It sounds like Nerlens Noel is the Kings’ Plan B if Richaun Holmes walks in free agency.
Richaun Holmes doesn’t want to leave the Sacramento Kings — he expressed that every chance he got last season. But Holmes, coming off of a career year, isn’t going to come cheap, and the Kings, with $98 million in guaranteed salaries already committed for next season, might not be able to justify adding another eight-figure salary to their books.
If the Kings’ financial complications or other factors like competitiveness do get in the way of Holmes stay in the Sacramento, Monte McNair already has a replacement in mind, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype:
A couple of teams have Nerlens Noel on their free agency radar. Among those teams, the Sacramento Kings and the Toronto Raptors, I’m told. Regarding Sacramento, it depends on what happens with their free-agent center, Richaun Holmes.
Noel, the No. 6 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, didn’t stuff the stat sheet the way that Holmes did last season, but he is an effective player, particularly on the defensive end. Through 64 games with the New York Knicks last season, Noel averaged 2.2 blocks and a steal per game, something that no other player did. He also had the highest defensive box plus-minus (+3.5) in the NBA.
All that being said, Holmes is undoubtedly the all-around better player and if the Kings only have to pay a little more to keep him around, they should. Holmes already has chemistry with the Kings’ core croup and has expressed a desire to be in Sacramento on a long-term basis, both of which aren’t things you can just replace in free agency, especially not with the amount of money the Kings will be working with this summer.
It might come at the expense of someone else on the roster, but Holmes should absolutely be the Kings’ No. 1 priority in free agency.