With their playoff drought in the past and championship aspirations on the horizon, the Kings will turn the page on their storybook 2022-23 NBA season and aim to open a new chapter.
In that new chapter, the Kings hope to introduce new characters to help them compete in the stacked Western Conference.
Kings general manager Monte McNair has a few roster holes to fill as free agency rolls in Friday but with plenty of salary-cap space. Sacramento trading its only first-round pick in last week’s draft cleared up significant cap space -- close to $35 million -- but Harrison Barnes returning could slice that number to about $18 million.
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Many changes are expected over the next couple of days and weeks, but this is how the Kings' 2023-24 roster is shaping up:
Jones, whom the Kings selected No. 34 overall in the draft, joins a solid group of guards who have at least one year of experience playing together.
Each guard brings something different to the table. Fox's speed. Mitchell's defense. Huerter's sharpshooting. Monk's grit.
McNair repeatedly applauded Jones' work ethic on draft night and during the rookie's introductory press conference Tuesday. While Jones isn't expected to play lengthy minutes night in and night out, the Kings made it clear they want to challenge him at the NBA level.
The 21-year-old revealed that both Fox and Monk texted him after the draft, and he said he had breakfast with Fox earlier this week.
It likely won't take long for the young guard to get familiar with his teammates, and while each player has their own improvement areas this offseason, they all can learn from one another.
This is where things get fun.
Entering this week, Barnes was an unrestricted free agent, and the Kings reportedly braced for a big splash in free agency -- assumingly to replace him.
But ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday night, citing Barnes' agent, that the veteran forward and the Kings had agreed to a new three-year, $54 million contract extension. It isn't official, but The Athletic's Anthony Slater reported that Barnes' contract has a 10 percent trade kicker, meaning he'd receive that portion of his salary as a bonus if he's traded.
Barnes has played a pivotal role in Sacramento's newfound success, playing every game last season. He's well respected in the locker room and serves as a veteran presence on a young team, setting an example for his teammates both on and off the court. Having that type of leader is important, of course, especially with a flurry of young forwards such as Murray and Edwards hoping to follow suit.
As a rookie, Murray proved he belonged in the NBA. Selected with the No. 4 overall pick in 2022, the 22-year-old forward quickly became a fan favorite in Sacramento, prompting "Murray!" chants to erupt inside Golden 1 Center. He broke the rookie 3-point record and finished fifth in NVA Rookie of the Year voting. Coach Mike Brown gave him his flowers in his first season, but the expectations only will rise for the young forward.
The Kings on Wednesday picked up Edwards’ $1.9 million team option for next season, Wojnarowski reported, citing sources. Edwards, 22, was the only player the Kings acquired at the trade deadline last season, and he gave them some solid minutes and impressed in spurts.
Slawson was Sacramento's final draft selection at No. 54. He touched down in Sacramento on Monday and told local reporters the next day that he's ready to do what it takes to help the Kings win. He's confident that he'll fit right in with the team's fast-play style.
Barnes' reported extension doesn't mean the Kings will shy away from pursuing another player at the four spot. It just won't be Kyle Kuzma, Draymond Green, Khris Middleton or Brook Lopez, as many had hoped, because of their available cap space.
On top of all the names above, the Kings also reportedly offered EuroLeague star Sasha Vezenkov a contract worth part of the full mid-level exception. Vezenkov, 27, is under contract with Olympiacos through the 2024-25 season, but he has a buyout clause believed to be worth approximately 1.5 million Euros (h/t Hoops Rumors).
The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 17.6 points on 54.6 percent shooting from the field and 39.8 percent from 3-point range, along with 7.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 33 games last season.
Coach Mike Brown worked all last season to find a backup option for All-NBA center Sabonis. Brown experimented with Alex Len, Trey Lyles and Richaun Holmes at times, but he couldn't find a solid second choice.
Sabonis, meanwhile, was steady as a rock for the Kings all season. Even while injured, the three-time All-Star battled and lifted his team to the playoffs. Sabonis' value isn't a question, but will it be another season of the Kings searching for a backup five?
Lyles is one of many Kings players set to hit free agency Friday, and it appears his wish of staying in Sacramento could come true, as the team expects to re-sign him, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday, citing sources. The versatile 27-year-old shined under the bright playoff lights and fits nearly perfect in Sacramento.
Players such as Neemias Queta, formerly on a two-way contract, and Chimezie Metu, who will be a free agent, can work to earn a roster spot if they're retained.