With free agency in full swing, and the Kings recently agreeing to terms with Darren Collison, I decided to look back on the team’s best signings of the Sacramento era. With the exception of almost landing Andre Iguodala last summer (who in bizarre fashion had his offer withdrawn), Sacramento has historically been a relatively minor factor in free agency due to the city’s small market status. But the Kings still made some quality signings during the Petrie era and the team’s “golden years”. My rankings are determined by productivity, overall fit and contract value for team, and win shares:
5. Jim Jackson, 2002
Journeyman Jackson wasn’t signed until December of the 2002-03 NBA season. However, he instantly made an impact with crucial bench play on arguably the 2nd greatest Kings team in Sacramento history. Playing on a veteran’s minimum contract he averaged just 7.7 ppg, yet knocked down 44.2% of shots, including 45.1% from three-point land. His perimeter defense was superb at the 3, further elevating his stock regardless of him only playing 63 games in purple and black.
4. Scot Pollard, 1998
“Samurai Scot” was a definitive fan-favorite during his five-year Sacramento tenure. But more importantly, his interior defense and superb rebounding made him an excellent Petrie pickup, finding a quality backup center in an era when such big men were hard to come by. Pollard averaged 10.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per 36 minutes in Sacramento. He also started 29 games at PF in the 2001-02 season due to Chris Webber‘s ankle injury, further proving his versatility and dependability for Coach Adelman.
3. Jon Barry, 1998
The leader of the “Bench Mob”, Barry was the team’s best “6th man” during the Jason Williams years (1998-01). Similar to Jimmy Jackson, Barry’s claim to fame was precise shooting; and his best season came in 1999-00 when he averaged 46.5 FG%, 42.9 3p%, and 92.2 FT%. His production and stature as an emotional leader, in addition to his modest total salary is what placed him this high on my list.
2. Bobby Jackson, 2000
Arguably one of the greatest 6th men in NBA history (and winner of the award in 2002-03), “B-Jax” averaged 11.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his five seasons donning a Kings uniform. What made Jackson so special was his versatility at either guard positions, allowing for playing time with Mike Bibby or Doug Christie, with continued production no matter whom of the three sat on the bench. In addition to being an offensive spark-plug, Bobby averaged 1.6 steals per 36 minutes and added a certain toughness to the team (everyone remembers his brawl with T-Mac in 2001). At the end, his competitive drive and unmatched adaptability put him second on this list.
1. Vlade Divac, 1998
Vlade Divac was the team’s undeniable heart and soul during Sacramento’s glory years. His number 21 is retired by the organization and he was an NBA All-Star in 2000-01. Unlike other players on this list, Vlade was paid big bucks as a King, but he earned and deserved every penny, only missing six games total and starting at center for the other 454. Arguably one of the greatest passing big men in NBA history, his 39.4 win shares and immeasurable stature as the glue to maintaing team chemistry outweigh even good scoring and rebounding averages. His outlandish optimism and love of the game rubbed off on every King of that era and he will always be a larger than life figure in the Sac community. I was even fortunate enough to attend his basketball camp in 2001!