For the second straight season the Sacramento Kings have accomplished more than a 50 percent turnover of their roster and this season they might not be done quite yet. Rudy Gay, Kosta Koufos and Ben McLemore are all on the block and with any luck, Vlade Divac and his staff will find new homes for the trio while redistributing the depth of their roster.
It’s an exercise that hopefully will pay off, but once again, continuity has completely been thrown out the window. Gone are Rajon Rondo, Seth Curry, Quincy Acy, Marco Belinelli, Caron Butler, James Anderson, Duje Dukan and Eric Moreland. Rondo played major minutes as the Kings starting point guard last season, but the rest of the group were in and out of the rotation for most of the season.
Between the 2016 NBA Draft and free agency, Sacramento has replaced the departed players with eight new faces. Like the eight that are gone, the new players will have to find a niche with the remaining players if they hope to crack Dave Joerger’s rotation. Here is a look at the new additions and how they fit with the 2016-17 Kings roster.
1. Georgios Papagiannis: Taken with the No. 13 overall selection, the 7-foot-2 monster out of Greece is expected to play 12-18 minutes per game in his rookie season. The 19-year-old has looked overwhelmed playing for the Kings’ summer league team in Las Vegas, but he has time to catch up to the speed of the NBA game.
Early in his career he will be asked to use his tremendous size to rebound and set picks. We have yet to see his shooting range and his post moves are overly deliberate, but he has soft hands and it’s hard to move him once he’s planted in the paint. The Kings want him in the rotation from Day 1, but he needs a lot of work between now and late October to accomplish that goal.
Sacramento hopes that Papagiannis can replace Koufos’ minutes in Year One if the veteran is moved. Papagiannis has the potential for more down the road, but he’s going to take time to develop.
2. Malachi Richardson: The second of the Kings’ first round picks, Richardson missed all of minicamp leading up to the Vegas. That hasn’t stopped the 20-year-old from posting a couple of impressive games so far in the summer league.
He is a long, athletic wing that many believe should have gone higher in the draft. He has already shown that he is better than advertised as a defender, but he needs major work on his decision making and shot selection. There is a buzz surrounding Richardson, but fans need to keep in mind that he is a one-and-done college player that will need time to grow into his role at the NBA level.
Sacramento hopes that Richardson can play rotational minutes as a rookie backing up veteran Arron Afflalo at the two, but they have veterans ready if he needs more time.
3. Skal Labissiere: When drafting at the back end of the first round, teams look for high-risk, high-reward players. That is exactly what Sacramento got in Labissiere. The former top prospect already has Kings fans in a frenzy with his play in Vegas.
Labissiere has an infectious smile and so far, he has shown a leadership and enthusiasm that was missing in his one year at Kentucky. His athleticism and shooting stroke has many wondering if the 7-footer can steal some minutes at the three. His transition to the NBA will take time and he needs to get stronger, but the Kings see a high-end blank canvas that they can mold into something special
Sacramento hopes that Labissiere will develop into a big time player, but they aren’t expecting anything from the rookie in Year One. He will play reserve minutes at the 3 and the 4 and maybe steal time as a small-ball five.
4. Isaiah Cousins: Players taken with the No. 59 pick in the NBA Draft rarely make the team. That might not be the case with Cousins, although only time will tell. Playing next to high-scoring Buddy Hield at Oklahoma did nothing to build value in Cousins, but there might be more than meets the eye with this senior guard.
Cousins missed the first three games of the summer league for Sacramento with a groin injury, which is a major disappointment for a player who needs as much floor time as possible to show he’s an NBA player. But word around the team is that he is a big, aggressive guard with a mature disposition and high-end leadership skills.
Sacramento hopes that Cousins can fit as a third point guard in Year One with potential as both a floor general and a defensive stopper down the road. He has the frame to make it in the league, but he’ll have to do the dirty work to make it.
5. Arron Afflalo: The Kings handed Afflalo a 2-year, $25 million deal (with a team buyout option in Year Two for $1.5 million) with the hopes that he will instantly improve their weakest position on the floor. Sacramento already cleared out shooting guard Marco Belinelli via trade and Ben McLemore is on the block.
Afflalo, 30, is a savvy veteran that can hit a 3-pointer and provide leadership both on and off the court. His days of staying in front of elite perimeter players are behind him, but he is a reliable wing that can play 30-plus minutes a night while the Kings develop Richardson and wait for Bogdan Bogdanovic to come over from Europe next season.
Sacramento hopes that Afflalo is both starter and teacher for the next two seasons at the shooting guard spot, although he can shift to the three and play minutes as well.
6. Anthony Tolliver: Tolliver was a major beneficiary of the spike in the NBA salary cap. The Kings handed a 2-year, $16 million deal (with a team buyout option in Year Two for $2 million) to a veteran journeyman that has never made more than $3 million in a season.
The 31-year-old stretch four has played for eight teams in eight NBA seasons. But Sacramento doesn’t have another player like Tolliver on the roster. He can shoot the rock from the power forward position, knocking down 36 percent from long range last seasons and his true value may come from his locker presence and his willingness to play a role.
Sacramento hopes that Tolliver can log 15-20 minutes a night as a third big and open the floor for DeMarcus Cousins to work in the post. They are also hoping to buy Labissiere a year or two to mature into a rotational player on the frontline.
7. Garrett Temple: Like Tolliver, Temple is journeyman who had to work hard to not only make it into the league, but stick. After bouncing around to five teams in his first two seasons and then spending a year in Italy, Temple found a home in Washington over the last four years as a rotational player.
His ability to not only play, but guard the 1, 2 and 3 earned him a 3-year, $24 million deal with Sacramento after he made just $3.7 million combined in his previous six NBA seasons. Another quality locker room presence, Temple is a pro’s pro that will win fans over with his grit and energy.
Sacramento hopes that Temple can provide the same multi-positional versatility that he gave the Wizards over the last few seasons. He might not be a starter, but he will likely earn 18-24 minutes a night as the ultimate swiss army knife.
8. Matt Barnes: Polarizing. You either love or hate Sacramento native Matt Barnes. The 36-year-old played well enough last season to earn a 2-year, $12 million deal (Year Two is a player option) with the Kings and he might be a deal at that price.
Barnes logged nearly 29 minutes a game last season under Dave Joerger in Memphis. He struggled with his shot, but he was asked to do more on the offensive end than any other time in his 13-year career. Still an above average defender, Barnes can play either the 2, 3 or in a pinch, some small ball four.
Sacramento hopes that Barnes can keep his cool and provide 20-25 minutes a night as a reserve wing. He plays younger than his age and the Kings could use a little of his fire.