The Sacramento Kings fell short of a second-round playoff appearance, even after a 48-win season. While this roster had a fantastic regular season, there was little hope for them looking toward a long-term playoff run. The Kings have seven pending free agents, which is their opportunity to either re-tool the roster or run it back.
The best news is that the Kings have a fantastic front office, headlined by 2023 Executive of the Year: GM Monte McNair. So what does he think needs to be done in the offseason? McNair acknowledges the importance of retaining the explosive offense the Kings showed this year but said their biggest priority in the offseason is to focus on both sides of the ball (via NBC Sports):
"“We’re going to have to [change the roster] in a way that we are able to put all the things we need on the floor for both offense and defense.”"
Which pending Kings’ free agents can maintain the number one offense in the NBA while improving the defense? Which ones are the Kings able to let walk?
Edwards has a team-option year coming up, and I see no reason why the Kings will not pick up that option. After acquiring him from the Brooklyn Nets in February of this year, Edwards got a chance to show what he can contribute off the bench, playing only 14 minutes per game in his 22 appearances for the Kings but showing upside. He did not contribute much offensively but is still worth bringing back for less than $2 million next year.
Metu is entering unrestricted free agency, and I do not see the Kings resigning him. While Metu has been a solid player during his three-year tenure in Sacramento, there is not much opportunity for him here as the Kings should be looking to bring in better depth pieces. Although I wish we could have seen more of what Metu could do on this team, I think he has played his last game as a King, and it will be a mutual parting of ways.
Dellavedova was brought to the team at the beginning of the season as a veteran presence in the locker room, as he does not contribute much on the court. He just recently underwent hand surgery, so he did not appear late in the season and into the playoffs, yet we assume he would not have played much anyway. I think Dellavedova will return to the Kings on a minimal contract unless he believes he can be a second-string point guard somewhere else. It appears his locker room presence was beneficial for the young guys this season, and I think a young team like the Kings values that.
Backup center Alex Len just finished his 10th year in the league and only appeared in 26 games this season. He got minimal playoff minutes, even when the Kings were having rebounding troubles, and could have used his size in the rotation. I do not think the Kings will bring Len back, as I could see him wanting a more prominent backup center role elsewhere, along with him not quite fitting into the scheme of this Kings team.
Lyles is entering his ninth season as a free agent after being on five different teams through his first eight years. Knowing Lyles wants to return to the Kings, I see no reason why the Kings would feel any different. Lyles should be brought back with a slightly bigger contract than before. He plays his role as a backup forward exceptionally, and there is no reason to try and replace him.
After having career numbers in his first season with the Kings, Davis took a step back this year. He was practically a non-factor in the first six games of the playoffs but had a huge role in Game 7 against the Warriors. It was nice to see him play well in the biggest game of the year, but I believe with such a loaded backcourt and room to upgrade the small forward position, Davis will not be returning to the Kings and will find a more significant role on another team.
Barnes is the most significant question mark out of anyone on this free agent list. After playing and starting all 82 games this season, Barnes made the playoffs for the first time as a King after five years with the team. He has been very consistent since the Kings acquired him from Dallas in 2019 and was a big contributor to the team’s success this year. I can see the Kings bringing him back on a short-term deal, as I do not think a long-term deal worth around $20 million per year is in the works. If Barnes wants a pay increase and a four-year contract, then I think the Kings will let him walk, and he will get signed by another team. This Barnes deal can go either way, so only time will tell.