Can the Kings afford to lose Bogdanovic in NBA free agency? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The 2020 NBA Draft is imminent, but the league will have to squeeze into an abbreviated free agency period if it is determined to start next season before Christmas.
New Kings general manager Monte McNair already has his plate full trying to prepare for picks 12, 35, 43 and 52. He also has some free agency decisions to make, especially when he’s seated. It’s about starting to shoot at the restricted free agency of goalkeeper Bogdan Bogdanovic.
In Bobby Marks’ latest ESPN article, he lists Bogdanovic as a “top starter” with a salary ranging from $ 14 million to $ 16 million per season. This assessment seems fair.
Sacramento had a four-year Bogdanovic standing offer for just under $ 52 million. This was the maximum the Kings could offer during that time, but once free agency begins, the restrictions on Bogdanovic’s payment change.
A starting salary of $ 14 million with an 8 percent annual increase works out to about $ 63 million over four years. A starting salary of $ 16 million with eight percent increases works out to just over $ 72 million.
Sacramento has a few options when it comes to Bogdanovic. The Kings can let him go to the open market and see what kind of offer he gets, then figure out whether or not they’ll match.
If they match, they assume the contract he negotiated with a different team and all the complexities that come with it. If they decide not to equal, they lose Bogdanovic for nothing.
McNair could also buy Bogdanovic in a sign-and-trade scenario. As long as a team does not officially extend an offer sheet to Bogdanovic, an exchange between the two parties can be established. It’s more complex now than before, but you still have to take it into account.
Finally, the Kings could get a rough value for Bogdanovic and then try to find a long-term contract extension for the 28-year-old. If they hope to keep Bogdanovic, this is the avenue that suits the Kings best.
While Vlade Divac no longer runs the Kings front office, cap expert Ken Catanella returns with the organization. The last two long-term deals the team signed with Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield have both fallen by 8% per season, which would also make sense in this situation and has become a hallmark of Catanella negotiations.
The Kings currently own the Larry Bird rights to Bogdanovic, which means they can go over the cap in order to retain the veteran shooter. They have the option of starting with a higher value freshman salary and then reducing it, like Barnes and Hield.
Why would the Kings choose to design a contract like this?
First off, point guard De’Aaron Fox is set to sign a massive extension with the Kings this offseason, which won’t start until the 2021-22 season. As Fox’s money increases, Bogdanovic’s money, as well as Barnes and Hield’s, would decrease.
It also makes Bogdanovic’s deal more palatable to other teams in the future if the Kings decide to go in a different direction on the road.
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McNair faces a tough decision. He knows his squad as it is currently built is unlikely to be a Western Conference playoff team. He also knows that the Kings are not a franchise that can lose talent. How do you balance these two ideas?
The simplest answer is for McNair to work on an expansion for Bogdanovic every now and then, then make roster adjustments later. It’s not a great free agent class, and the uncertainty of the salary cap is a concern for every team.
Bogdanovic is the Kings’ most versatile player and someone who fits almost every team in the NBA. Whether he’s a starter or a reservist, he’s extremely valuable, especially for a team like Sacramento that struggles to attract outside free agents.
This is all complicated, but it shouldn’t be. Bogdanovic is a very good basketball player who makes the Kings better. They might not be good enough to compete for a playoff berth with him, but they will step back without him.