The Sacramento Kings are making moves to add veteran leadership to their young roster. They’ve agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal with former Grizzlies star Zach Randolph, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The move reunites Randolph with Dave Joerger, his former coach in Memphis. It also comes on the heels of a three-year, $57 million arrangement with free-agent point guard George Hill. It also suggests the end of the beloved Grit ’N Grind era in Memphis, with Tony Allen also possibly on his way out as a free agent.
Randolph, who turns 36 later this month, remade himself into a bench-scoring bruiser last year. He averaged 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game, though his scoring efficiency continues to fall off. Nevertheless, he can still play and should also be a nice influence on young Kings big men like Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis, and Harry Giles.
The combination of Hill and Randolph does drop the Kings out of the Otto Porter sweepstakes. They no longer have enough cap room to offer the Wizards’ restricted free agent a maximum contract, as they reportedly intended to do.
What can Randolph still do?
The same stuff he’s always done, albeit not quite as often as before. Memphis moved Randolph out of the starting lineup to put more shooting and athleticism around Marc Gasol, but the move also benefited Randolph. He was able to act as a hub of the Grizzlies’ second unit, beating up on smaller second-unit big men. Interestingly, he averaged more points per minute than in any of his previous Grizzlies years.
Randolph can’t do his thing for as long, and his scoring efficiency has definitely declined. But in a smaller role, he can still produce. He could also play as a backup center, which masks some of his defensive limitations on the perimeter.
The Kings could start him, or they could play him as a third big man behind Labissiere and Cauley-Stein.
What does this mean for the Kings’ cap space?
Sacramento still has about $18 million left this year, assuming they bring Bogdan Bogdanovic over as reported. That’s not enough to give Porter a maximum offer sheet, but it might be enough to make another team with a restricted free agent sweat. The Kings could also save that money and attempt to take on bad salaries from other teams in exchange for draft assets.
Sacramento’s books should be clean next year, too, as only Cauley-Stein will be up for a new deal. The team’s young crew of Fox, Hield, Labissiere, Malachi Richardson, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, and Georgios Papagiannis will still be on rookie contracts.
Is this it for Grit ’N Grind?
It sure sounds like it. Memphis couldn’t match Randolph’s terms without bolting past the luxury tax, which is a no-go in that market. It also sounds like Tony Allen’s days in Memphis are numbered unless he gives them a steep hometown discount. Their decision to sign Ben McLemore may also seal Vince Carter’s fate, as well. The Grizzlies can use that leftover money to retain restricted free agent JaMychal Green and stay under the luxury tax.
It was a fun run, but it also had run its course.