Training camp is two weeks away from today.
It’s been clear for about a month what the Kings 20-man roster will look like when camp begins:
De’Aaron Fox (Guaranteed Contract)
Domantas Sabonis (Guaranteed Contract)
Harrison Barnes (Guaranteed Contract)
Kevin Huerter (Guaranteed Contract)
Richaun Holmes (Guaranteed Contract)
Malik Monk (Guaranteed Contract)
Keegan Murray (Guaranteed Contract)
Davion Mitchell (Guaranteed Contract)
Terence Davis (Guaranteed Contract)
Alex Len (Guaranteed Contract)
Trey Lyles (Guaranteed Contract)
Chimezie Metu (Guaranteed Contract)
Kent Bazemore (Unofficially Signed)
Quinn Cook (Unofficially Signed)
KZ Okpala (Unofficially Signed)
Matthew Dellavedova (Partially- Guaranteed)
Chima Moneke (Partially-Guaranteed)
Sam Merrill (Partially-Guaranteed)
Neemias Queta (Two-Way)
Keon Ellis (Two-Way)
This past weekend, former Duke guard DJ Steward had been added on a summer deal in order to keep him in the system before being waived Monday. It’s not a shock by any means, mainly because he was never expected to be at camp given the 20-man limit. In addition to that, as James Ham noted, Steward will still have a good chance of playing another year in Stockton anyway, assuming another team doesn’t sign him.
But the list of twenty guys above is the group that will enter camp on the 27th.
The 12 guys with guaranteed contracts are pretty much locks for the final 15-man roster. Possessing a similar level of certainty, the pair of guys under two-way contracts will be chiefly playing for the Stockton Kings.
Though he isn’t officially signed yet, it would be pretty surprising to not see Kent Bazemore on this team on account of his experience and the lack of depth at the wing. Consider him up there with the guaranteed contracts.
Likewise, one of either Dellavedova or Cook should crack the roster as well as the third point guard. Camp will be an opportunity for them to battle it out for that role. Dellavedova has an advantage in size and is immortalized in NBA Finals history for his toughness. Cook, on the other hand, is younger and less prone to injury. James Ham actually gives the edge to Cook, adding that three-point shooting has been a primary focus of his.
That’s 17 of the 20 addressed so far. The other 3—Okpala, Moneke, and Merrill—are essentially battling it out for the 15th spot.
It will be fascinating to see what each can do to try and secure a place on the 15-man roster. Okpala and Moneke are athletically gifted and offer defensive upside, but whether or not they can be a viable three-point presence is a huge question. And Merrill, who does just that—three-point shooting—will have to show that he’s not a defensive liability.
Whoever comes out on top among those three may not suit up very often.
15 men are allowed, but only 13 are permitted in uniform for a game. As it stands now, the 12th and 13th active spots would be left between Alex Len, Chimezie Metu, or whoever wins between Dellavedova and Cook. So it’s unlikely one of either Okpala, Moneke, or Merrill would be pushing the envelope to get very many opportunities in uniform outright.
Of course, it’s a long season and things happen that could force the next man up, so all 15 players matter to a degree. If these guys can make the cut-down process tough, then all the better.
And on the notion of depth, here’s one final note on the roster. The Kings depth going into camp is easily the best in recent memory.
Without getting tied down in predictions and power rankings, on its own, this Sacramento group is actually filled with a lot of proven NBA talent, something that should feel entirely different. It seems like if this were a year or two earlier, guys like Okpala, Moneke, and Merrill—no disrespect to them—would have chances of making the final cut, maybe even of being active members of the roster. Now, they’re on the bubble because there are 12 or 13 (maybe 14) legitimate players vying for rotational minutes.
Keep any eye out here for more outlooks on the roster heading into training camp, which starts in two weeks, on September 27.