To match or not to match? There’s a 9 p.m. deadline for the Sacramento Kings to decide what to do with the $72 million dollar, four-year contract Bogdan BogdanoviÄ signed with the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, and by absolutely no coincidence, ‘sources’ have told the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Anderson that the 28-year-old shooting guard feels “de-prioritized” by the Kings – almost certainly a last ditch effort by Bogi’s camp to convince Sacramento to let their client go where he wanted in free agency. But the smart move for the Kings, albeit a complicated one with multiple pitfalls and concerns, is still to match the contract for BogdanoviÄ and look to trade him.
Neither the Kings front office or the Kings fandom should hold it against Bogi that he went and found the best deal for himself. Already 28 and in his prime as a player, this is his best chance to secure a big contract for himself. And while it’s miserable for the Kings that the sign-and-trade with the Milwaukee Bucks fell apart – a deal that would have given the Kings Donte DiVincenzo and D.J. Wilson to add to their rebuild – given how the deal fell apart once it went public, it’s hardly fair to blame Bogi’s camp.
Given that things fell apart once it became clear that Bogdanovic wanted a larger contract, if the deal hadn’t been announced to the world through a Woj bomb, it likely would have fizzled in the background without a public spectacle. But because the Bucks wanted to signify their splashy offseason in an attempt to show they were making the moves needed to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo, a deal that was clearly unfinished and couldn’t be signed for 5 more days went public. It’s not Bogi’s fault that an unfinished deal died on the negotiating table.
It’s also very understandable that Bogi would want out, or even that he would feel “de-prioritized.” Negotiating with the Bucks for two youngsters signified to everyone, Bogi included, that the Kings were looking to rebuild and their intention was to move on. If the Kings match Bogdanovic, they’ll do so likely not out of an intention to make him a long-term piece – but to utilize him as an asset, to avoid losing one of their better players for nothing. In Atlanta, he’d have been joining a team on the accession – in Sacramento, who knows.
But the Kings cannot afford to continue losing players for nothing – a staple technique of the Vlade Divac era that Monte McNair would be wise to strip from the playbook. Certainly, having Bogi at a $72M contract (and one that comes with a 15% trade kicker) isn’t the most ideal situation, especially when Buddy Hield (4 years and roughly $80M left) and Harrison Barnes (3 years, $61M left) already fill the Kings cap sheet. If McNair is truly on the verge of a rebuild, it won’t be easy to swap all three of these players in deals that make sense for all sides. But it’s also what McNair signed up for when he joined the Kings – a messy team in need of a harsher reset than many probably hoped or expected. And letting Boganovic leave for Atlanta and getting nothing in return does not further the Kings rebuild.
In April, when the Kings were still managed by Divac and the ship was full-speed-ahead for playoffs or bust, I wrote that Bogdanovic was the Kings second best player. If rosters were frozen in place, I still think he is. But if McNair is truly looking to rebuild the team (and take advantage of the – and I cannot oversell this enough – excellent 2021 draft class), it only makes sense to move on from Bogi (and Buddy, and Barnes). Monte McNair shouldn’t have owners or fans breathing down his neck on this decision – he got hired to do the job, and should be allowed to make his moves. But as much as Bogi was in his right to go sign whatever contract he could receive, the Kings have the right to match the deal… and trade-kicker be damned, a roughly $18M a year contract for Bogdanovic is plenty reasonable in the current NBA market.
The Kings should match the contract. This is not a team that can lose its best players for nothing.