I've been looking forward to this post for awhile. (Not really.) Where do the Kings go from here? With the news of Michael Malone being hired yesterday (or presumed to start the process of Malone being hired within the next few days), and with the news of the sale officially closing, and with the news of Vivek Ranadive purchasing the 7% stake that Chris Hansen declined to follow through with purchasing after being denied the 65% stake, well, today's a good day.
That's the good news. The bad news is everything else.
What is this roster looking like moving forward?
The bad news is that the real reality of this roster is a pretty ugly one right now. You have a bunch of mis-matched parts, no real superstar or franchise player to build around, one player who has the talent but lacking the personality to push the team over the top, a player with the personality with fairly atrocious production to match, and a various assortment of players who more or less fit in some ways but do not always fit well together.
Yeah. This is nothing new. But the situation has not changed, and while I don't think everything gets settled this month, I do think the decisions that the new GM (whoever it may be) has some colossally difficult decisions to make. That's why GM's get paid to do the job they do, no doubt, but this is a rather difficult degree of difficulty. (Then again, if it were simple, anybody could do it, right?)
The best asset the Kings may have right now is either A) DeMarcus Cousins or B) Tyreke Evans or C) The 2014 pick depending on where it ends up. That's not much of a consensus.
That's a bit of a problem if you can't realistically get a clear consensus from a lot of smart fans on what the best asset's the organization currently has.
(Note: I know a lot of fans think that Cousins is the best asset the Kings organization has, but it's pretty clear there are plenty of fans who do not agree. Fans who do not walk anyone's line, and do not tolerate either bullshit or rhetoric to dominate the conversation. People who watch this team day in day out and know how this team got there. These people don't just say this stuff for the hell of it. There's a reason.)
If I were to guess right now, I'd have to say Cousins is the best asset the Kings have for a couple of reasons. 1) He's tradeable right now. Literally. The Kings can't trade their 2014 pick at all due to the Stepien Rule and the pick that was part of the JJ Hickson trade. Note: The Kings also can't trade their 2013 1st round pick due to the Stepien Rule, too, but you can get around this because once you make a pick the pick is no longer seen as a future pick.
Tyreke Evans can't be traded at any point, as his contract is up on June 30th, and until the Kings either A) offer Tyreke the Qualifying Offer or B) the Maximum Qualifying Offer, there's no contract decision to be made and no trade can happen with a potential free agent to be. The only thing left with Tyreke is to either A) offer the QO, B) offer the Max QO, C) offer Tyreke the QO and let him field offers from other teams with the possibility to match, D) re-sign Tyreke outright or E) facilitate a sign & trade for Tyreke.
Thus, literally until the draft, DeMarcus Cousins, quite literally by default, is the only actual trade asset the Kings have among the 2014 pick (assuming they get it), Evans and Cousins.
That isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of DeMarcus Cousins is it? I thought not.
Which, again, is a problem. This franchise does not have a "franchise" player in any way shape or form. That's a problem, too.
So, again, where to go?
I would love to have a clear answer here, but whatever answer Vivek Ranadive, his new GM and Malone come up with, it's going to be wrong. Or most likely will be wrong anyway.
Let's say for a moment that Ranadive and his group of merry bandits get together and decide to keep the band together as many are advocating right now. Let's say Tyreke gets a max contract, Cousins doesn't get a contract extension at all (I wouldn't hesitate to do it that way).
Which way do you move moving forward? Having a clear vision is helpful, and well, I think we know that starts with ownership.
Is Free Agency a way to go?
I've said as recently as March that I doubt Free Agency could be a real factor in the process moving ahead. But I might be wrong with that depending on how creative the new GM and ownership are in crafting deals. Also, what assets they are willing to give up to make a deal work. (Easier said than done.)
Right now, with cap holds and committed salary, the Kings have about 72 million according to Sham Sports. (Looks right to me.) Additiionally, Storytellers has Aaron Brooks cap hit for the upcoming season at 686,419 which seems right, too. (At the time, Brooks was believed to get the rest of his guaranteed salary, and the rule is the buyout will effect the remaining years of the contract with the buyout taking place of the salary as far as the cap hit for the remaining years of the contract. However it's possible that set-off, especially if Brooks new contract with the Rockets ends up being guaranteed for next season, that the Kings are able to get a full amount of set-off that exceeds what the current cap hit is. If nothing else, that makes it easier on the Kings moving forward in terms of flexibility but little else. 650K means little in overall cap room, but it's one minor hurdle you no longer have to clear.
On the other hand, set-off is also clearly for actual salary paid, and it's not clear how it effects buy-outs. So I'm assuming that Brooks' salary remains on the cap as a result.)
So right now, this is the cap picture as I see it (with a great assist from Sham Sports especially and Storytellers too–as always thank you gentleman).
|Aaron Brooks *||$2,575,806||686,419||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||$2,575,806|
|Total w/o options||$53,576,042||$42,032,078||$30,571,250||$6,431,250||$6,825,000||$0|
|Tyreke Evans||-||$13,129,563||250% of previous salary|
|James Johnson||-||$7,030,015||250% of previous salary|
|Toney Douglas||-||$5,169,700||250% of previous salary|
|Cole Aldrich||-||$3,245,152||What his salary would have been were his 4th year option exercised|
|#6 pick *||-||$2,643,600||100% of rookie scale salary for that pick|
|Total cap holds:||$0||$31,218,030||Total amount of all them cap holds.|
|Total salary inc. cap holds & options:||$53,576,042||$73,019,808||Total salary if all options are exercised, including cap holds.|
|Total salary inc. cap holds, without options:||$53,576,042||$73,019,808||Total salary if all options are declined, including cap holds.|
First, Isiaah Thomas' contract is not guaranteed on Sham's Kings salary page. However, due to the stipulations of the contract that if Isaiah plays 15 minutes in 50 or more games, IT22 guarantees his contract for the next season. In otherwords, IT22 has a guaranteed contract for next season. I also changed the 6th pick cap hold currently on Sham's page to the 7th pick since Mark Deeks (Sham Sports) hasn't had the opportunity to update these minor details. (It's his hobby, not his job after all.) It's really important that I update them for the purposes of this post, but not so much for him. There are other things going on.
A couple of things. With Tyreke's cap hold and with the 7th pick cap hold, if you factor in the base salary already on the books, the Kings have 57,574,941$$$ committed toward the cap. (Note: The amount that counts against the cap is different than dollars committed to players.) Since the cap is likely to be a marginal gain over last season, at best, and the cap was at 58,044,000 last season, you can understand why I say the Kings don't have cap room. It's because the Kings don't quite literally.
The other flip to this is until we know what the exact cap figure is, we wont' know whether or not the Kings have actual cap room. We can only surmise what is so. Isn't this fun!
For those saying, but if we renounce all our options and whatever on every player we have all this cap room! Yeah, that's true. Are you willing to renounce Tyreke Evans because you don't like some minutaiue of his overall game? I'm not. I think that's very bad policy to renounce an asset to make an ill-fated play in the Free Agency market that may not pan out.
But you said they could amnesty John Salmons!!! I want him gone!!!
Okay, shit, hold your horses child. I'm getting to it. If you amnesty John Salmons, renounce everyone else on the cap (Johnson, Douglas, and Aldrich) that isn't Tyreke Evans or the 7th pick, you can get some cap room depending on what else you do in the interim. (This is a rather fluid situation after all.)
Remember, I said that if you keep Tyreke & the 7th pick on the cap, you now have $$57,574,941 on your cap, now you add the cap relief of the amnesty provision on Salmons contract to next season. Which is $7,583,000, and now your cap is standing at $$49,991,941.
Not enough to offer a max contract straight out to someone like Andre Iguodala, but certainly enough cap room to make a Sign and Trade very possible.
But here's the thing, you don't need to do this unless Denver is trying to take a lot less salary for Iguodala. Last year's maximum salary was $16,402,500, and it's not unreasonable to expect that number could go up all the way to 17,500,000 this summer if things go the right way.
Here's the thing about sign & trades that people do not realize, it's upon the discretion of A) both teams and the free agent to get something done and B) it has to work under the cap. Let's assume Denver and Iguodala are willing to be part of a S&T to get Andre Iguodala to Sacramento. The second part really matters because, even though BYC is largely non-existent in this CBA, it still applies to one area: Sign and trade's.
So, to recap for those that do not know what BYC is, you suddenly become a BYC player if you are getting a contract that is 20% greater than your previous contract AND if your team is over the salary cap. Denver's over the cap, but the good news is that S&T's for Iguodala will not exceed the 20% threshold to qualify him as BYC. In otherwords, this makes S&T'ing Iguodala much easier for Denver if they so choose. A 20% raise from Iguodala's last season under salary ($14,968,250) would be $17,961,900. Like I said, unless the maximum salary for a 7-9 player goes dramatically above the 17.5 million mark I just cited, I doubt Igoudala becomes BYC in any S&T transaction. Which helps Denver a great deal in dealing with any team they want.
But here's the flip side to that: This goes for any team, not just Sacramento. So keep that in mind. Now suddenly, other teams have that luxury to make a dollar for dollar trade while signing Iguodala to a max deal. It's a problem, in otherwords.
I don't understand your point!!!
My point is the same I've been trying to make no matter how often people ignore me: Trades are almost very likely the best way to get upgrades in players. And how that happens? I do not know.
The best asset the Kings can trade right now is DeMarcus Cousins and, well, that's by default. Any potential Free Agency signing or sign and trade possibility is not going to be simple with a lot of teams with cap room this summer. Atlanta, Cleveland, Utah, Portland, and even Orlando has a huge trade exception (acquired in the Dwight Howard deal) the Magic can use to cover a maximum salary in a sign and trade.
In otherwords, Sacramento is not the only team out there that can make moves. But there are opportunities, and like anything, it's what you are willing to do to make improvements that matter.
I'm withholding judgment from Vivek Ranadive and the rest of the ownership group until they get a GM in here, get a draft, a Free Agency session and an entire whole season with a chance for a system to even be set up before I even begin to judge them. It takes a lot of time, and time is the only guaranteed cure to fix what ail's the Kings.
Make no mistake, what ails the Kings is they do not have a franchise player. Cousins doesn't have the talent in my opinion, Evans lacks the personality to grab Cousins by the head and shake him when he gets out of line (which is far too often), and well, everything devolves after that.
Make no mistake, I have no interest in labeling Tyreke Evans as a franchise player for a variety of reasons. There's not been anything remotely resembling nearly enough statistical information that would give one the idea that Evans is a likely franchise player either. The difference between Evans and Cousins is that one is at least reasonable and reliable (to a degree) and one is not. It's impossible, IMO, to be a franchise guy and be as unstable and unreliable as Cousins is. And that's assuming you have the talent which I do not believe Cousins has, either.
Like I said, no matter what Vivek and Company does. it's going to be the wrong move. Fans will be unhappy, and that's not even entertaining rumors that have recently surfaced around the Cavaliers in particular.
So that's that.
Until next time that is.