Can Kings keep starting center Holmes ahead of free agency?


Is Richaun Holmes still in the Kings’ plans?

This was and is still the biggest question coming into the offseason for Sacramento. After another strong season as the Kings’ starting center, Holmes is set to hit the market on Aug. 2 as an unrestricted free agent. 

According to a league source, Holmes is looking for a contract in the neighborhood of four years, $80 million. That doesn’t mean he is going to land that type of lucrative offer on the open market, but it only takes one team to make that type of commitment.

Multiple league sources confirm that the Kings and Holmes’ team are still having dialogue and there is potential for a return. 

The Kings are in a bit of a bind when it comes to what they can offer the 27-year-old big. As of now, they can only offer the “Early Bird exception” which is approximately four years, $50 million. 

Sacramento has options to clear up space. They can shop either Marvin Bagley or Delon Wright, both of who are entering the final year of their contracts with the Kings. Bagley is owed $11.3 million this season and Wright’s contract is at $8.5 million.

If the Kings can clear Bagley off the books and not take any salary back, they could offer Holmes a deal with a starting salary around $17 million per season. With eight percent raises, that equates to a four-year, $76.6 million contract.

If Sacramento could find a taker for Wright without additional salary coming back, they could offer a contract in the four-year, $64 million range with a starting salary around $14 million range. 

Whether the Kings are willing to go as high as $76.6 million or even $64 million over four years for Holmes is still unknown, but this is how they can get into the ballpark.

Trade rumors swirling

There are rumors of a potential trade brewing between the Kings and the Lakers built around Buddy Hield and Kyle Kuzma. While there are different variations of the deal, at least one report has Montrezl Harrell as a potential second piece coming back to Sacramento.

This trade is interesting for many reasons, but overall shouldn’t impact the Kings’ chase for Holmes. Hield is on the books for roughly $23 million next season. Kuzma makes $13 million next season and Harrell has a $9.7 million player option.

Before Harrell can be traded, he has to make a decision on his player option. If he turns it down, then he’s a free agent and the Lakers would need to fill the trade with a player like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. That would change a few things with Caldwell-Pope's contract coming in at $13 million for next season.

Complicating this trade is also the fact that Kuzma is about to start the first year of his new contract extension and has a “Poison Pill” provision to work around. It’s complicated, but the Kings and Lakers could agree to a trade-in principle now, but not make it official until the poison pill expires on August 2. 

RELATED: Source: Kings showing interest in draft prospect Giddey

Can Holmes and Harrell Coexist?

We are far down the rabbit hole now. Not only would the Kings have made a trade to acquire Harrell, dealt away Bagley or Wright, but then re-signed Holmes for this discussion to continue. But we’ll press on. 

Harrell, like Holmes, is a slightly undersized center with the potential to play some power forward. They aren’t a natural fit together because they both do most of their damage in the post.

There is a chance that they could have a few minutes in each half of cross-over and it would likely be a lot of fun to watch. They both play with incredible energy and have the ability to wreak havoc in the lane.

Neither shoot from the perimeter, so coach Luke Walton would have to get creative with the offense. On the defensive end, Holmes has the ability to track much smaller players on the perimeter and could leave Harrell working the key. 

Can McNair swing all of this?

That’s the million-dollar question. While this isn’t adding a star-level player like McNair would love to do, it would give the Kings a major facelift.

Sacramento could trot out a theoretical starting lineup of De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, Kuzma and Holmes. The second team would look something like Wright, Terence Davis and Harrell, with the Kings’ No. 9 overall pick, Chimezie Metu, Damian Jones, Robert Woodard and Jahmi’us Ramsey fighting for time.  

McNair would still have a few options for adding another piece or two to the puzzle, but this would be the starting point. 

If nothing else, the Kings are actively trying to make major changes to a squad that missed the playoffs for the 15th consecutive season. All of this could work out. None of this could work out. The next week will be something to watch in Sacramento. 

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