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Best move by Kings in 2023 NBA free agency

Best move by Kings in 2023 NBA free agency

The Sacramento Kings’ best free-agent signing came before it. It was a move they orchestrated at the 2023 NBA Draft that enabled the Kings to do what they have done thus far during this NBA free-agency period.

On draft night, the Kings sent veteran big man Richaun Holmes to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for the 24th overall pick. This transaction freed up more than $30 million in cap space for Sacramento to use in either signing new players, re-signing free agents, or trading for a player without having to send back a player in return.

Richaun Holmes trade is the Kings’ finest free-agent move in 2023

That trade eventually led to the moves the Kings were able to make during free agency. Let’s go over the Sacramento transactions since the Richaun Holmes deal freed up to over $30 million in cap space.

Most notably, right before free agency opened, Sacramento was able to re-sign veteran starter Harrison Barnes to a three-year, $54 million contract. Retaining the one-time NBA champion was clearly one of the Kings’ top summer priorities, as he gives a great calming presence to this relatively youthful and developing group.

Barnes was a key player for the Kings during the 2022-23 season when they overcame a 16-year postseason drought and finished third in the Western Conference. They nearly defeated the 2022 NBA champion Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the first round.

Furthermore, the Kings were able to re-sign Trey Lyles to a two-year, $8 million contract. Lyles’ ability to spread the floor and regularly hit shots from beyond the arc has earned him a spot in head coach Mike Brown’s rotation. The 6-foot-9 big man averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 74 games while shooting 36.3 percent from three.

Lyles will continue to be a spot-up shooter or pick-and-pop option who can capitalize on the playmaking abilities of the team’s two stars, De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.

Sacramento also signed Alex Len to a one-year contract. Len was efficient and productive in his limited position off the bench for the Kings, despite playing seldom. He played some crucial minutes for them during the playoffs against the Warriors, taking advantage of his size. Len averaged 10 minutes per game in the first five games of the series, scoring 3.8 points and shooting 87.5 percent from the field.

When facing teams with elite big men, Len will continue to offer Sacramento an extra large body. As he did with the Warriors, he may be able to use his 7-foot, 250-pound frame against lesser teams.

Chris Duarte contract

Aside from re-signing their own free agents, the Kings also acquired Indiana Pacers guard Chris Duarte in a trade. In exchange, Sacramento sent two second-round picks to Indiana (one to the Dallas Mavericks in 2028 and one to the Pacers in 2030). Duarte, the 13th overall choice in the 2021 NBA draft, will have two years and $17.7 million remaining on his rookie contract.

The Dominican guard had a standout rookie season, averaging 13.1 points per game while shooting 36.9 percent from three. He was named to the All-Rookie Second Team. However, in his second season, he averaged 7.9 points and shot just 31.6 percent from outside the arc.

Duarte is an intriguing piece who might thrive in Mike Brown’s three-point-heavy system, which finished seventh in three-pointers made and ninth in three-point percentage last season. Chris Duarte is still only 26 years old, and despite entering the league as one of the elder rookies in his class, he is an NBA-ready guard who can help the Kings win games.

Will there be more?

Sacramento might not be finished making moves. Again, all of this is feasible as a result of the Richaun Holmes trade that occurred at the NBA Draft.

The Kings still have around $15 million in cap space after the Duarte trade. If Sacramento is able to add another big asset that will further strengthen their squad as they try to embark on a deeper playoff run in 2024, the best is yet to come.

Sacramento can still make a trade to add real talent to complement Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox. The Kings may sign a high-paid talent without having to match their salary. They also have fascinating components that can be included in trade packages to bring in a huge and game-changing asset to get them over the hump.