State of the Cap: Sacramento Kings
By Josh Redetzke
2008/09 Sacramento Kings Payroll: $63 million[img_assist|nid=1102|title=Kevin Martin|desc=Icon SMI|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=450]
2008/09 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $58 million (estimate)
Roughly: $5 million over cap
It was a rough year for the Sacramento Kings and even their best player, Kevin Martin, had his share of hardships. The lightning quick guard missed 21 games due to injury. However, that didn’t stop Martin from taking his game to a higher level as he became one of the best scorers in the league. His five year, $55.3 million contract extension starts next season and he silenced any doubters by proving his breakout year in 2006-07 wasn’t a fluke. Martin averaged 23.7 points, good enough for 6th in the league. He also added 4.5 rebounds and stellar 40% shooting from the three point line. As long as Martin doesn’t develop any chronic injury problems, he should be the kind of shooter that Sacramento can build around.
John Salmons keeps flying under the radar, but not for long. He has steadily improved his play in every one of his six years in the league. Salmons set career highs in many categories this season, including points (12.5), rebounds (4.3), and shooting (47.7%). The Kings have secured his services for just over $5 million each of the next three seasons. If he keeps this up, Salmons will be an incredible bargain.
Francisco Garcia also improved a lot last season. His shooting percentages have gone up every year and he was able to put in 12.3 points per game this season. Garcia still has one more year under the rookie pay scale and another performance like this one would definitely make him a keeper.
Even though the Kings were able to get rid of Mike Bibby’s massive contract, they still have a few clunkers hanging around. Kenny Thomas is by far the main offender. Thomas only played in 23 games because of an injury and he performed very poorly when he was able to suit up, averaging just 1.4 points and 2.7 rebounds in 12 minutes per game. For that small amount of effort, he’ll be paid $7.9 and $8.5 million the next two seasons. Thomas has no place on a rebuilding team and the Kings will be trying to get rid of him by any means possible.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim at least comes close to earning his money when healthy. However, the veteran forward missed all but 6 games this year after right knee surgery. It will be difficult for Abdur-Rahim to earn the $6.2 and $6.6 million left on his deal over the next two years, especially if he is unable to make a full recovery. If they don’t buy out his contract, Abdur-Rahim could be a tradable asset next summer when his contract is closer to expiring.
Sacramento was able to unload the disappointing Mike Bibby and the $15.2 million left on his contract for next season. However, what they received in return was a bunch of garbage from Atlanta that amounted to $9.5 million in cap space and not much else. Where is the decent draft pick or the player you can use in the future? Shelden Williams has been a huge bust so far and the draft pick included in the deal is #42 overall. Since the Kings are still over the cap even without Bibby’s salary, they won’t even be able to use the space they gained to sign a free agent. I know there wasn’t that much demand for Bibby, but it seems like they should have gotten a little bit more. In the end, I suppose the cap space is better than nothing.
The other two veterans that need to go are Brad Miller and Ron Artest. Luckily for the Kings, they both played pretty well this year. Miller came back from the dead and posted numbers closer to classic Brad Miller; 13.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. The two years and $23.6 million left on his deal is a little spendy for that kind of output, but not too bad. Ron Artest isn’t likely to opt out of the $8.4 million remaining on his contract for next season, which really makes him a valuable asset in trades. Artest’s defense combined with the 20.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists he averaged put him in demand at that price. Artest is still somewhat of a head case, but Sacramento should get something better for him than what they got for Bibby.
The Kings aren’t going to compete in the West with Miller and Artest, so now is the time to get something for them while they still have value. It’s rebuilding time in ARCO Arena and patience is a virtue. Stockpile young talent while waiting to shed the cumbersome contracts that eat up all your cap space. At least Sacramento has Kevin Martin to build around, which would give any team a lot of hope.
After witnessing the downfall of their once mighty Sacramento Kings team the past two years, now fans get the news that their gut-wrenching playoff loss to the Lakers in 2002 might have been fixed. Talk about a kick in the teeth. Or perhaps that report merely confirmed what King fans have known all along.
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