Monte McNair brought his 2023 draft picks along for their introductory press conference on Tuesday. There, Colby Jones and Jalen Slawson substantiated their fits on the team, both in terms of character and scheme.
It was a nice glimpse at what they’ll offer and what they may be expected to do for the season ahead, which already seems promising for both rookies. (Check out the video below, or read here, to hear more about them.)
However, one of the interesting takeaways from the presser had to do with the fact that the Kings are one of six teams projected to have more than $30 million in cap space this summer.
When asked about what they’ll offer in order to fit in, Jones noted his two-way versatility and willingness to do whatever. Slawson, on the other hand, started with a more specific note, saying he’ll provide “depth at the 4 spot.”
That was one of the few things that got the brain’s gears turning.
With days before the official start to free agency, with big trades already being made, and with Sacramento tied to a lot of different rumors—on top of the cap space created on draft night—it’s hard not to dive into the potential meanings even if verging on speculation.
Luckily, all sorts of rumors and reports—both believable and fantastical—prevent utter incoherence.
With Slawson set to bolster the depth at the 4 position, it feels like an indication of plans to move Keegan Murray up to the 3. When reporting that the Kings have a role in mind for Sasha Vezenkov, Christos Tsaltas made sure to note that Sacramento’s coaching staff intends “to utilize Murray at the 3 spot next season in order to get all the good elements of his game.”
That seems more probable given the chance Harrison Barnes signs elsewhere, which Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports characterized as “likely.” Many suspect Barnes could join Tyrese Haliburton in Indiana where Rick Carlisle, who coached him in Dallas, is at the helm.
As the Kings look to move Murray to the 3 and with a sizable amount of financial flexibility, it’s beginning to feel like a big signing at the 4 position is nigh.
And that signing won’t be Sasha Vezenkov, who the Kings have extended an offer to. Even as the Bulgarian sharpshooter has appeal, he’s not the kind of acquisition that requires having over $30 million in cap space. With no NBA experience, Vezenkov will be much more affordable in contrast.
Nor will it be Trey Lyles, who could very well re-sign as a backup—albeit small—5 with other options to play at forward.
In looking for an appealing power forward to sign, the Kings can take solace that the Jazz won’t be a competitor on the market after they just landed John Collins in an essential salary dump following Collins’ down year.
What a difference a year makes.
Last summer, Sacramento made an effort to trade for Collins. Ironically enough, the offers were said to be “underwhelming” in the eyes of the Hawks. And this week, they sent Collins away in exchange for an older Rudy Gay and a future second round pick.
So, in one way, yes, what a difference a year makes. But also, no, it doesn’t make a big difference because Sacramento is looking to land another alluring name at that position.
With that, it comes down to names. Who will the Kings sign?
To start, it won’t be Draymond Green. Brian Windhorst brought up the Kings and Pistons as potential landing spots for the boisterous forward. It makes sense that Green would want to join Mike Brown and stay in Northern California, and it also makes sense he’d want to return to his home state of Michigan. But none of that means anything because the wide belief among the league is that Green returns to the Warriors, just as Khris Middleton is expected to stay in Milwaukee.
Jerami Grant is another name. Unlike Collins, he still has the same appeal he did last summer when there was some speculation that Sacramento might be interested in him. He may choose to stay in Portland, especially if Damian Lillard gets his wish and they add some names. However, if he doesn’t, there’s not a ton of visible hope he’d sign with the Kings; it’s not out of the question, but there aren’t any reports connecting the two parties.
Kyle Kuzma, on the other hand, has been connected to the Kings. Sacramento almost acquired Kuzma in a trade with the Lakers in 2021, but the deal ended up going Washington’s way instead. And just the other day, Fischer of Yahoo! Sports explicitly mentioned Kuzma as a potential target.
There just doesn’t seem to be any way to dissuade from the fact that the Kings are interested. And if one takes Green, Middleton, Barnes, and Grant away, Kuzma’s easily the most attractive available forward for them.
At this point, it just feels like Kyle Kuzma will be a King.
At least for now.