The Sacramento Kings might have flopped on day one of 2023 free agency, as they miss out on almost every potential target. After re-signing forwards Harrison Barnes and Trey Lyles, Sacramento has not upgraded the roster as expected this offseason.
Following the Richaun Holmes draft night trade, the Kings had about $33 million in cap space, which was the most of any 2022-23 playoff team. Kings fans expected the Sacramento front office to make the most of this cap space, but hopes were gone when they used half of it to re-sign Barnes.
There were many big-name targets for Sacramento to use the money on, but they seemed to strike out on all of their expected targets.
These are eight potential targets that Sacramento failed to sign:
Yuta Watanabe, Phoenix Suns
Watanabe signed a one-year / $2.3 million contract with the Suns, teaming up with former King Chimezie Metu. While Watanabe was never rumored for Sacramento, the cheap forward would have fit into the bench lineup with his impressive shooting and high effort on defense.
Bruce Brown, Indiana Pacers
After a successful 2023 playoffs run for Bruce Brown that led to a championship, the 6’4″ versatile guard signed a two-year / $45 million deal with Indiana. Brown was never rumored with Sacramento, as Kings fans hoped the miraculous would happen.
Rui Hachimura, Los Angeles Lakers
Since Hachimura was a restricted free agent after an impressive hot streak in the playoffs, it was unlikely any team would pry him from Los Angeles. The 6’8″ forward signed a three-year / $51 million deal. A 3-and-D wing with a strong build like his is hard to find, as he would have been a great piece in Sacramento’s lineup.
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
After many rumors connected Draymond Green to the Sacramento Kings, the veteran forward signed a four-year / $100 million deal to return to Golden State. The four-time champion gave Kings fans mixed feelings when brought up in free agency discussions, but it is undeniable the 33-year-old forward would have had a positive impact in Sacramento.
It seems as if Sacramento dodged a bullet on Green’s contract, as it would have been hectic paying 37-year-old Draymond Green $27 million. Even though Green has a strong relationship with Kings head coach Mike Brown, Draymond chose to stay with the Warriors.
Kyle Kuzma, Washington Wizards
Kyle Kuzma was rumored to be at the top of Sacramento’s free agency board but ultimately missed out on him. The 27-year-old signed a four-year / $102 million to stay in Washington, as we can assume he was looking forward to being the number one option with star Bradley Beal gone.
Kuzma’s scoring and rebounding ability would have made him an upgrade over Harrison Barnes, but once the Kings re-signed Barnes, the Kuzma dream went out the window. The 2020 NBA Champion will stick on a rebuilding Wizards squad on a fair contract.
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Middleton adds to the championship experience the Kings missed out on. The 31-year-old forward signed a 3-year / $102 million deal to stay in Milwaukee. While we assumed it would be hard to get Middleton away from the Bucks, they paid him more than expected. After coming off multiple injuries and his worst season since 2016-17, Middleton will be making $34 million per year.
This was another bullet dodged for Sacramento, as even though Middleton is an impressive player, there are too many concerns to pay him that much money. The Kings were rumored to be targeting the three-time All-Star heading into free agency.
Cameron Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
With Cam Johnson being a restricted free agent, the Brooklyn Nets were unlikely to let him go. The 27-year-old forward had a breakout end of the season after being traded to the Nets from the Phoenix Suns. This led to Brooklyn re-signing Johnson to a four-year / $108 million deal. While Johnson has proven to be one of the best shooters in the league, this is still a hefty contract to give a player who has only averaged over 10 points per game for two seasons.
The Sacramento Kings were most likely in pursuit of Cam Johnson, resulting in them or another team increasing his price. The sharpshooter would have been a great addition to the Kings’ lineup, but Sacramento would have had to go all-in on him to give him that contract.
Jerami Grant, Portland Trail Blazers
Possibly the biggest winner of free agency is Jerami Grant. The Trail Blazers re-signed the forward to a five-year / $160 million deal. With no All-Star appearances and an injury history, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports worked wonders with Grant. The Trail Blazers want all of the star power they can get in hopes that superstar Damian Lillard stays happy in Portland, resulting in an overpay, but the recent news of Lillard requesting a trade makes this contract more questionable.
While the 6’8″ forward would have been a fantastic fit into Sacramento’s lineup, and there were rumors of Sacramento’s pursuit of Grant, Portland was likely the only team willing to give him that contract. Grant was toward the top of many Kings fans’ free agency wish lists, but his decision to stay in Portland might be for the best.