For the better part of two seasons, the Sacramento Kings have quietly shed a substantial amount off of their salary cap in preparation for this coming summer. Dealing Mike Bibby, Brad Miller, John Salmons and Kevin Martin over these past two years has created the necessary financial flexibility to put the Kings in this position. They will carry a very modest $31 million in guaranteed salary into the offseason, and thus will have the resources to extend offers to heavyweight free agents.
The question then becomes who would be willing to come to a rebuilding Sacramento franchise. You can write off LeBron James and Dwyane Wade right off the bat. There's no conceivable reason for them to leave contending teams, in an easier conference, for less money. Same goes for Chris Bosh. Bosh said so himself, according to Raptor's play by play man Matt Devlin's Twitter post on March 11. 'Classic moment...heading to time out...Fan screams to Bosh..."You coming to Sacramento next Year?"...Bosh looks his way and says "Hell no"!'
While the Kings will in all likelihood not be inking any of those Olympians to long term deals, that doesn't mean they'll come away empty handed. The following is a list of potential free agent targets for the Sacramento Kings this summer.
1) Amar'e Stoudamire . The Suns have dangled him as trade bait for the longest time. With his pending free agency, Amar'e may finally give Robert Sarver his wish by leaving. Let me preface this by saying it's unlikely he'd sign in Sacramento, but the Kings are obviously enthralled with him. Stoudamire would be a welcome addition to any team, especially that of the King's weak front court rotation.
2) Rudy Gay . The UConn product will warrant a great deal of attention this offseason. I see a younger Joe Johnson with more athleticism. Gay's impressive shooting range would aid in the effort to space the floor for Kings' guard Tyreke Evans. Rudy Gay is a restricted free agent, meaning the Grizzlies could potentially match any offer he receives. That makes signing him a little tricky, but certainly not impossible.
3) Joe Johnson . Johnson's background suggests that the Kings have little hope in persuading him to sign with them. He too would be leaving a contending team, in a weaker conference. Keep in mind that Joe Johnson did leave a dominant Suns' team to sign with an abysmal Hawk's team in 2005. Joe Johnson would slide in seamlessly at the shooting guard or small forward position for the Kings.
4) Carlos Boozer . This seems to be a running theme. Boozer would be leaving a better team in Utah to come to Sacramento. Without question, he can't be thrilled with the perpetual trade rumors he deals with in Utah. If the Kings were able to attain Carlos' services, it's conceivable that they would leapfrog the Utah Jazz in the standings. A rotation of Boozer, Landry & Thompson would be among the league's best.
5) David Lee . Many discredit Lee's superb 20.2 ppg and 11.7 rpg averages as a part of D'Antoni's high octane offense. To me, Lee seems like the type of player who's going to average 11 rebounds no matter what team he's on. He has played on selfish teams which lacked talent for the entirety of his career. The Kings could do a lot worse than adding the versatile Lee to their front court.
6) Brendan Haywood . His career arc mirrors that of Erick Dampier, as in they both played the basketball of their careers in anticipation of their pending free agency. At the very least, he is a legitimate presence in the paint. That would directly address a major need for the Sacramento Kings.
7) Luis Scola . The crafty Argentinian power forward would be reunited with former Rockets teammate Carl Landry. Luis Scola is a restricted free agent. Scola's low post repertoire and mid-range jumper would benefit the Kings in a big way.