By Josh Redetzke

2008/09 Sacramento Kings Payroll: $63 million

2008/09 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $58 million (estimate)
Roughly: $5 million over cap


It was a rough year for the Sacramento Kings and
even their best player, Kevin Martin, had his share of hardships.
The lightning quick guard missed 21 games due to injury. However,
that didn’t stop Martin from taking his game to a higher level
as he became one of the best scorers in the league. His five year,
$55.3 million contract extension starts next season and he silenced
any doubters by proving his breakout year in 2006-07 wasn’t
a fluke. Martin averaged 23.7 points, good enough for 6th in the
league. He also added 4.5 rebounds and stellar 40% shooting from
the three point line. As long as Martin doesn’t develop any
chronic injury problems, he should be the kind of shooter that Sacramento
can build around.

John Salmons keeps flying under the radar, but not for long. He
has steadily improved his play in every one of his six years in
the league. Salmons set career highs in many categories this season,
including points (12.5), rebounds (4.3), and shooting (47.7%). The
Kings have secured his services for just over $5 million each of
the next three seasons. If he keeps this up, Salmons will be an
incredible bargain.

Francisco Garcia also improved a lot last season. His shooting percentages
have gone up every year and he was able to put in 12.3 points per
game this season. Garcia still has one more year under the rookie
pay scale and another performance like this one would definitely
make him a keeper.

The Bad:
Even though the Kings were able to get rid of Mike
Bibby’s massive contract, they still have a few clunkers hanging
around. Kenny Thomas is by far the main offender. Thomas only played
in 23 games because of an injury and he performed very poorly when
he was able to suit up, averaging just 1.4 points and 2.7 rebounds
in 12 minutes per game. For that small amount of effort, he’ll
be paid $7.9 and $8.5 million the next two seasons. Thomas has no
place on a rebuilding team and the Kings will be trying to get rid
of him by any means possible.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim at least comes close to earning his money when
healthy. However, the veteran forward missed all but 6 games this
year after right knee surgery. It will be difficult for Abdur-Rahim
to earn the $6.2 and $6.6 million left on his deal over the next
two years, especially if he is unable to make a full recovery. If
they don’t buy out his contract, Abdur-Rahim could be a tradable
asset next summer when his contract is closer to expiring.

The Future:
Sacramento was able to unload the disappointing
Mike Bibby and the $15.2 million left on his contract for next season.
However, what they received in return was a bunch of garbage from
Atlanta that amounted to $9.5 million in cap space and not much
else. Where is the decent draft pick or the player you can use in
the future? Shelden Williams has been a huge bust so far and the
draft pick included in the deal is #42 overall. Since the Kings
are still over the cap even without Bibby’s salary, they won’t
even be able to use the space they gained to sign a free agent.
I know there wasn’t that much demand for Bibby, but it seems
like they should have gotten a little bit more. In the end, I suppose
the cap space is better than nothing.

The other two veterans that need to go are Brad Miller and Ron Artest.
Luckily for the Kings, they both played pretty well this year. Miller
came back from the dead and posted numbers closer to classic Brad
Miller; 13.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. The two years
and $23.6 million left on his deal is a little spendy for that kind
of output, but not too bad. Ron Artest isn’t likely to opt
out of the $8.4 million remaining on his contract for next season,
which really makes him a valuable asset in trades. Artest’s
defense combined with the 20.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists
he averaged put him in demand at that price. Artest is still somewhat
of a head case, but Sacramento should get something better for him
than what they got for Bibby.

The Kings aren’t going to compete in the West with Miller
and Artest, so now is the time to get something for them while they
still have value. It’s rebuilding time in ARCO Arena and patience
is a virtue. Stockpile young talent while waiting to shed the cumbersome
contracts that eat up all your cap space. At least Sacramento has
Kevin Martin to build around, which would give any team a lot of

Free Throw:
After witnessing the downfall of their once mighty
Sacramento Kings team the past two years, now fans get the news
that their gut-wrenching playoff loss to the Lakers in 2002 might
have been fixed. Talk about a kick in the teeth. Or perhaps that
report merely confirmed what King fans have known all along.


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