Evaluating the Sacramento Kings 2019 Offseason
As the Kings prepare to enter the 2019-2020 NBA season, they’ll be tasked with ending the longest current playoff drought in the league. After last qualifying for the playoffs in 2006, the Kings certainly made a run towards playoff contention last season, up until a couple weeks after the trade deadline.
Nonetheless, the team finished with a 39-43 record, emerging as the 9th seed in the stacked Western Conference. A lot went right for the Kings last season: De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield emerged as one of the best young backcourt combinations, Marvin Bagley was named to the First Team All Rookie Team, the team acquired Harrison Barnes from Dallas, Harry Giles was able to get on the court and looked like a productive player in limited minutes, and Bogdan Bogdanovic continued to grow as a player.
Heading into next year, the Kings made some significant changes to the coaching staff by firing head coach Dave Joerger and replacing him with former Lakers head coach Luke Walton. Rumors say that there was a disconnect between the front office and Joerger, entering around the team’s usage of rotation members and key players. Minutes management became a source of contention for the franchise, and that friction inevitably led two the dismissal of Joerger, and the quick recruitment of a young player's coach in Walton to lead Sacramento's youth movement.
From a roster standpoint, the Kings made moves that should help give them a puncher's chance in a crowded Western Conference playoff race.
Sacramento brought in:
Harrison Barnes - resigned to a 4 year/$85 million contract.
Dewayne Dedmon - signed as an unrestricted free agent to a 3 year/$40 million contract.
Corey Joseph - signed as an unrestricted free agent to a 3 year/$37 million contract.
Trevor Ariza - signed as an unrestricted free agent to a 2 year/$25 million contract.
Richaun Holmes - signed as an unrestricted free agent to a 2 year/$9.7 million contract.
From a free agency standpoint, the Kings targeted and acquired second tier players to help provide veteran leadership to their younger core.
Harrison Barnes and Dewayne Dedmon will be immediately inserted as starters, while Corey Joseph will see the bulk of back-up point guard minutes behind Fox. Trevor Ariza provides a quality 3-and-D veteran who can play multiple positions. Richaun Holmes adds front court depth to go alongside Dedmon, Bagley, and Giles.
Within an improved Western Conference, it’ll be an uphill battle for the Kings to end their playoff drought. However, with the offseason acquisitions they made and what the front office hopes is a coaching upgrade, the Kings should certainly challenge for playoff position.
As it stands, the team is probably slotted to finish anywhere between the 7th-12th spot in the West standings. Much of their success will depend on De’Aaron Fox continuing to grow his game as one of the more dynamic young point guards in the league, and for Fox to legitimately challenge for All-Star berths. For the first time in awhile, hope is prevalent in Sacramento. Expectations should hover around 40-45 wins for this group. It’s way too early to say the playoff drought will end, but things are moving in a positive direction for a franchise that has long wandered aimlessly in the land of NBA purgatory.