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Maxing De’Aaron Fox is a no-brainer

Sometimes the obvious decision is the best one.

As the Sacramento Kings begin to establish Monte McNair's vision for this franchise, one upcoming decision looms larger than any other: the future of De'Aaron Fox in Sacramento. Once the 2020 offseason officially begins, the Kings only good, young, proven player will be eligible for a maximum rookie contract extension. According to James Ham of NBCS, Fox expects to be offered every dollar available, an understandable position for a player of his caliber seeking his first big payday.

The term “max contract” often elicits strong emotions and heated discussions within any fan base. Debates center around whether certain contributors are “worth a max deal”, as one only needs to look back on the DeMarcus Cousins' supermax arguments for a perfect example. But that sort of verbiage is far too simplistic for such a complex matter. Not every max deal is equal in a monetary sense, nor is every player’s situation replicated from team to team. The conversation must extend far beyond what a player should be paid and advance to what a player would be paid in the open market.

The Kings and Fox have a few options are available, some of which are wise and some of which would start an entirely new era of KANGZ in Sacramento. The first path that Monte McNair can take is to do absolutely nothing. Like any player coming off of a first round contract, De’Aaron Fox will be a restricted free agent at the end of this coming season, and the Kings will be allowed to match any offer thrown his way in the summer of 2021, but that sort of strategy would be the epitome of foolishness. It’s almost a certainty that at least one smart General Manager would toss a max deal Fox’s way, and while such a circumstance would save the Kings a tiny bit of cash (about $800,000 per year due to the 5% raises in free agency versus 8% raises in an extension) when they inevitably matched the offer, that level of savings isn’t nearly enough to risk upsetting their only hope of a franchise cornerstone.

Instead of sitting stagnant and frustrating Fox, the Kings can also look into four-year deals, although those aren't likely to be accepted either. If the front office goes below the full max, as they did with Buddy Hield last October, Fox will simply decline, enter restricted free agency, and follow the path listed above. There’s no point in the Kings embarrassing themselves by such an offer. In the same vein, if Monte McNair only offers a four-year maximum extension, he’ll actually be cutting himself short. Instead, management should be looking at a Designated Rookie Extension.

The Designated Rookie Extension is an exception that is offered to every NBA team and is limited to two players at any given time. The starting salary of a traditional, four-year max and the DRE are actually the same: 25% of the salary cap; however, the Kings would be able to tack on a fifth year with the same 8% annual, non-compounding raise if they went the route of the DRE. In fact, the Designated Rookie Extension requires teams to offer the full max. Sacramento couldn't offer a five-year deal at a lower percentage. While the exact amount of the 2021 salary cap is unknown, and will be for quite some time, here's what the contract may look like, depending on different cap projections:

Season Fox Age $110M Cap $115M Cap $120M Cap
2021-2022 23 $27.5M $28.8M $30M
2022-2023 24 $29.7M $31.1M $32.4M
2023-2024 25 $31.9M $33.4M $34.8M
2024-2025 26 $34.1M $35.7M $37.2M
2025-2026 27 $36.3M $38M $39.6M
Total $160M $167M $174M

Those amounts may seem incredibly large when looked at as a whole, especially for a player who has been projected as a franchise cornerstone despite not quite proving himself worthy of that mantle yet, but it’s important to remember that Fox is almost certainly getting the four-year max at those same salaries anyway. The only difference is the fifth year at $36 - $40 million, and if the Kings are committed to De’Aaron for four years, they may as well commit for five, especially when considering the fact that he'll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of his next deal. For a small market team like the Kings, locking up young talent for as many years as possible should always take precedence over cap flexibility.

If the Kings are hesitant to ink their only potential superstar to a long-term deal in the coming weeks and months, their only other practical option is to explore the trade market for Fox, but that possibility doesn't feel particularly realistic. It's difficult to envision Monte McNair winning the GM job by pitching a Fox trade, especially given the current financial situation of the team and De'Aaron's marketability within the fan base. He's almost certainly sticking on the roster for the next few seasons.

Assuming the Kings plan to keep Fox around for the long haul, offering him the Designated Rookie Extension is the best and most obvious path moving forward. While the temptation exists to get the best deal possible and cut a few dollars here and there, as is usually the case in contract negotiations, Monte McNair simply can't afford that luxury when it comes to his primary building block. De'Aaron Fox is going to receive a maximum contract offer; it's up to the Kings to leverage that reality into five more years of Fox in a Sacramento uniform.

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Rik Smits
7 days ago

Maxing De’Aaron Fox is a no-brainer

I thought we got rid of Vlade?

Ican Hascheezburger
7 days ago
Reply to  RikSmits

WWVD

(What Would Vlade Do)

T D
7 days ago

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Ican Hascheezburger
7 days ago
Reply to  1951

comment image

Grant Napear
7 days ago

Maxing Fox is certainly a no brainer but it doesn’t negate the likely possibility that Fox will likey not be a max player, if that makes sense.
Given our Kangz luck, it’ll likey be another overpay to go along with Buddy and Barnes and likely Bagley as well at some point.
The money Vlade threw at Buddy and Barnes is going to be a thorn in the side of Monte. Vlade’s putrid run as a GM will continue to have effects on this franchise for a long time.

Last edited 7 days ago by TheGrantNapear
Parker Wells
7 days ago
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Even Wiggins netted the TWolves an all-star and a pick.

Adam Dieter
7 days ago
Reply to  Wonderchild

Wait, didn’t getting rid of Wiggins cost the TWolves a pick?

Ars Legendi
4 days ago
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Yeah. It’s the Kangz tax in action: he is far and away our best player, and we should pay him a max if we want to keep him. I don’t know that any other team besides one or two says the same.

Rob Hessing
7 days ago

If you keep him, you max him. The bigger question is if you keep him.

A lot depends on the conversations being had with Fox right now as it pertains to both his patience and his commitment. This team is likely to be closer to last in the West than it will be a playoff slot. How long is Fox willing to accept the continued losing before the trade demands begin. Fox could be halfway through his next contract before the Kings are truly competitive. Is he going to be OK with that? And should we be a little concerned if he is OK with that?

I would put a pretty big price tag on Fox in a trade (a couple of picks and at least one viable, young prospect. For example, if the Heat came along and offered a couple of future 1sts with very light and limited protection and Tyler Herro and/or Kendrick Nunn, I’d have to at least listen.

The Fox pick probably stands as the best decision of old management (other than the decision to step down, of course), but they made so many since then that have set the organization back another couple of years, one has to at least ask if the better path right now would be to blow the roster up, amass future picks/assets and start all over again.

Understand, I’m not saying that Fox is too old to be part of the next Kings’ playoff team. The concern is that he might not want to toil here for five or more years to finally play in a post-season game.

I set the price tag high, guess that no one wants to pay it, max him, and hope for the best.

Darren Van Blois
7 days ago
Reply to  RobHessing

then surround him with good players. Resign Bogdanovic. Draft well.

Rob Hessing
7 days ago
Reply to  eddie41

Gee, that’s brilliant. Draft well. I wonder why no one has ever thought of that.

Darren Van Blois
7 days ago
Reply to  RobHessing

maybe because of the losing attitude you showed in your lengthy comment.

Rob Hessing
7 days ago
Reply to  eddie41

Yes, that must be it. My comment is the reason that the Kings don’t draft well. Case closed.

David Gracia
5 days ago
Reply to  RobHessing

I think you need to stop ruining the Kings drafts and leave the ruining of things to Greg. We all know that is his department. Keep this up and you might get reported to HR.

First Last
6 days ago
Reply to  RobHessing

especially for a player who has been projected as a franchise cornerstone despite not quite proving himself worthy of that mantle yet

It’s a no brainer for me, I‘d flip him and start over with shiny new assets.
I personally find his continued reckless drives into the paint not worth building around, but I do know in Sacramento we’re all about hoping players magically transform, year after agonizing year.

Last edited 6 days ago by Marty
In Starz
7 days ago

Wouldn’t call it a no brainer, as he hasn’t proven to be a max player on the floor yet (the fact that the Kings were statistically better on the floor without him last year says a lot).

but, if the Kings don’t trade him, I think you do max him. Kings should be rebuilding, so they shouldn’t have salary constraints. There is a 50% that he becomes a franchise type talent, and you don’t want to piss him off and you take a chance on it

Rob Hessing
7 days ago
Reply to  Inthestarz

comment image

In Starz
7 days ago
Reply to  RobHessing

I agreed largely with what you said.

I think the Kings should blow it up and build through the draft. Issue is if they don’t get value for Fox in a trade, I don’t think Fox is good enough for the team not to get top 5 picks in the brutal west with youth around him (s reason why he shouldn’t be worth the max truly)

i don’t think Fox would stand in the way of, or mind being a part of a rebuilding process if the Kings don’t get value

Adam Dieter
7 days ago

Could I get some clarification on his contract status when it comes to the possibility of trading him.

1) I understand that he is on his rookie deal and any trade now or before his extension would use that contract of roughly $8M

2) If he is extended to the proposed max deal AND is traded before that deal kicks in in 2021- 2022 season, at what price point is his tradable contract?

From that, if Fox was not part of McNair’s long term vision, when is the best time to trade Fox, before or after his extension?

Kings Guru21
7 days ago
Reply to  BabyGiraffe

No poison pill 4 u!

Adam Dieter
7 days ago
Reply to  BabyGiraffe

So from an asset assessment, BIG IF the Kings were looking to move Fox it would be wiser and easier to do it either before his max extension OR on the first year of his max deal. It seems trying to trade him next season after he gets his max extension would be the least desirable option.

Again, I’m not advocating trading FOX, but just trying to get a grip on how to maximize his return if he were to be traded.

William Stroud
7 days ago

Max him! Good dude, works hard, worlds of talent, and for some reason he’s excited about the prospect of wearing a Kings uniform.

Not to mention, I do enjoy watching him play basketball!

David Echard
7 days ago

I am not sure what McNair has in mind. If McNair thinks this is playoff team within 2 years. Can he make some significant trades and improve the team quickly? I would say go ahead and Max Fox. Even though, I don’t think Fox is better than a 3rd option on a contending team. I have rarely ever seen Fox take over a game against Elite competition. For me, that’s a measuring stick of being a great point guard. I don’t see that quality in Fox. Does McNair have a 3-4 year plan in mind before the Kings contend? Than, I would look at possible trade options. I don’t think Fox wants to stick around for another 3-4 years of losing. Especially, going into his prime.

Kings Guru21
7 days ago

I think the Kings should flog De’Aaron with a wet noodle 100 times until morale improves.

Jeff Bayless
7 days ago

Stick him in a gym, make him shoot 1000 free throws and 1000 wide open three pointers.
If he makes > 80% and > 40% respectively, then you max him. If not I am ready to move on. Can’t have a PG in the current NBA who cannot shoot. I am joking of course but this is how I feel about what his improvement needs to be this summer.

andy sims
7 days ago

It’s DRE Day, baby.

Darren Van Blois
7 days ago

do they have to max him early? He’s not really a max player (at least not yet) and maybe another half year or year could motivate him to make those improvements that would make a max player.

In Starz
7 days ago
Reply to  eddie41

It would be nice to tell him, the team was better without you off the floor last year and you weren’t sufficiently imprinting games, your not a max guy, become one

Unfortunately, its become an obligation to hand out these maxes so that these players don’t have an ace to grind as UFAs.

Darren Van Blois
7 days ago
Reply to  Inthestarz

What if they offer him something slightly under the max? Would that be insulting?

Kailen Kershner

Whatsup Kings Herald!! New to the forum after stumbling upon SacTownGiraffe’s podcast. Agree with Tim that Fox is an auto-max. I really hope that Monte makes the decision to get younger and more athletic around him. To be honest, I’d love to see the kings tank next year while having the most athletic roster in the nba. To me this offseason is all about finding the best position for Bagley to succeed and getting younger/more athletic.

Is Bagley’s 7’1 wingspan enough to be an elite small ball center? I believe this is more likely than him succeeding next to a stretch center (even Myles Turner or Jalen Smith). Bam’s wingspan is 7’1 and plays his best as a small ball 5. Yes, his defensive iq is significantly superior to Bagley’s, but he also plays with better wing defenders. Anthony Davis at center is the current Mecca and only playing KAT Joker or Embid would require us starting Bagley as a 4.

After penciling Fox in at the 1 and Bagley at the 5, I hope Monte McNair sees the whole roster as expendable. I’d love to see Joesph and Barnes’ contracts shipped way the hell out of SacTown. We should throw in all our second round picks to any sucker who will take one of them! Also think we should trade Bjelly this offseason . He is an asset to a contender but not a piece that helps Fox’s development in the athletic transition style we need to implement.

Buddy’s worth (pick 8-14)
Bjelly worth (pick 26-34)

It would be awesome to see the kings have superior athletes 1-5. Some players I’d love for the kings to target through trading Buddy and/or Bogi and free agency: Aaron Gordan, Divencenzo, Derrick Jones Jr, Kelly Oubre, Josh Richardson, Lavert, Jerami Grant

Favorite Bogi trade I’ve seen:
anything involving Divencenzo (younger cheaper more athletic)

Favorite Buddy trade: Aaron Gordan, Josh Richardson and 22, or Buddy and 12 for Hurter and 6

Favorite rookies in order (Haliburton, Okoro, Toppin (Could easily see him falling) Vassel, Patrick Williams, jalen smith)

Adam Dieter
7 days ago

Welcome and nice post! I’m with you on attempting to play Bagley at the 5. I think it is his natural position in today’s NBA.

roland torres
7 days ago

The Kings and Fox should agree to a max contract and then find a great trade partner that will get the Kings suitable trade compensation, whether next season or the one after. The next Kings playoff team will not have him on the roster. If Fox were that transcendently good, the Kings would be there already, whether under Luke or Joerger. Fox is a great young man with a great head on his shoulders, but his shoulders aren’t big enough to bring Sac to greatness.

David Echard
7 days ago
Reply to  fire_voisin

Agree. The Kings will not be good enough, soon enough for Fox to benefit. I really don’t see the need to max him now. It’s not a slight to him. If Fox feels insulted, he needs to look in the mirror. No team is going to pay him 35 mil a year right now. He is a weak shooter, defender, and average facilitator. He is a good player. But, I don’t see greatness. I would wait until he plays this season. If he has made major strides in his game, gladly pay the man. If his game looks essentially the same, either trade him by the deadline or let him walk. Paying him 35 mil is essentially putting Fox in the same tier as a number of Elite players that make around 35 mil or less than: Booker, Davis, Kawhi, Butler, Thompson, Lillard, Irving, and Beal. Fox is not in that Tier of talent.

In Starz
7 days ago
Reply to  SelecaoKOJ

Actually, IMO, he could possibly fit a timeline.If the team rebuilds now, he wont be good enough to stand in the way of the team getting prime picks. He will start to enter his prime in his mid 20s conceivably after a rebuild.

Also, it hurts having Walton as a coach, as the team itself regressed. Did Fox flash that level of talent when he was putting up 30/10/10 against the Hawks at 21? Something tells me he needs a ballbusting coach and Walton aint that.

But Im not against seeing the market for him

David Echard
7 days ago
Reply to  Inthestarz

The Hawks? Are they considered a good team? I don’t mean to bust your Ballz. Put up 30/10/10 against good solid playoff teams or some facsimile consistently, then we’ll talk. Hawks are bottom feeders right now. Walton is definitely part of the problem. But I don’t see great player in his DNA. Regardless of who the coach is. Maybe, Fox is at the gym now shooting 1000 3s a day. Maybe, we’ll see that big upward trajectory. Maybe.

In Starz
7 days ago
Reply to  SelecaoKOJ

At the time, dude was like the second player after Lebron to be putting up 30/15/10 at that age. Problem is, Ive seen him flash that level of talent, just nowhere near consistently. But would we have said he was a max level player last year? I just dont know how big of a change the coaching played.

As for the finances.. IMO the team should be rebuilding, and going young, so where else would the team be spending a lot of money? By the time our next batch of hopeful franchise players comes through our pipeline and is ready to be paid, Fox will probably be off that contract. Our we getting FAs?

Fox is nowhere near a certain thing, but where else will we get better prospects to pay in the coming years?

Jerry Reynolds
6 days ago

Max contract for player that has never played on a winner or in a playoff game ! Sadly, that is where the league is now and so it is what it is ! Have doubts the cap will go up and within a couple of years drop a lot due to TV poor ratings !

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