2011 NBA Offseason: Sacramento Kings

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Sacramento Kings (Last Year: 24-58)

2011 NBA Draft Team Grade:

The Kings shook up their backcourt on Draft Day by acquiring John Salmons, and drafting Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas. I don't love the Salmons deal at all, but Fredette and Thomas should be really nice fits in Sacramento. Tyler Honeycutt has first-round talent and was a solid selection at No. 35. I would have liked to see the Kings add some frontcourt depth with one of their picks even though they did draft two bigs last year. (Team Grade: Makes sense)

Live 2011 NBA Draft Grades:

10. Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU
This pick actually makes a lot of sense because Jimmer is a shooter than can play alongside a ball dominant two guard like Tyreke Evans. Plus with Sacramento dealing Beno Udrih, they almost had to grab a point here. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT!)

35. Tyler Honeycutt, F, UCLA
A value pick for the Kings as Honeycutt has first round talent but is not NBA-ready quite yet. His length will be a huge asset at the next level but he needs to get stronger and probably isn?t ready to contribute as a rookie. (Pick Grade: Makes sense)

60. Isaiah Thomas, PG, Washington
Damm it. I actually had the Kings taking Isaiah Thomas at No. 60 for a while but changed it earlier this week. Since they needed point guard help before they traded Beno Udrih, drafting a gamer like Thomas on top of Jimmer Fredette could be a steal. I think Thomas will enter the league with a HUGE chip on his shoulder. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT!)

*** 2011 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***

2010-11 Season Summary:
Amid speculation that the franchise could be moving from Sacramento to Anaheim or somewhere else, the Kings did not show much growth in the second year of their youth movement. A big reason for that was the injury issues second-year guard Tyreke Evans struggled through, costing him 25 games this past season, resulting in a dip in production.

Evans is obviously the foundation of the franchise, but the Kings seemingly found a reliable scoring threat inside. DeMarcus Cousins put together a solid rookie season, proving that he was the most talented low-post scorer in last year's draft class. Some of the red flags that surrounded him coming out of Kentucky did arise in his rookie campaign, as his emotions often got the best of him. Still, he has the potential to be a special post player if he can mature with time.

Outside of Evans and Cousins, the roster was somewhat scrambled. Samuel Dalembert, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry shared minutes in the frontcourt. Dalembert brought some size and defense to the paint, while Thompson was not nearly as effective as he was during his first two seasons in the league, primarily due to a decrease in playing time but did seem to return to his old form late in the season.

The biggest surprise of the season came when Landry was dealt to New Orleans for second-year shooting guard Marcus Thornton. Thornton found himself strapped to the bench early in the season with the Hornets, but made the most of his opportunity in Sacramento, averaging 21.3 points per game and providing the Kings with an outside threat.

The grass is slowly turning from brown to green for this franchise especially now that they know the team is staying in Sacramento for at least one more season. There are a few young pieces that form an encouraging core, but the Kings are still quite a long way from having the best lawn in the neighborhood.

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

C: DeMarcus Cousins/Jason Thompson

PF: J.J. Hickson/#Darnell Jackson/Hassan Whiteside

SF: John Salmons/Donte Greene/Tyler Honeycutt

SG: %Marcus Thornton/Francisco Garcia

PG: Tyreke Evans/Jimmer Fredette/*Pooh Jeter/Isaiah Thomas

NBA Free Agents:

C-Samuel Dalmbert (UFA)

SG-Luther Head (UFA)

SG-Marquis Daniels (UFA)

#PF-Darnell Jackson (RFA)

%SG-Marcus Thornton (RFA)

*PG-Pooh Jeter (TO)

Offseason Transactions:

Kings acquire 10th pick (Jimmer Fredette) and SG John Salmons in three-way trade for 7th pick and PG Beno Urdih

Kings acquire PF J.J. Hickson from Cavs for SF Omri Casspi and future first round pick

Kings waive SG Jermaine Taylor

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $29.9 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Stick to the Script: The re-building effort in Sacramento continues this offseason. Management has done a solid in job in drafting talented young players and putting their team in an enviable position of having the most salary cap flexibility in free agency. The Kings need to stick to that script and not jump the gun by doing anything insanely stupid like over-signing a mid-level free agent to a monster deal that cripples their future cap space. They will add at least one key player through the 2011 NBA Draft, but they must be wise and not reckless in spending money during free agency.

2. Backcourt Mate for Tyreke: The Kings will be looking for a guard who can shoot the rock and play alongside Tyreke Evans. Sacramento may have found that player at the end of this past season in Thornton, but he is a free agent. He was a great fit next to Evans since Evans operates at his best when the ball is in his hands and Thornton is a threat with his ability to shoot the rock. He likely earned a nice payday this offseason and if it is a reasonable price, expect the Kings to bring him back especially since he will only be 24 years old at the start of next season.

If Thornton does not return, Sacramento still needs an upgrade from Beno Udrih and Francisco Garcia. There should be some talented guards available in the NBA Draft with the Kings' lottery pick or they could also use a chunk of their cap space to fill this need.

3. Defensive-minded Big: Samuel Dalembert was the only player on the Kings roster to average more than one blocked shot per game, providing the team with a true defensive presence in the middle. Dalembert is a free agent this offseason and could want to join a playoff contender rather than return to a team in the midst of re-building. DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson are both talented players in their own right, but neither offers the rim protection that Dalembert does. If Sacramento is unable to re-sign Dalembert, it needs to pursue a shot blocker to replace what he brought to the floor.

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