After a 2018-19 season that saw them finish ninth in the Western Conference with a 39-43 record, the traditionally lackluster Sacramento Kings are heading into the 2019 offseason with a lot of promise. The team boasts of a quality young starting backcourt with De’Aaron Fox at the point and Buddy Hield at shooting guard, last year’s second overall draft pick Marvin Bagley at power forward, and veteran scorer Harrison Barnes at small forward. Previous reports have suggested that the Kings are hoping for an upgrade at center during the 2019 free agency period, but the latest rumors hint that the team might not be going after Orlando Magic big man Nikola Vucevic after all.
On Sunday, NBC Sports Bay Area wrote that Kings general manager Vlade Divac and other team executives have “placed an emphasis” on bolstering Sacramento’s center rotation, much like earlier rumors had teased. However, the outlet cited an unnamed league source, who claims that the Kings, despite holding Vucevic in “high regard,” do not plan to pursue the All-Star center this summer, contrary to what was once suggested.
While Vucevic could garner a lot of attention in free agency after enjoying a career-best season with averages of 20.8 points, 12 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.1 blocks in 2018-19, NBC Sports Bay Area wrote that the 28-year-old center might not be a good fit for the Kings, who are expected to maintain their fast-paced gameplay under new head coach Luke Walton. Instead, the publication suggested that Sacramento could pursue “short-term fixes” such as DeAndre Jordan of the New York Knicks and Dewayne Dedmon of the Atlanta Hawks, both of whom are regarded as strong defenders and rebounders.
As Jordan and Dedmon are 30 and 29-years-old respectively, NBC Sports Bay Area suggested another incoming free agent, Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas, as an option closer to the age range of most of Sacramento’s players. However, it was noted that Valanciunas, despite being only 27, also might not be suited to a run-and-gun style of play.
Despite the Sacramento Kings’ apparent search for a new center, the team reportedly isn’t against the idea of re-signing Willie Cauley-Stein, the incoming fifth-year center who will enter restricted free agency this summer, per Sporting News. According to Basketball-Reference, Cauley-Stein averaged 11.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists while shooting 55.6 percent from the field last season, but averaged only 0.6 blocks per game — a figure that is well below average for 7-foot-tall starting centers.
Sacramento has also been rumored to be interested in Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris, who could replace Harrison Barnes at small forward in the event he opts out of the final year of his existing contract.