In the past few years, Sacramento has relied on the draft to add most of their new players. Free agency has, for the most part, slipped by quietly for the Kings organization.
If the Kings are committed to improving this season and actually competing for a playoff spot, this needs to be the season that they aggressively attack free agency. They have the cap space to do it, and plenty of holes in their roster that need to be addressed.
The major question is obvious—will Sacramento spend the money? In the last three years, the Kings have been at the bottom of league salary. It isn't exactly the most stable of times in Sacramento right now, but the owners, the Maloof Brothers, continue to insist they are financial sound and will spend as needed.
Will they spend above the league minimum this year? As doubtful as that might be, the Kings need to face the fact that they absolutely must be willing to spend money if they want to improve on the court.
The Kings must resign forward Jason Thompson, and resigning Terrence Williams would also be a good move. But after that? They have plenty of options.
Let's take a look at ten players Sacramento should seriously look at in this year's free agency crop.
Jeff Green spent the last year sidelined after having heart surgery last December. He'd signed an extension with the Celtics, but after the severity of his heart condition became apparent, his contract was voided.
Sacramento had it's own complications involving players and their hearts—the Kings signed, then voided, then signed again forward Chuck Hayes last season amid concerns about his over-sized heart. They should be willing to take another chance on Green, a young, athletic small forward who would fill the need at the three spot well.
Green may well come at a bit of a discount considering his talent, especially if teams are wary about his health.
Darrell Arthur missed last year due to a torn ACL. The Grizzlies managed to cover up his absence by adding Marreese Speights, but Arthur's athleticism was sorely missed.
The Kings need big man depth, especially someone who's above average athletically. Who knows if Arthur can return to his previous form after his ACL tear, but he'd be a smart risk. He could give the Kings what they'd hoped out of JJ Hickson.
I can already hear the objections. Why would Ray Allen, a veteran with limited time left in the NBA, sign with an ongoing rebuilding project? Realistically, it's very unlikely. But Sacramento should at least make the effort.
The Kings need four things out of this offseason—leadership, a good small forward, three point shooting, and defense. Allen brings three of those (his defense is questionable at this point). If Sacramento could convince him to sign, he'd instantly help with the teams shooting woes, and hopefully be a positive locker room presence.
As unlikely as it is, I'd hope Sacramento would try, at the very least.
Marcus Camby would do wonders as a teacher for DeMarcus Cousins, and he'd give the Kings some much needed depth in the post.
Camby is hardly young anymore, but you'd like to hope that some of his defensive tenacity would rub off on Cousins. When Cousins wasn't on the floor last season, the Kings struggled in the paint—understandable, considering that Chuck Hayes, who stands just 6'6'', was their backup center.
You'd expect Camby to sign with a contender now that his window of opportunity is shutting, but he's another veteran you'd hope Sacramento would seriously pursue.
I could seriously see the Kings going hard after Hamed Haddadi. The 7'2 center rarely saw time in Memphis, but would give the Kings a strong, defensive minded backup who would likely come at an affordable price tag.
He averaged just 5.9 minutes a contest last season for the Grizzlies, so he'll likely try and go elsewhere where he can get more playing time. He's certainly a logical fit in Sacramento, and he'd be a good move, as long as he isn't the only move the Kings make.
Ilyasova was one of the seasons' most improved players, significantly improving his shooting, rebounding and defense. He averaged 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds for Milwaukee while shooting 49.2 percent from the field.
Standing at 6'9'' and weighing 235 pounds, he's a bit big to play small forward, but skill set wise he's perfect for Sacramento. Most impressively is his improvement in his shooting—he went from shooting 29.8 percent from three point territory in his third season to shooting 45.5 percent last year.
His vast improvement last year may put him out of Sacramento's price range, but there are few better fits for the Kings than Ilyasova.
The Knicks will be mostly focused on finding a way to keep Jeremy Lin. Does this mean they'll let, or have to let Fields walk?
He's a bit undersized to play the three, which is Sacramento's biggest need, but he's a smart player with a wide skill set. He's a good shooter, a good defender, and a tough minded player who any team would want in the locker room.
He won't likely come with too huge a price tag, and while he's not a fantastic fit, he'd be a very solid addition.
Gerald Wallace has a player option to stay with the Nets, and if Deron Williams decides to stay it's almost certain that Wallace will as well.
Still, a reunion tour for Wallace would be great for the Kings. They made a mistake letting him go to the Bobcats (they did not protect him in the 2004 expansion draft, protecting instead the hapless backup Lawrence Funderburke) and Kings fans for years have hoped for a way to get Wallace back to town.
He's lost a bit of the explosiveness, but he's still an above average defender and a very solid shooter. Would he be outside of Sacramento's price range? Probably, but he'd be worth it.
Ryan Anderson grew up in Sacramento and Kings fans have always rooted for the hometown hero. Now that he's an available free agent, compounded with the fact that he'd be a excellent fit in Sacramento, the fervor to get Anderson in a Kings jersey is at a boiling point.
Anderson would significantly improve the Kings shooting abilities, and while he's not exactly a great fit defensively next to Cousins his offense skills outweigh any negatives. He averaged 16.1 points a contest this season and shot 39.3 percent from downtown, and added 7.7 rebounds a game to boot.
He won the NBA's Most Improved Player award this season, which may raise his value beyond what Sacramento would be willing to spend—not to mention he is a restricted free agent, which would mean Orlando can match any offer. But I expect the Kings organization will at least seriously look at signing the sharp-shooting big man.
Of all of the realistic options Sacramento could potentially add, Batum is absolutely the best fit.
Playing the position the Kings need the most (small forward), Batum is an above average shooter, an excellent defender, and he has no serious weakness. He'd instantly help the Kings porous perimeter defense and their shooting woes. He averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds a contest while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from downtown.
Would Portland let him go? It's unlikely, as they moved Gerald Wallace in part to get the cap to keep Batum, and he is a restricted free agent, so they can match any offer. But Batum doesn't seem at all eager to stay in Portland—said his agent earlier in the season, "When Batum becomes a restricted free agent, we’ll look at the other 29 teams before we talk to the Blazers."
How big would the contract have to be before the Blazers would let him walk? Probably past what the Kings would offer. Still, Batum is everything the Kings need in a small forward—it'd spark Kings fans confidence just to see the team try and sign him.