what the heck is the point?