While the Sacramento Kings inked Richaun Holmes to a four-year extension just last summer, there are a lot of questions surrounding Holmes’ future with the squad entering training camp. While his per-36 minutes statistics for scoring, rebounding, and shot efficiencies in 2021-22 all remained close to his stats from his first two seasons in Sacramento, he battled through multiple freak injuries and personal problems, missed almost half of the season, and saw his minutes reduced when he did play. The Kings also traded for Domantas Sabonis before the trade deadline, securing their center of the future and potentially signaling the end of Holmes’ tenure in Sacramento.
But the offseason has come and mostly gone, and Holmes remains a King; he may seem an odd man out with Sabonis now in town, but there’s still opportunity for Holmes to earn a role and help the Kings battle for a playoff birth.
Since Holmes remained on the Kings after the February trade deadline, I’ve argued that the Kings should run some lineups with both Sabonis and Holmes. There are some legitimate offensive concerns in terms of spacing—neither of them has shown consistent, multi-seasonal flashes of deep shooting—and I don’t think Mike Brown should attempt to put them both in the starting lineup (my vote is De’Aaron Fox, Kevin Huerter, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes, and Sabonis). But over a full season, I expect there will be plenty of moments where the Kings could use more size and muscle at the 4 spot than Barnes or Murray could provide. And to mitigate spacing issues, the Kings could run lineups where Sabonis runs the offense and Brown plays some combination of Kuerter, Malik Monk, Terence Davis, Murray, and Barnes around Sabonis/Holmes to ensure deep shooters are always on the court. The continued focus on adding shooters to the roster gives Brown a ton of lineup options.
If Holmes can rekindle the energy and success from his 2020-21 season, he’d be the Kings best bench big man, and there are reasons he and Sabonis could play well together in spot lineups. Imagine Holmes moving off the ball with Domas controlling the ball in the high post. Unlike Sabonis’ former teammate Myles Turner (a pairing that didn’t work for multiple reasons), Holmes has always shown a willingness and ability to thrive as a secondary scoring threat. And on defense, while Holmes has always been a solid rim protector for an undersized center, I think his ability to guard perimeter players is a truly underrated part of his game.
Of course, there’s a chance that Holmes’ future isn’t in Sacramento; if he has a bounce-back start to the season and succeeds in his new role, teams may check on the asking price for Richaun. He has three years left on that four-year, $46.5 million dollar contract, which could give some GMs pause but doesn’t seem high enough to end all discussions. But whether or not Richaun is destined for many more seasons in Sacramento, it would mostly be great to see him excel to start the new season, whatever his new role is. The Sacramento Kings are better and are more enjoyable to watch when Richaun Holmes is thriving.