What happened to the Kings when Murray was off the board?
Sacramento made one of the most surprising moves of the draft, trading out of the first round completely in order to move Richaun Holmes’ salary to the Dallas Mavericks. They gave up that No. 24 pick to do so, which Dallas used to draft Olivier-Maxence Prosper.
That trade opened up a pathway to more than $30 million in cap space, putting the Kings in play as a team that could pursue a max-level free agent. Names such as Draymond Green, Kyle Kuzma and Jerami Grant were linked to Sacramento.
What did the Kings end up doing? They brought back Harrison Barnes and Trey Lyles, they brought over Sasha Vezenkov from Europe, and they used that extra cap space to renegotiate-and-extend the contract of Domantas Sabonis.
A team is allowed to use cap space to increase the salary of a player up to his maximum salary and sign him to an extension, which the Kings did with Sabonis. They gave him an extra $8.6 million this season and then tacked on another $187 million over the next four seasons. This ensures Sabonis won’t hit free agency next summer.
For those doing math at home, the Kings gave up a first-round pick for the privilege of paying Sabonis more money now and later, more than any other team could have offered. They fell into the trap that so many poorly-run teams do, when one year of success is rewarded immediately and lucratively.
Was another team going to break the bank for Sabonis next summer? Almost certainly not.
The Kings had a good season, but they were worse than a typical three-seed. Even a soft step backward could see them in the Play-In Tournament next season. How did they use the assets available to them? Committing to the same team for the next few seasons.