Even though it has been a busy time for several NBA franchises, some of the biggest highlights of the first few weeks of the NBA’s free agency period came from younger players re-signing with their respective franchises.
The Atlanta Hawks re-signed guard Dejounte Murray to a four-year contract. Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards and Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton each signed five-year extensions. The Charlotte Hornets locked down guard LaMelo Ball on a five-year deal of his own, keeping the one-time All-Star on the squad for the foreseeable future.
The Kings were relatively quiet during last year’s free agency period. They agreed to a two-year contract with guard Malik Monk, who averaged 13.5 points and 3.9 assists per game last season. They added forward KZ Okpala on a two-year contract. Forward Kent Bazemore and guard Matthew Dellavedova signed one-year contracts. Sacramento earned a record of 48-34 and their first trip to the NBA Playoffs since the 2005-06 season, pushing the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the first round before eventually falling in a 120-100 loss at the Golden 1 Center.
What grades should the moves made by the Sacramento Kings during the first few weeks of the NBA’s Free Agency period receive?
Domantas Sabonis re-signs: A
Forward Domantas Sabonis re-signed on a five-year, $217 million contract extension earlier this month.
Sabonis, a former first-round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, averaged 19.1 points, 12.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game in 79 games played during last year’s regular season. He remained a key piece on the Kings’ roster during the team’s seven-game series against the Warriors, posting averages of 16.4 points and 11 rebounds as he played in all seven matchups.
The three-time All-Star has been an important part of the Kings’ rotation since he first came to Sacramento in a six-player deal in 2022. Having Sabonis locked down for the next five years can go a long way in ensuring the Kings can continue to light the beam with a playoff-caliber core.
Kings trade for Chris Duarte: B+
The Kings traded for Indiana Pacers guard Chris Duarte in exchange for two second-round selections.
Duarte was taken with the 13th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. He has averaged 10.7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game during his two-year NBA career in Indiana. The 6-foot-6 guard will have a cap hit of about $4.12 million during the 2023-24 season, according to salaries and contracts website Spotrac.
Duarte can be a solid option for Sacramento at the two or the three if he can become more efficient from the field than last year. He can be a fantastic player alongside Monk, guards Kevin Huerter and Colby Jones if the Kings can figure out how to fit him into their rotation immediately.
Sasha Vezenkov signs with Kings: B
The Kings agreed on a three-year, $20 million contract with forward Sasha Vezenkov during the first few days of the NBA’s free agency period.
Vezenkov played for Olympiacos Piraeus, a Greek club based in Piraeus, Greece. The former Euroleague MVP has hit 39.5% of his 3-point shots and 62.8% of his attempts from the field during his lengthy Euroleague career, where he split time between Olympiacos and FC Barcelona Bàsquet. Sacramento acquired his draft rights from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for the No. 49 pick in the 2022 draft and cash considerations, according to a 2022 tweet from ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
With an average salary of about $6.7 million per year, Vezenkov could be a good addition if he can replicate the scoring he showcased in the Euros on Sacramento’s bench.
Trey Lyles re-signs: B
The Kings brought back forward Trey Lyles on a two-year, $16 million contract.
The former Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets forward was shipped to Sacramento in a four-team trade in 2022. He has since played in 98 regular season games for the Kings, earning comfortable averages of 8.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and a 36.3% from the 3-point line. He averaged 6.6 points and 5.7 rebounds during the NBA playoffs.
It never hurts to retain players who can add extra depth at the four. If he can continue playing consistent minutes behind forward Harrison Barnes, he can be a reliable player for Sacramento for the next two years.
Alex Len re-signs: B-
Center Alex Len re-signed with Sacramento on a one-year, $3.2 million contract.
Len has been with the Kings since the 2021-22 season. He played in 15 games for Sacramento during the 2019-20 season after he and forward Jabari Parker were traded from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for center Dewayne Dedmon and two second-round picks. He returned to Sacramento in 2021 after spending time with the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards.
“It is great to welcome Alex back to the Kings,” Kings General Manager Monte McNair said in a 2021 release. “Alex will add toughness, competitiveness and experience while securing our front line depth.”
Len didn’t earn too much playing time last year. He played in 6.2 minutes per the 26 games he suited up for. Still, he can be a solid backup who can provide some stability off the bench on a decent price.
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