Which Sacramento King Won’t Make the Team?


With just one preseason game remaining on the Sacramento Kings’ docket, the chances for fringe players to impress somebody and earn themselves an opening day roster spot are just about gone.

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After releasing Marshall Henderson and Vince Hunter on October 15th, the Kings roster is down to 16. The limit for opening day is 15 players. Somebody who’s made it this far will unfortunately have to find somewhere else to play very quickly.

In trying to find the odd man out of Sacramento, the easiest way to start is by eliminating some players who obviously aren’t getting cut. DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos, Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli and Omri Casspi are all almost certainly safe.

That leaves Caron Butler, James Anderson, Seth Curry, Duje Dukan, Eric Moreland, David Stockton and Quincy Acy as players who could be released in the coming days.

It seems unlikely that Anderson will be released, since George Karl has given him a lot of minutes and he’s preformed fairly well in his playing time so far. Curry and Acy are also probably locks, thanks to their guaranteed deals.

Butler has certainly looked old on the floor, but his value mostly comes from his experience and leadership at this point anyway, and that will certainly benefit the Kings. Even if he hardly plays and doesn’t do much when he does get minutes, he’ll probably stick around anyway.

That leaves Dukan, Stockton and Moreland. Stockton and Moreland both have non-guaranteed deals, and Dukan’s only owed $525,093, so any of the three could be released for what amounts to nothing. The question is, which of these three young players gets the boot?

Moreland is probably the safest of the three. He was one of the last players brought into camp after being released earlier this summer, but he’s been great in the preseason. In just 15.6 minutes per game this preseason Moreland is currently averaging 7.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.

Oct 13, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Sacramento Kings guard James Anderson (5) attempts to dunk the ball against Los Angeles Lakers center Roy Hibbert (17) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

He’s only played in two games, but that’s on the coaching staff, not Moreland. He’s also shot nearly 80 percent from the field in that time. If this preseason is an audition for those last few spots, Eric Moreland passed with flying colors.

That leaves just Dukan and Stockton for the last spot. Dukan has played just 8.5 minutes in the preseason, although he did hit a three-pointer and grab a rebound in that brief stint. Stockton has played in three games, but less than 20 total minutes and has just four points, five rebounds and four assists in that time.

Despite their limited playing time this preseason basically making them even in that sense, Dukan will probably get the nod. Partly because he’s the younger player who may have more potential than Stockton, who’s been around the Kings for a while now.

But Dukan really has an advantage based off of Sacramento’s current projected depth chart. Dukan is a power forward, which slots him behind DeMarcus Cousins (assuming he’s the power forward whether he’s next to Koufos or Cauley-Stein) and some mix of Eric Moreland and Quincy Acy.

Dukan could also play at the three sometimes, if the Kings wanted to go big. His shooting touch makes it easier to slot him in different lineups, which is a versatility that Stockton lacks. The under-six-footer can’t be expected to guard anybody taller than a point guard, and some of the taller points in the Association could give him a lot of trouble themselves.

Oct 10, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Seth Curry (30) shoots a three point basket against the Portland Trail Blazers during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 94-90. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Plus, the Kings are actually fairly stacked with point guard talent at the moment. Stockton would be battling Rondo, Collison and Curry for minutes, and he probably ends up behind all of them on the depth chart.

The most likely scenario here is that Stockton spends at least the beginning of another season with the Reno Bighorns. He’s proven that he can dominate the D-League after his last season there and probably has earned an NBA shot, but there’s no opportunity for him in Sacramento right now.

The other option would be to trade him for a pick–somebody very short on point guards and on prospects might be willing to give up a future second rounder for Stockton. That might be good value for him, based on his lack of a role on the Kings right now.

Of course Vlade Divac could throw everyone another curveball and release somebody like Butler or Acy, despite their guaranteed deals. He seems committed to building the best team possible, and it’s possible Stockton’s potential is more valuable than Acy’s, or than Butler’s leadership.

Whatever Divac and Karl decide on, they need to make some room on this roster fairly soon. The most likely option is releasing and subsequently offering a younger player a D-League deal, but a trade or cutting someone more unexpected is certainly in the realm of possibility.

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