In 2019, Richaun Holmes signed a modest two-year, $10M contract with the Sacramento Kings. Few would have guessed that when the modest deal was up, Holmes would be Sacramento’s unquestioned starting center, a fan favorite, and the heart and soul of the team.
Holmes took off in Sacramento, he was the quintessential lighting in the bottle. After taking over starting duties early in the 2019-20 season in replace of Dewayne Dedmon, he never looked back.
After shattering all expectations in his first season with the Kings, Holmes built off his stellar play going into his contract year.
When it was all said and done, Holmes proved his value to the Kings and around the league, posting a strong stat line during his two seasons in Sacramento:
Holmes made a name for himself by fitting in alongside the young and quick backcourt duo of Fox and Haliburton whose speed would cause trouble for most centers’ ability to keep up.
While playing to his strengths he proved that three point range is not necessary to be effective in this league. With his patented push shot, Holmes was automatic and always a threat to score off the pick and roll as he could either fade or roll to the basket— it’s no wonder that Holmes shot a staggering 64% during his first two seasons in Sacramento.
The sprightly big man not only showed his passion on the court but also returned the love and admiration to the city and fan base that showered him with affection.
Holmes went as far as saying:
“I absolutely love Sacramento… This community, this city, these fans — have shown me, in my short time here, that I really couldn’t see myself playing anywhere else. I would love to play here the rest of my career. I love to play in front of these fans, be a part of this community — this is a great place to be and I’d love just to be a part of it.”
So when the season finally ended and Holmes was destined to hit the market as a higher-valued unrestricted free agent, there were fears around the Kings community regarding Sacramento’s chances of re-signing Holmes.
This is a league, after all, that gives out $20M a year deals like candy. And when reports came out that Holmes was looking for a deal in the 4-year, $80M range, it was not surprising, but it sure seemed pricey for a starting center on a team that missed the postseason.
Report: Richaun Holmes is looking for a contract in the neighborhood of 4 years and $80 million https://t.co/ZPeVbhIjdL
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) May 21, 2021
But Holmes was one of the bigger names in a free agency class that lacked talented centers and thus his stock grew interest around the league.
The Kings remained adamant about keeping Holmes, however, and were even rumored to be shopping Bagley and Buddy to clear cap space.
When free agency finally opened on Monday at 3 p.m. PT, Kings fans scanned social media with interest to see who Sacramento may pick up and, moreover, if the Kings could keep Holmes.
After about three hours in, the center seemed to grow impatient without a deal reached.
— Richaun Holmes (@Rich_Holmes22) August 3, 2021
But just a few hours later, news broke that Holmes had re-signed with Sacramento on a 4-year, $55M contract, a dollar amount well below his reported asking price.
Free agent center Richaun Holmes has agreed to a four-year deal worth as much as $55 million to return to the Sacramento Kings, his agency Par-Lay Sports & Entertainment (@parlay_se) tells @TheAthletic @Stadium. Deal includes player option and trade kicker.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 3, 2021
It said a lot — Holmes put his money where his mouth is.
The Toronto Raptors were still interested in signing Holmes, but he stayed put in the city he would love to play the rest of his career in. And not only did he stay, he signed a discounted contract affording Monte McNair and the front office more flexibility with cap space.
For someone who entered free agency this week with a chance to earn his first “big” payday, Holmes seemed to take the contract that would benefit the Kings more so than himself.
Now with Holmes locked up in Sacramento for three more years (the deal includes a player option), Fox on a max contract, and Haliburton entering his second year of his rookie deal, Sacramento has their three main pieces in place for the next few years.
It’s time for the front office to grab another player to help propel this team to the next level whether that be through free agency or trades. Holmes gave Sacramento room to work with and now it’s time to see what else McNair can pull off during the offseason.
There’s only a select few who would choose to remain with the Kings with long-term ambitions. Sacramento showed Holmes love and appreciation for his heart and hustle, and he showed it right back.