"‘Royal Roundtable’ is a new feature we’re trying out here at A Royal Pain. You can read the pilot episode on Rajon Rondo right here. Each week, we’ll throw out a topic to the writing staff, and see where the conversation goes from there. This week’s topic is “Who are the Sacramento Kings worth keeping?” Thanks for reading."
Tony Xypteras (@TonyXypteras): We have less than two weeks left in the regular season, and seeing as how the Sacramento Kings are about to miss the playoffs for the ninth-straight year, this current roster will be irrelevant very soon. There will be no post season in Sacramento. This is it.
The Kings are in for a busy offseason. We briefly talked about areas the Kings needed to address this summer in a roundtable last month, but for our purposes this week, I’d like to focus on players the Kings should keep from this current roster, and conversely, players they should try to trade, or let go of in free agency.
I have a few thoughts of my own, but before I share those, what do you guys think?
Rafe Wong (@rafnation): The two players that I consider “must keep” for at least this offseason are Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. Both players have played really well (especially Gay) in Karl’s system. If you give them a complete offseason with Karl, I think you will see a much better basketball team next season. Cousins and Gay are already under contract for the next three years, and that tells me the Kings front office has solidified their coach and their number one and two options moving forward. The next mission is to find role players that can fit well with this system and these players.
Two other players that I would like to see stick around would be Darren Collison and Ben McLemore. I would like Collison to stay because he hasn’t had an opportunity to play under George Karl yet, and I think he would fit in his system perfectly. Collison plays well in an up-tempo offense. We saw that when Tyrone Corbin was in command during his brief stint with the Kings. If you have someone on your roster that can thrive in this system, you have to at least give him a chance before moving on. Whether or not he is a long-term starter remains to be seen. My argument for keeping Ben McLemore is that I think he has grown immensely since his rookie year. Despite his struggles and his inconsistency as this season progresses, if you told me at the beginning of the season that Ben would be averaging around 12 PPG while shooting 43% from the field and 36% from three, I would have been thrilled about it. With one more offseason under his belt, and the addition of being more familiar with what George Karl wants him to do, I think he will make another leap of improvement going into his third year as a pro.
):Cousins, Gay, Collison, and McLemore are clearly the top-four players on this roster. I’d welcome them all back next season. You could talk me into trading either Gay or Collison, but both players have team friendly contracts that will only get better as the salary cap continues to rise.
I’d expect all, or at the very least a majority of those four on the roster next season.
I think the most interesting roster debate this offseason will be Omri Casspi vs. Derrick Williams. You could make the argument that the Kings should try to keep both of them, but my gut tells me only one of them will be back.
Williams has been showing some signs of development since Karl took over. Casspi has been solid for most of the season regardless of who the coach is. I’ve been touting Casspi’s contributions all year, and I’d like him back next season, but Williams’ recent play has turned this into a debate.
They are comparable offensive players. Casspi is the better shooter, but Williams is the better athlete. I think Casspi is a smarter player and a more capable defender, though, and that’s why he gets my vote.
So long as we’re talking about Kings players who will be free agents at the end of the season, I’d like to see Andre Miller sign on for one more year.
):I would bring Omri Casspi back to Sacramento over Derrick Williams. We know that Williams has flourished under Karl’s system, but as the season comes to its end I have also seen Casspi find his niche in this offense.
I think Casspi is a much a better defender than Williams. Based solely on my eye test, Williams has improved offensively, but is still atrocious on the defensive end.
Cost is important to consider as well. Casspi will be a lot cheaper to re-sign than Williams, and considering that Williams is still relatively young, he will probably sign with the team that is willing to give him the biggest contract offer, and I don’t think Sacramento is that team.
Omri Casspi has been very outgoing about his desire to stay in Sacramento. I’m not saying that Williams doesn’t want to stay, but it is unusual to find a player who’s first choice is the Kings. One thing that is very consistent among good teams is that they have players that want to be part of the organization. Omri Casspi is a rare breed that sees Sacramento as his ideal location, so you know he is going to be playing with heart while wearing purple and white.
Kyle Robert (@notoriouskro): Obviously Rudy and DeMarcus are the studs going forward. Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas are a part of the foreseeable future, unless we can use one or both to land a legitimate upgrade. Collison and Jason Thompson should be a part of the second unit if we want to make a real push towards a playoff spot.
Omri Casspi and Derrick Williams fill a similar role for George Karl. I would be fine if both leave, assuming that role is upgraded. If not, bringing back one of them on a team friendly deal makes sense.
Ideally, the Kings can make a push for new talent then fill in the roster with role players accordingly.
): I’m glad you brought up Jason Thompson. I’m still a big fan of his game. He’s been a starter in Sacramento for a majority of his career by necessity more than anything else. I think he can still be very effective as a bench big who can play either center or power forward.
Carl Landry’s game has fallen off a cliff since Karl took over, and it doesn’t seem like Landry really has a spot in Karl’s system moving forward. I’m sure the Kings will try to trade him in the offseason, but I can’t imagine his value is very high right now. The Kings will have to get creative If they want to move him.
I go back and forth on Stauskas on an almost-daily basis. On one hand, you generally don’t want to give up on a young player with Nik’s skill set after one season. On the other hand, he’s the only King with value that could bring veteran talent back to Sacramento if you make him available. It should be an interesting offseason.
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