As Oscar Wilde once said, Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes, and covering the Sacramento Kings certainly allows one to gain a lifetime's worth of experience in just a short amount of time. Between the draft, free agency, player rotations, trade proposals, and a host of other decisions made by the organization, anyone from a casual fan to an embedded media member is bound to make a few bad calls, and the staff here at The Kings Herald is here to keep ourselves accountable. We'll be detailing two major flubs that we made over the last year, as well as talking through one thing we got right. Let's get to it!
Wrong: Dewayne Dedmon's impact
What. A. Disaster.
After the conclusion of the 2018-2019 season, it was obvious that the Kings needed to find a starting caliber center to pair with their rookie sensation, Marvin Bagley, so I took the time and put in the effort to find the perfect front court partner to shore up Bagley's deficiencies; namely, outside shooting, rebounding, and rim protection. After writing up thousands of words, watching hours of tape, and creating dozens of charts and graphs, I landed on two names: Nikola Vucevic, an extremely expensive and high-usage option, and Dewayne Dedmon, a discount version of the archetype that the Kings sought. Like a Maloof brother at a get-rich-quick seminar in a shady Las Vegas hotel, I bought in hook, line, and sinker.
The best way I can define Dedmon vs. Vucevic vs. other players:
Vucevic is a high-dollar, high-talent, high-usage option.
Dedmon is a low-dollar, medium talent, perfect fit option
SactownBabyGiraffe (@TimMaxwell22) June 13, 2019
By far, the most appealing aspect of Dewayne Dedmon's game was his ability to space the offense from the three-point line, a talent that would open up the floor for De'Aaron Fox's drives and Marvin Bagley's mid-post isolation game. His accuracy from deep felt completely sustainable, as he had knocked down 37.2% of his 358 attempts over the past two seasons, and while his rim protection and rebounding weren't exactly elite, they were certainly more than acceptable. Dedmon was my perfect, affordable solution at center, and boy did I let the world know through social media and through multiple articles. And boy did I look foolish a quarter of the way into the 2020 campaign. After four games of clanked three-point attempts, leading the league in turnovers per minute, and inexplicable travels, lost balls, and offensive fouls, Dedmon was pulled from the starting lineup. Guess who wrote an article proposing that Richaun Holmes take his place in the rotation just before it actually happened? That's right, this foolish giraffe right here.
Vlade Divac's most expensive free agent from the summer of 2019 continued to see his court time and shooting percentages plummet over the remainder of his time in a Kings uniform, playing more than 20 minutes just twice over the next 35 games, while knocking down a pitiful 19.7% of his three-point attempts. Dedmon only rejoined the regular rotation when Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes missed significant time due to injuries, and despite a couple of halfway decent performances, he never impacted the team in a truly positive way. On February 6th, the Kings punted on Dedmon's contract, as well as my hopes of redeeming myself in my vehement support of his signing, in exchange for Jabari Parker and Alex Len from the Atlanta Hawks. The funk in his game made the trip from coast to coast, as Dewayne sunk just 22% of his attempts from beyond the arc and 39% of his shots from the field in 10 games with the Atlanta Hawks.
I loudly and aggressively spouted Dewayne Dedmon's praise for a long, long time in the summer months last year, and I deserved every bit of mockery from every place I received it. It's safe to say that the Dedmon family will be left off of the Maxwell Christmas card list this coming holiday season.
Wrong: Kent Bazemore's impact
When the Kings swapped Wenyen Gabriel, Caleb Swanigan, and Trevor Ariza for Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver, and a pair of second round picks, I really didn't care all that much. Unlike some other staff members here at The Kings Herald, I didn't much believe in Gabriel's long-term projection as a rotational player in the NBA, and while steering Luke Walton away from overplaying Trevor Ariza was a nice side benefit, I may have been most excited about the second rounders, despite how redundant they felt. Kent Bazemore seemed to be nothing more than a washed up, smaller veteran who couldn't shoot as well as Trevor Ariza.
Don't yell at me, and I certainly could be wrong, but I think Kent Bazemore may be a minor downgrade from Trevor Ariza on the floor.
SactownBabyGiraffe (@TimMaxwell22) January 21, 2020
I really should tweet less. (Ed. Note: This is not the right indicated in the title, but it should be)
Instead of being a minor downgrade from Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore brought a real sense of defensive intensity to a guard unit that desperately needed a push, rather than the empty, reputational gravitas of his predecessor, and the Kings saw a boost every time their newest member hit the floor. In an admittedly small sample size of 21 games, Sacramento saw their defensive rating drop from 115.1 when Bazemore was on the bench, a worse mark than the 30th ranked Washington Wizards, to 106.5 when he walked onto the hardwood, equal to the 5th ranked Boston Celtics.
Conversely, the offensive rating of the team saw a massive dip when Bazemore was in the game, but on a team whose core players are often far more focused on scoring and shooting rather than stopping opponents, Bazemore's energy and tenacity was often a spark in his quarter season with the team. If the Kings can bring him back at a reasonable price next year, they would shore up one key area of deficiency on the roster.
Kent Bazemore, welcome to the Maxwell family Christmas card list.
Right: Harry Giles needing more time
Harry Giles is a hell of a lot of fun, even when he's calling folks out in postgame sessions. He's wildly loyal to the Sacramento fan base, has worked incredibly hard to get healthy and get on the court, and his Chris Webber-esque passing skills are a sight to behold in both the half-court and transition. That combination of a hundred watt smile, friendliness with a city that values loyalty above almost anything else, and a unique skill set got some folks very excited in the offseason. There were projections of a starting role, debates between the value of Giles and Bagley, and many other aggressive takes being thrown out wanton throughout the doldrums of the NBA offseason. And while the front office was certainly foolish to decline Harry's rookie option heading into the regular season campaign, he didn't exactly redeem himself with consistent play on the floor this year.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Giles' performance was his regression on the defensive end of the floor. Part of his struggles may be due to the fact that Harry has the build of a power forward rather than that of a hulking center, but he was truly ineffective regardless of positioning or opponent. While his fouling issues have been well documented by many people, it's important to note how severe they were in his second season in which he actually played. Of the 322 players to log at least 550 minutes this year, Harry's 6.2 fouls per-36 minutes ranked 321st, trailing only Moritz Wagner. Some encouragement can be taken from Harry's progression throughout the year, as he averaged 7.4 fouls per-36 minutes from October through January, about half of his season played, with that number dropping to 5.3 per-36 minutes for his final 16 games, but that reduction in fouls perfectly coincided with a severe reduction in his effectiveness as a rim protector as well.
Through the end of January, Giles posted a defensive field goal percentage differential (the percentage his opponents increased or decreased their average FG% when defended by Harry) of -1.1% within six feet of the rim, not exactly Rudy Gobert numbers, but not terrible for a slightly undersized big man playing in his second season. At worst, it was manageable with the right teammates surrounding Harry on the floor. Unfortunately, the latter part of the season saw a massive backslide in that same category. Over the final two months of the year, Giles opponents increased their accuracy at the rim by 18.7%. That's not a typo. When defended by Harry, players shot 80% at the rim over the last 16 games of the year, a mark worse than Buddy Hield, Nemanja Bjelica, or quite literally any other player in the entire NBA: a catastrophic lapse for a team that already struggled to guard the interior. Simply put, whatever magic Harry worked on the offensive end of the floor was more than offset by his inability to protect the rim without fouling.
Harry Giles may not have been ready for huge minutes this season, but that doesn't justify Vlade Divac's decision to give up control over a young player, nor does it mean that Harry can't or won't improve. Most twenty-two year olds with only 1,400 career minutes get a whole lot better over time, and there's no reason to believe that Harry won't put in the work over the next several years to evolve into a reliable contributor on both ends of the floor. If the Kings get lucky and keep their young project in the fold this summer, they should accept the fact that Giles may need another season or two of seasoning before he's ready for big-time minutes.
Here's to hoping that someday I'll be added to the Giles family Christmas card list.
So basically, you’re no worse than the Kings front office.
Vlade: Don’t worry, guys! I got this!
So Tim is the 14 seed then, it’s like putting on a favorite pair of slippers.
The Harry stats are interesting and they definitely back up the eye test from the end of the season. Harry stopped fouling and was able to be productive in games, but he did it by completely giving up on defense. Rather than risking a foul, he wouldn’t go near an offensive player. He needs to find that balance where he’s playing defense but isn’t fouling every play.
If we are all to be held accountable, here are my two wrongs and a right:
Wrong: Thought I would love working from home.
Wrong: Thought I would get a lot of work done.
Right: Thought the Kings would not be in the playoffs at this time.
Wrong: I root for the Kings.
Wrong: I root for the Giants.
Right: I don’t bet on either of them to win.
Wrong: I thought I would be able to keep my strength training workouts at home up (but I have been keeping up with my cardio at least!).
Wrong: I thought I would progress farther on Witcher 3 on my Switch.
Right: I would go crazy from the time STR ended to when TKH went live (because we were all stuck at home and I couldn’t talk to my virtual friends online for over a month).
Wrong: Thought I would have to work around less people.
Wrong: Thought I would get a lot more work done. Half of the good folks on my floor are essential including myself, the busiest floor in the building…yeeaahh for Cheese! Unless your one Them “lactotes”.
Right: I knew the Kings would not make the playoffs because I’ve tried too many times in video games.
Custodian/Waste Management is very essential. Wish me luckð·
Good luck, and thanks for doing the dirty work!
Dedmon’s season is tough to process. He certainly regressed and owns some of that. That said, whether by poor overall design or bad adjustments after the Bagley injury, Dedmon was criminally misused. The pace was all wrong as was his role. The entire thing was just very bizarre.
Completely fair point.
It definitely was bizarre. Shooting numbers being down is one thing, but he had a hard time just catching, passing and dribbling the basketball. He was making 15 foot passes and missing the guy by three feet. He was just in a funk, and couldn’t seem to work his way out of it. It doesn’t seem that it has improved with his return to the Hawks either. I also thought he would be a great fit. Just didn’t work out for whatever reason.
Over his career, Dedmon was a bubble NBA player who was undrafted and still getting demoted to the G-League at 26. The pinnacle of his productivity was with an actively tanking Hawks team and losing starts to Miles Plumlee and Alex Len.
On a decent team, he’s a 4th big who can eat some minutes as a bridge to better players. But unlike the Spurs team he played on with Lamarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, and Davis Bertans doing the heavy lifting, we have Bagley, Bjelly, and Holmes. It was pure collective fantasy for us to imagine at 30 he’d morph into a productive starting C on a team with playoff aspirations. Sucks to suck.
Totally agree with this. There were several factors which didn’t help his cause like Bagley being injured and Holmes playing well but there were so many games where he could have played that he didn’t. He was never really given a chance to find his rhythm on the team and I put that squarely on Luke’s shoulders
I blame Walton, entirely. Dedmon’s lack of playing time, Ariza’s excessive playing time, crap rotations leaving players on the bench too long, etc. ad nauseum…
I’m late as usual. God, I miss you guys
Dedmon: Good pick-up for the team and context we thought he’d be playing in. Not for the team/context he ended up playing in.
Bazemore: Fun to watch for 20 games. Perfectly acceptable as a 4th or 5th guard as long as he’s paid accordingly. Let’s not be the team that overpays for a small sample-size feel good story. (Note: this also applies to Len).
Giles: Ugh. That situation is a painful reminder of the quality of our FO.
A hundred votes, this deserves…
I know this will be unpopular….. but I do wonder exactly how valuable Harry Giles really is to other NBA FOs.
His WS/48 is .120. His TS% is 58.6%. His DRB% is 25.2%. This is all in 579 total minutes on the season. (By comparison, Kent Bazemore has 1604 total minutes on the season, 493 since arriving in Sac.) Harry Giles has amassed 1399 total minutes….. in his entire NBA career.
How valuable is that really? Was the Kings FO stupid to turn down the option? Probably. (Certainly not in the way Vlade did publicly by talking about earning it.) But here’s the bigger question: What is Harry Giles really worth to other teams?
I guess we’ll find out this summer and Giles is probably gone as most have said. But I do find it interesting to see what Giles gets on the open market given what is known…. and what’s unknown.
That’s probably why the Kings did why they did what they did. They were banking that alot of teams wouldn’t be all that enamored of a guy with limited on court time and huge injury history. Which is absurd in all ways really. The same guy they were hyping as a future All Star two years ago. But that’s the Kings FO for you. Go figure.
The Kings were looking at a way to motivate Giles, and they suspected that Giles needed a wake up call. Not picking up the option and hoping that teams wouldn’t want to pay much or guarantee a rotation spot after his 3rd season was their hope. Having Giles not work diligently (which I suspect) if the option was picked up is not especially awesome either.
The restrictions on signing Giles for the Kings really only applies to the upcoming season, not beyond that. And any intelligent agent, Jeff Schwartz is, knows that. The 2020 FA market wasn’t especially the stuff dreams are made of and that was before the trade deadline which made it worse.
And 30 NBA teams know all this. Maybe Giles gets a decent offer (5 million or more?) but I would bet he doesn’t. And as much as I can’t believe I’m saying this: If the Kings manage to retain Giles after everything that might very well end up as a shrewd move.
Eh, who am I kidding? The Kings will screw this up even if they get it right.
I’m with you. I just don’t see him ever being a guy that can be on the floor enough to get to that next level, be it health or foul trouble. I think he can be a 4th big for the right team, but given that he does not stretch the floor, it would have to be a team that is capable of running some of their offense from a high post big.
All things being equal, would you offer him 3.9 million at this point?
I would have picked up his option had I been the Kings, as $3.9m is relatively cheap for a 4th big. . But the Kings front line is funky right now. If Holmes and is your starting center, you’re banking on Bagley to grow exponentially from the perimeter or you’re starting Bjelica at the four. If Holmes is your center, Len may fit better as a backup to him than Giles.
As it pertains to other NBA teams, I could envision it, but it would have to be very application specific. The Lakers, for example, could probably use him a little with all of the cutters they have. Doc Rivers could probably make him productive. Maybe a couple of other teams.
And your point about the LA teams is where I’m at. Worth a minimum flier? More than that or a real commitment in PT? That’s where I think NBA teams struggle with Giles.
I think you’re right, especially if the combination of the China/Morey fallout and COVID-19 ravages the salary cap. There could be a lot of guys scrambling for minimum, make good deals.
Richaun Holmes, in this environment, could be a minimum guy.
And who knows what happens with the cap. I think the COVID part will have a bigger impact than the China part. But I’ve heard the doomsday scenario before and it didn’t happen.
I think a team in the Kings position should absolutely not be making personnel decisions based on their current roster/rotation. Especially when then guys you’re talking about will be Bagley, two expirings, and a FA Len. The only guy in that rotation we can say is likely to be around after next season is Bagley. And, of course, there’s still a pretty big question about whether we’ll want him to.
Think I would, strictly as a speculative signing. I agree with much of what you said about him, but he’s got an interesting skillset, and he’s got some eff you in his game.
1/3.9MM? Maybe not. Mostly because that would be investing in his development without any control over his future in he does develop positively. And I don’t see any reason he won’t since he’s a high-skill 22-year-2-day-old with high BBIQ. As such, I’d rather give him 2/8 than 1/3.9. Even better would be 2/8 + a team-friendly team option or buy out. With young players, you want to be able to benefit from their development. Remember they didn’t just decide not to pay him $3.9MM for 2020-21. They also forfeited RFA rights the following year. Now, who knows. Like you say, maybe they’ll end up signing him to a team-friendly multi-year deal but they gave up control over the situation.
As always, my question is where the Kings high-level playmakers are going to come from. IMO, Giles is one of the few (2? Maybe?) guys on the roster that even has that as a 0.001% potential outcome. So the question becomes how are they going to spend that $3.9MM that is more likely to help the Kings progress towards becoming a contender?
Forfeiting RFA is really meaningless at this point for Giles IMO. All that really happened there was the Kings couldn’t match a max deal like the Wiz did with Otto Porter. Whoopty doo. That doesn’t seem likely whatsoever. This isn’t a Paul Millsap situation either as Millsap was a 2nd rounder and 2 CBAs ago.
As far as the 1/3.9 vs 2/8, that matters little to me. And I doubt Harry Giles would sign the 2/8 with a team option because it forgoes the 2021 market which might be more advantageous to him. If Giles does sign that 2 year deal, I would suspect it’s a player option/ETO so the choice is his. And the Kings have full Bird rights on Giles, it doesn’t matter much if they sign him to a long term deal in 2021 or ’22 IMO. He’ll either be worth it or he won’t.
I think he has a place moving forward due to his rebounding, passing and ability to score enough to stay on the floor. But if he can’t figure out how to defend without fouling, hoo buddy.
Obviously, RFA rights have more benefits than just being able to match a max offer. They enable you to let the market set the deal (and for a team that tends to have to overpay to attract players, that’s meaningful) and it enables you to potentially recoup value in a potential sign-and-trade.
But ultimately, as I mention elsewhere, I just don’t think the Kings are in a position to let and asset with any type of real upside walk away for nothing. Especially at a cost as low as $3.9MM.
Well, of course RFA has multiple benefits. I’m not arguing that. I’m just not convinced that practically speaking w/r/t Harry Giles this matters much if at all. This isn’t a D’Angelo Russell situation here. And the Kings won’t have cap room to pull off that S&T the way Brooklyn did.
In order to be an asset to other teams they have to see you as such. Right? Who other than the Kings would see him as such? And keep in mind, S&Ts are tough to pull off without cap space. Especially in the name of recouping value.
I also don’t see the ‘letting assets walk for nothing’ point. That’s true of everyone; this isn’t especially more true of the Kings, market size be damned, IMO. How much of an asset is Harry Giles, exactly?
If you want to hit the Kings over the head for something, their player development has been horrible. It’s a huge reason they haven’t progressed on the court. Their asset valuation has been horrible, too. Although I think those two things are inextricably linked and it’s hard to separate which is more responsible for success/failure. But of their many failings, I don’t think I’d rank not picking up the 4th year option as high as others. It comes down to how valuable you think Harry is, and frankly I’ve not seen anything that suggests he’s much of an asset beyond what he offers the Kings. And that’s limited in of itself.
Yeah. I think we probably just disagree on his potential and development path. I tend to get the feeling he’s being judged as if he’s a mid-career vet instead of a 22-year-old with barely a season’s worth of minutes under his belt. Defensive and fouling issues are absolutely par for the course for young bigs. He has good length, a good motor, and high BBIQ. That’s a combination I would absolutely bet on for defensive development. And I think we all see the framework for a strong offensive player. Again, the Kings need all the talent they can get and I think $4MM is an absolute steal for taking a chance on that profile and the opportunity to have some team control.
I don’t think we are disagreeing on potential or a development path. I think there’s a more simple point: Which of the other 29 NBA teams would want Giles as it stands right now? And what years/dollars do you see that team offering? To me it’s really that simple, and the Kings made a bet there aren’t that many — or anyone else — who see Giles the way they do.
For better or worse.
That feels like a foolish chance to take for a team like the Kings to try to save a couple million dollars.
I don’t think they did it to save money. I think they did it to motivate him.
They need to work on their motivation techniques. I’m not sure “Work harder or you won’t be able to play for our historically inept franchise” is a good route to take. To say nothing of the fact that 98% of the reports we’ve heard on his work ethic are glowing.
Sure, I think it’s dumb too. I just wonder how much market value Harry Giles has around the NBA. And every time I really try to calculate it, I wonder who think he’s worth 20 MPG at this point?
That’s where I get stuck.
Totally agree. Vlade may be misjudging Harry’s talent by failing to secure a future HOFer (we’ve seen him do that before), but I don’t think he’s misjudging the market. Harry is basically a G-League hustle guy right now with some interesting passing skills that are completely counterbalanced by major defensive deficiencies. When you add his extreme injury risk, that’s not the profile of a player you guarantee a roster spot to without considering other options. The $4M they might pay Harry could prevent them from having $5M in space to sign the next Richaun Holmes.
I’m in the same boat. Thought Dedmon would be great, he sucked. Ariza was hot garbage but I kind of expected that. I loved the Holmes deal but didn’t expect him to be as good as he was. Bazemore and Lin are two that I was pleasantly surprised with.
I’m terrified about what Vlade does with this roster over the summer and I have no idea what they should do with Bazemore, Lin and Bogi. I have to imagine the salary cap is going to drop significantly. This whole thing is going to be weird.
There’s no one on this kings roster I root for more to succeed than Giles. The Kings not picking up Giles’ option after the massive investment in him was just bizarre at best and at worst can be explained as a move by a GM who knows he’s toast
It’s an inexcusably bad decision. There is zero benefits for doing what they did. It was just a bad GM, being a bad GM
The year is 2050.
Kings playoff drought stands at 44 seasons.
Me, sitting in my armchair, to my grandkids:
“We woulda made it in 2020 if not for coronavirus.”
Your kids are going to have it tough enough with President Bieber. They don’t need their grandp/ma lying to them too.
just hitting reply to say i love your username/profile pic combo!
“Kings playoff drought stands at 44 seasons.”
Ah, I see the optimists are back!
I too was wrong on Dedmon. I was excited about the signing. That being said, I do think Walton used Dedmon the wrong way, and the Marvin Bagley injury ruined any possible on court partnership. Nemanja basically filled the role Dedmon was supposed to play and Holmes filled the role Bagley was supposed to play. Dedmon got lost in the rotations and was misused as a traditional low post center. Atlanta had him pegged correctly as a stretch 5 parked in the corner on offense and an average rim protecting big on defense. When Walton paired him with Nemanja after the Bagley injury, it all went south. There was no interior threat on offense and defenses stretched. Ballgame.
Yeah I can’t figure out if it was more Dedmon just falling apart after getting paid or Walton using him completely wrong and destroying his confidence. It’s probably some of both but I was right there along Tim and so many others as loving that signing and it just failed spectacularly. I shouldn’t be surprised because it seems to happen when guys come to the Kings quite a bit and yet I still can’t believe it went as bad as it did.
GIles is a great dude and really loves the fans. He’s young, improving, is great buddies with Fox and has good chemistry with the other guys. He also really wants to work. Losing him wold be a huge crying shame. Pay the man.