Trying to justify the Sacramento Kings moving down in the draft to add John Salmons
Quick recap: In the player moving draft day deal between the Bobcats, Bucks and Kings, the gist of the Kings side was moving from #7 to #10 pick for taking on John Salmons’ bad contract for Beno Udrih. (I’ll have thoughts on the Bucks and Bobcats end of things later) A lot of NBA fans went: Huh??? It seems out of place for a young team like the Kings to give up value for an old, big contract like Salmons.
Yet NBA teams don’t do deals for no reason. Here’s my best guess as the Kings motivation for this
- First, I suspect they were taking Jimmer Fredette at #7 as much as at #10. Yes, Brandon Knight was available at #7 and a great basketball fit beside Tyreke Evans. But Jimmer was just as strong of one and more importantly for the Maloofs who need money, the most popular player in the draft and a huge jersey mover and fan maker. Jimmer was going to the Kings. So the move down didn’t effect anything for them in terms of draft position. It’s simply Udrih for Salmons, which certainly doesn’ t look as bad.
- Udrih is owed 15 million the next 2 years in a backcourt with minutes taken by Jimmer, Tyreke Evans and presumably a resigned Marcus Thornton. That’s a lot to pay for your 4th guard. On the other hand their best SF is Omri Casspi or Francisco Garcia. Salmons fills more of a role as a 30-35 minute SF who can score, and more importantly on this team, defend and rebound on the perimeter. He is owed 3 years 24 million, but I do believe the Kings are presuming his extra 7.5 million in 2013-2014 seperating him from Udrih’s contract, can be moved by then if they want. Also, the Kings have so little contract commitment in 2013-2014 that they can set up exactly how big they want their payroll to be by then, whether that’s reflected through having Salmons or another player. Adding 7.5 mil to that year is not a big deal when the slate is nearly empty.
- Getting Salmons, in a weird way, could be a financial move. Beno Udrih does not move tickets or jerseys or attract TV viewers. He is a backup PG who plays like one. This is especially true if he’s the 4th guard next year. Salmons is a former King casual fans recognize, a player that can show up on highlight reels with a 25 point game every once in a while, he’s a face you can put on billboards and ads that people will know – and he’s someone that perhaps can make Kings games a little closer and more competitive. The NBA is a product and Salmons helps you market the new Kings a bit more than Udrih does, in my opinion. Right now you have to assume money is playing it’s part in every deal the infamously cash strapped Maloofs are making. A fan who quit 3 years ago may see Jimmer added and Salmons who he remembers and decide to start watching again. Little additives like this may not be a substantial gain in cash, but it’s always something and to the Maloofs every dollar matters.
Ultimately the move doesn’t drastically change the Kings future. The important part is still making Jimmer, Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins fit together offensively and trying to find a way to teach them defense and rebounding. Salmons and Udrih are both blips along the way, but in my opinion, Salmons makes them better the next two years by filling a defensive SF hole and by taking pressure off Jimmer, Evans and Cousins to score. The gist of draft move downs is getting the player you want and getting a little extra to help you – and that’s what I believe this move was.