As we wind down the dog days of August where there is nothing to talk about and rapidly near training camp where there is slightly more to discuss, let’s take a moment to discuss The Athletic’s NBA offseason rankings. David Aldridge does these each year, ranking the 10 best offseasons in the league. And wouldn’t you know it, despite a relatively quiet offseason overall, the Sacramento Kings landed 8th on the list! Hooray!
And yet, I still found reason to feel slighted and aggrieved.
Aldridge praises Monte’s McNair cap maneuvering to unload Richaun Holmes, re-sign Harrison Barnes, bring over Sasha Vezenkov, and acquire Chris Duarte for a cheap flier. But then Aldridge isn’t as high on the extension for Domantas Sabonis:
I get wanting to keep continuity for a team that finally ended the Kings’ postseason drought, but sometimes you can fall a little too in love with your own guys. Sabonis is an All-Star, to be sure, and a leader. But, as our John Hollinger pointed out, who were the Kings going to really be negotiating against next summer, when Sabonis would have been a free agent?
Let’s be clear, Aldridge isn’t alone in questioning the Sabonis extension. Even among Kings fans it can be a divisive topic. Personally, I am of the opinion that if there were no free agents you wanted to spend the money on, it’s a great idea to lock up your All-NBA, All-Star, 27-year old center who is the hub of your offensive system and led the league in both total rebounds and rebounds per game. Oh, and did I mention he did all that while playing through a broken thumb most of the year? Anyway, that guy seems like a fine player to spend some money on and lock up with your franchise for years to come. Especially when one of the biggest criticisms of the Tyrese Haliburton/Sabonis trade was that the Kings were at risk of losing Sabonis in free agency after the 2023-24 season.
But hey, to each their own, right? Aldridge is certainly entitled to his opinion. But then you continue reading the article, and speaking of Tyrese Haliburton, the Pacers are ranked as the 5th best offseason! Let’s look at why Aldridge liked Indiana’s offseason so much:
The biggest move, though, was getting Haliburton’s John Hancock on a max extension. Indiana obviously made the 23-year-old feel like a centerpiece who was comfortable tying his future to the franchise. Nicely done.
So, to be clear, it’s a great move for Indiana to give a max extension to Tyrese Haliburton before he hits restricted free agency next summer, but a bad move for the Kings to give a below-max extension to Sabonis before he hits unrestricted free agency next summer.
Ultimately, none of this matters. Offseason grades, much like draft grades and trade grades, are simply ways to fill time. The upcoming season and the seasons to come will be the ultimate judge of how the Kings did this summer.
Training camp can’t get here fast enough.