NBA AM: Kings Can Finally Work On Roster
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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As the Sacramento Kings underwent a lengthy sale process and nearly moved to Seattle, their team needs on the floor went a little bit neglected. Completing a sale and figuring out where the team was going to play moving forward had been the top priority for over a year, and it prohibited basketball-related moves a bit.
Those matters have been settled. The Maloofs officially sold the team as the city of Sacramento won the battle to keep their team. Mike Malone has come in and replaced Keith Smart as head coach and Pete D’Alessandro had his introductory press conference as the team’s new general manager yesterday.
Now it’s time to get to work on the actual team.
The Kings are seven seasons removed from their last playoff appearance and five years removed from the last time they even won more than 35 games. They haven’t been relevant in quite some time. Turning the team into a playoff contender over the course of one offseason is not very realistic, but just getting the team on the path to improvement where it looks like they can get into that mix by the following season would be a step in the right direction.
“I’ve always been that second guy,” D’Alessandro said to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. “I’ve always been the guy who can help, and we’ve had success wherever I’ve gone. I feel I’m ready.”
The draft will be the first order of business for D’Allesandro and company. The Kings have the seventh and 36th in next week’s draft.
Shortly after, free agency will begin and with only $42 million in in guaranteed contracts on the books for next season, the Kings are in a position where they could be one of the bigger players for top tier free agent. The salary cap is expected to be at roughly $58.5 million next season. They have a decision to make, though, on whether they want to bring back restricted free agent guard Tyreke Evans.
“I have a lot of agents to call,” D’Alessandro said. “I have to sit down with these players and Michael (Malone), and I will do that together. But I feel the future is really bright.”
The Kings still have their one-time amnesty provision that they can use to help them free up even more cap space to free this offseason. John Salmons and DeMarcus Cousins are the two players they can use it on, but if used it will be on Salmons. His contract is worth $7.5 million, so amnestying him would bring the Kings’ guaranteed total down to $34.4 million – enough to make a max offer.
Going after a Dwight Howard or Chris Paul in free agency isn’t realistic for the Kings, but they should be able to make competitive pitches to the next level of free agents, guys like Josh Smith, Monta Ellis and Andre Iguodala.
“I think this team is more of a clean canvas,” D’Alessandro said. “We have some strong pieces in there, but there’s a lot we can do to get it in the right direction.”
NBA Draft International Withdrawal Deadline Passes: The 2013 NBA Draft class is officially set with yesterday’s passing of the international withdrawal deadline. The two main players of note who withdrew were Dario Saric and Mouhammadou Jaiteh. Saric and Jaiteh were looked at as strong candidates to go in the first round, but they opted to spend another year playing professionally overseas to boost their stocks for the 2014 NBA Draft instead. Here’s a complete list of international prospects who pulled out:
Dario Saric, Croatia
Louis Labeyrie, France
Axel Toupane, France
Mouhammadou Jaiteh, France
Victor Gaddefors, Sweden
Linos Chrysikopoulos, Greece
Nemanja Besovic, Montenegro
Matias Bortolin, Argentina
Djordje Drenovac, Serbia
Marko Ramljak, Bosnia
Francois Affia Ambadiang, Cameroon
Adin Vrabac, Bosnia
Artem Pustovyi, Ukraine
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Serbia
Walter Tavares, Spain
Philip Neumann, Germany
The top international players who opted to stay in the draft are: Dennis Schroeder (Germany), Giannis Adetokunbo (Greece), Rudy Gobert (France), Sergey Karasev (Russia) and Lucas Nogueira (Brazil).
NBA Finals Resume Tonight: Legacies are on the line tonight as the San Antonio Spurs look to clinch the 2013 NBA Championship in Miami. The HEAT will have to win two in a row in order to defend their championship.
So far in the series, neither team has been able to win consecutive games. Despite its back-and-forth manner, the series has not seen a close game since the opener.
It is going to be very interesting to see what kind of Heat team we see tonight. Over the last year they’ve won every game that matters, but in the Spurs they’re facing their most efficient and experienced opponent yet.
The Spurs made a lineup change in Game 5, moving Manu Ginobili from the second unit to the starting lineup in hopes of getting him going. The starting nod and the motivation from all of the criticism he received prior turned out to be just what Ginobili needed in order to breakout. He put up 24 points and 10 assists in the Spurs’ blowout victory.
The Spurs are 3-0 in closeout games this postseason and have made it clear that they really need to make it 4-0, showing little interest in playing a Game 7 in Miami.
Tipoff is set for 9 pm EST on ABC.