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Sacramento Kings offseason tracker 2023: Grading every Kings trade, free agency moves

The Sacramento Kings offseason is underway as the franchise comes off its first playoff appearance since 2006. With the youngest rosters in the Pacific Division, Sacramento is now using this summer to take the next step forward as a viable playoff contender.

Sacramento entered the offseason with obvious needs. For general manager Monte McNair, improving the Kings’ frontcourt depth and rebounding is a priority. Sacramento also wants to improve its perimeter defense and find a veteran guard to strengthen its rotation.

Related: Sacramento Kings rumors

Below, we’re grading and analyzing each of the Kings’ free-agency moves and trades. Let’s dive into the Sacramento Kings transactions this summer.

Sacramento Kings offseason moves 2023

Sacramento Kings sign Nerlens Noel

NBA: Preseason-Detroit Pistons at New Orleans Pelicans
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento entered the offseason needing a backup center who could both share the floor with Domantas Sabonis and take some minutes off his plate at center. Weeks into NBA free agency, with the market slowing down, Sacramento found its man.

  • Nerlens Noel stats (2022-’23): 2.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.9 SPG

Nerlens Noel, the sixth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, played sparingly this past season with the Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets. However, he appeared in 25 games with the New York Knicks in 2021-’22, averaging 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals-plus-blocks in just 22.5 minutes per night.

Sacramento needed rebounding and interior defense, which Noel provides. When healthy, he’s one of the most effective reserves in the NBA in both regards. Entering his age-29 season, there is some risk with Noel for the Kings considering he couldn’t see the court regularly last season in Brooklyn or Detroit. However, Noel returning to the player who helped the Knicks in previous seasons would make him a bargain addition for the Kings.

Domantas Sabonis signs $217 million extension with Sacramento Kings

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Sacramento Kings
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When the Sacramento Kings traded their first-round pick to offload Richaun Holmes’ contract, fans were hoping it meant McNar would swing for the fences with a blockbuster trade. While Sacramento didn’t hit a home run, a standup double is still plenty effective.

The cap space helped Sacramento improve its depth and, most importantly, do that while still retaining the flexibility to sign Somantas Sabonis to an extension. Now, the All-NBA center has landed the contract he earned.

Some might call a $217 million contract an overpay for a center who wasn’t nearly as effective in the playoffs and might not have been phenomenal late in the regular season. Keep in mind, though, that Sabonis played through a fractured thumb that he suffered back in late December. When healthy, he’s one of the best centers in basketball and he fits what Sacramento does.

Moving forward, Sabonis, De’Aaron Fox, Keegan Murray and Kevin Huerter are all under contract through 2026. In addition, the Kings will have Barnes and Vezenkov under team control through that period too. The core is in place and with the Lakers, Suns and Warriors all getting older, Sacramento is well-positioned to compete for years to come.

  • Grade: A

Kings re-sign backup center Alex Len

NBA: Playoffs-Sacramento Kings at Golden State Warriors
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

After trading away Richaun Holmes, Sacramento needed to find depth at center and Alex Len became the obvious choice. The 10-year NBA veteran averaged just 6.2 minutes per game last season appearing in 26 contests, a role he’ll likely return on the vet minimum ($3.2 million).

  • Grade: C+

Sasha Vezenkov signs three-year deal with Sacramento

The Sacramento Kings have signed reigning EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov to a three-year, $20 million contract. Sacramento obtained his draft rights in 2022 from the Cleveland Cavaliers and he was one of the best international basketball players this season.

  • Sasha Vezenkov stats (EuroLeague): 17.6 PPG, 7 RPG, 1.9 APG, 54.6% FG, 39.8% 3PT

Vezenkov, a 6-foot-9 forward, has been one of the best players in Europe over the last two seasons. Prior to being named EuroLeague MVP and Europe Player of the Year in 2023, Vezenkov was a two-time Greek league champion and made the EuroLeague First Team in 2022.

Entering his age-28 season, Vezenkov projects to be one of the top forwards in Sacramento’s rotation next season behind Keegan Murray and Harrison Barnes. He’s a career 40 percent shooter from the perimeter. The Kings believe he can back up Murray and also play alongside the second-year forward.

  • Grade: B+

Kings re-sign Trey Lyles

NBA: Playoffs-Sacramento Kings at Golden State Warriors
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Acquired by Sacramento at the 2022 NBA trade deadline in a four-team deal involving Marvin Bagley, forward Trey Lyles became one of the Kings’ best rotational players this past season. Now, he’s headed back to Sacramento.

  • Trey Lyles contract: $16 million over two years

As first reported by Chris Haynes of TNT, the Kings have reached an agreement on terms with a new contract to bring Lyles back for the 2023-’24 season. It’s a two-year deal, per James Ham. Financial terms of the deal were not yet disclosed.

Lyles averaged 8.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest (18.3 mpg) in his final 43 regular-season games with Sacramento last season. The 6-foot-9 forward shot 38.9 percent from the perimeter during that stretch. He played an even bigger role in the first round of the NBA playoffs, averaging 6.6 PPG and 5.7 RPG, with a .114 Win Shares per 48 Minutes.

According to Sam Amick, Lyles signed a two-year deal worth $16 million. It’s a fully-guaranteed deal that will include bonuses, with no team or player options. Lyles’ salary puts hm on par with Thaddeus Young ($8 million) and just below Georges Niang ($8.253M AAV). We dipped the grade from a B+ to a B due to the higher than expected AAV.

  • Grade: B

Chris Duarte traded to Sacramento Kings

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

A year after swinging the Domantas Sabonis trade with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento and Indiana have reportedly agreed to terms on another deal. With the Pacers seeking to create cap space, signing veteran Bruce Brown, guard Chris Duarte became available.

  • Sacramento Kings trade: 2028 Mavericks’ 2nd, 2030 Sacramento Kings 2nd
  • Indiana Pacers trade: Chris Duarte

Duarte, age 26, was the 13th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-6 guard earned NBA All-Rookie Second Team Honors in 2022 after averaging 13.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest. As a rookie, he shot 36.9 percent from the perimeter and posted a .029 Win Shares per 48 Minutes.

Related: Analyzing Sacramento Kings trade for Chris Duarte

However, injuries and other factors led to regression during the 2022-’23 NBA season. Durate shot just 31.6 percent from the perimeter and 36.9 percent from the field. After rating as a slightly above-average defender as a rookie, he was rated below-average in his second season.

The Kings are banking on positive regression, especially now that Duarte is being reunited with Sabonis. The two had a close relationship with the Pacers, with Duarte having dinner with him the night before a game this season. Duarte also shot 39 percent from beyond the arc off passes that came from Sabonis (Will Z Stats).

In Sacramento, Duarte will provide depth at the two and three next season with the Kings expecting him to return to his previous form as a perimeter shooter and defender. Duarte is owed $4.124 million next season, with Sacramento holding a $5.89 million club option in 2024.

The draft-pick compensation headed to Indiana hasn’t been disclosed as of Friday night. However, the expectation is it will either be future second-round picks or a heavily protected first-round pick in several years.

  • Grade: B

Sacramento Kings re-sign Harrison Barnes

NBA: Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

After drawing significant interest from the Indiana Pacers, forward Harrison Barnes is returning to the Sacramento Kings on a three-year contract. The deal includes a trade kicker and per John Hollinger of The Athletic, a new stipulation in the NBA CBA, Barnes might not be trade eligible until July 1, 2024.

  • Harrison Barnes contract: $54 million over three years

Since landing in Sacramento during the 2018-’18 season, Barnes has been the leading voice in the locker room. He helped mold the Kings’ young players, providing leadership and experience for De’Aaron Fox and Keegan Murray.

  • Harrison Barnes stats (2022-’23): 15 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.6 APG, 47.3% FG, .118 WS/48

Across 82 regular-season games last season, Barnes ranked 16th among qualified power forwards in FiveThirtyEight’s WAR (5.5), ahead of New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (5.4) and Toronto Raptors All-Star forward Pascal Siakam (4.5).

However, the 31-year-old forward was a non-factor in the NBA playoffs. In the first five games against the Golden State Warriors, Barnes shot 22.7 percent from the perimeter and the Sacramento Kings were heavily outrebounded with him on the floor.

After averaging 33.7 MPG in the first five games of the series, Barnes combined to play just 28 total minutes in the final two games and he missed a three-pointer in Game 4 that would’ve won the game and given Sacramento a 3-1 series lead.

Even with the rising NBA salary cap, the $18 million average annual value over three years is a slight overpay by Sacramento. However, it’s believed the Kings structured the deal to provide them with more cap space this year.

  • Grade: C

Sacramento Kings offseason transactions

  • Signed EuroLeague MVP forward Sasha Vezenkov to three-year, $20M deal
  • Traded for Indiana Pacers wing Chris Duarte
  • Re-signed Trey Lyles to two-year, $16M deal
  • Re-signed Harrison Barnes to three-year, $54M contract
  • Signed Domantas Sabonis to five-year, $217M extension
  • Re-signed Alex Len to one-year, $3.5M contract

Sacramento Kings lineup 2023-’23

  • PG: De’Aaron Fox/Davion Mitchell
  • SG: Kevin Huerter/Malik Monk/Colby Jones
  • SF: Keegan Murray/Chris Duarte/Kessler Edwards
  • PF: Harrison Barnes/Sasha Vezenkov
  • C: Domantas Sabonis/Nerlens Noel/Trey Lyles/Alex Len

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