We’re in the thick of free agency, and, as is customary on this date, we wait for the latest free agent to decide on his next home as we pace around our computers, trying to somehow enjoy the Fourth of July. And as has also become customary, we are forced to ask: What are the Sacramento Kings doing?
The Kings reportedly sign George Hill to a three-year, $57 million deal, with a partial guarantee on the third year. They also reportedly ink Zach Randolph to a two-year, $24 million deal, fully guaranteed.
OK, where do we begin?
Let’s go back to a time, just a few days ago, when the Kings had reportedly offered restricted free agent Otto Porter Jr. a max offer sheet, forcing the Wizards, who said they would match any deal for Porter, to pony up in order to keep the 2013 third overall pick. Since the trade in which Sacramento sent away Boogie Cousins during the All-Star break, the Kings have been making respectable, un-Kingsian decisions. They’ve bought themselves some goodwill by trending younger, adhering to a rebuilding blueprint instead of a mindlessly aggressive approach. The max offer they sent Porter was a smart, no-loss move, whether or not they ended up with him.
But now, that all feels slightly tainted. Instead, the Kings have decided to commit a projected $62 million over the next two seasons to two guys who are 31 and 35, respectively. It makes little sense financially, and on the basketball court it presents a potentially dangerous dilemma.
The George Hill Problem
Sure, Hill, who is still a plus perimeter defender and is coming off one of the most efficient shooting campaigns of his career, can provide a perfect mentor for the glut of young guards Sacramento has on its roster (De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Frank Mason III), but at what point, given Hill’s talent, do you ask: Will he be taking too many minutes away from their development?
Hill’s versatility makes him a compatible backcourt mate with pretty much anyone, so his presence won’t stunt Fox’s growth. The veteran is also a respected locker room guy, and he could even hasten the Kentucky rookie’s development. For Hill, who waited, and waited, and was linked to every team on either side of the Mississippi River — the Nuggets, the Lakers, the Spurs, the Wolves, and the Knicks — Sacramento appears a strange place to get his money, especially given he would have likely received the same deal had he renegotiated in Utah midseason.
What About Z-Bo?
I don’t know about this one. Randolph is 35, a post-centric player whom the league has passed by on its way to the perimeter, and one who can no longer be an efficient player through which a team’s offense can run. He was already declining before David Fizdale arrived in Memphis this year, and he was much better suited coming off the bench, where Fizdale placed him.
Z-Bo is a charismatic persona who will likely be an ideal locker room presence for a young Sacramento team still looking to find its way and its identity. But for $24 million, that’s all he’ll likely be.
The Kings have the available cap space to go after the league’s elder statesmen, like Randolph and Hill, but the acquisition of a guy who, despite his legendary status as a godfather of Grit ’n’ Grind, may no longer have a place in this league, and a guard who has missed 80 games over the past three years due to injury, for this price tag, feels needlessly aggressive.
The Kings may have won the draft, but somehow, someway, they have found a way to still be the Kings. All is right with the world, even if it all could go wrong in Sacramento.