Will the Kings Seek Out Experience or Youth for Third Point Guard Role?

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 10: Raul Neto #19 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in action during the second half of a game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Arena on January 10, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Though it isn’t the most riveting conversation of the offseason, the one surrounding the third point guard role comes into focus again.

As the gusts of change that accompany the first week of free agency began to die down, it appeared that the Kings were somewhat receptive to the idea of keeping the lengthy PJ Dozier aboard to man the third point guard spot.

But things change quickly. Sacramento waived Dozier on Saturday. They had until today to guarantee his deal, which was going to be worth $2.41 million.

Last week, it felt like Dozier and a committee of guys—such as Malik Monk and perhaps rookie Colby Jones—could essentially hold down the duties, which would avoid the need to acquire a true point guard. Now the roster size has shrunk from 14 men to 13, not including the pair of two-way contracts, so the Kings can still bring a third true center on board—or even another wing if they truly wanted—in addition to a third man behind De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell.

A trade could happen that lands one in Sacramento, but if they wanted to sign one, who would be available?

A guy available in free agency that sort of pops out is the 31 year-old Raul Neto, who played in Cleveland last season after signing a one-year, $2.46 million dollar deal. The Brazilian point guard played in 48 games last year holding backup duties before Ricky Rubio returned from a one-year absence. He almost feels like the perfect candidate for the job at this stage in his career.

Neto averaged 3.3 deflections per 36 minutes, showing good activity on defense. He can also pass and manage an offense.

He does not offer very much size and has shot 29% from three over the past two seasons combined, but what makes him such an ideal third option is that his portability rating is in the 99th percentile, which means he can plug into any lineup. That’s a key for a player who doesn’t get a ton of minutes, but still has to stay ready at a moment’s notice.

Teams like the Bucks, Raptors, and others are on the market for a backup point guard as well, and Neto would be a great piece at the end of nearly all teams’ benches. So who else?

Perhaps the most appealing thing about the veteran leadership of Matthew Dellavedova was the fact he was a former champion. Ish Smith is coming off an NBA title with Denver after playing a limited role.

He’s maybe not as fast as he used to be now at age 35, but there could be some speed in the backcourt with Smith there. But given the role, he would be there for his veteran leadership.

Though he may not have a championship ring, George Hill is another name. He’s 37 and if he’s to sign somewhere, it seems like he’d want to stay put. Hill got traded back to Indiana last season and wanted to stay on as a guy who could help teach the younger players, so he may very well re-sign on a minimum deal. 

Steering in a more intriguing direction, John Wall is reportedly holding a private workout for teams in Las Vegas. The former number-one overall pick started last season with the Clippers before being sent to Houston in the three-team trade that sent Aaron Gordon to Los Angeles and Luke Kennard to Memphis. Houston then waived Wall, who had averaged 11.4 points and 5.6 assists through 34 games in LA, but on just 40.8% shooting.

And of course, as is often the case with these alluring formerly big names, there’s an injury history.

Such is the case with Isaiah Thomas, who was never the same after succumbing to some serious hip issues following his tenure in Boston. Sacramento’s former 60th overall pick did not play last season, but has expressed that he is not retired, which is why he’s also holding a private workout for multiple teams.

Wall and Thomas may not be very realistic though.

The Kings could also stick primarily with a committee based on the guys they currently have, and that could be the case even if they bring in a third point guard. However, this would rely on some youth.

Colby Jones has taken on a fair amount of ball handling duties in Summer League thus far. In the two California Classic games, when starting point guard Jordan Ford came out of the game, Jones took the ball up the floor the majority of the time. Though he wasn’t a point guard in college, he still handled a significant portion of the time for Xavier.

Though, he’d have to prove a lot to the team first, but he’d still be a part of that committee. And everyone knows Malik Monk handled and created more than Davion Mitchell did last season.

Competition in camp could be useful in this scenario. It could give the organization options to see what exactly they need; they could assess Jones further and gauge whether they need to keep a third floor general.

Although, judging by Mike Brown’s past statements about the point guard position, it may be more likely they pursue a true point guard to backup Fox and Mitchell.

“Those guys are the head of the snake on both sides of the ball, so they always have to be engaged,” Brown described last October during camp. “(The point guards) have to know what everybody’s job is in the floor because if they don’t know what this guy’s supposed to do out on the floor, they don’t really know what to run or how to run it or where to go with it. They should have a great understanding of what we’re trying to do, especially offensively.”

The head coach went on to say it’s “no different than being a quarterback in the NFL” due to how “tough” the position is.

And it’s important to remember that it was Dellavedova and Quinn Cook battling it out for the role last year, meaning it was two vets that could be trusted as the head of the snake.

It’s not to say Jones can’t take on that kind of role at one point, but he seems more suited for the two-guard/wing position for now. And based on the available free agents, there is point guard experience to be found in various places.

Keep an eye out for another move.

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Kings Talk – A Cap City Crown Podcast on the Sacramento Kings

Kings Talk: Episode 67

On this episode of Kings Talk presented by Cap City Crown, Tony and John discuss who has the best shot at winning the third backup center role, Mike Brown’s first real interview of the offseason, […]

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2 months ago

Really like Wall, but not sure he’d like that role being the 3rd guy. I also like Smith, and could be good to pluck another guy from Denver!