SACRAMENTO -- Consider the hornets nest kicked.
In case you missed the late night comments from Buddy Hield on Thursday evening, the Sacramento Kings have a contract squabble.
The 26-year-old shooting guard turned to the media to express his frustrations with the process of negotiating an extension with the Kings. It appears that there is a chasm between what Hield thinks he is owed and what Sacramento is willing to offer.
It’s an interesting decision by Hield, but clearly calculated. Unfortunately, it might not yield the results he is hoping for.
Coming into last season, Sacramento likely had a rough outline in place for extensions for their young core of players. Hield, while a piece to the puzzle, was coming off a season where he averaged 13.5 points per game as a member of the second unit.
An early season injury to Bogdan Bogdanovic opened a door for Hield to join the starting lineup and he took full advantage. Hield led the Kings in scoring at 20.7 points per game and proved once again to be an elite 3-point shooter.
All of this is great for both the Kings and their starting shooting guard, but it forces a re-evaluation of the long-term plan, which is playing out in real time as the Oct. 21 date for extensions looms.
While tranquility and positivity is the mantra of the 2019-20 Sacramento Kings, the team holds all of the cards in this situation. Hield is under contract for this season and his qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent this summer is just $6.5 million.
If the Kings extend the qualifying offer, Hield can hit the market looking for a massive pay day, but the team can match any offer. In addition, a competing team can only offer five percent raises over the course of the contract, where the Kings can give him eight percent annual raises.
Hield could also accept the qualifying offer and then enter the following summer as an unrestricted free agent, but that is a dangerous proposition. Anything can happen over the course of two full seasons and the risk likely outweighs the eventual gains.
The Bahamian-born shooter would also give up massive money during the 2020-21 season that he might not ever be able to recoup over the course of his career. He would enter free agency in the summer of 2021 as a soon-to-be 29-year-old.
While we don’t know the exact numbers being offered by the Kings or what Hield and his agent are asking for, it appears there is a huge gap between the two sides.
Adding stress for the Kings is that Hield is the first of four players to go through this process. Bogdan Bogdanovic is also eligible for an extension between now and Oct. 21, but due to his standing as a third-year player without a fourth-year option, his maximum contract offer tops out at four-years, $51.7 million.
The Kings have the ability to extend a $10.7 million qualifying offer to Bogdanovic and make him a restricted free agent next summer as well. Then they can negotiate a long-term deal that can exceed the $51.7 million available now.
Next October, De’Aaron Fox becomes eligible for an extension, which is looking more like a five-year, max money, designated player extension. The Kings have two five-year designated player extensions they can offer, but the second is likely earmarked for Marvin Bagley, who is eligible for extension in Oct. of 2021.
Fox is just 21 years old entering his third NBA season and Bagley won’t turn 21 until March of 2020.
Sacramento has been preparing for all of these extensions for a while. They signed veterans Cory Joseph and Dewayne Dedmon to three-year deals this summer with team options for the final year. They also inked Harrison Barnes to a declining value four-year contract to ensure cap flexibility when the young players need extensions.
Hield’s unexpected rise in value is something the Kings will have to take a long, hard look at. They can wait out the season and see if the sharpshooter can repeat his breakout season. They can also let the market set his value next summer and then make a decision.
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It isn’t Hield’s job to worry about the future cap ramifications of the team. He doesn’t have to give Sacramento a hometown discount. He has been clear that he likes playing for the Kings, but the NBA is a multi-billion dollar business and Hield has to do what is best for him and his family.
This showdown is officially on the clock.