That…. doesn’t make sense.
Free agency was a relatively dead period for the Sacramento Kings lost offseason. In fact, their biggest move was inaction: they decided not to match Bogdan Bogdanovic’s offer sheet from the Atlanta Hawks.
At the time, the decision was somewhat defensible. The Hawks had made Bogdanovic’s contract as unappealing as possible by giving the guard $72 million over four years and adding a player option and a trade kicker. Everyone around the league knew that Bogdanovic was not part of Sacramento’s future since the team had just attempted to sign-and-trade him to Milwaukee, so the Kings would either be stuck with the burdensome salary of a player who would block minutes for Tyrese Haliburton, or they would have to trade him from a position of weakness.
It stung to lose Bogdanovic for nothing, but it allowed the team to move forward with a clean cap sheet. However, per new reporting from Chris Kirschner and Seth Partnow of The Athletic, there appears to have been another option.
Before signing Bogdanovic to a new contract in free agency, Atlanta presented a sign-and-trade proposal of its own to the Kings. Here are the details of that pitch, from The Athletic:
After the botched Bucks trade, which cost Milwaukee its 2022 second-round draft pick, the Kings still had the opportunity to do a legal sign-and-trade with the Hawks. The Kings asked for some of Atlanta’s younger players, but the Hawks declined. Atlanta offered Sacramento the Oklahoma City 2022 lottery-protected first-round pick it owns (which likely will end up converting to two second-round picks) and Tony Snell. The Hawks wanted to be sure the Kings would not match their offer sheet. Instead of getting something for Bogdanovic in free agency, the Kings received nothing and declined the Hawks’ offer.
The Kings probably viewed this package as inferior to the Milwaukee deal because they weren’t getting a good young player like Donte DiVincenzo. But a first-round pick, even one that will likely turn into seconds, has real value. Sacramento instead got NO value.
But wait? Wouldn’t the Kings be taking on salary by bringing in Tony Snell and ruin their future cap flexibility? Nope! Snell is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, so Sacramento would only have to pay him during the 2020-21 league year before bidding him a fond farewell. As alluded to earlier, it’s not like the Kings did anything with their cap space this year (all due to respect to Glenn Robinson III and Hassan Whiteside), so there was literally no opportunity cost.
By the way, Snell has only played in 40 games this year, but he’s shooting 57.1 percent on threes. That might not have been such a bad player to squeeze into Sacramento’s rotation. Worst comes to worse, the Kings could have just sat Snell as they did with Nemanja Bjelica and simply pocketed the two seconds.
It is baffling that the Kings chose this course of action with Bogdanovic. Sure, their first option with the Bucks fell through, but the Hawks sign-and-trade was an easy way to recoup some value in a bad situation, and Monte McNair and Co. passed for no good reason.
There was hope that the Kings had turned the page by moving on from Vlade Divac and committing to a “gap year” this season. But this report, combined with McNair’s failure to gain any assets at the trade deadline, suggests that there is still a steep learning curve with this front office.