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Should the Kings pursue Jonas Valanciunas?

The big man isn’t a name that’s been discussed much around here, but is an interesting option.
By | 71 Comments | May 18, 2024

Nov 22, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) dribbles against Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis (10) during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

When we think about the Sacramento Kings and their needs in free agency, center isn’t often at the top of the list. The Kings have Domantas Sabonis at center, and Domas has been an All-Star and All-NBA in his time in Sacramento. So I raised an eyebrow when it was reported that the Kings are the odds-on favorite to land Jonas Valanciunas in free agency:

We normally don’t pay much attention to betting lines around here, and these odds in particular suggest that the bookmakers don’t have a strong idea where Jonas will land. The Kings being in first place seems like a situation of “somebody has to have the best odds, and Jonas and Domas are friends”.

But the odds do make you stop to think, would Valanciunas be a good fit in Sacramento? The Kings have struggled to find an impactful backup center since acquiring Domas. Richaun Holmes never adapted to his role and ended up costing the Kings a 2023 first round pick to unload. JaVale McGee was too up and down. Alex Len is solid and reliable but unspectacular. Jonas would be a significant upgrade to the Kings center depth, allowing Sacramento to have one of Sabonis or Valanciunas on the floor at all times.

Valanciunas also brings significant size and toughness to a Kings team that has lacked it in recent years. Although Jonas is listed as just an inch taller than Sabonis, Kings fans saw firsthand this season how much bigger Valanciunas plays. Too many times.

I’d have some concerns if the Kings signed JV as one of their main big moves this offseason. Although Jonas is willing and capable of shooting the three (career 34% from beyond the arc), he’s coming off a down year where he shot just 30.8% from 3, and was often benched late in games by the Pelicans. Even if he returns to form next season, JV and Sabonis are a tenuous fit next to each other. We saw in Indiana that Sabonis isn’t maximized next to another center, and I don’t like the idea of Sabonis regularly being asked to guard 4s. Sabonis showed himself capable of handling smaller players briefly on switches this past season, but that’s a far cry from doing it game in and game out.

I suspect this ends up as a blip in the offseason radar and Jonas ends up signing somewhere else, but there are certainly worse ideas to discuss over a weekend in the offseason. So chime in below, what do you think about Jonas Valanciunas as a Kings FA target?

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RikSmits
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May 18, 2024 2:21 pm

Is it feasible from a financial/cap perspective? I thought we were pretty much maxed out, with or without Monk?

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
May 18, 2024 2:30 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

It would take the use of the MLE, and likely most of it. That would be nonsensical if Monk walks in free agency. Monte would need to use that exception to replace Monk’s production, and none of that even brings up the idea of fit.

If Monte sees him as a backup to Sabonis, then just use the vet minimum on a guy like Len. If he sees him as a front court partner, then I question is managerial skills.

murraytant
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May 18, 2024 2:41 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

yes, cannot play together. But useful as a backup and insurance in case of injury. a luxury perhaps on a team that will need a lot more other thing.
Heard SAS cut ties with Keldon Johnson- not my favorite guy at all. thoughts?

Hobby916
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May 18, 2024 2:46 pm
Reply to  murraytant

Where did you hear that about Johnson?

murraytant
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May 18, 2024 10:19 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

my feed- said they would pursue trade options for him

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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May 18, 2024 2:57 pm
Reply to  murraytant

Cut ties? How do you mean?

I’ve thought he could be a good addition to the Kings. He’s a bit redundant with Keegan, but he is strong, long and defends well. Kind of a poor man’s OG. Do you slot him as a starting forward alongside Keegan and Sabonis? I’m not sure that gives the Kings enough size. I also worry about a guy who lost minutes on a shallow Spurs team to Julian Champagnie

He does have a nice descending contract, though. If the Spurs wanted a vet like Barnes or Huerter in a straight swap, I’d be down.

Jack
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May 18, 2024 4:07 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

OK I was waiting for along the road time but this is my take.
Huerter, Mitchell, Duarte and 2 seconds for Keldon Johnson. I have studied him a lot. He can play SG next to Fox. The guy has a motor that just doesn’t quit. He can shoot 3’s but his real strength is driving to the basket. He knows how to use his body(210 pounds worth) to attack the rim. Can rebound and loves to run. He has been the Spurs leading scorer the last 4 years. He would take a lot of pressure off Fox. He is young and has a declining contract.
Next I would trade Barnes, Lyles and Vezenkov and 2 seconds for John Collins. You srarters nwould be Fox, Johnson, Murray, Collins and Sabonis. I have some ideas about bachups but will wait for another time.

Jack
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May 18, 2024 6:35 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

He is 6′ 5″ and can play shooting guard.

Jack
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May 18, 2024 6:28 pm
Reply to  Greg

In part you were right. The Spurs are thinking of putting in reserves as a 6th. man. Also they are trying to evaluate him to see if he would be tradeable. Nothing as of yet.

Hamlet1989
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May 20, 2024 9:13 am
Reply to  Jack

Thank you Jack for clarifying things… for Greg.

murraytant
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May 18, 2024 10:20 pm
Reply to  Greg

ok, bad food ( feed)

Jack
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May 18, 2024 3:53 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I’ll take Len. Who ever isn’t going to play a lot of minutes anyway

SacTownYeti
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May 18, 2024 9:52 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

So while not a huge fan of using the MLE on JV, I would argue if Monk leaves, essentially Keon/Davion absorb those minutes with a four guard lineup of Fox/Ellis/Davion/Huerter.

A LOT can change but I’m not sure we need another guard unless we’re moving one of the current top 4. Playmaking definitely is a priority though which Monk brings to the table.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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May 19, 2024 9:00 am
Reply to  SacTownYeti

I don’t believe Keon and Davion can makeup for the playmaking lost if Monk leaves.

Hobby916
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May 19, 2024 9:14 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Nope. That’s not really their game.

murraytant
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May 18, 2024 2:39 pm
  1. This is intriguing. Off season- 1. sign MM
  2. draft for size if the draft yields Filipowski then JV maybe. If the draft yields Ke’el Ware, no JV. If DaSilva or Saluan, then yes on JV
  3. pursue FA- N. Marshall, D. Jones. O’Neil, as wings. Monte Morris as back up PG
  4. big name hunting on trades- Markenon, Ingram (a bit scary)

alternate scenario; MM goes, draft a guard ( ugh), sign FA wings, trade for a PF, then a JV signing makes sense. But for cheap and late in the process.

Hobby916
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May 18, 2024 2:56 pm
Reply to  murraytant

Hopefully we will know more about the Monk situation on draft night. Package the 13 and players for a “monk style” player, then monk probably is gone.

Draft a playmaking/scoring guard, monknis probably gone.

Don’t draft a guard like above, and that hints to me that Monk is staying. It’s all guessing, whichbis part of the fun.

murraytant
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May 18, 2024 10:22 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

it took 5 years for Monk to be Monk. No rookie can reproduce that or he would be #1.

Hamlet1989
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May 20, 2024 9:23 am
Reply to  murraytant

If they can just get Monk to re-sign, draft Edey (if available still). Jalen Smith would be the optimal use of the Mid-level. Re-sign Len , cut McGee. Presto! Sacramento is no longer a small team.

Hobby916
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May 18, 2024 2:41 pm

Pass. I don’t like the use of salary on a backup big that won’t likely play with sabonis much.

It’s 10-13 minutes a game, and I don’t see it being crucial to the team’s success.

Jack
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May 18, 2024 6:30 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

You’re right.

rockbottom
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May 18, 2024 6:37 pm

Hard pass . Need long wings more and two position power guys . Like Caleb Martin, Kelly Oubre and Derrick Jones . MLE should be enough to get one . Barnes or Huerter and 2nd for Collins might work ? Makes team better as long as Monk stays. .

kingarthur916world
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May 18, 2024 8:21 pm

I think we are going to be really disappointed this off season guys! Lol

Dan Houlder
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May 18, 2024 9:12 pm

I think you’re right.

I think most fans are disappointed most offseasons. Imagining the possibilities give us hope, and then after concrete signings/trades happen, the possibilities evaporate and then there is that familiar sinking feeling.

Still, I will be quite happy if Monk decides to stay. His pick and roll with Domas seemed like the best Kings halfcourt play.

In other news, OKC is out. They lost for two reasons.

They were too athletic and had too many dogs. 😉

kingarthur916world
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May 18, 2024 9:27 pm
Reply to  Dan Houlder

We must believe in our king Keegan Murray he is the only hope for the kingdom.

murraytant
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May 18, 2024 10:25 pm
Reply to  Dan Houlder

they were young, athletic, had dawgs but Mavs had more experience and a few guys who played out of their gords- like Washington and Jones.
Can they afford Jones as an URFA this offseason?

TheGrantNapear
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May 19, 2024 9:22 am
Reply to  Dan Houlder

They were too athletic and had too many dogs. 

Glad to be occupying real estate in the mind of Yakshi 🫡

Dan Houlder
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May 19, 2024 9:41 am
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

It took me forever to even notice you, and then your odd takes seemed to be everywhere. I hope vacation is fun.

I don’t mind you. Goofy is always fun, so I plan to run with the “dogs” and “athletic” routines until something funnier comes along.

Some Kings fans are so anti-Kings that they’d do a backflip onto a spike.

Hopefully you don’t go that far to prove another goofy point.

AnybodyButBagley
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May 19, 2024 4:30 pm
Reply to  Dan Houlder

So benevolent. Actually allowing someone to have an independent thought.

Glad you are allowing us to exist in your presence.

Bluejohn
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May 19, 2024 6:49 pm
Reply to  Dan Houlder

I share your concerns. I am going down my mental list thinking of all the teams that have been ruined by athletic athletes………thinking……….still thinking……I’m still thinking but I’m down to team 40 and am still (and I know they are out there) nobody really comes to mind other than Joe Alexander and he had so few actual basketball skills other than the massive hops he had……and dude what do you have against dogs?

Personally I wouldn’t mind if we got a little bigger and a little more athletic (but you know…..not too athletic) I wouldn’t want any too athletic athletes to drag us down cuz I…….cuz it’s theoretically possible I heard (from you….so consider the source) that a an absolute athletic stud could ruin us.

Dan Houlder
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May 27, 2024 12:07 am
Reply to  Bluejohn

Marvin Bagley.

murraytant
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May 18, 2024 10:24 pm

I think you are right. It takes too many perfect moves for this to work out.

eddie41
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May 19, 2024 7:15 am

Sabonis says there should be shooters at every position around him. Not sure if Valanciunas fits the job requirements. If there’s a chance that he could be utilized as a stretch 5 next to Sabonis, the team could roll the dice on him and if it does not work, he would still be useful as a backup center. in other words, the worst case scenario is still not bad.

TheGrantNapear
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May 19, 2024 9:23 am
Reply to  eddie41

JV is a viable option, it depends on the price. He’s a valuable player, I think other teams will offer more money and a bigger role.

Hobby916
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May 19, 2024 7:26 am

Should the Kings pursue Josh Giddey?

Giddens has had some struggles this season, especially in the playoffs. He does rebound well. He is a playmaker, and he has size.

The shot is the main question about his game. If he can’t shoot, then other aspect of his game might not cover the lack of shooting.

eddie41
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May 19, 2024 7:39 am
Reply to  Hobby916

not a bad question. Maybe after the draft, and after seeing what happens with Monk would be a good time to discuss.

In the meantime, looking at your logic for considering Giddey, what if that player did have a shot, not only off the catch but also off the dribble, and on the move in various actions, and from deep (near the logo), and a number of dribble-drive moves, and a nasty step-back in the midrange with 5 years of data backing it?

Hobby916
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May 19, 2024 7:42 am
Reply to  eddie41

Are you referring to Monk?

eddie41
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May 19, 2024 7:45 am
Reply to  Hobby916

Monk can do those things but has way more athleticism and finishing at the rim.

Actually, I was talking about the same prospect I discussed on the previous thread.

Hobby916
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May 19, 2024 7:48 am
Reply to  eddie41

I expect Monk elsewhere next season. Giddey can still improve his shot, and I like that he has size.

TheGrantNapear
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May 19, 2024 9:25 am
Reply to  Hobby916

I just don’t see the value in Giddey. He’s just kind of out there and doesn’t do anything particularly well. Seems like the NBa nerds like KOC hyped him up the last two years and now he’s flaming out in the playoffs.

Hobby916
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May 19, 2024 12:09 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

He rebounds at a higher rate than Barnes, Huerter, and Keegan, even Lyles. His assist % is about 24. He does a lot of the things that the kings forwards and SGs don’t do. He really lacks in the shooting aspect, and his defense isn’t any worse than Huerter. There is value. Maybe OKC just doesn’t play to his strengths?

As a lead or secondary initiator off the bench, I think he would be good, especially if Monk goes elsewhere.

Mike120
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May 19, 2024 9:45 am

I think it could work. Post Sabonis up high and JV down low. We’d get all the rebounds. Sabonis could get fewer minutes reducing his wear and tear. Sabonis put up 500 3s a day over summer.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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May 19, 2024 12:09 pm

Valanciunas:
Productive big who is a space filler, blocks shots, passes well, scores well, has some 3 point game, good teammate, Tough/“dawg” presence, true Professional.
He played 82 games last season. He’s played an average of 71+ games/season.
(Harrison Barnes played about 76 games/season for his 12 seasons and one could argue that they have had similar solid starter, not All-Star careers)

Inarguably an upgrade from the very capable Alex Len.

Could he play stretch 4? At times, Yes.
Can he guard a stretch 4 – probably not, he’d switch with Domas, who is not a rim protector, but either one would struggle with the PJ Washingtons and Michael Porter Jrs.

Other Comps:
Do you like JV more than Steven Adams?
Do you like JV more than Jusuf Nurkic?
Do you like him better than Mason Plumlee?
Would you prefer to just draft Zach Edey (and re-sign Alex Len)?

Is JV/Lithuanian Lightening the best signing Sac can make to upgrade this team? Perhaps.
Vivek’s Kings struggle mightily to sign free agents, and trades are more speculative talk than workable outcomes. Taking a flier on the Jalen Smiths versus the solid reliability of a Valančiũnas is a gamble either way. And if you are going “win now”, it’s a more straightforward answer.

Lastly- Domas is a machine- but he’s human, and if goes down, all the Kings have going in to next season as of now is Trey Lyles. They need insurance/backup and Domas needs rest.

Last edited 2 months ago by UpgradedToQuestionable
Jack
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May 19, 2024 12:51 pm

Sorry Rik but this is one of the ways I would use Jalen Snith.

RikSmits
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May 19, 2024 11:25 pm
Reply to  Jack

I’ll allow it. As long as it’s Snith.

And I understand. Jalen is like the mystery box.

Hamlet1989
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May 20, 2024 9:27 am

Solid points, and YES! draft Edey. He’s Wemby without the skinny!

UpgradedToQuestionable
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May 20, 2024 11:30 am
Reply to  Hamlet1989

If he is drafted by Sac, we can call him Yao King

Sacto_J
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May 19, 2024 1:44 pm

I don’t understand why this is even a conversation. Not “around the league” or here.

I really can’t see a reason why he’d want to come here at all. If you wanna talk about moving Domas and replacing him with public enemy #1, arm breaking, leg busting quasi-star in JV, I’d be interested in seeing what shakes out around that, maybe. (Domas and change for Ingram and JV?) Otherwise I don’t see him coming here to play second fiddle to Domas, at least not until he’s at that “Javale McGee on the Kings” stage.

I doubt that’s a thing, tho, so how about “no” as my final answer?

Corneroffense
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May 19, 2024 2:15 pm

I was very glad to see that this post was a reaction to internet hot takes, rather than a real proposal by TKH. Those ‘odds’ go to show you that the East Coast (I mean the internet) thinks we’re still the Kangs when it comes to the front office. Length and strength; that’s what they need at every position (OK quickness too, not two slow post guys). The playoffs so far are a public relations video for physicality. Our old friend Halliburton is just about the only skinny guy who’s succeeding. Hit the gym and put on Donovan Mitchell videos, Fox! As for trades, Dallas’ GM has exec of the year wrapped up with Washington and Gafford. PJ looks like Aaron Gordon plus a corner 3! Length! Strength! And Dallas drafted Lively at 13. Don’t tell me you can’t get an instant rotation guy there. They completely remade that team with new role players. Mostly at the deadline! So surprise us this off season Monte; make me think you’re more than a guy who looks good around a conference table in a half-zip over a polo shirt. I hope you are.

ForKingsandCountry
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May 19, 2024 2:33 pm

Seeing as he solves none of the problems the Kings currently have and there is no way he and Sabonis can play together, I’m gonna go ahead and say no.

Hamlet1989
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May 20, 2024 9:29 am

You forgot to mention, he’s never gonna sign for what these people are thinking.

Tankathon
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May 19, 2024 3:07 pm

Wonder if the pacers would be interested in swapping Hali for Sabonis straight up

Theunpossible
May 19, 2024 3:50 pm
Reply to  Tankathon

I’m gonna need more. Hali just shot 0% for free throws in a game 7 matchup. That’s just unacceptable when it’s all in the line like that.

Carl
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May 19, 2024 5:31 pm
Reply to  Tankathon

Wonder if the pacers would be interested in swapping Hali for Sabonis straight up

Is this before or after the DiVincenzo for Huerter deal? 🙂

CheekMagnet
May 19, 2024 3:44 pm

Yes I’m interested if for mid level. Don’t these guys play together on the national team? Someone please post some highlights or analysis.

Domas needs this guy to unleash that next level.

discocricket
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May 19, 2024 4:18 pm

Zero interest. I know the Kings have been historically allergic to quality long, defensive bigs, but the conventional wisdom should win out here.

Milkman
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May 19, 2024 9:38 pm

No.
They should pursue Zach Edey because of age, potential, and of course, contract.
Think of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, or Rik Smits and Reggie Miller.
Just to clarify, Sabonis is a keeper.

Last edited 2 months ago by Milkman
RikSmits
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May 19, 2024 11:27 pm
Reply to  Milkman

Please don’t think of me, folks.

Hamlet1989
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May 20, 2024 9:41 am
Reply to  RikSmits

you were always a keeper!

UpgradedToQuestionable
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May 20, 2024 11:32 am
Reply to  Hamlet1989

I would rather you announce NBA games and not Reggie. Please, I beg you!

HongKongKingsFan
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May 20, 2024 12:03 am
Reply to  Milkman

it had been a decade that we have a true defensive BIG inside.
(Lsst one I can think of is Sammy D)

Edey is the chosen one !!
(To Monte: Pls trade down and pick Edey)

eddie41
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May 20, 2024 9:07 am

I do not agree with that conclusion that Edey is a defensive big. slow reaction time, does not block a lot of shots for his size, not switchable. he would offer some rim protection. however, in the nba I think it would be below average for a non-switching center.

Hamlet1989
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May 20, 2024 9:33 am
Reply to  eddie41

Literally everything you just said was a lie (except maybe the part about you agreeing.)

eddie41
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May 20, 2024 10:04 am
Reply to  Hamlet1989

not sure you understand what the definition of a “lie” is.

don’t get me wrong. I think Edey has good hands, good touch, is coordinated, and can get from one side of the court to the other reasonably fine. those things are different from reaction time.

Hamlet1989
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May 20, 2024 10:39 am
Reply to  eddie41

Ok Maybe not a “lie,” And maybe he’s not so “switchable,” but he’s a dominant rebounder, he blocked 2.2 shots per game in college, he’s VERY quick, especially for a giant He’s even fast! 3.42 3-quarter court combine sprint time.
He’s a winner. (Hello Monte!) He’s an older rookie who can do EVERYTHING Alex Len does, and Len was the most efficient player on the Kings roster, and their best defender in the paint. He would cost about the same, and he can bring reliable scoring when the offense bogs down. I hope his hype dies down so we get a shot at him.

Hamlet1989
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May 20, 2024 9:31 am

You mean to say trade up and get him before Hinkie does!

Hamlet1989
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May 20, 2024 9:17 am

If I were making the decisions, I would be going into the draft process thinking of it as a chance for someone to convince me to not draft Zach Edey

scottymusprime
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May 20, 2024 9:38 am

A couple things:

1) I think it’s pretty clear if we’d traded for Siakam (without giving up Keegan), we’d be in the WCF right now. That was a missed opportunity IMO.
2) I think the priority for the off-season is to find an undervalued 4th fringe star to push the team over the top. Lauri, Mikal Bridges, Ingram, etc. The next one is getting a rim running lob threat. I think a rim protector would be great, but I’m not sure it moves the needle enough unless we get someone truly solid who contributes on offense as well.
3) I hope MM stays in Sacramento. I’m not 100% convinced a team is going to make a huge swing for him, but I’ve been wrong before. I’m not certain at least that he’s going to jump if it’s close.
4) JV would be a solid piece in my mind for two reasons. He’s great Sabonis insurance, he allows the Kings to be physical with some other more physical teams, and him leaving makes NOP less dangerous. I also like him including the acquisition cost significantly more than Adams and Nurk. I like him outright more than Plumlee, but would be not opposed to him if that’s the move.
5) Ideally we get a good wing piece this offseason, but who are we using the MLE for that’s a lot better than JV? Guys I’d love to get but I don’t think come here (and certainly not at that cost) are DeRozen, Bruce Brown and Saddiq Bey.

Hamlet1989
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May 20, 2024 11:07 am
Reply to  scottymusprime

Good thoughts. I disagree about Siakam though. They still have to re-sign him this offseason. They needed interior presence from him more than the Kings do, and less outside shooting. And getting this year to the WCF, compared to the ECF is a pretty wide gap.

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